Home » In General »Vintage Advertisements » Currently Reading:

Lessons In Excessively Boastful Automotive Advertising: VeeDub Edition

Bradley Brownell December 13, 2011 In General, Vintage Advertisements 23 Comments

Winter is fast approaching, and it’s time to discuss, for those of us in northern climes, how the hell you are going to go anywhere when that white stuff falls.  I constantly hear “I can’t drive a rear wheel drive car in Ohio, what about the winter?”.  To that, I refute with SNOW TIRES you stupid so-and-so.  Regardless, for those who’s driving talents are nil, and are inept at even the simplest of mechanical tasks, front wheel drive does have it’s merits.  Volkswagen, in 1980 was setting itself apart with an extremely capable little car, the MkI Rabbit.  Even today, it stands out as a remarkable piece of transportational appliance.  Does this ad take it just a bit too far?  I’m not sure.

The side of me that graduated with a degree in advertising says it is a relatively simple concept.  Nice long copy advertising can be effectively used to communicate new benefits to the consumer that had not previously been thought of, however the short and concise headline gives the casual reader an idea of the benefits.  Without taking too much time, the ad contributes to top of mind awareness for targeted consumers by using the negative connotation of wintry weather and driving about in it.

The side of me that is a fan of cars says, yeah, that’s all well and good, but driving in snow isn’t about getting going, it’s about coming to a complete and safe stop again.  Forward traction won’t help you on a sheet of ice.

This second ad is one from my “youth” (yeah, I’m that young), that has always stuck with me.  The MkIV GTI had just been released, and I had to have one.  This ad was effective to me, because it said everything you needed to know without actually saying much at all.




  • Deartháir

    There are so many other factors in winter driving than just winter tires. You don't just need to get moving and then stopped again.

  • Devin

    Given how well my '84 Civic worked in the winter, I'm assuming that a Rabbit would be similarly fine. As much as people tout weight as being good in winter, I've found that the light Honda was bloody brilliant at skipping over snowbanks and giant drifts, while my mother's much heavier minivan would get super stuck in the same situation. It wasn't great on ice – not much is, though I've had worse – but it was badass in deep snow.

    • CJinSD

      The econoboxes of the late '70s and '80s were great in the snow. They weren't very powerful, and they had tires typically ranging in size from 155SR12 all the way up to 175/70R13. With aggressive all-season tread that couldn't be heard over the window seals and engine noise anyway, they could get moving with snow up to the doors with a minimum of drive expertise. It is too bad that fashion and ever-creeping curb weights have so many commuters rolling on giant square shouldered tires that can't cut through snow. We had a Mini Cooper with fairly thin tires, but the complete lack of ground clearance stopped it on anything but plowed roads anyway. I live in San Diego now, but probably wouldn't want to see what the aerodynamic doohicky under the bumper of my Civic Si sedan would do when faced with even 6 inches of snow.

  • PrawoJazdy

    To drive this winter I'll do this.

    1.Turn in G8 from demo service
    2. Put everything on desk and write manager email
    3. Tell manager in email I would like a 4×4 HD Sierra or 4×4 3/4 ton Yukon
    4. Get keys.
    6. yell at them and call them PUNY HUMANS!
    7. Cackle
    8. Make love to Mrs Jazdy on bear skin rug
    9. Feed pet Lion
    10. Go to bed. Repeat in reverse during morning commute!

    Actually I'm turning in an Aura and getting a Regal. I have a cat. I'm also not getting laid.

    Also, I can't yell at people. I'm too weak.

    • pj134

      Is it wrong that all I got from that is, "Hey, this guy gets a demo car!"

      • PrawoJazdy

        Yes. Because I'm pretty sure we are not even getting demo's anymore. I think they want to switch to an allowance in January.

        I was unemployed for two years and had decide between rent and car payment about 6 times. Rent won every time, so I'm probably pretty screwed when it comes to financing a car. I have a beater I can drive. Ran when parked anyway.

  • Sam

    had a two door k-car that was phenomenal in snow. Better than several hondas, a b12, and first gen focus. About the same a renault lecar.

  • Number_Six

    "Winter is fast approaching, and it’s time to discuss, for those of us in northern climes, how the hell you are going to go anywhere when that white stuff falls."

    For some of us we've already had snow for over month and we're happily cruising around in our RWD cars on SNOW TIRES.

    /My RX-8 is awesome in the snow. ON SNOW TIRES.

    /SUVs make everyone crash in the snow

    • Devin

      Yeah, I saw that line and thought "how cute, he thinks the north still doesn't have snow."

      • BradleyBrownell

        To clarify, I live in northern Ohio, and we just got snow earlier this week. It still hasn't stuck around long enough to accumulate.

        • Lotte

          Yeah, southern Ontario hasn't gotten accumulated snow, either. (We're actually neighbors, damn my American geography…) Though there was a small squall I had to walk through one day (of all the days it had to be the one with me carrying some bulky stuff, and there isn't even anything on the ground to show for it…)

    • pj134

      My brother loves his is the snow too.

      Just be careful of high snow. The plastic undertray has a tendency to get ripped off easily.

  • acarr260

    My dad used to tell me a lot of stories of the VW's of his youth (Beetles) and their dominance in the winter weather. He said that they would leave a country road pretty much plowed after one pass and that they got around in deep snow better than their farm truck (3/4 ton Dodge 4×4).

    My Scirocco is decent in the slush, but I generally drive my Silverado to work when it's very snowy. My lifted (camping) truck doesn't even need the front wheels locked in to cruise around in the worst winter weather. An intern here had a similar truck (old Chevy with 4" of suspension lift) that was in much worse shape. He always drove around the back roads during lunch when it was really snowy. He'd always come back with $50-100 from pulling people out of ditches… and an aroma that took me back to my college days.

  • dukeisduke

    A Westmoreland-built Rabbit? No thanks.

  • dukeisduke

    My favorite VW commercial? Not Ronnie and the Daytonas.

    [youtube 3zcm4oS9IaM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zcm4oS9IaM youtube]

  • navelboxaren

    Pretty much anything is fine in winter with good snow tires. My 740 might be slower than me coming up with a good metaphor but it's great in snow. With good winter tires.

    [youtube 88-xtMpJZ0Q http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88-xtMpJZ0Q youtube]

    • FuzzyPlushroom

      This! My 244 was pretty good, but now that I'm used to the 745Ti's locking diff (and it's running properly this year), it should prove unstoppable.

      In reality, I just love being able to park sideways with the throttle.

      <img src="http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5108/5888725329_4d52d973e0_b.jpg&quot; width="600/">

      • +1'd for 80s-tastic Turbo-style wheels!

        • FuzzyPlushroom

          Fronts are 15" 'Sirius'/'Nova' alloys from an early 760 – not pretty up close; I plan on repainting 'em and mounting 'em to my 244 eventually. (I love 'em, but only have two reasonable tires mounted to my set of four, and one of those is starting to crack slightly from age, so they're coming off.) The 14" rear steelies have painted hubcaps.

  • IIRC, and it has been awhile since I've even seen snow of any consequence, it's all about anticipating the stop, regardless of the means of propulsion.

  • Maymar

    For what it's worth, I know VW's used the same concept to advertise the Beetle.

    As for FWD in the winter, it's got just enough traction to get you going well enough (you can always reverse up a hill if it's that bad), but the rearwards weight transfer will take some of that away – the slight torque steer should alert you to exceptionally poor conditions. In other words, more controllable than RWD, doesn't inspire excessive confidence like 4WD/AWD.

  • I've driven plenty of Rabbits in New England winters, and yeah, they're very capable with snow tires up to a certain depth of snow. After that – about a foot or so, IIRC – they scrape up enough snow that belts start to slip, and eventually your lights start to dim… Hopefully Mr Plow headed to work before that point.

  • JoeDunlap

    Re: the GTI in the tree commercial. The back story on that particular car is interesting. Some years ago, I was a trainer for VW at UTI in Rancho Cucamonga Ca. VW would occasionally send us new training vehicles and one day a transporter arrived with a certain red GTI with an alignment problem. It was that very car. The car was picked up and dropped by a crane and the tree was digitized over it.
    BTW, my all time favorite VW commercials are the "Unpimp ze auto" series with Peter Stormeyer. 'Tre's trebochet' was the best.