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Guitars, Clothing and Motorcycles: Creative Car Partnerships You Might Love

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author photo by Autotrader April 2008

Recently, Volkswagen brought a little rock and roll to its vehicles. In a promotion called "V-dubs Rock," the company gave away First Act GarageMaster electric guitars with the purchase of certain models. The giveaway was not what made this idea unique, however; manufacturers have been adding bonuses to the price of cars for decades. What was interesting was that the guitar could be played through the stereo system in the car. VW had successfully integrated a completely different product into its vehicle, and the result was pretty cool.

What do guitars have to do with driving? Very little, but in the last 15 years we've seen some fun cross-promotional efforts. Here's a list of some of our favorites:

The Eddie Bauer Explorer
Primarily known as an outdoor clothing company, Eddie Bauer formed a partnership with Ford based on the Explorer SUV. Originally launched in 1991, this vehicle is arguably the most successful cross-industry promotion. Placed in the middle of the Explorer price range, the Eddie Bauer edition offers such details as exclusive Pueblo Gold exterior accents and luxurious leather-trimmed front bucket seats.

The L.L. Bean Outback
In perhaps the best explanation of this partnership, Subaru once created an advertisement that showed one of its Outbacks leaving boot-shaped tire marks in some wet sand. The message was loud and clear: "If you love the ruggedness of L.L. Bean products, you'll love a new Subaru Outback, too." Developed in 2001, the L.L. Bean Outback is still going strong and, much like the Explorer, focuses on interior details such as "L.L.Bean-embossed, two-tone leather-trimmed upholstery."

The Harley-Davidson F-150
There are literally dozens of different versions of the Ford F-150 pickup truck, but the one that fits on this list is the Harley-Davidson edition. Since 2000, these two rough and tough brands have been sharing a vehicle, and the results have been successful. In addition to the black leather option, this vehicle is equipped with black Clearcoat paint, new chrome letters spelling out "Harley-Davidson," a Harley-Davidson badge, and ground effects. Unlike the other cross promotions, the Harley influence is far more dramatic on this truck, and it's easy to see why many motorcyclists prefer it.

The Nautica Villager
Although not typically associated with "landlubbers," the Nautica apparel company partnered with Mercury in 1993 to create a special edition Villager minivan. The Nautica models came with a two-toned blue and white or red and white paint scheme, a yellow pinstripe, and blue/white or gray leather. Of course, no sea-styled vehicle would be complete without captain's chairs, so that's what you'll find in the second row instead of the traditional bench seat. This vehicle was discontinued in 2002, but you can still find it when you search for a used car.

While VW had some success with its guitar promotion, it remains to be seen whether more companies will partner up to create vehicles. Will we ever see a Ralph Lauren Lexus or a Marc Jacobs Mercedes? Only time will tell.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Guitars, Clothing and Motorcycles: Creative Car Partnerships You Might Love - Autotrader