Home » These Are The Most Baffling ‘Generic Cars’ Used In Advertisements

These Are The Most Baffling ‘Generic Cars’ Used In Advertisements

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As a bank or an insurance company, you obviously have to advertise your often uninteresting products to consumers. If your services are related to automobiles, it’s going to be tough to hawk your wares without showing some kind of car. The question is, what car will you show?

This is a difficult thing to do for a variety of reasons. If you show one particular car it might alienate those that don’t drive something similar. A big SUV in the spot might indicate that you won’t get the best loan or six-month policy on a Subaru. Worse than that, the maker of that large off-roader might not want their vehicle in your advertisement: we have our own financing sources to push on those poor suckers, dammit!

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

The challenge then is to make a car that looks like everycar and no particular car at all. Today most banks will have a Photoshopped generic-looking thing in their ads that you swear you’ve seen before; often they’re so lazy that they just rubber-stamp-tool the logo off of the grille and call it good, or they’ll drop in some prefabricated looks-like-something car such as these:

Insurance Car 12 17b

 

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Insurance Car 12 17c
National Commercial Bank, glass.co

This practice goes back to at least the 1950s, with art departments cutting and splicing pictures or doctoring them in pre-Photoshop ways.  However, at least one bank tried to get creative with the idea.

Starting in 1971, the bank Manufacturers Hanover Trust wanted to show that they could finance literally “any car.” To show this, their advertising agency contacted legendary custom car builder Gene Winfield, a person we’ve mentioned on the site before as the builder of the Star Trek Shuttlecraft. Winfield was tasked with making an “AnyCar,” a physical vehicle made up of dozens of different car parts. His first, the AnyCar I, looked a bit like a pre-war dual-cowl phaeton with a Volkswagen Beetle as the enclosed section in back, flanked by Chrysler fins and many, many more recognizable parts.

Anycar Full
Manufacturers Hanover Trust

Anycar 1 D

Anycar 1 C

For all you Parts Bin Puzzle players out there, block off the list on the far left and test your skills:

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Anycar 1 A

Manufacturers Hanover Trust (too long a name, glad they got consolidated later) didn’t seem to follow the BMW “LCI” concept of facelifting a car a few years later, instead commissioning the all-new 1973 AnyCar II not long after. The follow-up features a fully enclosed depression-era body surrounded by more late model parts.

Anycar 2 A

As this 1978 commercial proves, the AnyCar II was in fact a running and driving automobile:

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The final iteration of the theme appears to be the most ambitious: the 1975 AnyCar III. Legendary builder George Barris is responsible for this one, and there’s the usual hodge-podge of mismatched car parts.

Anycar 3 B

Anycar 3 A

This press release tries to call out what the individual parts on the car are from, though I do see a few that are clearly mislabeled. Those are not Toyota hubcaps, for example. Again all you Parts Binners: let me know more in the comments!

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Anycar 3 C

Anycar 3 D

That Rolls Royce style grille hides a mic-dropping trick: it’s attached to an electric go-cart that drives out of the nose:

Anycar 3 E

How is this possible? Quite simply, the AnyCar III is based on what the ad says is a “VW Station Wagon.” The greenhouse shape and headrests indicate that it’s a model 412 “Type 4,” which allows such mind-boggling gimmicks thanks to its massive frunk space.

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Vw 412 12 17
Volkswagen of America

Mish-mash car ads didn’t totally disappear after the seventies. I can remember another from a manufacturer that wanted to show that its “luxury” sedan didn’t possess the best features of merely one prestige car, but all of them. In launching the Imperial, Chrysler was desperate to prove the K-Car based sedan featured the best attributes of the top-tier makers.

Chrysler Bitsa1
Chrysler

Look! The Imperial has a four speed automatic transmission! Just like a Jag-wire there! Yeah, a bit of stretch for sure, and obviously Chrysler didn’t try to make a physical example of this creation. Still, what is most interesting here is that this random collection of parts could, with some tweaking, turn into a rather interesting machine. Let’s take a look at that odd assemblage and see if we can figuratively use a little sandpaper and spray paint (actually my very, very crude Photoshoppery) and make something that works …

Chrysler Bitsa2

Whoa! The result looks like it could be a Porsche 928 combined with a Ferrari 400 that had its tail squeezed into more XJ6-like proportions. I’m kind of liking it; if nothing else it works better as a Porsche sedan than the early humpback Panameras that Thomas Hundal just wrote about being sold for chump change.

Even that funky AnyCar 1 at the top can be an inspiration for some odd mid-sixties villain’s limousine with lift-off driver’s roof:

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Anycar Full Compare

It’s honestly not that surprising to me; when designing things at the office, we often turn sketches upside down or take a bit of Sam’s sketch and a dollop of Courtney’s scribbles and make something work. Nine times out of ten it doesn’t work, but on that tenth time you break the mold and have a eureka moment.

Banks can show all of the generic cars they want in their advertising, but the fact that the “average” generic car today costs nearly $48,000 means that consumers are probably far more interested in seeing how long they can stretch out payments than if you’re willing to finance a ChevyHondaToyotaKia.

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Myk El
Myk El
3 months ago

Anyone else old enough to be thinking “I got it one piece at a time and it didn’t cost me a dime”?

Check the Wikipedia link and the picture of the promotional car.

DialMforMiata
DialMforMiata
3 months ago

Honestly, the Anycar 3 doesn’t look any worse than most of Barris’ “Kustoms”.

Martin Witkosky
Martin Witkosky
3 months ago

How about the little red car the GEICO gecko sometimes is seen driving in TV ads? It’s the front end of an Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite and the back end of an MGA.

Last edited 3 months ago by Martin Witkosky
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
3 months ago

That last one looks like a Citroen CX Pallas convertible/phaeton hearse.

Alan Christensen
Alan Christensen
3 months ago

“…finance a ChevyHondaToyotaKia.”

I had a crush on Chevonda Toykia back in middle school.

Not The Ford 289
Not The Ford 289
3 months ago

If they did an Anycar4 today, it wouldn’t be as noticeable and absurd looking as 1, 2, and 3. I’m not trying to say that all new cars look the same, but they all follow some of the same-ish lines (If staying away from trucks and supercars).

Boulevard_Yachtsman
Boulevard_Yachtsman
3 months ago

Today it’s just so much easier to… crossover from brand to brand than it used to be.

I’ll see myself out.

Freddy Bartholomew
Freddy Bartholomew
3 months ago

MHT was referred to as Manny Hanny before the consolidation.

Luxobarge
Luxobarge
3 months ago

consumers are probably far more interested in seeing how long they can stretch out payments than if you’re willing to finance a ChevyHondaToyotaKia.

One word: Thundercougarfalconbird.

Boulevard_Yachtsman
Boulevard_Yachtsman
3 months ago

These spectacular sleds secrete some serious sixties Soviet SARBness.

AlterId
AlterId
3 months ago

Re: AnyCar III — Astra Cruiser? And they’ve transposed the Eldorado (no space) and Mark IV attributions, which is especially egregious since the Eldorado script and Mark IV block text is on their respective padded luxury vinyl C-pillars. And with a Lucas headlight assembly, that thing could never be driven safely after dark.

Also: The compiled competitor to the Imperial throne has a hint of the roofline of the Seville/STS to come.

Right now that’s all I got.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
3 months ago

Some of the mishmashes remind me of The Homer car. I did go into this article first thinking it was going to be more like the generic looking CGI cars as first mentioned. But that also reminded me of the 2011 Mediocrity, which was like one of those generic unbranded cars made real (out of an original Kia Optima) just as a marketing stunt by Subaru.

Luxobarge
Luxobarge
3 months ago

My first thought was also The Homer. It’s even got the same upright grille!

James Davidson
James Davidson
3 months ago

I saw what must have been the Anycar II driving around the Upper East Side of Manhattan a couple of times in the 1970s. It was very real and looked completely ridiculous around other, normal cars. Also, the street name for Manufacturer’s Hannover Trust was Manny’s Hanny, which is shorter but not really much better.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
3 months ago
Reply to  James Davidson

Well, they got absorbed into Chemical Bank, which I don’t think is necessarily any better of a name in terms of resonating with consumers- although, it is certainly still way better than those meaningless crap names they make up today, like Truist. Both were throwbacks to when banks would specialize in serving particular industries (Manufacturers Hanover originally served primarily mechanics and engineering and manufacturing firms, Chemical was literally started as a division of a chemical company that also made medicines, dyes, and the like).

One of the few surviving companies with a name like that is Manufacturers & Traders Bank (M&T), which literally did originally service mostly manufacturers and merchants, and is also still primarily a business-oriented as opposed to consumer/retail-focused, bank.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
3 months ago

When I was going to Cal arts, I always loved driving past Gene Winfield‘s place and seeing what was in the parking lot Loved the Landmaster from damnation Alley. It was always parked there.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
3 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Crawford

Loved Damnation Alley: great drive-in movie for a kid. But moving to a country with giant flying cockroaches later that year did freak me out a bit given the department store scene with armored flesh-eating ones

Last edited 3 months ago by TOSSABL
Chris Stevenson
Chris Stevenson
3 months ago

I think I’ve seen these ads before, but I thought they were cut-and-paste collages, not real metal!

Mr. Frick
Mr. Frick
3 months ago

God, I love the AnyCar1. Now I’ll, dream it’s still out there somewhere and all I have to do is find it!

The Bishop
The Bishop
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Frick

If you do a quick search it appears to be out there. There’s images of it with a South African bank livery. Not making this up.

There’s also scale models available

Last edited 3 months ago by The Bishop
Gerontius Garland
Gerontius Garland
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Frick

It’s most of the way to a great Mad Max car. Just needs some surface rust and sharp greeblies.

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
3 months ago

If i was in the need of a generic looking car that nobody would bother about and forget instantly I would just plop in an Opel Mokka with a badge delete and call it a day.

Mr. Asa
Mr. Asa
3 months ago

Getting very strong Citroen Limo from the Anycar I remake at the end there.
Not sure if I approve or not.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Asa

Ha I just commented something similar, unaware of your comment. Glad I’m not imagining things that aren’t there.

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