The Gerrard Classic Auto Collection Archive
Written by Chris Ritter
It was announced in the March/April issue that the Gerrard Classic Auto Collection Archive was loaned to us in late November 2012. Work began immediately and every piece was sorted, sleeved and entered into our online catalog; there you can find item descriptions and, in many cases, images of the front cover or some pages of an item. In addition to catalog entries, more than half of the material has been digitized. We are hoping to have the entire collection digitized by mid-summer (Update: This project was officially completed in the summer of 2013).
While we are working on this incredibly vast collection, we are enjoying the privilege of handling every piece, giving us a chance to really appreciate automotive sales literature from the 1950s and 1960s. Included in the collection are common sales catalogs and service manuals. Also part of the collection are dozens of upholstery and color binders, dealer data books, training aids and even unique pieces like an electric shaver option, a postcard that doubled as a vinyl record and even a napkin from the mid-1950s announcing Chevrolet features!
If you enjoy cars from the 1950s or ’60s, or automotive sales literature in general, we are sure that there is something in the Gerrard Collection that will interest you. Illustrated here are five pieces we found particularly interesting. This archive is truly a treasure chest, so be sure to enjoy this collection on your next visit to Hershey!
1960 Chevrolet T-O-P Selling Ideas Multimedia Kit:
If you were a Chevrolet salesman in 1960, there is a good chance you used this kit during a sales meeting. Stocked with a vinyl record, film strip and instructional brochures, the kit had practically everything needed to teach salesmen how to close a deal. The message throughout this particular presentation is simple – consumers are bombarded with information and need help deciding why to purchase a particular vehicle or accessory. Salesmen can make their decision easy by customizing a sales pitch (if needed) to emphasize quality over price.
The kit is interesting for several reasons. First, it gives insight into a salesman’s mind during 1960. Second, it reveals behind-the-scenes pressures that shaped advertising and pricing. Last, it is chock-full of valuable information about vehicle specifications, performance and accessories. It makes an excellent supplement to traditional sales literature when researching a vehicle.
1953 Cadillac Data Book:
This 172-page data book is required reading for the ’53 enthusiast. Between the covers you will learn everything imaginable about that year’s exteriors, interiors, body, chassis, and engine features, Hydra-Matic transmission, heating and air-conditioning systems, accessories and basic specifications. Illustrations are plentiful throughout and even provide detailed looks at factory-approved accessories.
1953 Buick Display Portfolio:
“Fifty Great Years” was an obvious campaign slogan for Buick in 1953. In addition to using the term in traditional sales literature, it was also used in this large dealer display portfolio. The pages are big and colorful and highlight all of the major features of that year’s offerings. It was the first year that Buick offered a V-8, so many pages are dedicated to that engine’s design and performance. Remaining pages are predictable and discuss transmissions, accessories, safety features, interiors, etc. If you want to imagine yourself as a prospective buyer in 1953, then you may want to peruse this portfolio.
1956 Packard Color & Upholstery Binder:
The greatest strength of the Gerrard collection is that there are so many color & upholstery binders. There are several dozen from Chevrolet, Dodge, Cadillac and Lincoln alone. If you are restoring or maintaining your car’s interior, then you must explore these binders since most include actual fabric, leather and top samples. This 1956 Packard binder is a good representation of the upholstery binder collection since it includes paint chips, upholstery samples and brief descriptions of the Packard lineup for the year.
1956 Cadillac Three Dimension Theater:
If there was an automotive sales literature hall of fame, this item would surely be one of the first inductees. This special device creates a 3-D image using one of 10 stereoscopic slides. The device is similar to a View-Master, but you don’t need to hold this projector up to a window as it has a built-in button that creates backlight when pressed. The slides cover interiors and exteriors for each model. The photos are the same as found in the sales catalogs, but it is much more fun to look through this device!