I’m out here on the West Coast today, about to head out to Pebble Beach, which is why Cold Start is so late today. It’s more of a Tepid Start, I suppose. Anyway, I’m pretty sure I can make it up to you with something fascinating I happened to see. It’s an early, 1969 example of that incredible staple of auto insurance ads: the strangely genericized car! You know what I mean, right? A car used in an ad that has be denuded of all badging and as many specifically-identifying marks. A car whose styling has been, often clumsily, redesigned so as to avoid being able to be positively identified as any sort of specific car. And here, in this old Hella lighting brochure, are a few great examples of this rare and strange air-brusher’s art.
I happened to see this old Hella brochure here if you’d like to look at it in its full, lots of lighting solutions glory.
Look at that top image up there, of that nifty little rally car. What, exactly is that? It appears to be rear-engined, due to the lack of a grille or any real intakes up front, which also, happily, makes for a better background to show off those four Hella driving lamps. It has a vaguely NSU look, or maybe a Ford Taunus? But nothing really matches up. That cabin air vent and those crossed-arms wipers seem like a clue, too, but I can’t quite place it.
Which means that air brush-wiedling artist did their job! This next one is a bit easier to guess the source of:
Clearly, this started as a picture of a Mini, but it’s been de-badged and that grille changed just enough to feel a bit different. I think the fenders and bumper have been chubbied up a bit, too? This would be a challenging one for the genericizer.
The rear ends of cars got this treatment, too, since, of course, Hella also made taillights and rear foglamps:
This one really feels like a modified VW (née-NSU) K70. I bet that’s where this one started, and then the taillights were re-shaped, along with the bumper. Also, that big red glow is doing a lot of obfuscating work here, too.
Now this one I’m almost sure started as a Ford Taunus: those indicators on the corners there, with the bumper ends curling up to them seem like a giveaway. But if you look at a source late-’60s Taunus, you can see just how much work went into changing the look around!
Again we have no front grille, and while maybe the cooling air could be coming in through those two below-bumper slots, I prefer to think of this as a big rear-engined sedan we never knew. Maybe even mid-engined, with the rear seat passengers propping their feet on a huge, warm, carpeted lump that houses the engine.
In these decades before Photoshop was even an idea, you have to really respect how well these artists did their work, with compressor-powered air brushes and photographs and glue and imagination. I want to find more of this stuff now!