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Though a woman appears in this advertisement for the Fiat Spider, it is an advertisement attempting to appeal to male buyers. The Spider is "all the car a man could ask for," according to the ad. The ad copy goes on to describe the performance features of the car, emphasizing its sportiness. In masculinized language, the call to action encourages the male driver to "tame a mountain tomorrow." This is a man's advertisement for what is imagined to be a man's car. When women appear as passengers in car advertisements, those advertisements are rarely attempting to sell a car to women. More commonly, the woman appears alongside her husband, passively enjoying the ride, as is the case here.
This advertisement for the British MGA convertible shows a woman with her husband in order to depict the car as a source of romance and adventure. Emulating the suggestive image of the lovers on screen, the couple in the car is the perfect picture of marital love. The car, the ad tells men, will bring you back to a time where you and your wife were so in love, like two kids at a drive-in movie. Again, the woman appears in this advertisement as a passenger, leaning on her husband and 'propping up' his masculinity. Though the car is supposedly a means to this sort of romance, The Wife is not an active participant in that romance.
You will note that the visual rhetoric of these three advertisements, and the cars being advertised, are quite similar. The Wife is the most consistent of the tropes being examined in this exhibit. The trope attempts to capture the romance of honeymoon period, and the joy of a married couple's getaway. As such, advertisers primarily employ these images when selling small sports cars like the ones you see here. The Austin Healey Sprite, the MGA, and the Fiat Spider are all impractical, fast, and fun European sports cars. Unlike The Mother, who is practical and dependable, The Wife captures all the thrills of young love in order to sell that image of sportiness.