This Car Proves You’ll Never Keep Up With the Goddamn Joneses

A vintage Studebaker ad shows that familial perfection only exists on the page.

Tom Kelley/Getty Images

Look at these people and reckon with their bliss. They’ve all assembled, as they do, on a little jutting spit in the middle of a perfect lake. Somehow, they backed a station wagon perfectly onto that picturesque peninsula without maiming a child or dislodging even a patch of sod. The boys are unloading the little sailboat, not bickering. The older girl unfolds a blanket, beaming with joy at her task. The swan in the foreground is a close family friend. Do you see any rips or stains in their clothing? I don’t, and the happy chatter wafts over the water like so much California fog:

Biff, you think mom will have one her casseroles ready when we return? The ones she makes with cream of mushroom soup, canned tuna and unadulterated love?

Besides a still from the Joneses’ idyll, this is also a press photo for the 1962 Studebaker Lark Daytona Wagonaire, whose sliding roof allowed owners to carry the larger furnishings of their domestic lives—refrigerators, boats, stuffed bears—upright and unhindered. The Wagonaire would go on to experience leaks through that gee-whiz roof, marring the model’s success.

The bliss, however, is watertight.