Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive


After Americans came back from WWII and moved into the suburbs, a need for transportation was created; this need was fulfilled by the car. Cars became symbols not only of the rising middle class, but also of youth and freedom. As the demand for automobiles increased, so did the demand for products to improve the function and endurance of the automobile. The dual nature of the car—utilitarian and sexy—is seen in Frink’s ads. In one ad (Zephyr: Mailman), an elderly couple relies on cheap and reliable gas for their car, which seems to be their method of getting around. Throughout other ads, the undertone of the virility and respect derived from a fast and powerful car is driven home by showcasing sports cars, such as the Nash-Healy. In order to appeal to the middle class, Zephyr gas emphasizes how much customers save and the fact that even doctors, for whom money is no object, use Zephyr because of its reliability.

The whole spectrum of what cars meant to the culture of suburban America in the 1950s is on display in these crafted ads for car products.  

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