The Ladies of Broughamville

1974 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham GM

I got the car brochure collecting bug very early in life. One reason was that I came from a family of gearheads, so it was partially due to genetics. At a very early age—kindergarten and first grade—my grandmother would pick me up in either her black ’77 Thunderbird or my grandfather’s navy blue ’77 Mark V, take me to Razz-Ma-Tazz (a long defunct kiddie arcade with a slot car track meandering through the whole place), followed by lunch (frequently Bishop’s Buffet, sometimes Pizza Hut or Wendy’s) and then on to the Lincoln-Mercury dealer to see the new cars. I always would get a brochure. Or several.

1976 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham Chrysler

To this day, I still have the full-line 1985 Lincoln, 1986 Town Car, and 1986 Mark VII brochures received on those long-gone visits. I would have been 5–6 years old at the time. So, my brochure love goes deep. As proven by the stacks of glossy sales literature in my collection today.

1975 Cadillac Eldorado GM

Thanks to family friends who knew of my love of cars, on two separate occasions I got a large cache of 1970s–80s car brochures, which made my addiction to vintage car literature much more acute. This precipitated a wild and crazy spending spree on eBay starting in about 1999 and ending—mostly—by the mid 2000s. By then, I was naturally a bit more interested in the lovely ladies featured in many of these 1970s brochures.

1972 Cadillac Eldorado with Cabriolet roof GM

You see, back then car companies weren’t in love with stark backgrounds, bland colors, and bland design. These days, whether it’s a BMW, Ford, or Nissan, select any current sales brochure (if you can actually find one, as many are pdf only) and you are likely to see a gray car with a gray background, gray buildings, and gray sky. And likely it’s a crossover instead of a more visually interesting coupe, luxury sedan, or convertible.

1977 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham Chrysler

Who is running today’s advertising agencies? Why does everything look the same? And I don’t mean the cars themselves, I mean the brochure pictures and art. A few years back I was at the local Audi-Mercedes-Porsche dealer. I picked up a brochure for the Audi A5 coupe, a car I’ve always admired. After flipping through it and only seeing black or silver cars featured, I put it back in the rack. The entire catalog might as well have been printed in black and white, since the clors were so bland. Only the orange turn signals and red taillights confirmed that it was a color brochure.

1975 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham GM

That’s why it’s always a pleasure to dive into my old car brochures and admire the wide color choices and upholstery styles of what once was. Yellows! Greens! Reds! Medici Velour! Sierra grain leather! Monticello velour! The models often seen assisting in “the look” of said brochures only add to the appeal.

1979 Lincoln Versailles Ford

Yes, you could get interior colors! And leather was leather then, not the poor rubberized facsimile seen on many modern automobiles. And color. Yes. I already mentioned it, but I’m mentioning it again. Lovely, glorious color: maroon, blue, green, white, dove gray, saddle tan, and red.

1979 Lincoln Continental Town Coupé Ford

Yes, even aqua velour. Are today’s cars better than ’70s luxury yachts? By and large, yes. Safer, longer-lived in most if not all cases, more efficient in most every case. And yet … Those Broughamtastic land cruisers of the Me Decade sure were snazzy, were they not? And whether or not you love these velour clad cruisers, one thing they weren’t was meek. Or bland.

1978 Ford LTD Landau Ford

And ladies were arguably classier too. Remember when people dressed up? In a world where folks wear jeans and T-shirts to weddings, I feel like a man without a country with my golf shirts, slacks, and loafers. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong decade. I’m rambling …

1974 Imperial LeBaron Chrysler

Anyway, at least I can always go back to the ’70s with my trove of brochures and remember what was. All you can do, when the flux capacitor hasn’t yet been invented.

1978 Buick Electra Park Avenue GM

Perhaps it’s for the best. As much as I love ’70s cars and ’70s TV shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Bob Newhart Show, I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed the bellbottoms, Nehru jackets, and other “with-it” ’70s pop items!

1973 Ford Thunderbird Ford

Now if you’ll excuse me, I recently bought the first season of The Bob Newhart Show on DVD and need to watch it. Until next time, keep calm and Brougham on. And always tip your bartender.

1976 Cadillac Seville GM


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