This undated album contains six public service announcements to advise consumers about the hazards of buying used cars. Apparently the Federal Trade Commission distributed it to radio stations to be broadcast as public service announcements.
The album’s content suggests that it was created between 1976 and 1981. At the time, the FTC was building support for a rule that would regulate used car sales. Some at the FTC wanted a rule that required used car dealers to disclose all known defects of used cars. But this proposal was very controversial, and it was one of three proposed rules (also KidVid and the Funeral Rule) that resulted in Congressional blowback against the FTC and the temporary shutdown of the Agency. In 1984, the Reagan-era FTC adopted a used car rule (officially known as the Used Motor Vehicle Trade Regulation Rule at 16 CFR 455), which bans misrepresentations and requires the posting of a clear notice concerning whether a car is sold with or without a warranty.
The radio spots are typical of FTC strategy. When cajoling for a new rule, the FTC takes many different strategies to publicize deficits in consumer protection rules. It urges self-regulation, and as done here, the FTC tries to directly communicate to consumers. The public service announcements are designed for a range of radio station formats, with one invoking Beethoven’s 5th, presumably for a classical station, while others use humor or popular sports figures. Janet Guthrie, the first woman to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, reads one spot. Racing legend Bobby Unser reads another.