QotW: What’s your favorite car commercial?

On this day 70 years ago, the first Japanese commercial jingle was broadcast. The song “I’m an Amateur Cameraman” made its radio debut on September 7, 1951 on Chubu-Nippon Broadcasting (CBC) and New Japan Broadcasting (NJB) as an ad for Sakura Film by Konica Minolta (then called Konishi Roku Photo Industry Co., Ltd.). Curiously, the song never mentioned the company or the product name, but was written by Toriro Miki, a popular composer at the time. That’s why September 7 is known as Commercial Jingle Day in Japan.

There have been a great number of captivating car commercials from both sides of the Pacific. Japan’s often made use of surreal situations, celebs and, of course, unique songs composed just for the ad. The American spots leaned towards humor or cars speeding through the desert. Any format can be memorable, impactful, perhaps even immortalized as a piece of pop culture.

What’s your favorite car commercial?

The best comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “Why do you love (or hate) the Fast & Furious movies?

We expected lots of varying opinions on the Fast & Furious movies but in a strange turn of events, received as close to a consensus as we’ve ever had in a QotW. The general feeling is best summed up by L.P., who reminds us that they’re not supposed to be high art. speedie echoed what a lot of us think about them, that they have eye-catching stunt but horribly written dialog. Like many of us, Elrik just watches them for the cars.

At the end of the day the franchise seems to have been truly influential. Curtis described how seeing a fiberglassed interior with bright yellow paint job on a Civic was the coolest thing to a 9-year-old. Likewise, JoJo Musashi said the films made Japanese econoboxes cool to his cadre of friends at the school cafeteria. But perhaps MWC70 illustrated this sentiment best with his winning comment:

Sorry about the length…its all a matter of perspective.
In the grand scheme of things, we must look at the impact its had on car culture in general, and love it or hate it, its brought more young people into the hobby. If that means we see many poorly modified 90’s Toyota Camry’s on cruise night, so be it. I remember being at the Chapters book store in the automotive section and there was a book “How To Modify Your Car Like Fast and Furious” – so in fact volumes have been written on how to emulate this style in your own garage. I’d rather see a kid learn how to use his hands and create his vision then hang out with the wrong kids and go the wrong way, and that is a real scenario.

The movie has also brought global attention to Japanese sports cars. The value of those cars today, in one way or another, can bee accredited to those movies. People started buying up the Turbo Supras, 240SX’s and RX7’s because of that franchise – at least here in North America. When the 1st movie was in its heyday, 99.9% of car guys in North America had never heard of Initial D. The JDM Auto scene gained serious traction because of these movies, and with it came the interest in the Culture that supported and in fact helped shape the cult status they enjoy today. The JDM Cult Car movies have now been enjoyed by an exponentially growing mainstream audience….they’re on Netflix now.

In short the movies were never meant to win an Oscar, but they have inspired millions to enjoy our hobby – and that’s not bad.

Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!

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20 Responses to QotW: What’s your favorite car commercial?

  1. Lupus says:

    Without any hesitation the Isuzu Gemini “Dance in Paris”:
    True car art, accutally it can be considered car-fu 😉

  2. Erik says:

    without a doubt the Acura commercial from circa 2000 that was shot around Palm Springs.

  3. Legacy-san says:

    After watching the Supra commercial, I was reminded of one for the Subaru SVX sung by Allison Krause singing her song “Five Hundred Miles” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8JbO0bbXvc

  4. dankan says:

    Ok, there are two great ones that come to mind.

    The first is the Toyota Touge series they did for the 86 when it came out. They made 157 videos featuring different touges across Japan, and were as Japanese as possible. Poetic voiceover, adult contemporary/jazz soundtrack, and long, slow shots of the car in nature. An incredible commitment to a theme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wu-MTA47Rj0&list=PL8-7cgxLxFFsoytVXU7WjzpDpxWGMTpgQ&index=2

    The other is Subaru’s Forester ad featuring the sumo wrestler car wash team. With the perfect soundtrack it was just the right side of crazy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vasc8ghyu1g

  5. Michael E McDonald says:

    The old Isuzu commercial in which the oriental salesman is responding to the new hire Caucasian salesman [who can’t pronounce Isazu] that he can’t pronounce “Cheboray”.

  6. Sammy B says:

    While Honda’s “The Cog” is pretty dang brilliant, my favorite is still Nissan “Toys” [the Z commercial with “You Really Got Me” in it].

  7. DeeAnn Hopings says:

    No Question:

    Joe Isuzu by David Leisure!?!?

  8. Malik Vega says:

    The VW tear apart commercial as I call it is probably one of the best commercials for a car I’ve seen. Hardly any talking, they just let the car do all the talking. Or, at least they would if it wasnt being disassembled. I imagine alot of people are still in the market for a cheap, easy to maintain and no frills car just like this one, even today.
    I think the unpimp your auto ride commercials are fantastic as well.

  9. MikeRL411 says:

    Looks like Isuzu is leading the humor subset !

  10. gaijinshogun says:

    Favorites for me were the various Toyota Corona commercials done in the late 60’s and earlier 70’s for the USA market. In one, they threw a new Corona RT115 coupe with the advanced overhead ESP monitoring system into a demolition derby. As the car got hit and things broke, the overhead console lit up to show the problems. In another series, the Corona drag races against the current land speed record cars. Racing against the Blue Flame, a stop sign appeared out of nowhere in the middle of the track… and the Corona’s power assisted front disc brakes allowed it to stop in time and “win” the race. Another earlier one was against the Green Monster and…see for yourself!

  11. Banpei says:

    As a Toyota Carina TA60 owner I’m obviously biassed, but I love the Japanese Carina commercials with Sonny Chiba the best. (He recently passed away) There are a many favorites among them: from outrunning a motorcycle gang in a beautiful Carina coupe TA17 to the sand dunes jumping Dakar Carina ST Roadrunner where he wears a safari outfit. pretending to be a Dakar driver.

    However there is one Carina commercial that towers above the rest:
    It’s the puppy rescue commercial where Sonny Chiba leverages turbo power of his Carina GT-TR Twin Cam Turbo TA63 to save a small pup from falling down a waterfall! Amazing! That’s the best reason for having a turbo on my car I’ve seen in my entire life!

    Sonny Chiba, you will be greatly missed! Thank you for all your movies and the Toyota Carina commercials!

  12. Andre says:

    Bar none, the Acura NSX “Dream” commercial.

    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTnUxfbMLJI&w=560&h=315%5D

  13. Angelo says:

    When Toyota dropped this one, I instantly knew that everyone in the world is one.

  14. Marwin says:

    Don’t forget Europe, We got some great commercials here as well. It’s hard to choose one, so let’s keep it at the two best. The first one being my personal favourite:

    VW’s genius commercial called “Old Lady”. The text at the end says: “Not every old lady is as reliable. Luckily every Golf is.”


    Another real gem I can’t leave out is “The Sculptor” from Peugeot. An innocent Hindustan Ambassador probably lost it’s life for the commercial, but it wasn’t in vain. The end result is a true masterpiece of a commercial!


  15. Joel says:

    The 300ZX (Z32) commercials were the best. This is coming from a Supra owner…


  16. JoJo Musashi says:

    I humbly welcome the honorable mention, thanks.

    Being a teenager when the S2000 came out, this commercial hits home.

    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hm84lPr86k&w=560&h=315%5D

  17. Chris says:

    I’ve always loved how bizarre this one is for the Toyota Sparky micro-van.

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