AMC Is Long Gone, but These Commercials Are Still Hilarious
The folks who made the Gremlin and the Pacer really did have a sense of humor.
You have to figure that any company that could come up with the Gremlin and the Pacer must have had a good sense of humor. Well, it turns out that American Motors really did. While GM commercials sternly espoused on the virtues of their products and Ford's vague attempts at humor were falling flat, AMC was running TV commercials that were legitimately funny.
1975: Pacer and the Sandwich King
AMC pitched the Pacer as "The First Wide Small Car", and they made a series of chuckle-worthy ads extolling the virtues of the rolling fishbowl's plus-size cabin. This is one of our favorites, because it finishes with what has to be one of the best taglines in car-commercial history: "No other small car can make this sandwich."
1973: What's a Matador?
AMC was the smallest of the Big Four by far. In 1972, for every mid-size Matador AMC sold, Chevy moved seven Chevelles and Ford sold nine Torinos. Bear in mind that in 1970s advertising, not being the big guy was cool—Avis was having great success with "We're #2 So We Try Harder" while 7-Up was pitched as "The Un-Cola." Read into the cultural zeitgeist, AMC pitched the Matador by acknowledging a painful truth that the faceless blue suits at GM or Ford would never dare speak aloud: No one had heard of their car.
1969: Student Drivers
Turns out those 1970s ads were a continuation of a long-time tradition at AMC, which had been poking fun at their own cars since the 1960s. Along with this slightly-creepy Javelin ad called "Wrong Car," AMC used the Rebel's popularity with driving schools as fodder for another commercial—after all, if a car can put up with this much abuse, it must be pretty darn rugged.
BONUS: 1970 Ambassador Ad with Robert De Niro
Just before his career took off, Robert De Niro pitched the 1970 AMC Ambassador.
The resemblance to The Godfather is notable, but this was two years before that film and four years before De Niro joined the franchise in '74.