Home » Hella Was A Pioneer In The Genericized Car World: Cold Start

Hella Was A Pioneer In The Genericized Car World: Cold Start

Cs Hella Genericcar1
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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.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

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:

Cs Hella Genericcar 2

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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:

Cs Hella Genericcar 4

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.

Cs Hella Genericcar3

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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!

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Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
9 months ago

That’s Hella ‘va light setup with those 4 extras in line in the front 😉

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
9 months ago

Someone beat me to the Alfa 105-series GTV and the Opel Rekord. I’m impressed with figuring out the Audi 90, which I think is correct. My first thought was a Hillman Hunter, but a quick look proved me wrong.

Opa Carriker
Opa Carriker
9 months ago

When I attended Pittsburg State University, Kansas, I spent most of my last two years studying the dying art of page layout etc. using art board, hand drawing tools, ink, eraser, and on and on. When I graduated in 2000 I had achieved the unenviable accomplishment of a minor in “classic” commercial layout artist.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
9 months ago

Art director: So, you want to photograph cars? I have one word for you: specular highlights.
Me: That’s two words.
Art Director: I’m going to shift you over to copy writing.

Mr. Fusion
Mr. Fusion
9 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Hahaha. Someone has worked in publishing…

OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
9 months ago

My first impression was a BMW 2002 (the model name not the year of manufacture) with the grill removed, the bumper altered, and headlamps, uh, whatever the artist did to the headlamps. But, on closer inspection, the windshield wipers are wrong — maybe they were altered too.

Own four Hella lamps mounted on my TJ. Pricey but worth the expense. They are, ahem, hella good lamps.

Last edited 9 months ago by OverlandingSprinter
MiniDave
MiniDave
9 months ago

I think the first one is an Audi 90 or Super 90, there weren’t a lot of them sold here as the 100 was the main car Audi sold when they started importing them here, and the 90 was replaced by the Fox soon after.

Erik 127
Erik 127
9 months ago
Reply to  MiniDave

I think you are right. They replaced the headlights and indicators and closed the front.

Erik 127
Erik 127
9 months ago

That rear end is an early Alfa Giulia sprint, GT, GTV or GT Junior before they put big rear lights on it.

That first picture, I think they needed the guy to keep the bonnet down. Doesn’t seem to fit well.

Erik 127
Erik 127
9 months ago
Reply to  Erik 127

The one with the guy through the roof I think is an Opel Rekord where they lowered the grille to make it look like a mix with the Ford Taunus of that era. The Opel had the same trim (but straight) above the headlights and grille. Those indicators and crease in bonnet too.

Last edited 9 months ago by Erik 127
Arch Duke Maxyenko
Arch Duke Maxyenko
9 months ago

Hella was also a fantastic Math Rock band

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
9 months ago

Still is AFAIK!

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
9 months ago

Hella good cold start!

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