'58 Ford Fairlane - Ruthlessly Tested on Europe's Widest Roads

This Ford Fairlane ad wants us to believe that the car was tested on the roughest roads of Europe. It's advertising, so of course it's dishonest at best. Still, I don't think there's they tried very hard to find tricky testing grounds.
"Our drivers often bypassed modern highways in order to test Ford's ride on the roughest roads...roads little changed since the days of ancient Rome." I guess Europe MAY be famous for having rough roads, but more than anything, they're famous for being narrow and twisty: roads that I promise you this barge would never be able to navigate. "We took the '58 Fairlane to Europe, where we chose the widest roads we could find, in order to test the car's width. We found it's enormousness to be unmatched!"

The copy in the ad seems to cherish the boatlike qualities of the Fairlane. "U.S.A.! Sailing along a newly built highway, the '58 Ford handles like a dream." Plus the car features something they call "Even-Keel suspension". The idea of a '58 Ford making it through a Roman-era European city is laughable.

Lots of European cities have been around since before there were cars. The streets were designed for foot traffic, and humans and animals have a turning radius of zero. This is one reason that small cars have always been popular in Europe. The other is that gas proces have always floated around their natural high price in Europe, but in America, they've been kept artificially low with the help of government subsidies. As of January 25, 2010, a gallon of premium in Europe cost the equivalent of $6.83, whereas in the U.S. it cost $2.95. So, Europe has been dealing with expensive "naturally priced" gas for a long long time.

So anyway, there's Europe with super narrow streets meant for humans and maybe horses or something. A 1958 Fiat 500, for example, had a wheelbase of 72.4 inches. The Fairlane had a wheelbase of 118 inches. That's pretty close to double the length.

To be fair, the ad sings about the ride quality of the Fairlane (read: tall squishy suspension) and not the agility. But it imples that European roads are somehow the worst in the world, making them an ideal place to test the quality of a car.The difference between an American car and a European car is usually size and handling, not the floatiness of the ride. In truth, almost anything you do to make a car handle better will make the ride stiffer. This is beginning to change, with the advent of electronically controlled suspensions and magnetic hydraulic mediums, which can change their viscosity when a charge is applied. However, these technologies are mostly found on higher end models at this point.

To see the fundamental difference in the way Americans and Europeans think about cars, consider the kinds of popular motorsport in each country. In Europe, they like Formula One, in which super high tech cars race at speeds of 220 miles per hour through road courses and ancient cities. Americans like Nascar, where you can watch Hillbillies drive in a perfectly smooth circle at 188 mph. In europe, they also like to race four cylinder sedans up an unpaved mountain course for half a day, but Americans like to race 1100 horsepower cars in a perfectly straight line for six seconds at a time.

Granted, the American way of racing means you can keep an eye on the "action" without moving too far from your beer cooler. U.S.A.!


craig f. said...

Ever see the promo film for the '60 Corvair?

It does everything!

Need to run through the mud? No problem!

Need to drive 11 miles in a stream? Done!!

Need to survive multiple crashes with a '59 Impala? Child's play!!

I can't paste it in here, but go to youtube and search Corvair. It's the first one that comes up. Hilarious.

Phil Are Go! said...

Hah! Excellent "toward the future of industry and the future" music in that film. The water in the stream was about five inches deep. "It can wade through the deepest, most carefully groomed streams for twenty miles without a problem!"

Kim said...

incredible how you manage to combine bashing american advertising / economic protectionism policy and European city layout at the same time, using NOTHING but cliches.

Well, be told that Parts of Europe have evolved from horse carriages to cars. we even started paving some of our recently ...
(Exept that there is not A Europe)

With regards to cars, just think of the cool ones, like Ferrari, Maserati, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Rols Royce / Bentley, ...

BTW: I ride a 58 fairlane in Germany

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

The things we write here are sometimes, rooted in cliche, or pop culture, or stereotypes. They are not always heartfelt testimonies of absolute sincerity. These are called "jokes" and, around here, they take priority over almost everything else. If the occasional exaggeration or "intentional fiction" offends and enrages you, I suggest you go read something else.

Even in Germany, I think they know what jokes are.


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