k5mCmxeR Sabrina Caltex commercial 2
Sabrina Caltex commercial 2

The two-pronged Sabrina approach

Check out this Caltex commercial from the 1950s.

The oil company took a ‘two-pronged’ approach when it came to casting.

What better way to get your products noticed than to put Sabrina in your TV commercial.

Who’s Sabrina you ask? Born in 1936, her real name was Norma Ann Sykes. She died in 2016 at the age of 80.

Norma was a minor starlet modelled on the likes of Marilyn Monroe, with an hourglass figure and enormous boobs.

She made her film debut as Trixie in Stock Car, a Wolf Rilla-directed drama, in 1955. 

Look her up. But before you do, here’s a bit of trivia for you car buffs.

The 1959 Triumph TR3S 1985cc iron-block alloy-headed engine was called “Sabrina” because of its dome-shaped cam covers.

In the late 1950s, when ERF, a British truck maker, produced a semi-trailer with a short protruding bonnet, they were nicknamed “Sabrinas” — because they had “a little more in front”.

While, in 1974, an unkind British motoring press bestowed the name “Sabrinas” on the big rubber bumper blocks added to the MG MGB, Midget and Triumph TR6 — a step taken to meet US safety regulations (I kid you not).

Then there’s the Caltex petrol advertisement featured here that was filmed entirely on location in Sydney’s Manly in 1959 — where else but Manly?

It’s said to have caused absolute traffic chaos as the locals came out to have a squiz.

Sabrina’s earned a reported 300 pounds for the appearance, plus a handsome fee for each time the commercial went to air. 

It was shown during “Caltex Theatre” programs on ATN Channel 7, Sydney and GTV Channel 9, Melbourne.

Ah, yes. They were different times. You wouldn’t get away with stuff like this today.


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