I was looking through some old Chrysler brochures on my morning ferry ride from my dilapidated houseboat to the converted garbage barge we use as Autopian HQ, when something caught my eye: width. The illustrations of the Chryslers shown in this 1964 brochure were absolutely emphasizing the sheer wideness of these cars and they looked really peculiar to me. And that got me thinking about a car that based its entire early advertising on this one very specific metric of girth, wideness, width. So let’s explore the magic of width!
Sure, these Chryslers are wide as hell, big, flattend pancakes of cars, but the true Width King, the Thor of Thicc, has to be the AMC Pacer. Because even though it was considered a small, compact car, it was a wide car, and look how much AMC leaned into that in their advertising:
Holy crap, they shoved a whole Ford Granada inside it! Damn! Why is this turning me on? Look at this next one, I love the improbable situation concocted to make the width absolutely crucial:
Oh, rich people and their constant demands for immediate fresh six-foot party subs! That’s what being rich is all about, ordering party subs right now and getting your snooty butler to look at the miserable sandwich-peasants with contempt! That’s living!
I like this one, too:
Who doesn’t see a car and say “look how wide it is! Let’s follow it!” I follow absolutely every wide car I see, no question.
This one is fun, too, and would be great to re-create now:
It’s a literal Ford LTD costume for a Pacer! It’s like car Halloween or car Purim!
Anyway, enjoy your wide Friday.
Width is so important anyone else tried to get three car seats across the back seat recently? Like its one of the things I look out for now!
I think you need to do more width articles. Width has always fascinated me. Standard garages have gotten wider and longer it seems over time. Cars looked narrower because of smaller wheels, but were they really? It seems like 80″ is the max width. You can get that in a Suburban and that is 220″ long. What is the length and width of some of these cars from the 60’s and 70’s. Surely a Cadillac sedan matched those. But when did width and length become a thing? Or was length always a thing? In the 1920’s those cars always seem massive length, but narrow. It would be interesting to overlay cars from various eras (not just big ones) but also the normal middle-of-the-road sedan over time to see what has happened.
I have a lot of questions.
It’s funny because in person the 63-64 Chrysler doesn’t seem all that wide unless you’re looking from that low,.dead on perspective. They actually feel quite sleek and well proportioned for a full sized car of the vintage.
In the 1957 model year, Ford advertised its cars as “Longer, Lower, Wider,” in a newspaper ad that had a picture of the new car spread across both pages.
Got me a Chrysler, it’s as big as a whale, and it’s about to set sail… on the converted garbage barge.
The olive slicing bit in the giant sandwich ad has to be riffing on the earlier Mercury Marquis ad with a diamond being cut in half (that also inspired SNL’s Royal Deluxe II ad with a slightly more sensitive cut), right?
Pontiac hit the jackpot with its Wide-Trak ads in 1959, and the industry followed.
It was a different time. My first car was a 1962 Dynamic 88 Holiday tank, I called it the Old Snowmobile). Back then, we used to see ads and cars like this… https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/ovAAAOSwCCFiu7OY/s-l1600.jpg
“…ferry ride from my dilapidated houseboat to the converted garbage barge we use as Autopian HQ…
So you *did* wind up moving David to LA by way of The Backrooms and accidentally depositing yourself into a parallel universe where you never moved back away from that now-waterlogged city?
I feel like someone should have monkeyed with the CSS for this article to make the layout wiiiiiiiiiider.
this had a lot to do with stability at a time when tires were still not that great and one finger power steering and cloud smooth floating down the road was a thing. These days it is just to fit us wide americans in the cars.
Yeah, Ford Pinto commercials bragged about having a wider track than small imports for better stability.
I also remember being shown a very, very dated film in high school drivers ed that had been produced in the mid 1970s – was on the topic of how to safely drive today’s new smaller cars and also safely share the road with them, and it went a lot into the dangers of cross winds from bigger vehicles, as if a Civic or Rabbit was going to be blown out of its lane by a passing semi. But that was a thing that was very much on people’s minds then
It seems like “converted garbage barge we use as Autopian HQ” might be a little misleading. After seeing the conditions David is willing to live in, I assume it was just a barge until he arrived. “Converted garbage barge” and “converted to garbage barge” have very different implications, Jason.
“Longer, lower, wider” always made me feel a little, um, strange when I was pre-pubescent.
Why does the Pacer stop AFTER crossing the tracks? Also, maybe it’s just the incredibly blurry video, but is that Dr. House driving?
Can’t lure gullible buyers to predatory AMC showrooms if you lose them, right?
Just like today, influencers don’t want to lose their followers.
One carmaker (I want to say Pontiac?) went even more specific. I recall seeing a clip from a late ’60s ad where two people were opening the hood of the latest model, and one comments, “Why it’s as wide as a bowling alley in there!”
So go ahead, you AMC amateurs. Talk about how much width you give to your lowly passengers. We here at Pontiac are working to ensure plenty of comfortable living space for our engines. We’re on another level.
AMC holds the record going the other way on width, the 1961 reskin of the Rambler American dropped three full inches of width around an unchanged inner unibody.
The reason there was so much fat to cut was the old “bathtub” styling had been designed with skirted front wheels that needed a huge amount of in-body room to have anything like a practical amount of wheel cut. The fenders were opened up for 1955 but there wasn’t money at that point for enough of a reskin to drop the now-excess width.
It probably was Pontiac. That’s back when they promoted themselves as “Wide Track” Pontiac as a differentiator. Grown up engineer me always wonders what really made them wide track, especially when compared to its corporate cousins. In 1969 advertising materials, the Chevelle range specs a 59/59 F/R track width. The Tempest range specs 61/60. It couldn’t just be offset wheels as everything would offset the same amount. Oh well. A mystery for another day.
Damn! Why is this turning me on?
For the same reason you commissioned the graphics guys to design sexy oysters, you dirty dirty man
(I am the graphics guy shhhhh)
Poor little sexy oysters.
The time has come,’ the Torch said,
To talk of many things:
Of width — and lights — and sealing-wax —
Of babbitt bearings — and rings —
And why the coolant is boiling hot —
And whether Miatas have wings.’
Take all the stars, if we had stars to give.
Disappointed there isn’t at least a shoutout to the relentlessly advertised “Wide Track” 1997 Grand Prix here.
except that was what sold Pontiacs in the 60’s the widetrack call out was on almost all BOP literature. https://i0.wp.com/www.curbsideclassic.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/111_0923.jpg?ssl=1
That GP was a great car. Sexy body + 3800 is a rare thing.