Vintage Corvette Ads from the 1950s

Magazine and newspaper advertisements were a major source of brand awareness and salesmanship, back in a time when radios and TVs were few and far between, and the Internet hadn’t even been dreamed of. We didn’t have infomercials, or Facebook…the world of advertising was primarily based on print advertising. The benefit for us is being able to see these classic ads in retrospect! A special thanks to Flickr user aldenjewell who has done such a wonderful job archiving these images and providing them for use through Creative Commons licensing.

Click any ad to see a larger version.

Corvette Ads from 1955

2850 Pounds of Pleasure

2850 Pounds of Pleasure Ad from 1995

This ad describes the Corvette for the benefit of the performance-minded driver, focusing on the pleasure of driving the Corvette, as well as the low weight that came from the design mentality of developing a car almost entirely for performance.

It also touts the Powerglide automatic transmission, a standard feature in 1955 that became an option for the 1956 model year due to demand for a manual transmission.

This Makes You Glad There are Curves

This Makes You Glad There are Curves Ad from 1955
Like the 2850 Pounds of Pleasure ad, this one also describes the benefits of the 16:1 steering ratio, as well as other features which gave the 1955 Corvette its superb handling. The language of the ad reminds you that if you’ve never driven one, you can’t know how it feels. It makes you want to take the car out onto the windiest road you can find to test its handling.

A view of the Vette disappearing into the horizon makes one a little jealous of its driver!

Child of the Magnificent Ghosts

Child of the Magnificent Ghosts Ad from 1955“Child of the Magnificent Ghosts” brings out the nostalgia in readers of its day, reminding them of the fervor of the early US production of cars at the beginning of the 1900s. These early cars are the ghosts to which the ad refers, and tells us how the Corvette is a descendant who claims the same magic and splendor.

The ad goes on to describe the technical features, such as the engine power and size, as well as the car’s benefits: road-handling, acceleration, and stopping power. It concludes by telling the reader that you can only imagine the experience until you try it for yourself.


Fantastico Ad from 1957

Around the middle of the 1957 model year, an optional fuel injection system became available on the Corvette. The headline reads, “Fantastico! Even in Turin No One Has Fuel Injection”. However, the body copy of the advertisement begins by focusing on the four-speed gearbox instead. Then GM makes a unique analogy, comparing a Corvette to a panther (the sports car) with a St. Bernard’s disposition (the luxury styling)!

This is our first example of a full-color ad. Also note the different logo shown in the lower right corner.

What’s as Effortless as a Corvette?

What's as Effortless as a Corvette Ad from 1958The word “effortless” brings to mind an easy life of luxury, the enjoyment of a Sunday afternoon drive – but the photo shows a 1958 Corvette being driven through the sand beneath a sail plane. The language of the advertisement sells the reader on the idea that driving a Corvette is as easy as a plane that is buoyed by the wind itself.

Full of analogies, the ad likens a Corvette to a giant, a scalpel, and again, a stalking panther. The descriptive text draws you in, makes a bold statement that no other American car can compare to the Corvette, then challenges the reader to test drive one to see for himself.

Corvette Does America Proud #1

Corvette Does America Proud Ad from 1958
In 1958 GM wanted to take on the world when it came to sports cars, so their advertising focused on America and its place among the global powers – including those in the automotive world.

The body copy talks about the refinements that the Corvette had undergone up to this point, focusing on the years of testing and competition. A photograph of a young couple at an exclusive Palm Springs resort illustrates the desirable lifestyle of the Corvette owner…a true American.

Corvette Does America Proud #2

Corvette Does America Proud Ad from 1958An echo of the previous ad, this one features a red and white 1958 convertible at the Del Monte Lodge in California. As you can see, these ads, now in color, reduce the amount of text and focus on imagery – both the Corvette itself and the lifestyle of those who choose to own one.

In keeping with the theme of being globally competitive, the ad declares the Corvette’s acceptance “from Pebble Beach to Paris”. The setting in Pebble Beach is the Concours d’Elegance car show, still one of the most prestigious events in the collector car scene today.

’59 Corvette Ad

'59 Corvette Ad - Crew Members
This is the first of our ads to being to sell the Corvette’s appeal to women. A crew team waits while one of their teammates stops to admire the 1959 convertible – or perhaps the young lady behind the wheel. A modest approach to the sex appeal of the Corvette, the picture again sells the lifestyle while the words sell the car.

Features touted include a new rear suspension, form-fitting seats, the reverse lockout in the four-speed transmission, and more. But as we all know, it’s the picture that sells the car!

Original Photos on Flickr:

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  1. Any way I can get my hands on the original ads?

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