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Car Guy Diary – 1/29/2014 – The Paper Trail

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You don’t have to have a car to get into the car hobby. It’s true. There are plenty of other ways to get involved with cars and trucks and unless you lose your mind with these automobile alternatives, you won’t even need a garage to keep them. One of my favorite alternatives is automotive literature in the form of dealer brochures.

The thing that makes dealer brochures so cool, at least to me, is that they have a genuine link to the car or truck displayed on their pages. If you dig 1950 Nashes like I do, you can pick up a mint condition original dealer brochure for less than $25. When the object of your automotive affection was sitting on the dealer’s lot, this amazing piece of automobilia was sitting in a rack in the dealer’s showroom. And as amazing as it is for a 64 year old car to survive the ravages of time, it’s all the more amazing that a few sheets of paper were able to do the same thing. And yet for the price of a large pizza you can start your collection of dealer brochures with this amazing piece of automotive history.

I’ve been collecting these brochures even longer than I have had cars. Along with all the great photos, drawings, and information, you might also get a taste of what was going on in the world when the brochure was first produced. From fashion to famous folks, all kinds of ancillary information can be found within their pages.

Along with auction websites, places like McLellansautomotive.com and Vintage Auto Literature can make your brochure dreams come true. Swap meets and larger car shows will almost always have a few literature vendors selling dealer brochures so they can be found in many places.

If you are brand loyal like I am, you can work on getting full collections of a particular brand or model. I have a full-line Pontiac brochure for every year from 1955 through 1994. I have a smattering of other Pontiac brochures including those for specific models and body styles like their station wagons. My oldest brochure is a Pontiac piece from 1941…that’s right, a 73-year old brochure that looks very nearly like it did the day it was printed. I also have a fair collection of Rambler/American Motors brochures with a couple special pieces they produced for cars like my Marlin and one of their X-Ray comparison brochures where they compared Ramblers to other makes of cars.

These inexpensive entrances into the car hobby are great for those of us with an old car too. Displaying your old road veteran with an original brochure sitting on the dash, seat or trunk floor makes your display all the more impressive and detailed. They take up very little room and don’t cost all that much ether so if you are short on space or cash, take a look at dealer brochures and join the fun.

1950 Nash
1950 Nash Bart R. Orlans Collection

1950 Nash

This 64-year old brochure has amazing artwork depicting two Nash Airflytes looking as though they are preparing to take off. Inside, artwork detailing the interiors and engineering of these neat cars are splashed across two impressive pages.

1959 Rambler
1959 Rambler Bart R. Orlans Collection

1959 Rambler

Rambler was beginning to hit its stride in 1959 with solid engineering and more compact dimensions than most other cars on the road at the time. The cover photo had an air of sophistication about it and in the next couple of years, Rambler would climb to number three in sales.

Jeep Gladiator
Jeep Gladiator Bart R. Orlans Collection

Jeep Gladiator

Jeep Gladiator trucks were all new in 1963, using styling and engineering from the also new that year Jeep Wagoneer. These amazing trucks stayed in production with very few changes for decades. the brochure shows these Jeeps doing what they do best, working hard in hard working conditions.

1963 Pontiac
1963 Pontiac Bart R. Orlans Collection

1963 Pontiac

1963 Pontiacs are just about my favorite Pontiacs. Pontiac was firing on all cylinders in the 1960s, going from success to success. This rather understated full line brochure's cover doesn't hint at the amazing artwork lying within. Art Fitzpatrick and Van Kaufman were huge talents and made Pontiac brochures worthy of framing.

1973 Ventura
1973 Ventura Bart R. Orlans Collection

1973 Ventura

It would on be reasonable that I have a brochure for my very first car, and here it is. By this point, Pontiac started making a lot of single model brochures that featured photography and drawings together.

Jeep Commander
Jeep Commander Bart R. Orlans Collection

Jeep Commander

The much maligned 2006 Jeep Commander wheeled its way into my heart, my driveway and my brochure collection. The big Jeep got a big brochure to accompany it onto the showroom floor with impressive photography and tons of technical information.

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