Every year in early February, Americans rally around their televisions by the tens of millions for an unofficial holiday, one that livens up that long, dark stretch between New Year’s and spring: Super Bowl Sunday. Whether or not you’re rooting for either of the teams playing that day, or even care about the National Football League, is practically irrelevant; the Super Bowl is an agnostic Mardi Gras that happens to take place on the weekend, a chance for people to come together and feast, imbibe and be merry.
Of course, with all those people gathered in front of their screens, companies looking to draw attention to themselves and their products have come to go big on Super Bowl Sunday, spending absurd amounts of money on commercials. As a result, the ads have become as big a draw as the football game itself, with companies working like mad to outdo each other and craft miniature films that compress an entire movie’s worth of levity or drama into as little as 30 seconds.
Car companies have been on the leading edge of this for years, sparing no expense to whip up ads that poke people right in their lizard-brain ids. Car buying, after all, is an emotionally-driven decision at the end of the day, so a company that can whip up a visceral response to its products stands a better chance of convincing buyers to fork over tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on that ride they park in their driveway.
Which means, of course, that many of those ads are still a delight to watch today. So in honor of this year’s big game being upon us, we pulled together a list of the best automotive Super Bowl ads of all time.