Cowboys in Classic Car Ads
1957 Plymouth

In his 2012 book Fractured Times: Culture and Society in the Twentieth Century, historian Eric Hobsbawm noted, “In terms of literary pedigree, the invented cowboy was a late romantic creation. But in terms of social content, he had a double function: he represented the ideal of individualist freedom pushed into a sort of inescapable jail by the closing of the frontier and the coming of the big corporations.”

If Hobsbawm is correct, the Western/cowboy boom of the Fifties and Sixties represented, to some extent, pushback against the societal homogenization of life in the suburbs, jobs in offices, and shopping in big plazas. Perhaps.

As an avid watcher of Maverick, Gunsmoke, Have Gun – Will Travel, and Rawhide, I can say that it is the simplicity of cowboy life that appeals to me. That, and the clearly defined characters who respond to adversity in predictable ways. The best Western TV shows were parables, and watching them was—and still is—catharsis.

It’s easy to understand why advertisers would want to associate their products with cowboys. Once you get past the poor hygiene and complete disregard for personal comfort, what you see is grit, determination, and a uniquely American cultural moment.

Gathered for you here is a gallery of classic car ads featuring cowboys. You can decide for yourself whether the association with The Old West and dusty trails served to enhance the image of the vehicle presented. The art in these ads, for the most part, is wonderful. Enjoy!

More classic car ads


1911 Pierce-Arrow

1911 Pierce-Arrow
1911 Pierce-Arrow Ad

Neigh What? The 1899 Horsey Horseless Carriage


1932 Dodge

1932 Dodge Ad
1932 Dodge Ad

1937 DeSoto

1937 DeSoto
1937 DeSoto Ad

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1942 DeSoto

1944 DeSoto
1944 DeSoto Ad featuring 1942 DeSoto

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1946 Chevrolet

1946 Chevrolet
1946 Chevrolet Ad

Bow-Tie Madness! 12 Classic Chevrolet Ads


1957 Avis Rent-A-Car

1957 Ford
Avis ad featuring a 1957 Ford

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1957 Ford Ranchero

1957 Ford Ranchero Ad
1957 Ford Ranchero Ad

What If: A Gallery of Alternate-Universe 1957 Ford Ranchero Designs


1957 Plymouth

1957 Plymouth
1957 Plymouth Ad

Photo Feature: 1960 Plymouth Fury Hardtop Coupe


1957 Pontiac

1957 Pontiac
1957 Pontiac Ad

Poncho Madness! 10 Classic Pontiac Ads


1960 Buick

1960 Buick Ad, Wagon, Cowboys, Classic Ads
1960 Buick Ad

Dynaflow Madness! A Gallery Of Classic Buick Ads


1960 Rambler

1960 Rambler, Dude Ranch, Cowboys
1960 Rambler Ad


1961 Mercury Comet

1961 Ford
1961 Mercury Comet Ad

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1964 Buick Wildcat

1964 Buick
1964 Buick Wildcat Ad

Forgotten Concept: Buick Cielo


1970 Dodge Adventurer

1970 Dodge, Don Knotts, Dodge Ad, Dodge Adventurer,
1970 Dodge Adventurer Pickup Ad

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1979 Ford Ranchero

1979 Ford
1979 Ford Ranchero Ad

Car Spotter Challenge: Car-Based Pickups


1984 Nissan Pickup

1984 Nissan Ad, Cowboy
1984 Nissan Ad

Compact Madness! A Gallery of Small-Truck Ads

Listen to the very entertaining Consumer Guide Car Stuff Podcast

Gallery of Cowboys in Classic Car Ads

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