Chevrolet produced its first production model in 1913, debuting it at the New York auto show that year. By the late 1920s, Chevrolet was the leading car manufacturer, finally surpassing Ford in 1927. These full-page Chevrolet ads from 1929 to 1964 show how the automaker’s style evolved to meet the changing tastes of the American middle class.
Chevy positioned itself as a tool for the working man with this ad for their 1 ½ ton truck, which advertised that it was for “economical transportation.” The devastating stock market crash of October 1929 was still a few months away, and markets were booming despite signs that the economy was shaky.
This March ad titillates with the promise of summer, 60 horsepower, and a “faster, quieter getaway” (perfect for a car that looks as though Bonnie and Clyde would have driven it).
This ad features the 1954 Chevy Bel Air 4-door Sedan. The ’53 and ’54 Bel Airs offered options previously available only in luxury cars, such as headlight dimmers, and power steering, brakes, seats and windows.
Chevy’s advertising tactic for this 1954 spread was to pair their latest sedans against a backdrop of spring flowers. Given the ad’s focus on the cars’ available color combinations and floral flourishes, its likely target was women.
“What could turn a young man’s fancy to thoughts of love quicker than a new Chevrolet!” Chevy splits the difference here, appealing to both the “cold-minded” and the “fanciful” for their new Motoramic Chevrolet, which introduced the auto maker’s first V8 engine.
Here we see an early ad for what would become an automotive icon: the ’57 Chevy. This ad features their top trim line, the Bel Air.
In this 1963 ad for the Impala, Chevy emphasizes affordable luxury: more than 700 shock and sound deadeners, a new Delcotron generator for a longer lasting battery, and new self-adjusting brakes.
Reflecting the style of the era, the 1964 Impala Super Sport brags of ultra-soft vinyl upholstery and door-to-door deep-twist carpeting. “The whole idea with this new Chevrolet, really, was to see how much luxury and comfort we could add to the car—but still keep it reasonably priced.”
Become a Saturday Evening Post member and enjoy unlimited access. Subscribe now