Advertisement

Patriotic Ads: Chevrolet Gets into the Celebration Spirit Early

a white chevy impala spirit of america
Patriotic Ads: Chevy Gets into the Spirit EarlyChevrolet

America's bicentennial celebration in 1976 offered automakers the opportunity to mark the nation's birthday with some special editions.

Chevy got into the spirit of things a full two years early, perhaps anticipating a big rush to do the same by its competitors, staking out its claim to some sweet graphics ahead of time. And not just for one car, but for three cars simultaneously.

Whatever else, Chevy's marketing team was not asleep at the wheel.

The only problem was: It was 1974 outside. Downsizing was in full swing, the oil embargo was entering its second year, leisure suits were in style, and people had to figure out who was who in the Watergate saga without using Google or Wikipedia.

ADVERTISEMENT

The vehicles chosen by Chevy to carry the Spirit of America were the Nova, Impala, and Vega.

A note to our younger viewers: This is also a time when Chevrolet had a multitude of actual passenger cars in its lineup, and the term "crossover" was associated with comic books.

a collage of a car parked in a driveway
It’s best not to dwell on some of the spelling here, but at least it still sounds correct.Chevrolet

"We have just received a special version of our sporty, and very popular Vega Hatchback," Chevy's 1974 brochure announced. "It's the gleaming, all-white 'Spirit of America.' You'll recognize this special car by its distinctive red, white and blue accent stripes, white vinyl roof, white GT wheels, sport mirror and all-white interior with bright red accent carpeting."

We have to admit Chevy executed the logo for the Vega very well, even if the car's exterior color choice could have been silver metallic or something more slenderizing and futuristic.

By comparison, the Spirit of America Impala was offered in a choice of white or dark blue exterior colors, over a white interior with red, white, and blue trim on the door panels.

The Spirit of America Nova, meanwhile, featured a white exterior but a black vinyl roof that created a sharp visual contrast, along with a black grille. The vinyl interior was white, and if you treated it right (by using thick seat covers) it might have actually stayed clean all the way into 1976.

Also, it was a good idea to avoid road salt for those two years as well, and thereafter.

chevy vega logo
The decal designs were bold, but also not something that would probably be part of a limited-edition lineup today.Chevrolet

Speaking of celebrations: We crunched some numbers, and the nation's 250th birthday is just two years away. So it's right around this time that automakers would be getting ready for any special editions.

Wikipedia tells us that a 250th birthday could officially be called the Quarter Millennial, Sestercentennial, Semiquincentennial, or Bisesquicentennial.

Out of all these, we obviously prefer the Quarter Millennial, because it's the easiest to spell and pronounce, and also because it sounds like a limited-edition Quarter Pounder from McDonalds (that delicacy celebrated 50 years in the market three years ago).

But we're open to others as well in the interest of fairness.

Should automakers offer limited edition vehicles in 2026 for the nation's 250th anniversary? Let us know in the comments below.