Politically Incorrect Car Ads from Yesteryear

April 16, 2013

Mad Men fans know women took a lot of sexist hits in the past when it came to advertising. Here’s a look at some of those cringe-worthy classics from the automobile world, along with some others that might make you question whether the good old days were always so good.

Plymouth Knows Luxury

Plymouth Ad

Who says a little money can’t buy respect? Plymouth, that’s who. This 1940 model promised buyers “sealed beam” headlights, wider seats, automatic shifting and, it appears, a buffoonish degree of admiration from any kowtowing person of color lucky enough to carry their bags.

International “Harvester”

International Harvester Ad

International produced many fine vehicles for outdoorsmen during the height of the—good heavens! Wait a minute. Is that a gun? While trucks are the favorite vehicle of the 2.6 million Americans who partake in an outdoor lifestyle involving the “harvesting” of unsuspecting field and forest creatures, truck manufacturers these days keep the guns out of it and instead stick to less divisive images of people mountain biking, camping and towing heavy stuff.

Dodge — You Haven’t Come That Far, Baby

Dodge Ad

So what will it be: a Dodge Charger R/T or a real flesh-and-blood girlfriend? Good thing Ralph’s woman is a doormat, so he doesn’t have to answer. When it came to objectifying women, no one used to do it better than the ad men at Dodge.

Subaru — A Real Turn On

Subaru Ad

Seriously? Has there ever really been a woman outside a dime-store romance novel who yearned to be tamed? This ad is wrong on so many levels, and a little creepy, too. Anyone who compares the interior of a vehicle to the inner workings of a woman to the extent presented in this copy should step away from the keyboard and go seek professional help. Quickly.

Volkswagen — Because Women Can’t Drive


You can trust your wife raise your children while you’re off paying the bills, but don’t let her behind the wheel of an automobile. If you must, make it a Volkswagen. That way the little woman won’t put you in the poorhouse when she systematically destroys the thing. Whoopsies.



  1. Wayne Graefen Under the X in Texas

    In rural America it is still politically CORRECT to talk guns, own guns, hunt, carry guns, be seen with guns and use guns in advertising. One of the gun shops in my city (not some little town) has today a sign out front they have received a new shipment of AK-47s. As the folks that live in the big metropolitan areas continue to allow various levels of government bureaucrats to dictate to them that it is in their best interest to give up their liberties, freedoms and rights, the populace is forgetting that the second amendment is there so that we can protect ourselves as much as anything from oppressive government. Long may it wave and long may we shoot. My point is advertisers are missing a target demographic by omitting guns in ads.

  2. Lanny Jarrrell Trinity, N.C.

    This was a different time, I think people take life to seriously and want to find fault in most anything. We need to look at this and enjoy what it is and not beat it up. Look at what is on TV today, the male is brunt of the jokes and women are the bright ones. Thats O.K., TAKE IT AS YOU MAY. Thanks for the memories. Lanny

  3. Richard700 NYC

    Wayne - Good luck fighting the oppressive government with your AK-47 when they call a drone strike in on you - just saying

  4. Garland Rucker Kansas

    I thought this site was for people who loved old cars. I don't need to be preached to by some ERA Ding Bat.

  5. Roger Greenville, NC

    Is an ad that caters to women any less sexist? Daytime TV ads frequently feature the competent, masterful woman with her male boob mate.

  6. Jim fraulo Woodmont, ct.

    To all the tree huggers. & politically correct , get a hobby.... Enjoy these old advertisements.... Look at T.V. Adds of today,.. Either a Drug Company Or Insurance ad .... Oh. Well Thanks For The Memories. : )

  7. rich DFW, TX

    I have enjoyed this site for several years...up until today. Whoever wrote this article needs to go back to the New York times where he came from. This is what used to be called "yellow journalism". Many of us who are old enough to appreciate the old cars shown here also remember when "journalistic integrity" meant something. Sad to say, the concept is no longer taught in Journalism classes, and the results speak for themselves.

  8. Jon Sutter Seattle

    Please shall we go back to the time when you could complement a woman and not be up on charges. The Italians still complement women and the women expect it and enjoy the attention. They like the doors opened for them. They appreciate a gentleman. On guns, if you are upset about our gun culture you are naive. Guns do not shoot people. Crazy people shoot people. So it is right to control the mentally ill through the courts using the expertise of the metal health community to identify the risk patients. That is who the screening should control. If you want to be upset about wrongful death, you really ought to be upset about our hospitals and the number of people who suffer hospital acquire illness and negligence. We should go back to the 50's with our laws and are morals. What a relief it would be to have zero debt and small government minding it's own business.

  9. Jim Orlando, FL

    Oh, for goodness sake--It seems that you can't even provide light-hearted humor these days without people coming out of the woodwork regarding some imagined slight.

  10. oldcarman Oakland

    Yes, it was a different time. If you actually look even further back, you will find ads that don't insult the viewer's intelligence like so many do today. If you read the Dodge ad carefully, it is not serious. It IS tongue-in-cheek, ending with " He even mentioned marriage once." If you take that as serious, then you really need to lose the PC indignant attitude, and quick puckering up! With what was going on culturally at that time, and all of the other Dodge ads, it would be hard not view this as laughable or cute- acknowledging that women aren't really like that. Nonetheless, women are more objectified now than in the '70s. Witness every single music video, swim suit issues, underwear shows, etc. I asked Gloria Steinem if the way things have developed culturally, if she wasn't disappointed at the stuff the Women's Movement fought so hard for, wasn't somehow perverted, & young women don't even get it? She sort of dodged the question, but sort of assented that things have regressed. I question if the writer is even old enough to have lived during that time and was old enough to really understand it? Even today, the term "Women's Libber" is used as a pejorative.

  11. Wes florida

    I remember my prized Matchbox Studebaker Lark Wagon,came with a little man shooting his shotgun and the dog.the same exact pose ,Times were much simpler

  12. Bill Brasky Everywhere USA

    Oh no not a gun in an advertisement?! Who would use a gun for hunting... wait who would even own a gun!!?? You can just buy your meat in the stores! Second Amendment.

  13. MIke Wallace Prosper, TX

    Nothing wrong with these ads - people need to lighten up!

  14. Jerry Peruski Caro, MI

    The 1969 Charger R/T is one of the most appealing cars to me. I had a few fast rides in one of these. Telephone posts looked like fence posts as I recalled. Hazzard a guess how fast we were going but the driver had the pedal to the metal.

  15. gerry l. south of boston

    It was a better time, these ads were addressed to less complicated buyers.

  16. Peter R. B.C., Canada

    I agree with Wayne and in reality, that International ad wouldn't be out of place in a current hunting magazine...

  17. Joe Clark Florida

    The Subaru ad is so full of win I can't stand it. It might even be intentionally camp. (And who *could* can withstand the erotic allure of 1400cc's of relentless power?) Things change and we grow, thankfully. One day they'll look at *all* our personal automobile ads and go "How long did they expect THAT to last?" Thanks for posting these.

  18. Randy South Carolina

    WOW... Is this not a shot in the arm??!?!? Have we really allowed ourselves to become this "serious"? The real comedy (tragedy) here is that we now take ouselves so seriously that we cannot laugh at ourselves or each other with risk of "offending" somebody. I think we need cigarette ads, drive thru liquor stores and smog back in our lives... Ahhh yes, those were the days (cough)...

  19. Steve Sharpe Ellicott City, MD

    These have nothing on the 1973 MGB Ad - "Your Mother Wouldn't Like The 1973 MGB". Described as "A bell-bottomed, braless British babe heads to her MGB after catching Last Tango In Paris- yeah, British Leyland was making cars for rebels back in '73."

  20. Dave Parish Houston, TX

    And let us not forget the old Spitfire ad, which showed the plane taking off in the near background while the sexy babe draped herself over the car in the foreground, with the line "Get yourself a piece.... of history"

  21. George Polidoro AZ

    I agree with Lanny, The author of this piece is using hindsight to condemn days gone bye and he/she may not have even grown up in that time. Sure it's not without some fault but have you seen the music videos that ALL artists seem to need to promote their music?

  22. Casey Detroit

    I love my gas burning, smog producing, lead filled, no seat belts, no apologies death mobile Corvair. Politically Correct its NOT.

  23. Paul California

    Really?? Did the author of this really need to take so many jabs at Americana in the process? And, Oh, dear! A firearm used in a vintage ad?? And the comment, "harvesting of unsuspecting field and forest creatures". Oh, the HUMANITY!! That's it, I am unsubscribing. I do not appreciate some leftist launching assaults on what I hold dear instead of talking about cars. This is inexcusable.

  24. Barry Barnes Reno, Nevada

    I grew up during the era of these ads and even remember many of them. We were a very different culture then. Some of those ads accurately reflected values and thinking back then... And some were just considered to be the stupid and trashy output of Madison Avenue "Ad Men."

  25. daryl judd spokane, wa

    These ads are a sign of those times and at that time even women would chuckle at the quirky ads like these. The current times we live in where there is always someone who must take offense to anything that they do not agree with is sad. What ever happened to being able to have an opinion without being criticized, litigated against or boycotted? Everyone has opinions and there should be the maturity to accept ideas which one does not necessarily agree with but also not make a federal case about. The current social situation in the USA where being homosexual, teaching evolution in school, etc. may not be my cup of tea but I do not feel the need to mount a campaign of anarchy. The things I do not agree with are not my business and it is not for me to be the judge. People should try to be more tolerant.

  26. Hank Hutchinson,Ks.

    Personnally I saw nothing wrong with any of these adds. They just made me nostalgic for the times when everyone wasn't so politically correct. I also have four daughters who I don't believe would really see anything wrong either & they are relatively young.

  27. JC NY

    I don't know about the ads - but especially 60's vehicles are the greatest - as far as guns go - none of us will have to worry about that for long - the govt is going to legislate away gun violence just like they did with drug problems - so we will all be safe - we're all potential mass murderers anyway - and individual rights and freedoms are way overrated!

  28. Little Bill Boise ID

    I quote : "Personnally I saw nothing wrong with any of these adds" Hank was spot on, we have really gone over the top with our penchant for political correctness. Unfortunately, I don't see anyone rewinding the clock anytime soon.

  29. Chris W Gilbert, AZ

    I agree seeing the old ads was great, I didn't need the writer to tell me how to feel about them.

  30. Thomas Jones Cleveland, OH

    Daryl for president!

  31. william nichols Grandview Mo.

    I guess the truth hurts, some people, not I. I have owned and driven a 69 dodge charger se for 25 years, it is a great classic, and I am lucky to have it. Deal wit it.

  32. Dennis McKown Ohio

    The responding comments speak volumes of the worlds situation today 4/18/2013. In todays thinking if something does not go with your thinking we do mount a campaign of anarchy. These ads are us, and we are the Americans that maybe live in this great country and outside of the Washington DC beltway or New York City. We are fine with our memories of this time, we do not need or desire your newbie politically correct criticism. The writers view has not been the view of those that read your news letter, as this is obvious from the comments. With todays violence filled video games and theatre movies, are we really the politcally incorrect ones or were we just a more civil and unterstanding generation.

  33. Susan middle of nowhere, NC

    I don't know what's funnier: all the indignation and threats to unsubscribe, or the inordinate proportion of misspelled words, including the repetition of "adds" for "ads" and the writer who wants to be able to "complement" women. I thought the article was hysterical; the comments are a straight up hoot. Off now to drive my 64 Mercury Montclair with the breezeway window (only a 390, alas).

  34. Christopher W Minnesota

    I've noticed that none of the "old-timers", "holier than thou's", or "should be commenting on you-tubers" mentioned anything about the obviously racist first ad. Many of you even said that you have no problem with any of the them. As the age of the average collector shoots up so does the age of the average racist, sexist and homophobic individual, and as you all die out we can take heart that the youth of our nation have shown a remarkable ability to overcome this deeply ingrained prejudice. The apologists who are attacking the writer of this article are the ones who need to lighten up and enlighten themselves about what these ads really represent. Reading these comments, aside from getting me all riled up, shows me one tangible reason why this hobby has failed to attract the youth needed to sustain it.

  35. Steve Danik New Jersey

    I saw nothing wrong with these ads. Re-read the harvester ad a few times to try and understand what was so "incorrect", but I couldn't find anything. There's no part of American culture, automobile or otherwise that's safe from those that try to impart their idea of correctness on everyone else....I was subscribed to this website automatically because I have Hagerty collector car insurance. As soon as I finish this comment, I will go th the HVA main page and unsubscribe. I get correctness pushed at me every day, not here, not with cars....

  36. Denise Wisconsin

    As a woman who is licensed to carry a .357 S&W, has her own GTO (plus a couple of other nice toys in the garage), a great career, can keep up with the guys, and doesn't look too bad in a dress, I think ladies get the last laugh! We've come a long way, so thanks to these ads for reminding us of how far we've advanced. Now, let's play nice and pray for spring to show up! My GTO is just itching to burn a little petro and rubber! ") Stay safe, everyone.

  37. David Austin


  38. larry m. kentucky

    I think the car culture is alive and well. Its all about fun. Like our cars,we are all different,and our views. We like all things cars,even ad debates keeps this alive and fun. Have fun kids.

  39. Gary Tennessee

    For the day these ads were done, that was the culture and no one was all uptight about these types of ads, like some get in these days of over political correctness. There was nothing wrong with the ads....

  40. George Dayton

    For everyone lamenting the state of our ridiculously PC society, please do a search and read Victor Davis Hansens article entitled "Postmodern prudes".

  41. Rick Harmon Rochester, PA

    I was initially interested in your website but now I will be sure to never visit it again and tell everyone I know not to visit it. Contrary to your ignorance and apparent brainwashing by the liberal politicians and ultra liberal media. Firearms are still legal in this country and a part of the culture, heritage and lifestyle of a very large portion of the population. Please note, a well circulated propaganda photo of your president shows him shooting a shotgun as well. Yes, I did intend to spell President with a lower case p because the office demands respect but the person holding the office must earn that respect. He as not. Realize that if they are successful in quashing the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, how long will it be before they decide other Amendments don't suit their view of how America should be.

  42. Amrap az

    We are lucky to live in a day when Generation Stupid's sanctimony can reach into the past.

  43. Mark Scranton, Pa.

    Really too bad that everybody is so uptight about everything anymore. It seem that if someone does not get their way they "pull the card" and look for you to say the wrong thing. That`s the way life is anymore, so to all the "card players" out there (in the immortal words of Sergeant Hulka from the Bill Murray movie Stripes).......... "Lighten up Francis".

  44. Lord Gilleth NH

    My brother shared this site with me as we are both owners and aficionados of vintage rides. Looking over the website I was drawn to the ads from the past. Then I found myself reading the comments. My takeaway from them? As Grandmother used to say: "we're screwed with a capital F". There is so much vitriol flying around here that has nothing whatsoever to do with vintage cars.I grew up in the 60's and can appreciate how far we've come with regards to civil rights, women's rights, some technology and wonderful advances in medicine. I also really appreciate cars, trucks, guns, women, people of color, dogs, but most of all humor. Self deprecating humor first and then humor at how silly we humans have become. As we rocket deeper into the 21st century this planet gets stranger and stranger. Yep. Grandmother was right. Screwed. With a capital F for sure.

  45. Michael Noblesville,IN.

    Nothing wrong w/the ads, I even agree w/them 100%. Women sell car ads, they ruled the 60's-80's. They can't drive worth a crap even today, too busy w/their stupid phones. Nothing like a sexy babe selling a car ad, I'm a 70's/80's guy and always loved and paid attention to a hot chick selling a car.. The Dodge ad is my fave, the girl knows her place.. Everyone has their opinion, that's mine. The dude carrying the bags for the 40 Plymouth was kinda cool too, it fit the times, love it..

  46. Murf United States

    Ha! Yep, the ads do slight men. But look closer men, IT'S NOT NEW, it has been going on for OVER 40 YEARS. We are too dumb to do practically anything according to a vast majority of today's ads, even crack open an egg. When are we gonna start complaining? Then maybe dozens of the ads will disappear and we can see interesting programs that run more than 35 minutes out of an hour. And at a volume that is the average of the show it accompanies. OR a gadget that kills the volume when an ad comes on. PS - I love the VW commercial.

  47. Linda Ringgold, GA

    So the name of this article was *Politically Incorrect Car Ads from Yesteryear*, but you see, they weren't politically incorrect back then. It was just the way it was. Rehashing those ads does nothing for anyone, in my opinion. Were women deemed incapable of driving a car? Kind of stupid, yes, because I, for one, consider myself a great driver but maybe because my Dad taught me to drive; therefore, I drive more like a man. Back then, I was fighting for women's rights and thought I'd never live to see the day when women have the ability to do things I never thought of doing. Good for them - but my generation paved the way for them. As for the ads themselves, I don't remember any of them, but if I was reading them back then I probably paid no attention to them. It was just the way of the time. And whoever the joker was who wrote his politically incorrect version of those ads needs to work someplace else, not for HVA.

  48. Robert San Francisco, California

    Thanks for for republishing some of the best ads from that era. I've pasted them to my computer and printed them so the I can print them and display them. Thanks again. by the way, they were good days, not perfect, but good. Time for you to reevalaute your biases and prejudices against the people of that time.

  49. Gary Palm harbor, fl

    Ah,yes! Whine whine whine. As for me, I just want to get into my Corvair Monza. Spyder, fire up the turbo 6 and as I come up on the clutch, run over and flatten Ralph Nader. The start of a perfect day. Cheers everyone!!!!