Dodge hoped that the Charger Daytona would be an irresistible gift a man had to give to himself—especially if he was slightly older, and interested in injecting sporty vitality into his life. The Charger, as its name suggested, was a modern-day horse—a horse fit or a knight or a cavalry officer. With a charger, a man could go anywhere—do anything. But this was not a commercial version of a pedigree racing car (like the original Charger ‘muscle car’), this was a rebadged Chrysler Cordoba, cynically targeted at the ‘personal luxury’ market.
With the US automobile industry in a state of shock after the 1973 oil crisis, sports and muscle car sales had collapsed: Charger sales had peaked in 1973 and fell dramatically in 1974. This campaign was part of an initiative to rebuild the Charger brand: a mid-sized luxury car with ‘high-end trim’ and a self-consciously sporty look, although its ‘racy look’ was mere styling. The Charger boasted blue leather seats, chrome trim, and a polished wooden dashboard. It didn’t have a clock—it had a ‘Chronometer’. Although it was styled as all-American car, it was manufactured in Ontario, Canada.
The Triumph TR7 advert is striking because it looks more 1980s than mid-’70s. The sleek, TR7 typeface, the bold graphic design of the advert, the glossy reflections, the back and electric red almost feels like something from a New Wave 80s pop video. Although claiming to be, ‘The shape of things to come’, like the US car industry, the British car industry (amalgamated into the nationalised British Leyland), was also in difficulty. The answer was to flog its wares to American consumers on the other side of ‘the pond’. The TR7 wasn’t even available in the UK until a year after its US launch. Unfortunately, the TR7 suffered from quality control issues (attributed to poor industrial relations), defects, glitches and general unreliability that affected the car’s reputation. Some of the advertising copy seems inappropriate—‘From the land of British Racing Green’ probably wouldn’t have made much sense to a mainstream American audience, especially given that the TR7 pictured was red.
The Jaguar XJ-12 (another British Leyland product), was a luxury family saloon with a performance engine. Here it’s pictured on a lawn in front of an English country home. It’s a ‘class of one’ because it was the only V-12 production saloon in 1975 (perfect for those high petrol prices). The copy goes into detail about the warranty: ‘20,000 miles or 12 months’ for ‘any part of the car that is defective or simply wears out’. Merely the mention of ‘defective’ or ‘simply wears out’ hardly inspires confidence. The Jaguar was an attractive, but conservatively styled saloon, with a powerful engine, but with hindsight, one wonders if American consumers would have desired something more flamboyant? How appealing would a country home on wheels be to a sophisticated metropolitan audience?