1975 Dodge Dart Ad

Greetings, Shredderz! Welcome to another entry in the Sagas of Shred series, where we take a look at a different vintage surf ad every Thursday evening. Sagas of Shred has mostly focused on surf industry ads, with a fondness for the strange, unintentionally hilarious, and just plain awesome marketing of the 80s. That said, tonight we’re going a little off the beaten path. I recently featured a wonderful vintage Rolex ad featuring some surf imagery in it, which got me thinking about all the so-called mainstream campaigns that have featured surfing. For decades surfing has been used by marketers to sell a lifestyle (and all the complementary goods and services, naturally) to people who have never picked up a board and don’t intend to. The results often aren’t good. Per the great Billabong tagline, “Only a surfer knows the feeling”, and even now, it’s hard for outsiders to understand surfing and its unique culture, much less capably interpret it for a wider audience.

That said, there has always been a natural fit between surfing and car culture. Surfing wouldn’t exist in its modern form without the automobile and the infrastructure that enabled the car to dominate the transportation landscape of postwar Southern California. I suspect there’s a healthy overlap between people who care about what they ride and people who care about what they drive.

The longer I look at this Dodge Dart ad from 1975, the more I see its flaws. (Is there any more classic goof than the surf-themed ad that has a bunch of models posing in front of a completely flat ocean?) But shit, it’s a lifestyle they’re selling, and I happen to think they’re doing a great job of pushing it. There’s just a natural fit between cool cars, surfing and hanging out at the beach all day, and you don’t need to get all the details right to elicit some powerful emotions. I am impressed by the ample trunk room in the Dodge Dart “Hang 10” model, despite its corny name — being able to fit a board in the trunk like that would be useful. Whatever else might be off in the ad, I’m willing to forgive all of these sins if my eyes don’t deceive me and the main model is indeed holding a killer Zephyr single fin, complete with a rad airbrush. The more I look at the fin, the more I think it’s one of Jeff Ho’s patented designs.

Thanks for reading and we’ll see you next Thursday with more Sagas of Shred!

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