Tony Swan,
Retro Ride: Advertising Art
of the American Automobile

(Collectors Press, 2002)

From the the economy Fords and luxury Lincolns of the 1920s to the broad powerful stylings of the '60s, Tony Swan's coffeetable book glides through the decades of automobile advertising.

Following a brief introduction, Retro Ride shifts into more than 150 well-designed pages of illustrations compiled from full-color magazine advertisements. Beginning in 1923 and concluding with the 1965 Pontiac collection, Swan's book chronicles the trends in both automotive design and advertising finesse.

It's interesting to contrast the stylistic techniques used by the earlier artists with the bolder palettes of the post-war ad departments. The slogans also merit pop culture consideration -- from the "Ford's Out Front" zoo menagerie to Oldmobile's Rocket lines of the early '50s.

New features and technology are prevalent throughout the copy as are beach scenes for those who want to drive "away from it all." One surprise for me was that women were the target audience for many campaigns from the earliest print samples.

I would have liked a bit more explanation along with each collection of pictures, but Retro Ride is essentially a picture book, and it achieves that purpose very well. It is the abundance and variety of automotive art that will intrigue any antique or classic car enthusiast.

[ by Julie Bowerman ]
Rambles: 14 September 2002

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