Through the JPC Windshield: Life On Mars

Does anyone recall the recent TV series Life On Mars?  The premise was that a modern day New York Detective suddenly wakes up to find himself living in the summer of 1973.  He is quite confused.  And yes, I know that there was a British version of the show first.  So anyway, what does this have to due with Curbside Classic?

Last week, I had my own Life on Mars day.  I was out and about and as I was leaving my last stop to return to the office, I got a glimpse of something that I had not seen in quite awhile.  A 1973 Ford.  And not the LTD that was everywhere back then, but the Galaxie 500 that was becoming uncommon even then.  As a two door hardtop, no less.   I knew from the other scenery that I was still in 2012, but this Galaxie was certainly not the giveaway.  How old must those semi-wide whitewall tires be?  Weren’t those briefly popular in the early 1980s?

Commentator Zackman surely likes his rear quarter windows to roll down, but was there ever a more useless quarter window than in these 1973-74 big Fords?  I tried to follow this one for a bit, but I did not have time to go the distance (but don’t ask if I could have found the time had it been a Studebaker) so had to settle for a couple of cellphone shots.  And before the comments start, I think maybe this Ford is a 1974.  But we have such a nice theme going, let’s just ignore this.  Besides, there would have been some ’74 models trickling out in the summer of 1973.  C’mon – go with me on this.

A single car-sighting, however,  does not make for a Life On Mars day.  What does?  When not five minutes after spotting the Galaxie, I was greeted by the Galaxie’s 1973 arch enemy, the Impala Custom coupe.  These were once as common as sticky spots on a movie theater floor, but like so many other once-common cars, have all but vanished.  The survivors all seem to be green sedans.  All of the sharply dressed young executives who drove these coupes traded them in for Monte Carlos within a few years, and most of these wound up in the junkyard in one of the many fuel price spikes starting around 1979.

After these cars being absent from the landscape for so many years, they invite a fresh look.  So, what’ll it be?  Ford or Chevy?  Which one sucks and which one rules?  I think we all know Paul Niedermeyer’s vote, do we not?  Back in the day, the Ford seemed more structurally substantial, but the Chevy is undeniably better looking.  I always liked the Chevy coupe’s concave rear glass, and consider the ’73 to be the best looking of the big Chev’s entire 1971-76 run.  In truth, the 73-74 Ford was a big disappointment to me.  After the beautiful 71 LTD, the ’73 version looked pudgy and bloated.  And like all Fords of that era, it handled that way too.  Neither one of these has ever really called my name, and this would be a tough choice for me for these two cars were they in similar condition.

If only I had stayed out on the road just a bit longer, I am quite sure that I would have found that ’73 Fury III coupe.   Then the choice would have been easy.  But as it is, not so much.