How not to sell a car in ten easy lessons

From the most naff to the most improbable, here are some of the worst car-based TV and film commercials we’ve ever seen

Some television and cinema commercials linger in the memory due to their sheer dreadfulness, simple ill-timing or the power to elicit a negative form of amazement. Here are ten such masterpieces.

Austin Allegro

History does not relate how many French motorists immediately craved a new Austin on seeing this commercial, but we are fairly certain it wasn’t that many. To be fair, the Allegro has been an easy target for too many years, but it still remains hard to imagine that any Citroën GS or Peugeot 304 owner would be tempted by the joys of British Leyland motoring.

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Austin Maestro

The Maestro is in many respects an underrated car, but this gem of an advert a) resembles the trailer for a sub-par 1970s British sci-fic epic and b) employs an announcer who sounds as though he is warming up for his King Lear audition.

British Leyland range

A 61-second illustration of why selling all of BL’s marques under a single corporate brand was doomed to failure; few potential XJS or SD1 owners wanted to be reminded of the existence of the Allegro or Marina, let alone have them feature in the same publicity.

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Chrysler Cordoba

The car that was famously available with ‘soft Corinthian leather’ seat upholstery. Ricardo Montalbán subsequently stated that that the phrase meant absolutely nothing – but he did say it with the utmost conviction.

Chrysler UK

The year is 1973, and Britain is suffering from an outbreak of flared trousers and sales promotions that belong on the cheese counter of Mac Fisheries. This advertisement not only achieves new standards of sheer naffness (not helped by one of Newley and Bricusse’s lesser works on the soundtrack), but is also a reminder of how incoherent an array of cars lurked at your local Chrysler dealer.

Edsel range

The advertisement is very typical for US television of the late 1950s, but by the time the Edsel made its debut its intended market sector was already vanishing – and that was before you factor in the styling and reliability issues.

Lada with Cannon and Ball

No. Just – no.

Morris Marina

‘What happens when the best engineers in the world set out to create a beautiful car?’ Well, we’ll never know, as they were obviously all on holiday at the time – so the best that BL could do was the Morris Marina.

Vauxhall range

Or, what happens when an advert combines the joie-de-vivre of The Wicker Man and The Quatermass XPeriment with the 1973 line-up from Luton. The unfortunate actor in the Gryphon costume is Julian Orchard, a highly respected veteran of West End theatre – we feel his pain.

Yugo/ Swithland Motors

This is not just the worst advertisement in the history of motoring; it is also quite possibly the worst commercial in the history of cinema and television. Be warned before attempting a viewing – it’s so bad as to be epoch changing.

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