(first posted 3/23/2013) Ford may have been first to the intermediate dance (among the Big Three, anyway), but GM came fashionably late and better dressed. Styling, they say, sells cars, and GM’s mouthwateringly crisp, taut lines across its new 1964 A-body line suddenly made Ford’s fast-selling Fairlane look frumpy. Annual freshenings of the 1962 body did no good, and a 1966 restyle helped only a little. So Ford tried again for 1968, presenting this fresh, clean result.
Minivans. Washington Heights, a predominantly Puerto Rican and Dominican neighborhood in uptown Manhattan, is full of them. I’ve featured the disproportionately large number of Nissan Quests and Mercury Villagers in my old ‘hood but they’re not the only vans. From Buick Terrazas to Mercury Montereys, from first-generation Plymouth Voyagers to GMC Safaris, Washington Heights is a veritable Minivan Land. Because of this, it makes photographic pairings like this very easy to find. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been perusing another trove of vintage snapshots, and these two, presumably shot on the same day, rather grabbed me. It took me a couple of minutes to identify this splendid superliner, as initially I thought it was the Queen Elizabeth. It’s the SS France, which was launched in 1961, and was the pride of its country. But like all of these liners, it fell on hard times and she was laid up in 1974, and sold Norwegian Cruise Lines, and renamed the Norway. After a long career as a cruise ship, she was sold and resold, with the designs for either refitting or scrapping, but the liner was laid up eventually over environmental concerns. She was finally scrapped in 2008.
And how long did this 1960 Plymouth survive?
Spotting this X1/9 at a Walmart parking lot took me by surprise, especially when I took a closer look. It’s a genuine beater, which is not how one typically sees X1/9s these days. They’re usually in the hands of devoted owners who pamper them, and appreciate their qualities. Well, that’s not to say this ones owner doesn’t appreciate its qualities, but it’s certainly not pampered.
Obscure rebadges can result from many different scenarios. Sometimes an automaker needs to fill a hole in their line-up and they don’t have a suitable in-house product. Sometimes a rebadge is the result of a misguided joint venture. Other times, corporate acquisitions give automakers access to product that’s worth keeping around. Today, let’s look at four examples of how these scenarios led to obscure rebadges. Read the rest of this entry »
(first posted 3/26/2013) There are about 250 million cars on the streets across the United States. Most have not reached Curbside Classic Status, and those that have are often “common” classics such as an SS Chevy or Mustang. In addition, the ravages of rust and time have driven car after car into the jaws of the recycling center. Because of this, our roads are littered with the popular, the common, and the new. Despite this challenge, each of us searches for their own Curbside Classic Holy Grail. It may be a very rare car, an unusual body style, or a car we remember from our youth. My personal Holy Grail is the Toyota Carina. Read the rest of this entry »
Yeah, I know: if you were young when these cars were new or newish, you’ll have no problem. Or of course if you’re an ace car spotter. But when folks complain that today’s cars all look alike, they’re likely to be above a certain age.
Here’s another view:
The Niedermeyers’ move from Iowa City to Towson, MD. in the summer of 1965 was not a happy one for me. Compared to that little cosmopolitan and progressive university town, Towson was insular, conservative and dull. Nobody had ever been anywhere in their lives except at the ocean during summer vacation. They all wore the same preppy clothes. They were unfriendly. And they all drove big, boring sedan, especially Fords. Even the nuns at Immaculate Conception, who got three new ’66 Ford Custom 500 sedans in various pastel colors, one of them exactly like this blue one. I still struggle with the unhappy memories it’s brought up. Now I’ll have to share them in the hopes that it’s therapeutic. Feel free to sit this one out.
There are some old cars you won’t be surprised to see still on the roads two or three decades later. Camrys and Corollas, for example. Old pickup trucks. Exotics. Conservative sedans favored by the elderly. One type of car you definitely don’t expect to see is a 1980s hot hatch like this Ford Escort XR3i. Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s something a bit different. Road and Track drove a Lada 1500 in the UK due to the expectation that it “..is the model soon to be imported to the US”. I’d rather forgotten about that, but it sure is something worth pondering about as to how that would have gone down. The driving experience showed that the Lada had some positives along with the negatives.
(first posted 3/30/2013) Dave Rush just left this picture and comment on the ’60 Corvair Cohort post: I just got back from a month in Cuba and saw about 10 first generation Corvairs and they all had a front engine/live rear axle drivetrain swap. Ladas were the favourite donor car. Read the rest of this entry »
(first posted 3/27/2013) Trying to pick the best Cadillac is an exercise in futility, or even worse, masochism. I’ve obsessed over the brand since my earliest encounter with one in Innsbruck, and have repeatedly played the game of which vintage Cadillac I’d like to have in my garage. That imaginary Caddy has been a notorious shape-shifter, but in the end it settles down to a battle between the 1948-1949 fastback coupe or one of these ’54 – ’56 sedans. And why does the more dramatic (and highly collectible) coupe lose? Because of Mrs. Welch. Read the rest of this entry »
Sometimes automakers come up with a timeless model name that can be transferred from generation to generation. One of them is Transit, everybody just knows you’re speaking Ford, no matter where you live. Ford and Transit go together like Volkswagen and Transporter, like Toyota and HiAce, like Fiat and Ducato.
Harkening back to the last COAL with the Blazer, it was the fall of 1995 and I was 29. After some personal reflection, I felt I had to get my life together with an eye toward being an honest to goodness grown up. I wanted to get debt free with the goal, someday, of buying a house. I had to find ways to cut expenses to improve my personal balance sheet. I figured car payment and insurance was costing me $350 a month plus gas, and that was a good place to start. The Blazer sold quickly, and I was out from under.