Home » This Weird Mexican AMC Brochure Looks Like ’70s Yearbook Photography: Cold Start

This Weird Mexican AMC Brochure Looks Like ’70s Yearbook Photography: Cold Start

Cs Amc Olanmills1
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Do you remember how yearbook and family photos looked in the 1970s and 1980s? I mean other than the embarrassing haircuts and the staggering amount of brown that could be crammed into a photo? I think the iconic look was a soft-focus picture of the subject in a dark, menacing void, with another angle of their face superimposed behind them, large and looming, in slightly softer focus and a touch transparent. These were the hallmark of a company called Olan Mills, and for some reason in 1979 AMC’s Mexican division, VAM.

VAM stood for Vehículos Automotores Mexicanos, which even if you don’t speak a word of Spanish, I bet you can guess what it means. They were owned by the Mexican government, with AMC having a smaller chunk of ownership, too. They imported and built AMCs and later some Renaults, but mostly AMC cars with funny names.

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They did make one fully unique car, the VAM Lerma:

Cs Amc Vam Verma

This was a luxury car meant to replace the Matador, and used body panels from the AMC Concord sedan with a hatchback rear from the AMC Spirit. It was a novel idea still, a hatchback full-sized luxury car, and it was kind of a flop, but still, look at that!

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More importantly, let’s just take a moment to enjoy these very Olan Mills-style VAM cars, the whole family, in all their glory:

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Cs Amc Olanmills2

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EricTheViking
EricTheViking
28 days ago

The blue American nameplate affixed to the grille has poorly kerned, shaped, and sized letters. It’s as if you have used two different sets of similar-looking plastic tack-back letters to create the mould for the nameplate.

Greensoul
Greensoul
28 days ago

The Lerma 4 (5?) door looks like a wanna be Rover 3500. Somewhat surprisingly attractive, Frankenstein-like automobile .I wonder how the Lerma would have sold here in the states. Hatchbacks were considered cool in the 80s.

PlatinumZJ
PlatinumZJ
29 days ago

Ah yes, Olan Mills, the portrait studio that repeatedly implied to my parents that my little reddish birthmark was a disgusting blemish that needed to be airbrushed away. (Much to their credit, Mom and Dad never opted for this.) And whatever process Olan Mills used to enhance shadows was applied everywhere, making me look like I had horrible little peg teeth.

Back to the article, plaid upholstery really needs to be an option again.

Rapgomi
Rapgomi
29 days ago

I want want want a VAM Lerma!! I might like the 2 door even more than the 4 door…

And what is with that oddball “American” badge on the LH top front of a chrome grille?

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
29 days ago
Reply to  Rapgomi

VAM continued to use the Rambler American name on the AMC Concord, it was actually the “VAM Rambler American” in full.

American Motors’ passenger car branding strategy was kind of a mess from the mid 1960s onward

Alec Weinstein
Alec Weinstein
29 days ago

That Pacer pic almost makes me like the high hood.

Almost.

Mr. Frick
Mr. Frick
29 days ago

Matador has got to be the best Mexican car name, ever, and that’s no bull.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
28 days ago
Reply to  Mr. Frick

Cordoba, Veracruz and Durango would challenge your Matador to a surf-off in Baja.

I think its worth taking a dive into the Plymouth Valiant Acapulco.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
29 days ago

My Spanish is rusty. Did they pronounce it Heep?

AlterId
AlterId
29 days ago

Only when they saw David’s.

An easy joke, but don’t tell me you weren’t thinking it too.

Flyingstitch
Flyingstitch
29 days ago

Those were funnier than I expected. The Pacer is my favorite.

Also, the Lerma looks like an alternative-universe Citation, though presumably a bit larger. I kind of like it. I have a soft spot for big 4-door fastback hatchbacks.

MAX FRESH OFF
MAX FRESH OFF
29 days ago
Reply to  Flyingstitch

Love a good Mirthmobile! My godmother had one for a bit in the early 1980’s and I remember tooling around town in that thing.

Strangek
Strangek
29 days ago

LOL. I miss this style of portraiture. Most of mine came a little later in the 80s and into the 90s. We had weird like neon lines and lasers and stuff in the background of our portraits.

Last edited 29 days ago by Strangek
Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
29 days ago
Reply to  Strangek

Did you get your face in a brandy snifter?

Nlpnt
Nlpnt
29 days ago

FWIU one of the problems with the Lerma and why they didn’t sell more is that each one required two CKD kits, a Concord one and a Spirit one.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
29 days ago

I insist on an Autopian Olan Mills family portrait. Bonus if you ‘shop in the internationalers. Stern Dadvid Tracy, proud Torch, and those little scampering rascals Mercedes and Thomas and Lewin and Adrian sitting still just long enough for the camera to go off, all under the benevolent watchful gaze of the disembodied head of Grampa Hardigree.

Mark didn’t make the shoot because someone convinced him there was a nearby Kmart with a portrait studio and a Buick Regal with a $2,500 OBO For Sale sign in the window.

(Apologies to anyone I left off, this joke is already stretched tighter than a pair of active driving trousers)

Lizardman in a human suit
Lizardman in a human suit
29 days ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

Ya know, after a certain age, people should do a public service and not wear active driving trousers. May I suggest a nice pair of inactive sitting pants, aka sweats?

Last edited 29 days ago by Lizardman in a human suit
StillNotATony
StillNotATony
29 days ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

Adrian is 100% the sullen goth teenager who was dragged along for the family portrait and refused to dress in the same theme/color as everyone else.

IT’S NOT A PHASE MOM!!!

10001010
10001010
29 days ago

I kind of like it, I mean except for the J10 they all manage to show the car from multiple angles in a single image. Maximizing your limited ad space when you can only afford a half or quarter page. Typical AMC figuring out how to stretch a buck, o peso, si lo prefieres.

IRegertNothing, Esq.
IRegertNothing, Esq.
29 days ago

Ah yes, the portrait technique of making it look like the subject is being haunted by their own disembodied head. The AMC ads look like they put a Power Wheels version on the hood of the full sized vehicle.

Scott W.
Scott W.
29 days ago

Wow. Just … wow.
As a child of TWO Concords during my formative/driving years (first a Blue 4-door (not the wagon, damnit!), then post-divorce Brown 4-door replacement) (either or both which took me to get my photos done at Olan Mills) this is too fucking early in the week to go catatonic on how truly – bizarrely – weird life was in the heady times of the 70s to 80s.
We all survived so – there’s that.
I will give the Lerma coup a few points for being a stylish alternative to the 4-door sedans my parents went with. Long life the airline belt buckle door handles!!
Thanks Jason for a trip-tastic start to the week. Now to see if there’s any O-Mills in the Triangle to have family portraits taken!!

DialMforMiata
DialMforMiata
29 days ago

The Lerma is a legitimately nice-looking car. I’m a little surprised AMC didn’t sell it in the US, I think it would have done reasonably well.

Mr. Canoehead
Mr. Canoehead
29 days ago
Reply to  DialMforMiata

Definitely has a Rover SD-1 vibe to it.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
29 days ago
Reply to  DialMforMiata

AMC did evaluate it for the US market, but by 1981, had already decided on phasing out the AMC brand in favor of Renault, so it wouldn’t have been worth federalizing it or tooling up for maybe 1 or 2 years of production, the Concord and Spirit were gone after 1983, the Eagle was cut back to two body styles, and then further cut to just the wagon not long after.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
29 days ago

Lerma: A Mexican car, composed from American car parts, named after a little a Spanish town. Truly a world car. Maybe not this one, but some world.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
29 days ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Lerma is also the name of several places in Mexico, including two towns (all named after the original in Spain, of course, but VAM were probably thinking more local when they chose it)

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
29 days ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Highly likely, I’d agree.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
29 days ago

That Lerma 4-door hatch actually works. Might be the best-looking Concord body.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
29 days ago

Is it true that all of these cars came from the factory with shag carpeting as standard? 😉

Lew Schiller
Lew Schiller
29 days ago

“Olan Mills is coming to town Jimmy…we need to see if your suit still fits.”
https://biscuitsandcrazy.net/685-2/

Last edited 29 days ago by Lew Schiller
Cool Dave
Cool Dave
29 days ago

Man, these are awesome! There’s a severe lack of sweaters and large glasses though..

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
29 days ago
Reply to  Cool Dave

And “feathered” hair. Can’t forget the feathered hair.
Feathered Hair: The Popular Haircut in the 1970s and Early ’80s ~ Vintage Everyday

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
29 days ago

I was not prepared for this level of nostalgia on a Monday morning. As a child of the 70’s and 80’s, there are WAY too many photos of this style in my parents home.

Too bad none of them have cars in them.

Lizardman in a human suit
Lizardman in a human suit
29 days ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

Now I want to do an olam mills style picture of me with what matters most to me in the background. Sorry family, I ment my truck

Last edited 29 days ago by Lizardman in a human suit
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