Watch: the five best Aussie car commercials ... ever
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It's testament to the legacy of Australia's big beefy rear-wheel drives that, long after local manufacturing ceased, we're still talking about them.
The Falcon nameplate is gone, probably never to be seen again. The Commodore nameplate presses on, now attached to a (yes, surprisingly good) German-built platform ... to the ire of certain die-hard fans.
We're left now with two things — the boom in second-hand pricing on anything from over the ditch that hasn't been shagged within an inch of its life, and with memories. And many of the latter emerged on the silver screen through fierce advertising from team red and team blue.
So, through means thin on science and logic, Driven has settled upon the five best Aussie car ads ever made. Crack a Fosters, chuck some shrimp on a barby, and say g'day to five slices of marketing gold.
5. Game Over
The Monaro returned to showrooms at the turn of the century, with subtle styling and the option of a supercharged 3.6-litre V6 or GM's Gen III 5.7-litre V8.
Despite it being based on the same underpinnings as the Holden VT Commodore, Holden pushed to attract a higher tier of buyer. Enter their 'Game Over' campaign, which saw the Monaro get plugged into a video game setting to 'race' (we'll get back to this) a BMW M3, Ferrari 288 GTO, a Dodge Viper GTS, and a Porsche 911 Turbo.
Though the notion of a Monaro coming within shouting distance of a 911 Turbo on track is laughable today, fans ate up the commercial in droves at the time.
Though, not everyone loved it. The campaign attracted plenty of complaint from viewers who were concerned that the exhibition of speed would inspire street racing and other four-wheeled debauchery. And, the complainants won. Holden had to pull the advert off the air, and new rulings saw a number of other speed-related campaigns also forced off the airwaves.
In other words, it's an advert that literally re-wrote the rule book. Bonus points to Holden, too, for sneaking adverts for the likes of Valvoline into the ad.
Yes, ads within an ad. So meta.
4. Stuck in third
Everyone hated Ford's AU Falcon when it came out (apart from me and a handful of other certified weirdos). And yet in 2018, they are something of a cult classic.
In 20 years time, mint AU-generation XR8s and TS50s will be filling up auction theatres at Pebble Beach. Mark my words.
Anyway, if you thought that a Monaro beating a 911 Turbo was far fetched, here's the AU Falcon XR8 ute cruising up next to Rosco McGlashen's 'Thunderbolt II' — a land-speed record holding rocket car in Australia — while on the salt flats.
3. Can't get enough
While Holden were bringing back the Monaro, Ford were spending a big lump of their time trying to lick their wounds after the disaster that was the AU Falcon.
The AU was a solid car on many fronts, but polarizing styling inside and out (plus less-than-stellar performances on the race track) saw blue oval sales tumble between 1998 and 2002.
Ford needed to get the AU's replacement right, and in late 2002 the BA Falcon was launched. Though it was still based on the same core as the AU, it had been tweaked in a multitude of ways, a performance-orientated turbocharged Barra-equipped six pack was now on the menu, and its styling was grown up and handsome.
Not to mention that it ended a V8 Supercars performance drought, too.
The advert paired with the BA was a simple one. No ocker Aussie voice over and no garish cuts echoed the BA's desire to be taken seriously, and 'Slow Jam' by New Order proved to be a musical masterstroke.
Not even continual references to Ford's crappy 'Sports Shift' four-speed automatic could dampen spirits.
2. Evolution Ends Here
What makes The Simpsons such a good show?
It's simple really — the show's narratives were always a 'finger on the pulse' of American popular culture. The characters, the scenarios ... they were always relatable and 'on point' as the kids say these days.
Such was the strength of the show's understanding of American culture that, numerous times, it successfully predicted the nation's future. From Donald Trump becoming President, to smart watches, to FarmVille of all things.
And Holden had one of these moments of prediction, too, in their 'Evolution' commercial for the VE-generation ute.
Even without the foreshadowing it's a stellar ad, featuring almost every evolution of ute — including the VU, which arrives on screen via its own reference to Holden's 'Thunderstruck' ads from years prior.
But it takes a turn at the end, as the narrator chimes in for the first time with one single line; "Evolution ends here."
Whether they knew it or not, Holden predicted its own future. The VE would be its last ever completely new platform, with just the VF coming afterwards.
And, of course, we all knew what would unfold next.
1. Football, Meat Pies, Kangaroos, and Holden Cars
Pretty much every car advert from the '70s and '80s was exactly the same. You could bet your bottom dollar that they would include either a sporting star, light misogyny, a gruff deep-toned voice-over artist, or a catchy tune.
And it was Holden who saw the opportunity to take all of those concepts and smush them together, with a side of patriotic pride.
It might seem innocent and camp by today's standards, but this ad and its jingle was one of the key ingredients that cemented Holden as the definitive Australian car brand. Even if many of their products were basically reworked Opels and Vauxhalls.
Over the subsequent decades, Holden always seemed to have Ford's measure on the sales charts no matter how hard the blue oval tried. And my theory is that most of that comes down to this very advert. The jingle's saying entered Australia's psyche in a way that many other ad campaigns could only dream of.
Decades later, people would still remember the phrase. It would adorn t-shirts and caps, it was still part of the local vernacular.