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Five More Terrible Motoring Ads

Written by Andy Roberts

Just when you thought it was safe to come out from behind the sofa, here’s another five of the most ill-judged motoring commercials of bygone days. Don’t say that we didn’t warn you…


5) Austin Allegro 1979

The third and final incarnation of the Austin Allegro was launched in September 1979. The TV ad was one of the worst things I’d ever witnessed as a nine-year old boy. Even at this age, I knew the Barry Manilow-esque production centreing on the word ‘Vroom’ in an attempt to imbue an Allegro with Manhattan-style glamour, made Houseparty or Day by Day look dynamic by comparison.


4) Montego 1.6 HL 1988

This masterpiece could have been directed and scripted by Alan Partridge. After a hard day in the City, what could be more appropriate transport for an up and coming young trader than a Montego? Forget Aston Martins, Bentleys and Jaguars – real men of mystery drive a sensible family saloon 1.6L. All the better to impress members of the opposite sex with its more than adequate boot space and reasonable economy…


3) Renault 25 1985

As with any serious small screen drama, this episode of Howard’s Way in miniature leaves so many questions unanswered. Will the company Renault 25 really be returned to the fleet manager? What will he drive next? My guess is that he’ll be extremely cross if it turns out to be Montego 1.6L.


2) Vauxhall range 1973

How do you sell HC Vivas and FE Series range to an ITV audience in 1973? Dress up distinguished West End farceur Julian Orchard as the Vauxhall gryphon and have him cavort about in a whimsical manner of course! This ad successfully deterred thousands of potential customers from visiting their local dealer, afraid they’d be confronted by a camp but sinister mythological beast lurking on the roof of a Ventora VIP.


1) Cleveland Petrol 1969

Cleveland Petrol set the bar when they told viewers in the middle of Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) that buying just three gallons could also get you a pair of tights for just 4/11d. Sadly this sparkling promotional offer did not in the words of a pre-All Creatures Great and Small Christopher Timothy, ‘pull the birds in’ or the fellas for that matter. From Christopher’s Robin Askwith accent, to the punchline of the ‘joke’ and the air of all pervasive cheapness, this ad is so brilliantly misjudged, it deserves its number one spot as the worst motoring ad of the era.


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