1949 Mercury - Thrrrrifty, lad!

This 1949 ad from Mercury is thrilled to tell us about the fuel economy of their first postwar model. It's "thrifty" as a... who is that on the left? Hey, it's a racial stereotype helping Mercury to sell cars!

Okay, the '49 Mercury weighed about 3700 pounds, and managed to squeeze a little over 100 horsepower from its V8 engine. That's pretty unimpressive to our future-ears. That's about as much power as a Honda Civic. An average SUV weighs about a thousand pounds more than this Mercury, has at least twice the power, and has a mileage rating somewhere in the low teens. So, current cars embarrass the old cars in terms of power, weigh a lot more, and don't really get much better mileage. You'd think we'd have made more progress in fuel economy, but electronics are really heavy. So is safety equipment, like airbags. Almost any modern car is probably way better in a crash than this pretty old Merc'.

Where were we? Oh yeah. Thrifty. What's with the beardy guy with the scarf? That's a Scotsman. You may not have heard this before, but Scottish people are supposed to be cheap. Like any stereotype, it can't be universally true. It was actually hard to find any evidence of exactly how it got started. If I had to guess, it probably began during a particularly bad time in Scottish history when things were tough and Scotland suffered economic troubles.

However, we found lots of examples of the stereotype. Investopedia surprisingly embraces the stereotype saying that "The Scottish have long been famed for their frugality and practicality." That's a positive spin on a negative stereotype. Investopedia also offers no citations for the stereotype.

Studebaker actually had a line of cars called the Scotsman, so named for their affordability and practicality.

Monty Python wrote a sketch about a Scottish poet called Ewan Mcteagle, author of such poems as  the brilliantly allegorical "What's 20 Quid to the Bloody Midland Bank?" It's interesting to note that as the sketch starts, as soon as the Narrator (John Cleese) introduces McTeagle (Terry Jones) as the author of "Lend us a Quid", it gets an immediate laugh from the audience. They seem familiar with the stereotype. This gives us no answers, but a Python sketch is always good enough to go out on.

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Steve Miller said...

Aw, heck, you already mentioned Studerbaker's contribution to the stereotype, now I got nothin'. Oh, wait, mybe I do... There was this humorous postcard I saw as a kid. Scotsman in a restroom, confronted by a pay toilet, scoots under the stall, saying, "Hoot, mon! When comfort costs a fee, I grunt and strain to get in free!"

See if you can find an ad for Nik-O-Lock, (or something like that), and we can have fun making politically-correct toilet jokes!

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