Jason’s kid has a new bus stop, so he keeps missing his ride to school; hence, Jason is now driving Otto. In case these things came up, he was asking if any of us had a burning desire to do a Cold Start, in the Torch tradition of showing car literature from years past. I am surprised to see that he’s never fully delved into what must be the Greatest Car Brochure Of All Time.
Recently Noel Gallagher mentioned in a documentary that “album covers were the poor man’s art collection.” Today, the digital age has reduced that iconic artwork to a simple square on the screen of your streaming app. The same holds true for car sales material; as a GenX automobile enthusiast, back in the day nothing could beat your personal assemblage of car brochures. To walk your ten-year-old self out of a Porsche dealership with that glossy printed prize in your grasp was a feeling of elation you couldn’t quite describe. Every brochure made a car look far more glamorous than they likely were in real life, but the literature for luxury machines elevated them to near-mythical status in our young minds. To me, the brochure that ranks as the GOAT is easily the one for the 1973 Citroen-Maserati SM.
I’ve heard marketing people say that they aren’t selling a car; they’re selling the idea of a car. I can’t think of anything that better defines “the idea” of a car than this fifty-year-old car brochure. The SM will forever rank as one of my favorite machines, and part of the appeal is the mystery. Just the idea of an exotic Italian engine in a hydro pneumatically braked, steered, and suspended car is almost too exotic to bear, and you would imagine that anyone owning one of these things would likely lead quite an exciting but challenging life.
The SM brochure seems more like snippets from some foreign language film where the car being sold just happens to appear in it. The film, or brochure, of whatever it is, begins with the shot above of an SM being lifted by crane off of a cargo ship in a manner similar to the heroin-filled Lincoln in The French Connection.
This scene from the brochure was copied almost verbatim for the opening of the 1988 movie Rain Man, where the Citroen is replaced by one of the Lamborghinis that spell the end of Tom Cruise’s character’s grey market car business.
A few pages later, we see a beautiful woman riding with what must be The Most Interesting Man In The World. Despite having snagged a guy with an SM, she seems quite sad, lonely, and partially aware of his nefarious activities.
She might even be yelling at him in one of these shots. “WHAT IS GOING ON, STEFAN??” she screams. “All is fine, darling, nothing to fear” he responds without even taking is eyes off of the road.
Later images in the brochure make it look as Michelle is right; Interpol is indeed aware that something is up as well and watching her man, as these espionage-style shots track his movement. Is this a car brochure?
I don’t know what’s happening in this picture book, but the life the people in the brochure are leading seems both exciting and terrifying, which is EXACTLY how I would imagine ownership of a Citroen-Maserati SM would be.
You do get a standard front/side/back later in subsequent pages, but it’s almost unnecessary.
Nobody considering the purchase of an SM wanted to check legroom data to compare it to a Mercedes or miles per gallon versus a Jaguar, and if they did this wasn’t a choice for them in the first place.
Marketing people of today need to take note; THIS is how you sell a car.