It is so, so easy to get vacuumed down a rabbit hole of old car commercials on YouTube. I can report this firsthand, having just barely extricated myself from such a timesink. What I found will shock you—or at least, will distract you for a not-insignificant amount of time.
Behold the cowboy bravado of mid-70s Chevy truck commercials.
Stunt truck ads are a slippery thing. It's easy to make a pickup look super impressive tugging on several hundred tons of photogenically huge dead weight. But when that jaw-dropping load is riding on functionally round wheels rolling across smooth, level ground, it's not an impossible feat to get it moving. Hell, World's Strongest Man competitors routinely pull city busses down a runway using nothing but thigh muscles the size of herding dogs. It's the stopping that's the hard part.
That said, there's something hilariously entertaining about watching a light-duty truck doing a heavy hauler's job, even if it can only do it once.
Just watch this '72 Cheyenne muscling a 747 down a runway:
Or a later model straining against the mass of 374,000 lbs of lumber, :
I particularly love analyzing the build quality of the trucks featured in these old commercials. That log-hauling Chev's got a sizable sag where the bed meets the cab. I'm of the strong suspicion that this poor pickup's frame didn't survive this stunt unscathed. And just look at how off-kilter the door trim is on that '72:
Not every goofy Chevy truck ad involved hitching an overburdened Cheyenne to a mass of metal. Sometimes they flipped the script, pitching a hunk of metal at a Cheyenne:
Of course, Ford wasn't about to let these stunts go un-answered. Check out this 1987 double-feature, with Ford proving its hauling ability extends to steep rocky hills, and Chevy countering by actually hitching its pickup to a hill.
The long tradition of outrageous towing commercials is alive and well today, and it's gone international. Remember this stunt, whereby a diesel Touareg strained against the mass of a 747? Some long-dead Chevy ad man was probably chuckling in his grave at this one. "We did it back in '72, son!"
And Toyota got in on the action too, hitching up to none other than the Space Shuttle Endeavor for a Super Bowl XLVII stunt that laid on the drama with those juicy helicopter shots and dudes and a cinematic "in a world" voiceover.
But when it comes to vintage "trucks hauling stuff" commercials, this one's gotta be our favorite: 14 Tamiya R/C trucks hauling their real-life likeness.
Hitch your wagon to a star. Or your pickup truck to the biggest, most ridiculous load you can find. Just don't blame the manufacturer when you incapacitate your ride: They warned you not to try this at home.