The Strange Things GM Ads Bragged About Before Cars Got Modern Tech

Today’s car ads are full of low-interest payments over far too many months, and loads of high-tech features that are almost enough to convince you the vehicle can drive itself. But what did advertisers and marketers tout before they had so many high-tech features on the list? How about a standard AM radio (in 1978) and power brakes in 1993? We’ve found some classic GM brand ads that showcase features that we’re not sure were really anything to brag about back then but are definitely out of place today.

Check out this 1973 Chevrolet pickup ad. Why is it “the best deal in town?” How about almost 7-inches of seat foam? Not enough, check out these wheel liners! And the feature that’s aged the most poorly: Side-saddle fuel tanks. Yikes.

Remember the C4 Corvette? It had some amazing features for the time like “tires engineered for all four corners.” Which makes us wonder about the rest of the brand’s cars. Don’t forget the turbine-fin wheels and 14 different instrument readouts!

What car has “smoother aerodynamics than a Porsche 928” on the outside and “careful attention to detail” on the inside that seems to exclusively mean cup holders that pop out of the dash? The 1992 Chevrolet Corsica, that’s what car.

The 1992 Oldsmobile LSS was so dull that Old’s advertisers couldn’t come up with anything superlative to say about it. What did they say instead? How about the glowing endorsement of “there just hasn’t been anything to report in the way of problems” from the editors of Popular Mechanics. Wow!

For 1994, the Pontiac Firebird’s designers thought that safety was so important to performance car buyers that they gave it TWO airbags. Not just that, but standard anti-lock brakes. To put a cherry on top, it came with a chassis, of course they found a better way to spin that last one which they called rare at any price.

We understand that 1979 wasn’t a great time for the auto industry, but we didn’t realize how bad it was. For that year, the Pontiac Sunbird coupe got such luxuries standard as an AM radio, white-wall tires, that fancy-pants blue tint on the front windshield, and even, wait for it, carpeting. All things that were optional extras the year before. Ouch.

So this is a bad ad that has one amazing feature. Hear that soothing British accent narrating the copy? Yes, that’s really Sir Patrick Stewart, back in season 4 of TNG days. But really, Captain? “every display precisely detailed, every control thoughtfully placed”? Do not make this one so

Want features like power brakes and an automatic transmission? How about AM/FM cassette, cruise, and one single airbag? Sounds pretty impressive, but not for 1993. This Buick Century gets a bit of a cringe for that one. More importantly, Buick thinks you won’t believe your calculator, but why do you need a calculator to figure out MSRP?

We watched more than 10 ads for the Geo Metro, and not one of them talked about any features of the car. The only thing they mentioned was that it doesn’t use much gas. Which, we suppose, is the only redeeming feature of this tiny captive import.

How does the Chevrolet Cavalier compare to the Dodge Neon for 1996? How about standard reclining buckets and power steering? Such luxury has never been seen Don’t forget ABS, and the most important feature, a larger engine. Is it more powerful? Who cares, it’s bigger!

We started off laughing at this Cadillac Deville ad because they don’t actually tell you what car it is. And for the ability to roll the windows down 10 minutes after shutting off the ignition. But really, retained accessory power is something that GM has done for decades, but the likes of Honda still can’t seem to offer. What really got us was “Cadillac luxury and convenience”, as said when showing us the AC Delco AM/FM Cassette that must be in a billion GM vehicles, and the four-wheel independent suspension. Oh, and how about a double coat of clear coat. Now that’s luxury

What makes the 1993 Pontiac Bonneville comparable to a BMW or Lexus? According to these two gentlemen just casually driving to their helipad, as one does, all it takes is an airbag and leather for them to proclaim “this is quality.” Oh, and it’s just $10-15k less than that Lexus or BMW. Of course, they’re comparing it to the BMW 7 and Lexus LS400, cars that certainly can’t hold a candle to the Bonneville.

We’ll end with this one from the experiment that was Saturn. A very young and probably pre-Hot Pocket Jim Gaffigan is driving recklessly while telling us that the 1997 Saturns sent to Japan are the same as the ones sold here. We’re not sure why that’s a perk, exactly, and as it turns out neither were the Japanese. They only sold about 4,300 Saturns there between 1997 and giving up in 2001. Ouch.