Ad Classic: 1971 Plymouth Sebring – It’s Not A Sedan, We Promise!!

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This large ad from a November 1970 Life magazine was a fun one to upload; it didn’t fit on my scanner and I had to do separate takes.  I realized afterward that it’s freely available online, but what’s the fun in posting a vintage ad you didn’t find yourself?  Regardless of the source, it’s an interesting spot because it not only previews Chrysler’s coming woes, but makes a rather direct point about its divergence from its B-body sedan sibling. As we debate the fine differences between two-door sedans and closely related coupes, keep this ad in mind.  And remember: it’s no ordinary two-door!

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Why Chrysler was so enthusiastic to point this out is a bit confusing.  According to my Encyclopedia of American Cars, the two-door Belvedere sedan was discontinued after 1967 and even then, it sold less than ten percent what the Belvedere hardtop and Satellite hardtops managed.

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In fact, it’s rare to see any pillared ’66-’70 B-body two-door, so why so much effort went into chopping out two inches from the wheelbase is anyone’s guess.  To my eyes, the hardtops of this era look plenty distinguished from other B-bodies.

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It’s not like the roofline of the new 1971 was all that different from the four-door’s, which we can now confidently refer to simply as “sedan.”  In fact, the imbalance between the front and back door here looks to favor the coupe, despite all the trouble invested in differentiating the two.  I apologize to fans of the ’71 B-body for choosing this unflattering shot to make my point.

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It’s not pretty, though; this look worked so much better on the C-bodies.  See why I love the Fuselage cars??

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Getting back on track, I suppose that what this ad speaks to is something I wasn’t around for.  There must have been complaints that the B-body two-doors were insufficiently distinguished from their four-door brethren.

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To that end, the ’71 coupe does offer some subtle and attractive changes over its sedan counterpart.  I’m a fan of the loop bumper, and its implementation on the Sebring, along with the relocation of turn signals to the negative area beneath, is attractive.  The rear styling treatment, too, is a big improvement over the sedan’s dumpy looking underbite.

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But it wasn’t enough, despite Plymouth’s ad.  By 1974, the last year of the Sebring, 152,000 Satellites total were being shifted; in other words, a lot fewer than GM’s Colonnades.  No advertising was necessary to distinguish a two or four-door Chevelle, after all.  Fast forward twenty years to the era when the Sebring name would be slapped on a stretched, Chrysler-badged Eclipse and the Monte Carlo would revert to being a Lumina minus two doors and 1.5 inches in height (making it barely a coupe) and it would seem the situation reversed itself.  Twenty years further, and everyone has withdrawn from the segment except for Honda who finally makes a properly-differentiated (and not-so-pretty) midsize coupe.  The more things change…

Related reading:

Last Night’s Dream: 1960 Plymouth XNR – Haven’t I Seen Your Face Around Here Before?

Curbside Classic: 1971 Plymouth Road Runner – Sherwood Be Nice