Feb 28 2012: Fifty-Nine Advertising Pages from The Vauxhall Motorist Magazine (1956)

Following yesterday’s post in which three cover designs from later 1950s issues of The Vauxhall Motorist were featured, today presents a gallery of 59 advertisements from those publications. As with the material drawn from The Festival of Britain programme of 1951, which included several of the same companies seen here, and the galleries of images taken from The Aeroplane, a magazine of a similar vintage, the conjunctions between civilian and military, public and private contractors, readily emerge: it’s as though in this period we’re seeing the formation of the power bloc within the British economy that would, I suppose, correspond to the ‘military industrial complex’ defined by Eisenhower not long before these advertisements were published. That companies like Lockheed are seen here is only the most evident point of cross-over between these cosily reassuring commercial messages and the kinds of material found – in the early 1980s – in the pages of a specialist publication like Military Technology. More pertinent still, perhaps, is the correspondence of these companies with the broad range of oil interests, from National Benzole, Shell and Esso to Mobil and Regent: that some of the copy also refers obliquely to petrol rationing and shortages suggests that the overlaps between military contracting and oil is not as recent a phenomenon as we like to imagine: it’s arguable that Suez – possibly the source of some of the noted shortages, and a recent event whose repercussions remained ongoing at the time of publication – was a mere prelude to later conflicts affecting fuel supplies across the world. That the 1950s was an era that saw a motoring lifestyle sold to all – shifting the ownership of a car from its earlier, largely middle class preserve, to the mass market – is something we can just about perceive in progress as we leaf through these pages.

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