The Olds Connection’s Camcorder Offer…Dude!

That’s right, the “Olds Connection” wants to give you a camcorder so you can be on TV!

We Can All Be On TV!

In the summer of 1991, Oldsmobile (excuse me, the Olds Connection!) aimed to make stars out of its car buyers. So they offered a $1100 camcorder with the purchase of a 1992 Oldsmobile Eighty Eight. In August 1991, the promo was so successful, they extended the offer through the end of the month.

The aim of the promo? Being in a commercial, of course!

Regular People Buying Oldsmobiles!

The commercial featured regular people…

Wearing awesome early 1990s Mom Pants…

Liking traction control (optional feature, folks!)

The trunk space, DUDE!

Let’s see that again…via GIPHY MAGIC!

MAGIC…Dude!

And Now That You Know Who Likes the Olds Connection’s Offer…

Why not click play and see these people in action?

Uploaded by Allison Venezio

So…Why This Promo?

The 1992 Oldsmobile Eighty Eight, Oldsmobile’s full-size premium sedan, was redesigned for its 1992 model. Hence, people talking about what they loved most about the redesign. The promo occurred during the summer of 1991 (this commercial aired during that summer’s telecast of the Primetime Emmy Awards), and ran through August 31, 1991.

It’s safe to say people really like their Oldsmobile Eighty Eight, and Oldsmobile kept the model going until 1999. Sadly, Oldsmobile was not much longer for the world, as the close of the decade brought about the final years for the General Motors brand.

We’ll always have Mom Pants, Old Guy Who Likes Traction Control, and…the trunk space, dude!

But if you really wanted an Oldsmobile or a camcorder…I’d love to know if anyone went for this deal. There is nothing on the interwebs about it, but surely someone has a story out there…

That Time When VH-1 Gave Away Every Corvette!

What do you do when you’re the Number Two music video station in the late 1980s, and there are only two contenders to begin with? How do you bump your ratings through the roof? You start the world’s first successful reality TV show…!
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No. Wait. That was the other channel…

You create a call-in giveaway contest on a scale that has never been duplicated…! That’s what you do.

VH-1 came to our televisions on the heels of mega-hit channel MTV more than 35 years ago on New Year’s Day 1985 under the Viacom Media umbrella. The two stations battled back and forth for viewership across several decades before both channels eventually dropped music videos from their lineup and started showing reality shows and reruns of Saved by the Bell.
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But in the mid-1980s, viewership of Top 40 music videos is what brought in the advertisers, and advertisers paid the bills. Even though MTV and VH-1 were owned by the same company, VH-1 was targeted toward a more mature audience, and MTV was relegated to the pop and “bubble-gum pop” crowd.

So, how do you draw in a more-sophisticated audience with a more-mature taste? You give them a chance to win a Corvette.

And how do you blow that idea out of the water, and turn it up to 11…? You offer one lucky winner a Corvette from every year of production.
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And that’s exactly what VH-1’s marketing guru Jim Cahill did. He used almost $1 million of Viacom’s bankroll to track down and purchase one example from all of the 36 years that a Corvette sports car had been made – from the first one in 1953, to the latest model available during the contest – 1988.

[Via] Two By Two 2
Not all the cars were what you’d consider “cherry.” Most were considered “drivers” and not all were completely “collectable.”

Of the 36 models Cahill collected, 14 were convertibles, and only 11 had manual transmissions. Cahill later told an automotive magazine reporter that he drove each of the 36 cars home – one a night for 36 nights – and some of them were “nightmarishly bad.”

But, as we retro collectors sometimes say, “They existed,” and the contest to determine one sole winner was underway.

To enter, a person had to call a 900 number at a charge of $2 per entry. For each call, VH-1 pocketed $1.49.

More than 190,000 people called the number on the first day with more than 1.3 million folks registering altogether. I’ll save you from doing the math. In the first two weeks of the promotion, VH-1 almost doubled their $1 million investment.

The winner of the contest didn’t have to try very hard. Dennis Amadeo only made one call to the contest, and the New York carpenter became the poster-boy of every teen male in the country.

Amadeo flew out to California to take ownership of all his sports cars, and when presented with all the keys by ex-Beach Boy Mike Love, the bag weighed five pounds.

[Via] Jim Cahill
And that’s the end of the story, right? Amado kept all the cars and still has a garage full of vintage and highly-collectable sports cars in his Long Island garage?

Of course not. And that’s where the story takes a drastic left-turn into Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone and things get crazy.

Shortly after taking possession of the Corvettes, Amadeo sold them all to a psychedelic artist of the 1960s, Peter Max. The sale price was $250,000 in cash, $250,000 in artwork and a portion of the proceeds should the cars be sold again.
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Max had a vision to turn all 36 Corvettes into a work of colorful art, but life events got in the way of beginning the project, and the cars were stored in the basement of a Brooklyn apartment building.
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And time took its toll on the Corvettes. None of the cars were prepped for long-term storage, and soon became non-functional.
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In 2005, a group of Corvette enthusiasts searched for the cars and found them, and lost them again after Max refused to listen to their pleas to let the cars be saved and restored.
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Now, more than 28 years after the cars were given away, Max wanted to purchase additional cars to use for his “project,” but eventually agreed to sell the lot to a family who intend to restore and sell the cars. Many have already been brought back beyond their condition when given away in 1988.
very-dusty-ride

Have you seen Paul Newman in “Once Upon a Wheel”?

When I worked in a video store, I never knew what people might request from day-to-day. Often what they wanted would surprise me in that they were things I had never heard of. A title that was often requested, but that we never had, was the Paul Newman narrated 1971 television documentary about auto racing, “Once Upon a Wheel”.

The documentary was released on ABC TV here in american, but had a theatrical release overseas. While I never saw it on TV, I was impressed with the impression it made on its viewers who would seek it our decades later. Eventually I would get my hands on a copy of the film on home video and it is a pretty enjoyable hour-long piece that is a great snapshot of its time featuring in addition to Newman, Mario Andretti, Kirk Douglas, Hugh Downs, Dean Martin, Cesar Romero and Dick Smothers.

As you might guess, this video has been posted online, so if you are interested in the history of auto racing or just like retro TV, it is worth checking out.

The ad above was very common leading up to the release of the film. I want all these prizes!

Who wouldn’t want a Toyota RV-2?

In the early seventies Toyota tried its hand at creating a car that I still dream about. One that combines the ease of driving of a station wagon, with some of the convenience of an RV. Their first attempt was the RV-1 in 1971, but I think the real magic started in 1972, when they RV-2 wagon concept car was shown at the Tokyo Motor Show and then a few month later in 1973 at the New York International Auto Show.

The RV-2 was larger than the RV-1, but the real magic of this car were its side hinged clam shell doors. When they were raised you could stretch a tent between them and two adults could sleep there or on the fold down front seats. (You can get a good idea of how this would work from the image above.)

A fully working prototype of this was built and shown starting in 1973 and although it was fairly well received, it was not enough to go into production. So all we are left with are ads and promotional material of what might have been.

To see more images of the RV-2, check out this video. The music is very inappropriate, but you can see a real life RV-2 in its various stages of use.

Good Thing Happen on a Honda Motorcycle

I didn’t know where they were going to with this classic ad from the early seventies. The robbers were using Honda motorcycles to make a speedy and dependable getaway. What sort of message are they sending to consumers if their product is featured in use by successful criminals? Well Honda got me in the end. They put the police on Honda motorcycles as we well! Which only makes sense, since the only thing that could catch a Honda, is another Honda.