Type of car that suave advertising men seen in during the 1960s
In 1957, I became the west coast advertising manager for Road & Track magazine, and began calling upon a wide scattering of California advertising agencies and their automotive clients. A year later I was promoted
to east coast advertising manager and sent to New York to cover New York, Detroit, Chicago and Akron, Ohio, immersing myself in the daily cut-and-thrust of the advertising business in the biggest and most sophisticated advertising community in the world. I loved that business and those people - and they colour my life and career to this day.
In 1960, I somehow managed to succeed Barney Clark as the Corvette advertising copywriter at Campbell-Ewald: six black-and-white pages annually for car magazines and race programmes, and six four-colour pages for Sports Illustrated and The New Yorker. As the first-ever Corvette writer, Barney was fiercely determined to do great advertising for an audience of one man — the great Russian engineer, the father of the Corvette, Zora Arkus-Duntov. GM\'s PR people felt compelled to promulgate the fiction that Duntov was Belgian, because his Russian mother worked as an engineer in Brussels, and, during the Cold War, we were more comfortable with Belgians than we were with Russians.
Barney followed a modus operandi that got him past the buzz-killing \"Blue Flame Six-Cylinder Engine And Power-Glide Transmission\" era. He thought \"Ferrari\" as he wrote about those earliest cars, but typed \"Corvette\".
My job was easier. Corvettes had become much better cars by the time I arrived on the scene and I could simply go blasting through the winding roads around, say, Lime Rock, Connecticut, then sit down and, short of breath, write what had been in my heart as I negotiated those hills and curves.The team responsible for Corvair advertising called on me. They wanted me to help them convince Chevrolet that their Corvair model was beginning to attract car enthusiasts, and that the advertising should reflect that shift.The Chevrolet client considered the Corvair a substitute for a used Chevrolet Impala, and the company\'s rallying cry was \"Corvair, for Economical Transportation\". Within days we had come up with some high-energy Corvair ads under a new banner, \"Corvair, the Family Sports Car\".
I was not allowed to attend the client meeting because the then-chairman of Campbell-Ewald thought I was an idiot. I waited impatiently to learn the outcome. Finally, one of my bosses walked into my office. \"How did it go?\" I asked. He replied: \"Do you know how they give a horse medicine? They put it in a tube and they shove the tube into the horse\'s mouth. Then they blow the pill down the horse\'s throat. Pffft! This time, the horse blew first.\"
Ten minutes later, the copy supervisor on Corvair appeared in my doorway wearing his topcoat and hat. \"Where are you going?\" I asked. \"To the doctor,\" he replied. \"Are you ill?\" I asked. He said, \"No. I\'m fine. I\'ve just decided to have my ethics cut off.\"
As the months went by, engineer Duntov began to warm to me. He had apparently decided that I was not there to sabotage his Corvette advertising, and invited me to his office at the GM Technical Center, where he showed me a Corvette coupé experimentally fitted with the decidedly un-sporty Powerglide two-speed automatic transmission. We took the car to the small test track behind Chevrolet Engineering and he began to lap the tight little oval, going faster each time around.The parallel straightaways were so close together that the 180 degree turns at either end were extremely tight. With each lap we were beginning to encroach on Duntov\'s limit of adhesion, if not the car\'s. Then it happened. At the north end of the track, the Corvette washed out completely and we disappeared off the track and into the tall grass. Weeds, dirt and insects of several species came blowing in through the cool air vents, adhering to our sweaty faces and bare arms.
The car continued like some berserk farm implement for perhaps 25 yards, then came to a steamy stop. When things had quietened down, Duntov said, in his Boris Badenov accent, \"best not to discuss with management\". He subsequently lost his test-track driving privileges.
From / The National