The Ultimate History of British Car Advertising in the 20th Century

More than 1000 adverts beautifully presented and critically analysed

Auto Heritage has released the most comprehensive history of British car print advertisements ever produced.

This monumental work chronicles the huge changes in the way British cars were marketed in the main motoring magazines and elsewhere from the basic sketches and simple text promoting the crude early cars of the 1900s, to the exceptionally slick thought-provoking adverts designed to sell many thousands of the much more advanced cars of the post-war years. 

More than 1000 adverts featured

Presented in a handy anthology of 16 individual paperback reference books, more than 1000 adverts are featured. These include those for the most popular British cars of the 20th Century, such as the Mini, Morris Minor and MGB, to numerous highly obscure models such as the Crouch Carette, Gilbern Genie and Tornado Talisman.

While digital and video adverts are now the main marketing tools for today’s manufacturers, for most of the 20th Century, it was print adverts in leading magazines which played a hugely important role in determining the level of sales of each individual model, and to a significant extent, the success or otherwise of the companies themselves.

Famous marketing slogans

As the industry developed and prospered, many of the manufacturers paid expensive ad agencies to produce stunning images, clever headlines, flowing text and appealing designs to emphasise every car’s notable features. Amongst some of the best-known marketing slogans which were used are: Invest in an Austin; Grace, Space and Pace (for Jaguar); The Finest Motor Car in the World (for Rolls-Royce); Proudly Made, Proudly Owned (for Daimler); As Old as the Industry, as Modern as the Hour (for Riley); Hand Over to Land Rover and Buy Wisely, Buy Wolseley.

Stunning images

The original adverts invariably featured a very basic B&W photograph or line-drawing of a stationary car. However, in time, with more resources and creativity, the ads became much more visually appealing. Many either featured stunning colour photographs or dramatic paintings showing the cars in exotic or evocative locations, with some of the ads so impressive they subsequently became works of art in their own right.

Celebrity endorsements

Over the years many of the adverts have also featured numerous celebrities and other well-known owners who have all helped with the sales push. In the 1910s, Winston Churchill, David Lloyd George and other leading politicians were all featured by the Napier company to sell its latest model. Between the wars, many of the country’s leading race drivers helped to increase the sales of numerous models from MG to SS Cars (Jaguar). In the 1970s, Lulu, Twiggy, Eric Sykes and other popular entertainers of the period all featured in various adverts for the Mini. Meanwhile, in the 1980s and 90s, motor racing champion Nigel Mansell and Hollywood A-list actress Joan Collins, amongst others, helped to bring glitz and glamour to the Metro.

War time adverts

There were also many memorable adverts during the wars. Although car production virtually came to a standstill in Britain during both world wars, with most manufacturers making assorted armaments, the major magazines continued to be published. This enabled the leading car makers to promote the important war work they were doing, as well as let readers know that as soon as the war ended they would be bringing out even more advanced models than they had produced before.

For any classic car enthusiast or student of marketing or artistic design, this major work is a fascinating insight into the way that different creative techniques influenced the sales of one of Britain’s most important manufacturing products of recent history.

Compiled by marketing historian Tim Cleave, the 16 individual volumes in the series cover the entire 20th Century, with three separate volumes each for the highly productive years of the 1950s and 60s, and two volumes covering the 1930s, 1940s and 1970s.

All volumes are available for only £5.99 each with the full set available at the special price of only £69.99 (saving over £25).