View Full Version : "Should Girls Change Tyres?" - Interesting Article About Studebaker Ad

04-06-2013, 07:50 AM

(snippet copy - see link for complete article)


Should girls change tyres?

Date: April 6, 2013

Tony Davis

Tony Davis looks at the dangers of marketing cars to women.

'A woman without a car is like a bird in a gilded cage. She needs a car to give her 'wings'. She needs the most carefree, dependable, smart, and economical of all cars, The Studebaker.''
Some might agree with the first sentence, others with the second. By the third, we've entered the realm of pure fantasy.
The text was written by one Mrs Bernice Fitz-Gibbon and is from the opening of Going Steady with Studie.
This 1964 booklet was mentioned fleetingly by Libby Copeland in a recent piece in Drive about the car industry alienating women.
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We knew we had to track down a copy. And, yes, this 24-page sales brochure-cum-owner handbook is everything Copeland suggested. Under headings such as ''Between Us Dolls'', Mrs Fitz-Gibbon sets the sweeping generalisation/stereotype bar very high:
''We hate danger and violence. Men may think of their cars as gleaming demons of surging horsepower roaring vertically to the pinnacle of Pike's Peak. But not us!''
Not only do ''we'' hate speed, it seems ''we'' are a bit dim.
''Many of us, bless our hearts, think a 'distributor' is a door-to-door brush salesman, a 'condenser' has something to do with contented cows ?''
Targeting women is always fraught. Likewise marketers trying to sound hip and young. It usually ends up patronising, try-hard, inane, plain old, or all of the above.
Try this: ''If you're in a Studebaker ? You're a girl with a GOAL (Meaning a Get-Out-And-Live Girl!).''
Mrs Fitz-Gibbon tells her readers of the importance of gauges (''those pretty little clocks aren't just decorations'') and how, in a Studebaker, the controls are almost as simple to operate as a washer or sewing machine.
After instructions on starting the car: ''You're all ready to sail away - to the store ? to the pool ? to tea with the girls.''
Not, it would seem, to lecture at law school or to perform surgery. OK, it was the '60s, but couldn't car makers have aimed a little higher than tea with the girls?
Meanwhile, wide-opening doors ''let you slip out like a movie queen'', while the glovebox has room for all your beauty needs plus ''sundry masculine requisites, such as maps, flashlight, pipe tobacco, and the like''.
Well, girls wouldn't need maps, would they? They would be too busy feeling smug at being in one of the safest cars ever built (yes, honest, really), and one of the world's most fuel efficient.
The last point seems to overlook cars from a backward place known as Europe. But that's hardly unique to this American publication.
Mrs F-G admits she's never changed a tyre. Here is her advice on that front: ''Put on some fresh lipstick, fluff up your hairdo, stand in a safe spot off the road, wave and look helpless and feminine.''
Sure, you might have to sleep with a truck driver, but it beats wrestling with a wheel brace and breaking a nail.
Who was Bernice Fitz-Gibbon? An advertising exec from the 1920s, through the Mad Men era, and beyond.
She was nearly 70 when she wrote Going Steady. Good on her for continuing to work, but the booklet failed to connect with bright young things, or to induce them to buy the product.
It was Studebaker itself that failed to go steady.
The sales chart for the 1964 models - for which the booklet was produced - was like a big dipper, but without the upside.
Within three or four years, there'd be weeds pushing up through all of Studie's factory floors.
Fortunately, though, car makers are now totally on top of intelligently marketing cars to women.
Yes, honest, really

04-06-2013, 08:46 AM
My, my, people sure have a lot more time today to wax poetically silly about cultures in which they never lived....and clearly never understood or appreciated....but enjoy reaping the benefits those cultures produced. :D

The writer ignores the caveat at the top of the booklet, suggesting that Bernice Fitz-Gibbon "has changed the way America looks at women."

Curious that writer Davis failed to acknowledge or address that in his elevated state of enlightenment. Perhaps he is not as smart as he thinks he is, a maladay commonly afflicting persons of his mindset. ;) BP

04-06-2013, 08:52 AM
This type of article always makes me think back about my daughter's experiences in Drivers' Education. She had a teacher (if you could call him that) that when the part of the course that included fixing a flat tire, he simply told her that she didn't have to learn this because the boys would always do it for her. :mad: Needless to say that did not go over well with either her or her dad.

04-06-2013, 09:06 AM
In the summer of 1982 I took a road trip from Minneapolis to Louisiana in a rusty Maverick. The gal who owned the Mav had family in Lafayette and I had family in Shreveport. This car was so bad that it had no muffler, marginal brakes (which I repaired half-way through the trip), bald tires, and a dodgy starter (requiring push starting on occasion). We changed 9 tires on that trip (which include 4 used tires purchased at a junkyard in rural Louisiana). On the way back we picked up her boyfriend in Illinois and by the time we got to the Wisconsin Dells, we thought we were home free. We came out of the Perkins to discover a final flat tire. Since it was a lovely, sunny afternoon in early July, Cathy insisted she wanted to change the tire since she had never changed one before. With optimal conditions and two guys to give advice it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Jim and I leaned on the car parked next to us and gave her pointers. About halfway through the exercise a group of women in their 60's came out and saw what was going on. They gave us the dirtiest looks I have ever received in my entire life. Jim and I were all "She WANTED to change the tire!" but they weren't having any of that! Our ears were burning for hours afterwards.

04-06-2013, 09:55 AM
Old Biddies... Reminds me of an incident at the local Macaroni Grill a while back. I had backed my truck into a "compact" parking space. The spot was plenty wide, just fronted by a planter box. As I was exiting, a couple of old ladies were walking toward me, and commented, "That's a compact space, you shouldn't park there."
"It's alright, there's plenty of room." Was my retort. I smiled, and started walking away.
Then, with her finger pointing at me, then to my truck, she said more loudly, "But, you shouldn't be parking there, its for a compact car!"
I tried to bite my tongue, but I could still hear the sniping about my parking. Sooooo..... without missing a step, I turned my head back to her and emphatically said, "Why don't you go nag your OWN husband ! ! !"
They fell silent, and I went on the enjoy a wonderful Italian dinner with my lovely wife, who laughed and laughed at the story.

04-06-2013, 11:06 AM
Quasi related: Anyone here read the Grease Girl blog? She seems to think Studes are for girls. :)


04-06-2013, 12:10 PM
This type of article always makes me think back about my daughter's experiences in Drivers' Education. She had a teacher (if you could call him that) that when the part of the course that included fixing a flat tire, he simply told her that she didn't have to learn this because the boys would always do it for her. :mad: Needless to say that did not go over well with either her or her dad.

Years ago a girl that I knew told me that the day she got her driver's licence, her dad told her he was taking her out for lunch to celebrate. He told her to put on her makeup, best miniskirt and high heels. When they were leaving for the restaurant, he pointed at one of the wheels and told her to change it. No advice and no help. She said it took her about an hour, but she did it. She had to clean up at the restaurant, he wouldn't let her do it at home. In spite of that, she said it was one of the best meals she ever had, not because of the food but because of the feeling of getting her licence and doing something that most girls would balk at. Plus the hug her dad gave her. :!!:


04-07-2013, 10:25 AM
Quasi related: Anyone here read the Grease Girl blog? She seems to think Studes are for girls. :)


We love her. She did a post about our car at SpeedWeek 2010: http://greasegirl.wordpress.com/2010/09/02/speed-week-speed-seeking-studebaker-1/

04-07-2013, 10:43 AM
I think Ford did a similar brochure promoting six cylinder Mustangs to women.

04-07-2013, 12:18 PM
She should know how but most dont have to unless they want to.

04-07-2013, 12:51 PM
I taught all 3 of my Daughters how to change a Tire,but when my grandaughter went off to college, I signed her up with AAA!

04-07-2013, 05:20 PM
Our daughter started to help Dad with car repairs when she was about four years old. If I was under the car, she was there with me. When she was in high school she came to her Mother and I and said, "I am going with Chuck and we are going to change the transmission in his truck." Late that night she came back home covered in grease and dirt. The job was completed and she was the lead mechanic.

04-07-2013, 09:14 PM
When My baby girl Rachel was 12,I had agreed to help my friend Jerry do a brake job on his Jeep. We were to meet at my house after work. I was late getting home. When I did get in,I found the Jeep up on jack stands,one front wheel taken apart,Jerry sitting on a bucket,Rachel covered in grease and brake dust,taking the other side apart.
Jerry said he asked her several times if she was sure about what she was doing. She just said"This is the way Daddy does it."
Any thing that was too tough for her to get loose,Jerry would do it. He said he didn't know anything about fixing brakes but he did as he was told.
All I had to do was clean it up and put it all back togather.

Andy R.
04-07-2013, 10:52 PM
Funny article and advertising ephemera.

I'd ad one comment to her critique about why the Vanity doesn't need to hold maps for women - because unlike men, they didn't hesitate to ASK FOR DIRECTIONS! <- (Talk about another pre-GPS smartphone era)

FWIW, the last female who asked me to work on her car changed all her own pads and rotors herself.

At least NOW we know why Studebaker went out of business!

04-07-2013, 11:29 PM
Anyone here know what the future Queen Elizabeth II did during the war? She was an automotive mechanic!

04-07-2013, 11:39 PM
I wonder if the writer even knew (the future) Queen of England had to change a tire (or should that be 'tyre') at one time in her life?!?? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2149307/Ever-seen-The-Queen-change-car-tyre-Unseen-pictures-Her-Majesty-serving-World-War-II.html

And I'm sure a few WACs on this side of the pond did the same.


04-08-2013, 12:19 AM
You know as backwards as this pamplet seems, it was written by a 70 year old women in 1963, really I mean what did he expect?? when she started advertising this is pretty much how you did it, and to some exstent even in 63 that's just how it was. If the advertisers thought you wanted to be a crazy homeless chicken man, they would say. "With the new blah, look at me I'm a car, you'll be at the top of you crazy homeles chicken man game, you see with the new look at me I'm a car, everyone will know your a real crazy homeless chicken man" They didn't and never will care what's right or wrong, just what sells, obviously they didn't know what was brewing in America at the time. So yeah it's silly, yeah it's backwards, and yeah it was 1963. somethings were a little silly and backwards, somethings are a little silly and backwards now too. What gets me about this one is that of all the chauvinistic car ads of the day he chose Studebaker, you know cause we need as many strikes against us as possible right, and we really need another snooty writer mocking us when he's probably never even seen a studebaker and recognized it for what it was, and has no idea about our club or our cars or our history. And I don't like that article he chose was written by a 70 year old, why not pick one wrote by a man if you wanted to get your hackles up, don't mock a woman who was 70 1963, and you think she was offensive!!!! Geez