It’s a known fact that the CINCSAC General Curtis E. LeMay was a fervent automobile enthusiast and allowed a race events on a Strategic Air Command bases. He also had a car shops on bases created for the men of SAC to spend their personal time with a good and useful hobby instead of drinking and fornicating.
So there’s no surprise that SAC B-47 bombers and an overall USAF theme had been used by a marketing department of a General Motors for 1958 Pontiac Chieftain advertisement.
This particular ad is notable because the Canadian magazine Chatelaine has mistakenly attributed the Chieftain convertible as a Parisienne. The 1958 was a last year for the Chieftain model line, it was replaced by a Catalina in 1959. Parisienne is also appeared in 1959 and had a much different look than Chieftain.
I think it’s safe to assume that the Canadians just couldn’t make a difference between the automobiles. With their forests, ice, snow and a northern climate they divide cars into two categories – FWD and others. That was a sarcasm.
Nevertheless the original Pontiac ad poster was correct and you can see it tells ‘Bold New Chieftains’, which is perfectly corresponds with the picture.
The new Chieftain was created using a Virgil Exner’s concept of a Forward Look, which had more an ocean vessels motives than sleek military jets but on the background we can see a three B-47 Stratojets. Personally I think that a new Chieftain would looked better if paired with a B-52 Stratofortress.
As for the USAF and SAC – the practice of a car races had gradually wind out in 1954 but since LeMay was a dedicated man he hadn’t abandoned his lifelong passion for cars and mechanisms. It is possible that GM was one of the last automotive giants to use an image of a USAF in their marketing campaigns (there was a few ads with a USAF aircrafts later, but not so much).
These aforementioned ads had appeared exactly during the LeMay’s tenure as a Vice Chief of Staff (since 1957) and a Chief of Staff of the US Air Force (since 1961).
It could be a coincidence but the fact is – the practice of using the Air Force theme in car advertisement had ended after first half of a 1960s when Curtis LeMay left the military and went to retire.
That was an end for the age of Atomic, Jet and Space motives in a automotive design in America.
By the way, there’s a funny thing in relation of the Canadian advertisement of the American car with a three B-47s on a background.
In 1956 USAF had leased one B-47 to a Royal Canadian Air Force to test a new jet engine made by Avro for the all-Canadian designed and soon-to-be-built new interceptor Avro CF-105 Arrow (yep, those days the Canada had it’s own military jet aviation industry). It didn’t work out. In 1959 the B-47 was returned to the US (damaged during these tests, written off and scrapped at Davis-Monthan AFB) and Avro had stopped the project because of a problems in a head office in England.