American Cars: Selling the Dream

A sampling of sumptuous mid-century automobile ads.


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CoverFollowing World War II, with a booming economy, cheap gas, and a growing highway system, Americans were driving more miles every year, and buying more cars. In the 1950s, the iconic Cadillac tail fin became a symbol of prosperity, and it continued to grow until, in 1959, it was over a foot high. The ’60s would usher in the muscle cars. Inspired by the success of the 1965 Ford Mustang, we soon had GM’s powerful GTO and plenty more like it. Here is a sampling of the sumptuous and seductive mid-century automotive ads that helped sell those cars, selected from our new special collector’s edition, American Cars: 1940s, ’50s & ’60s.

Car Ad
Pontiac Silver Streak, General Motors, November 3, 1945. (Click to Enlarge)
Car Ad
Buick Convertible, Ford Motor Co., June 20, 1959. (Click to Enlarge)
Car Ad
Cadillac Sedan de Ville, General Motors, May 5, 1956. (Click to Enlarge)
Car Ad
De Soto Fireflite, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, February 9, 1957. (Click to Enlarge)
Car ad
Ford Mustang, Ford Motor Co., December 12, 1964. (Click to Enlarge)
Car Ad
Plymouth Belvedere GTX Special, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, October 8, 1966. (Click to Enlarge)



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  1. Love your current magazine, AMERICAN CARS 1940s, 50s & 60s. However, I noticed an incredible flaw! All your BUICK Ads are referenced under Ford Motor Company! Everyone knows BUICK Is a General Motors product not Ford!

  2. Very sumptuous, seductive samplings indeed from the new book! I particularly love the sexy, straight-out-of-the-Jetsons ’59 Buick convertible; one of THE finest examples of Googie architecture style fins ever bestowed upon a car.


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