Saturday, December 4, 2010

Soft Watercolors for Hard-Edged Muscle Cars

Elegantly Creative Brochure for Ford's 1970 Performance Lineup

Notice the juxtaposition of yellow and blue cars used in this spread, the hues of my sunflowers and morning glories from the past summer! Great colors are great colors wherever they're found.

M Y   C O L L E C T I O N — With a litho date of 8/69, this 8 1/2 x 11 inch, 16-page brochure documents Ford's phenomenal performance car lineup for the 1970 model year. Included are the Mustangs, Torinos and full-size Fords of legend—Boss 302, Mach 1, Torino GT and Cobra, Ranchero GT and Ford XL. As this booklet was produced at introduction time, the legendary production Boss 429 is absent. Neither is there a mention of the much-hyped Torino King Cobra, a good thing as it never progressed past the prototype stage. Even without those two additional powerhouses, these pages have enough horsepower and implied testosterone for any historic muscle car fan. 

I'm amused that the ad agency decided to use very elegantly rendered watercolor and ink drawings to illustrate these muscle cars, cars obviously geared towards the manliest of men. Remember, this was just a few years past the Mad Men era of chain-smoking, womanizing male-dominated advertising. The late Sixties saw the rise of pop culture and psychedelic influences creeping into marketing, so perhaps the agency was subliminally trying to reach the feminine side of its male target audience! Ha!

Seen in today's light however, the illustrations are really gorgeous and show the emotion and beauty behind these vehicular land-based rockets to their best, and most nuanced, advantage. Yes, they were hot performance cars, but they were truly beautiful as well. The 1970-71 Torino GT Sportsroof is still one of my favorite cars from that period, by any manufacturer.

Torino GT, Sportsroof and convertible. See my homage below, in my "BTW" sidebar.

Mustang Boss 302, a true legend in the making. Ford is making a new version.

Mustang Mach 1, sport slats optional—a touch of the Lamborghini Miura's pizzazz at about one fifth the cost.

Ranchero GT car-based pickup, and the full-size Ford XL with optional two-tone paint, the luxury performance cruiser of the lineup, the ninth and last year the XL was produced. The delightful first generation Bronco is in the lower left.

Matte black hoods and Ford's racing heritage were clearly in evidence on the cover of this brochure.

I started off this post with the strongest illustrations in this brochure, pages 4-13, and I'm going to end with what precedes them, pages 2-3.  This spread is a nicely written and illustrated essay of Ford's performance history. I've scanned it a bit larger than usual so it will be easier to read when it's clicked on and enlarged. I really looked this booklet over with my eagle eyes, trying to find an art credit for the illustrations, and there isn't one. It's really too bad, they're quite good, and remind me of the artwork that appeared in magazines like Car and Driver back in the day.

B T W :
I've always loved Fords and have created hundreds of my own versions of them in the past several years. You can find several of my Mustangs here. And as always, all of my "fake" cars that I've posted on this blog are able to be found by using the Chops link below my Flickr gallery and show review link, or the Labels list on the lower right of this blog page.

My Torino GT chop is a direct homage to the '70 Torino GT illustrated in this brochure.

My Ranchero chop is loosely based on the '70-'71 and later models, with a bit of beefy F150 thrown in for good measure. 


  1. Hello Casey,

    I do remember these illustrations ! Correct me if I am wrong, but I think I recall seeing the Torino page in a period advertisement in Motor Trend or C&D etc.

    I love the casual notes jotted in long hand ! It really creates a mood: As if these were pages from a journal or sketch book . We get the immediacy and emotional punch of a quick sketch .

    I don't know what you would call that drawing style;it's very mannered and yet, at the same time, loose .

    Fantastic. Vibrant. And paint really brings out that The Torino's 'laser stripe..."

  2. part of me thinks that the entire brochure might have been inserted in car magazines, like the '64 GTO pamphlet I posted a while ago. That is still stapled in a Car and Driver from '64.

    You're right about the notes looking like they're handwritten. That adds a great touch to the layouts and general look and feel of the piece. I've done similarly with some of my magazine and book layouts. I wonder if I subconsciously remembered this from my youth? I distinctly remember being affected by and noticing typography at an early age. My piano teacher when I was about 7 drove a Karmann-Ghia, and on the car "Karmann" was in block serifed type and "Ghia" was in a sprawling cursive. I began writing my name with Casey in block letters and Shain in cursive. It made my teachers mad!


    HI AP

  4. Hi Granny.
    Cold in California today.I am going to take one of our four dogs on on a beach walk this afternoon.

    In light of this posting, I went and thumbed through a hard bound collection of Sep 1970- Aug 71 Road and Track (found it in a used book store!) . Sadly, I found no booklet or even an ad that resembles these, though they could have been torn out long ago. Also, by Sept 70, it was pretty late in the year for such a lavish ad...

    However, it was a fun, unexpected trip through the past thanks to you.

    There were some outstanding articles predicting what cars will look like in 1975 by Strother MacMinn,Pete Brock and Tom Kellog. Also some jaw dropping sexist ads for mufflers and car carpeting .

    The concept cars from the 1971 Tokyo/Turin/Paris Auto Show were wonderful . Sure, I remember the Bertone Stratos , but cars like the De Tomaso Ghia Sedan or the Vauxhall SRV seem to have been forgotten along the way. There is a Pininfarina Mercedes 300 SEL coupe that is a real head scratcher.

    Then there are the cars for sale. Heres a 1920 Rolls Silver Ghost for $15,000. A 68 Jaguar 420 for "$7,800 firm." An Auburn Boat Tail Speedster for... oh, you don't want to know!


  5. I think I have those issues upstairs. I'll have to refamiliarize myself with those show cars. A guy in my town drives his '32 Auburn Speedster around, doing errands like grocery shopping. It's mint, in black and bright green. He also has a white '36 Cord 810 roadster. It's awesome seeing them drive around in the summer in regular traffic. They sound unlike any contemporary car. Sometimes I shut my eyes when I see them so I can hear them without modern influences, and I try to pretend I'm living in the Thirties.

  6. Wow! An Auburn and a Cord on the road driving about! Not a parade. Not a show. Just driven! What a stirring sight that must be .

    Some fellow out this way takes his 1924 Pierce Arrow Roadster out for a spin now and then . Casey, this thing is immense ! Like two people riding a top a locomotive.I pulled up next to them one time at a red light and shouted "Pierce Arrow rocks!"-kind of idiotic, I know, but I was excited . They cheered back and laughed. I don't think they get too many people identifying the make.

    A good friend of mine has a pristine 57 Coupe De Ville and that engine has such a low, deep authority of a time long gone. Like a giant cat purring .As you say, that sound seems to turn back time.

    The 1970s show cars are a real treat. It's an eye opener to see what designs lived on and which didn't ,and then speculate as to why.


  7. Your Torino looks great. Except that the C pillar seems too small for the Starsky & Hutch swoosh. (Yes, I know, that wasn't a SportsRoof.)

  8. haha, Yes, the white stripe swoosh would have to be much more tasteful to fit on my Torino! I'd do it if it meant a product tie-in for artandcolour, though, lol.

  9. Forgot to mention the Ranchero is well done as well. (Unrelated: My 10-year-old son is cooking something called "Ranchero" for us for dinner tonight.)

  10. probably Huevos Rancheros. Lucky you! I have to cook for myself every day, lol.