By the late 1950s, Mr. Magoo was a pretty well-known comic figure, moving out of film shorts and into regular Saturday morning cartoon popularity. So of course, a cartoon character intended to appeal to kids was the perfect pitchman for a beer company. And in 1959, your inebriated mom or dad could’ve won Mr. Magoo’s car, or a 1959 Chevrolet Impala or 1959 Chevrolet Corvette just by pounding back the Stag beers.
The commercial for the contest features the vision-challenged Magoo flying off the handle when he learns his car is being taken away, much like my grandpa when my dad had to take his keys away. The narrator smooths the situation over by noting that it’s just a facsimile of Magoo’s car that’s part of the contest.
Legendarily awful driver Magoo drove a nondescript car from the Brass Era. Stag Beer ran a television spot and “The Name Mr. Magoo’s Car Contest,” the grand prize being a version of the antique car Magoo drove.
The car Stag Beer appears to offer in the commercial is tough to identify because the film is pretty grainy. Judging by the hood ornament, the side mount wheels and the roof, it looks a lot like a 1929 Packard Model 645 touring car.
Auctions America sold a car like it at auction in August 2013 for $134,750.
Equally as interesting were the two other optional prizes, if Brass Era cars weren’t your thing:
The Impala pegs the commercial at 1959, because it was the only year Chevrolet offered the Impala with these cat’s eye tail lamps.
Today, a 1959 Chevrolet Impala Sport Coupe like the one shown in the commercial would be worth somewhere around $50,000 in good condition.
Depending upon the model, a 1959 Chevrolet Corvette like the one shown in the ad would be worth anywhere from $60,000 to $75,000.
At any rate, it was a contest that provided the winner a pretty substantial award if it was kept in good shape all these years…and provided you never let Magoo behind the wheel.
You can see the entire commercial by clicking the image below. It’s hosted on the Museum of Broadcast Communications’ Facebook page.