During the course of doing my job as editor of this magazine, I’m very rarely at a loss for words. However, one such occasion happened recently, during the photo shoot of John Murray’s magnificent 1964 Oldsmobile 442 that’s featured in this issue, when I was shown a box of items that came with the car when John purchased it from the US.
Among the many items, which included original sales documents, owners protection plan and protect-o-plate, and various sales brochures — none of which is particularly rare — one item caught my attention. To be honest, I had never seen anything like it, and I was totally blown away with what I was looking at.
It was the large and comprehensive Oldsmobile colour and fabric selector, and it is the catalogue of all catalogues. Remember that the year was 1964! The attention to detail is amazing; every Oldsmobile model option is outlined, complete with virtually every fabric and vinyl combination imaginable, matched with complementary carpet recommendations that could be selected to match any exterior colour combination. The catalogue also includes a full range of convertible fabrics that could be thrown into the mix by any potential Oldsmobile buyer back in 1964.
I tried to imagine the amount of effort required to put such a catalogue together; it must have been done by an incredibly creative and talented team. I suspect that this catalogue was available at Oldsmobile dealers across the US so potential buyers could select their favourite combinations for their new car. Given the number of options — pages and pages of them — selection must have been a daunting process indeed.
I found the best part of the entire catalogue to be at the back: a small, extremely cleverly designed section that allowed the prospective purchaser to select any Oldsmobile model — for example, four-door sedan, coupe, sports sedan, and the like — then overlay that with any of the available colour options, thus giving the perfect visual picture of the car in the preferred colour. The next step was to choose the colour of the roof — that’s if you wanted a second colour — and obtain the same visual effect by overlaying that second colour.
We recently purchased a brand-new car, and I’m afraid that there wasn’t anything quite so elaborate to peruse in order to choose between the options available. All we got was an A4-size brochure to scan through, with some basic technical data and about eight exterior colour choices. Interior was either cloth or leather, in any colour we liked as long as it was black; that was basically our lot.
Although these are important decisions to make when buying a new car, our primary focus seemed to be more centred on the electronic gizmos, such as the size of the touch screen and whether the vehicle featured such items as adaptive radar cruise control, an integrated satellite navigation system, blind-spot monitoring, lane-change-departure alert, reverse camera, parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers, and so on.
How times have changed.