5 of the best car commercials (and 5 of the worst)

High Gear Media

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Maybe it's just us, maybe it's the dog days of summer, but it seems as if auto advertising has slowed to a standstill.

We know that's not the case -- car commercials, like time, wait for no man, woman, or manbearpig. They flood the airwaves, the interwebs, and all points in-between with touching, hilarious, inane, WTF goodness all year long.

But now, as we're patiently waiting for the arrival of many 2014 models, maybe not so much.

And so, we've resorted to that nauseating dead-end of human thought: nostalgia.

We took a completely un-scientific poll of our fellow High Gear Media staffers to devise a short-list of the best and worst car commercials in memory. And by "memory", we generally mean "recent memory", because, you know, the old gray mare ain't what she used to be. We know we're going to leave out a few of your faves, but here goes.

The 5 best (In alphabetical order)

Chevrolet: "See the USA in Your Chevrolet (with Dinah Shore)"

At first glance, this clip looks like it's more about Dinah Shore than Chevrolet, but that jingle proved to be very catchy, indeed. A great voice, an earworm of a tune: it's like Making Memorable Commercials 101.


Ford: "Police chase" ad for the Mustang Shelby GT

We've seen this clip's punch line used many, many times in recent years, but Ford used it first -- and perhaps most successfully.


Lexus: "Champagne glass" ad for the LS400

Nothing says "luxury automobile" like a sleek sedan going nearly 150 mph on a dynamometer with a pyramid of champagne coupes balanced on its hood. Well, nothing except taking corners with a hard-working diamond-cutter in the backseat, but we couldn't find that clip on YouTube.


Toyota: "Harmony" ad for the Prius

Yeah, sure, it's a little "Kumbya", but the visual appeal of this clip made it a stand-out, and made its creator, Mr. Hide, a very hot property in the advertising world. Sadly, the follow-ups weren't as good.


Volkswagen: "Sunday Afternoon" (Da Da Da) for the Golf

Even with no dialogue and a very limited voiceover, this ad says a lot. Sometimes, it's best to let your product (paired with a nice retro tune) speak for itself.


Honorable mention: Grace Jones for Citroen

If alien civilizations want to understand what Planet Earth was like in the 1980s, this is a pretty good summation.


And now for the 5 worst...


Chevrolet: "Man Step" ad for the Silverado

This clip was supposed to poke fun at the Ford F-150s "man step", but in the end it just made Chevy look like a bully. And since it called out the F-150 by name, it was free advertising for Ford. This is what we call a lose-lose.


Fiat: "Papi" featuring Jennifer Lopez for the 500

J-Lo is chased by fans. Or zombies. And she might be guilty of a few hit-and-runs. But then she dances her way out of a ticket, and everyone lives happily ever after. Well, except the people that she injured, maybe. If Showgirls were a car commercial, it would look a lot like this.


Hyundai: "Pipe Job" ad for the ix35

This clip was made for U.K. audiences, and it was so controversial, it was immediately taken down. Who'd have thought that poking fun at suicide would be so offensive? (Everyone, that's who.)


Lincoln: "Steer the Script" clip for the MKZ

Letting fans write copy for a Lincoln ad seemed like a great idea. Social engagement! Tech-friendliness! Youth! Unfortunately, the campaign was a complete dud, resulting in this painful, practically unwatchable clip. This is why copywriting remains a noble profession.


Nissan: "G.I. Joe & Barbie" ad for the 300ZX

Ken lost his favorite hooker in a Toy Story knock-off. But hey, he got to keep the beach house, which should've, like, tripled in value. We just hope he sold it before the housing bubble burst. 


Surely we left out your favorite. Or maybe the ad you hate more than anything in the world? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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