Classic car brochures – bringing your dream to life’

By Classic Yorkshire columnist Tony Lofthouse.

I admit it, as a young car ‘geek’ of the 70s collecting car brochures seemed the coolest thing! It brought buying your dream car that bit closer.

Picking up brochures from local dealerships or writing off for a particular favourite was always great fun. That anticipation of waiting for a big envelope coming through the post!

Putting pen to paper asking for a brochure could even bring the extra surprise of the offer of a ‘test drive’. Little did the receiver know that my car buying days were at least a decade away!

Bagfuls could be picked up at motor shows with posters and key rings an extra bonus.

In the day these sales guides to the latest from Austin, Rootes, Hillman, Triumph and other leading makers were vital ways of getting buyers into the showroom and clinching a sale. Some manufacturers like Vauxhall and Ford would promote their range by producing big thick colour brochures. Pity the poor postman!

The idea of the car brochure goes back to pre-war days and early examples showed unique imagery featuring stretched cars and ‘stretching it’ strap-lines – ‘wizardry on wheels!’ (the Mini), ‘jet smooth whisper quiet all new…’ (Vauxhall Viva) and ‘the car that leaped to fame’ (Jowett Jupiter).

The two decades following the war became the golden age of the car illustrator and it wasn’t until the late 60s that colour photography would dominate.

For car manufacturers, it was all about selling the aspirational aspect of owning a new car with shiny imagery to boot, featuring stylish couples, happy families with children or the middle class country gent.

Sadly, time and technology has caught up with this form of car advertising. Today, sales are more likely to start with browsing websites or clicking a QR code.

They might be relics of the past but old brochures still command a value. Collections or individual brochures pop up on eBay with prices starting from as little as £5 going up to hundreds of pounds. It seems the more exotic the car the rarer the brochure and higher the prices.

For classic car enthusiasts tracking down the glossy guide to go with their new restored model offers a perfect match, adding valuable specifications such as dimensions, colour options, trim levels, engine sizes, capacities and much more.

Alternatively, specialist online sites such as motorologist.com or cartrade.com can give you the option of downloading brochures in PDF format to hundreds of old and current cars.

To find out more about vintage car brochures go to motorworldcarbrochures.co.uk or classiccarcatalogue.com


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