Find Your Make

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

The Automotive Chronicles

Monthly newsletter published by McLellan's Automotive History. Dedicated to literature collectors, restorers, museums, publishers, manufacturers and investors who collect and preserve automotive literature
HOME | Articles index | media | use of content | contact us  
April 2008 Issue
 
ARTICLE
 
One Historian Mourns the Passing of the Black and White Glossy
By Wallace A. Wyss
 

Once upon a time there were press kits.

And the chief joy of the press kits was 8" x 10" glossies.

"Glossy" meaning shiny-surfaced for better reproduction.

Press kits on a new Detroit car, say a Pontiac Firebird, would be full of material, fairly bulging with 8" x 10 " glossy prints. This was over 30 or so years, from the Fifties to the Eighties. I call those the "glory years" of the glossy print in press kits.

1977 Chrysler
 
     

Then color slides began to creep in, only a few at first.

And the number of black and white glossies correspondingly began to diminish, the auto maker PR folks figuring "Hey, everybody can run color now, why are we bothering with black and white."

And now, horror of horrors, the black and white glossies have disappeared from automaker press kits.

1979 Cadillac
 
   

Why? Because it cost an automaker far less to reproduce a digital CD ROM with hundreds of pictures, all on one disc. It takes up little room, so the whole package can be lighter and save them mailing costs.

And of course they don't even need to send out CD ROMS. It is the digital age, and now all the automakers have websites, and if you are a bona fide reporter, you can register for the websites and download from their websites what you need.

Duck soup right? I , as a reporter, should be happy as a pig in mud.

But I'm not.

Tell ya why.

1970 Ford
 
   

Because a nice glossy black & white print is a thing of beauty. In contrast to those youngsters raised when all movies are color, a good black & white film or picture has a lot of emotion to it, a full range of shades within the black and white. Sometimes color just makes the subject look cheap and gaudy.

Us oldsters (I admit to being over 50) still appreciate a good film noir movie shot in black and white like Kiss Me Deadly. Sure, you could reshoot it in color, but why bother--it was plenty scary in black and white.

In addition, I find glossy black & white prints durable. I have had some in my collection for over 40 years, kept them through dozens of moves from house to apt to house, ad infinitum, and sometimes I admit I didn't always store them well. Aside from a few that stuck together when stored in the summer heat of Riverside,CA (117 in the shade!) they have held up well, considering they were never made to be used and abused so cavalierly.

I wish I could say that about CD-roms but they are new on the scene. Who is to say that if you drop one on the floor and scratch it, how it affects the pictures? And what about if they get water on them? Or maybe they deteriorate when stored. I don't trust them.

1974 Pontiac
 
   

I have to accept them, though, it is the way of the world. It's like in-car entertainment systems. Eight track stereo is out as cassettes come in. Cassettes are out, replaced by CDs, And on and on. Technology marches on relentlessly.

And there's another beef I have with CD-roms. What if you are at a swap meet and one vendor, let's call him "Vendor A," has a stack of glossy prints-you can leaf through them and pick what you want. You can not only see what you are getting but hold it in your hand. But if vendor B has only CD roms, and you don't have your laptop with you, you can't check the quality of the images or even if there are any images on the disc. Right away you are at a disadvantage, out there in the mud at Hershey, because you didn't schlep your electronics along.

Oh, there's some nice things about CD-roms, I guess. Like the fact that some come in unusual containers, simulated brushed aluminum for example in the Rolls Royce press kit. By not having to have the container be shaped large enough to hold 8" x 10s", they can make more unusual containers.

1977 Rolls-Royce
 
   
   

But as an auto historian for over 40 years, I decry the total abandonment of the glossy print.

One saving grace-if you have lots of them, they will go up in value, and become, I think, as valuable as some movie "still" shots are (of important stars anyhow).

So call me a Luddite-an anti-technology person. So be it. I like glossies, and if I'm the last person in the auto historian business that still wants to collect them, I'll take the rap.

You can digital, smigital all you want but even though at a recent car show (a gathering of Mini owners) I was ridiculed as the geezer still shooting with a film camera, I was happy to go home with either transparencies or black and white film.

Wallace Wyss is the author of the book SHELBY: The Man . The Cars . The Legend, which has 16 pages of glorious black and white pictures.

You may have noticed that we are privileged to have a well known author, Wallace A. Wyss, join with us as a frequent contributor. Two of his books are available through McLellan's Automotive History. Click on the links below for additional information on ordering the following:

DETOMASO: THE MAN AND HIS MACHINES
FORD GT 40 & THE NEW FORD GT
 
 
 
The Automotive Chronicles, April 2008
 
 
 
 
 
Spacer
Spacer
 L I T E R A T U R E
I N D E X
Click here
Spacer
separator
Spacer
Spacer
separator
Spacer
separator
Spacer
Spacer
separator
Spacer
Literature for
OVER 600 MAKES
Sales literature