I've been busy scanning some old car adverts from my huge collection of old magazines. There are loads more to come, and you can find them all here in my Flickr gallery.
(click each of those to see enlarged versions - some are desktop-wallpaper sized if you click the "all sizes" links)
It's amazing how times have changed. Nowadays speed and performance is only subtly implied and never directly mentioned. You'd certainly never get a headline like that of the Mk1 Astra GTE advert, or a table of comparative 0-60 times showing how much quicker a car is than its rivals, as in the Strada ad.
Nobody mentions maintenance and running costs like in the Metro ad, and it's rare to see a car sold solely on the strength of the standard equipment in the way that the Lada Riva was.
It's all about "image" and "branding" these days, all about how you'll be perceived as an owner by those around you and not about the car itself. As the car is seen more and more as a dangerous, polluting evil and less as something to be enjoyed and cherished the copywriters daren't talk of performance and speed any more. In the world of "safety" cameras, bus lanes, congestion charging, traffic queues and massive taxes on petrol it just doesn't seem appropriate. We, as a society, have gone from loving the glamour and performance to being ashamed of admitting it as it's just not "correct" any more. Ironically, our main motoring programme "Top Gear" has gone from being an utterly tedious consumer programme in the 1980s to an out and out celebration of the car and everything it should stand for and is frequently and vocally criticized as a result.
The cars are faster, they handle better, they have equipment levels that just weren't feasible at any level 30 years ago, yet the adverts aren't allowed to portray it any more.
That's a shame.