Companies start pumping out Christmas ads before Halloween in an effort to capture the spirit of the holiday season–and sell products.

Few succeed in the way Chevy did with its ‘Holiday Ride’ ad because this video pinpointed the truest definition of the car hobby.

Jerry Sutherland

The car hobby is stuck in the past–in a good way. It takes you back to a time and a place when these cars were new. A simpler time when songs from Sam Cooke, The Beatles, Van Halen, or Glenn Miller, (depending on the era) played on the radio of those very same cars.

Classic cars are time machines for sure, but they’re even more significant when they connect the owner to a personal memory–Chevy hit a home run with ‘Holiday Ride’.

The plot is pretty simple. An older rancher puts a new Christmas wreath on the door of his old barn–he chucks the old wreath in a pile, and then he looks at a dusty ’66 Impala convertible. He climbs behind the wheel and picks up a worn photograph of his late wife.

There’s a flashback scene where his wife gets the car when it’s brand new–she’s thrilled with the Impala. Then the old rancher returns to the present where the car is still a dusty old car in a dusty old barn.

His daughter clearly has a deep interest in the convertible, so she goes to town where there’s a local car show. She asks the local car guys to help her out because it was her mom’s car and she learned to drive behind the wheel of the ’66 Impala.

Naturally they all pitch in and bring the car back to life after stealing it out of the barn under the rancher’s nose and restoring it to mint condition.  A year later, the old rancher goes to put a new Christmas wreath on the door–he opens the door, sees the car and it hits him like an emotional brick.

The video ends with the rancher, his daughter and his dog driving away in their family legacy.

The reason this ad really captures the essence of the car hobby is because it’s a plot that plays in the best car stories. I’ve done many interviews with owners over the years, but the ones that run at the top are always about a connection between the car (or truck) and memories of a family member.

The car culture is based on nostalgia and personal links, so a car like this ’66 Chevy convertible is far more than what its book value shows. I can easily predict the real ending to this ad–the daughter will never sell her mom’s car.

This ’66 Impala is far more than a compilation of bolts and metal that rolled off a factory floor 55 years ago–it’s a deep connection to a family member. She knew how much this car meant to her dad, so she wanted to bring back a piece of their shared family bond.

That’s why this ad is the perfect definition of the car hobby.  

Jerry Sutherland

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.

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