Classic 4×4 Commercials Are Charmingly Crude
Photography by Jeremy Heslup
Our film on the Jeep that’s been in Larry Shank’s family for more than 60 years has us thinking: just how were these types of vehicles sold? Who bought them? For the Willys “Universal” Jeep, after the military contracts had run out after the Second World War, the 4×4 was adapted for all sorts of uses—even towing aircraft, as you’ll see below.
We found a small selection of interesting classic ads that give a lot of insight into the type of rugged individuals who may have preferred a vehicle with which to explore the great outdoors.
This period commercial shows a Land Rover climbing a dam—and if you’re thinking, “Haven’t I seen this one before?” consider that Richard Hammond recreated the stunt on Top Gear before the show imploded.
This ad is filled with so many hilarious statements that I’m not sure where to start. My favorite bit of “dad” wisdom is probably the announcer’s enthusiastic: “Tell trails to get lost!” It’s 1973, and you want a Jeep.
Land Rover called the Range Rover “A Car For All Reasons”, and it’s easy to see why. In 1970, the way to introduce your latest wares was to have thundering music and your model lineup barreling over terrain found in who-knows-where.
The Workhorses Of Industry was the Willys-Overland promotional film for its line of products just after the Second World War—this is the earliest film we could find.
No, the Citroën Méhari is not four-wheel drive. But that didn’t stop it and its cousin, the 2CV, from being a workhorse for an entire generation of Europeans. Apart from the catchier tune, it wasn’t sold that much differently from the Willys Jeep.
This must be my favorite lost-in-translation advertisements, for the Ssangyong Korrando. The South Korean Korrando was itself a version of the Jeep built by Mitsubishi in Japan after the Second World War. By the time this commercial rolled around, however, it was destined to find a whole different sort of buyer…be sure to stay for the (confusing) end.