CC reader Brad A. asked if I’d ask you all this question. He really wanted his folks to buy a Camaro Z28 in the early ’80s, as a replacement for the family ’78 Impala sedan.
Me? Depends which Niedermeyer car we’re replacing with the Not-Niedermeyer car.
In 1965, instead of the dull Coronet wagon, it would have been this Bonneville Safari wagon, with the optional Tri-Power 376 hp 421, of course. And the 4-speed stick shift…on second thought, the 4-speed Hydramatic, so my mom could drive it too, as she was a significantly more confident driver than my dad. But since we’re dreaming, how about that couple up there in the rendering become my parents to go along with the Bonnie? And the boat? A kid can dream, no?
I was partial to ChryCo cars as a kid. Beyond that, I would have liked my parents to get a new car every year. This was in the era of the annual model change. I didn’t get that doing so would have been financial folly.
No 4-speed Hydramatic in a ’65 Pontiac. That year’s automatic was the new-for-1965 3-speed Turbo-Hydramatic. And even a base engine Bonneville Safari was cool as that was a 325 hp 389 – much better than ’65 Dodge Coronet’s choice of a 225 slant six (145 hp) or 318 V8 (230 hp) for base power. And if the Bonneville was a bit too costly, there was the Catalina Safari with the same engines as the Bonneville. And if your family budget required an engine that burned regular fuel instead of the higher-priced premium, Pontiac offered a regular-fuel version of the 389 2-barrel with a still-strong 256 hp in all of its 1965 big cars except the sporty 2+2.
Dodge Omni GLHS. My mom did buy a regular Plymouth Horizon new in ’86, and I did (at age 12) convince her to look at the Dodge dealership but they wouldn’t even match the Plymouth place’s deal on a base model.
In ’94, when I would have been 7, my mom was shopping for a replacement for her 1983 Cutlass Supreme coupe, at the Olds dealer. One possibility was a leftover ’92 Toronado, which she really liked (it was an Olds 2-door), but even leftover at 2 years old, the price wasn’t great and it didn’t have a passenger airbag. So she came home with an Eighty Eight Royale. Thst car was well loved, but nowhere near as cool (in a sense) as a Toronado Trofeo would have been.
Flash forward to the early 2000s, I was able to drive, and the Eighty Eight was up for replacement. The coolest car that we shared an interest in (thankfully she didn’t follow my suggestion of used Infiniti Q45s or Jaguar XJ8s) was the freshly redesigned Aurora. A Sterling (silver) over gray 4.0 was available, she drove it and fell in love. That car is still hers today, rolling well with about 115k and, quite possibly, one of the last Auroras left in daily use and in good condition. No warning lights, 2 AC system rebuilds, a catalytic converter, and a few thousand in other new parts have kept it driving like new. Has been a truly shockingly good car.
A few further thoughts: according to her, the deal breakers for the Toronado purchase were the single airbag and the high trunk liftover.
And aside from the steering intermediate shaft and the AC rebuilds, and 3 water pumps, nothing has really failed on the Aurora that wouldn’t be considered a wear part. Still has all original control arms and front struts. Everything aside from the driver side heated seat works. And after many sets of quick wearing factory Michelin Energy MXV4s, the latest set of tires (Pirelli P7 Cinturatos) have been the best all around set and the longest lasting.
I really lobbied hard for a Nissan Xterra when they came out, yes, *I* suggested a small SUV. I thought the tall stance, big tires tubular luggage rack was tough, rugged and rad. My Dad was semi-receptive to SUVs at the time and was looking at Pathfinders but those were soooo plain and adult looking, I was having none of it.
I can’t remember if this was for him or my Mom, I feel like it was for her to replace the Villager minivan circa 2002 but it may have been to replace his Audi 100 where he ended up buying a Maxima circa 2000. Somewhere along the line we became a Nissan(And derivative) family.
1970 Torino wagon. Instead he got the lower-priced Fairlane wagon. The two cars were virtually identical but we got stuck with the Fairlane script on the side. 250/C4.
Public school teacher’s salary…
Well, just before I reached driving age, my dad bought a 1987 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe with a 5-speed manual. So I guess I really did not have much room to complain.
I would nominate a car they did buy, but the plans fell through, and we soldiered on with the same family car from my age seven, in 1964: until long after I’d left home and had quite a few cars of my own, in 1986. In 1969 my dad got an assignment to teach in Munich, Germany, and we signed up to get a new Volvo 145, dark green, on European delivery. I’m not sure if I was more excited about living and going to school in Germany, or replacing our dated Volvo 122S wagon with the modern looking 145 (hey, boxy was stylish in 1969).
Unfortunately my dad got ill and we had to cancel everything (he recovered fine) and a few years later I had to learn to drive in a car that dated back to the fifties. Fast forward to 1986, when my mom finally conceded the need for a new car, she ended up with a 240 wagon … but a hideous dull beige, not British Racing Green.
In general, anything with air conditioning, carpet instead of rubber floor mats, nice cloth upholstery and full wheel covers instead of dog dish hubcaps. Specifically, a nice 1971 or ‘72 Ford Country Squire with fake wood siding instead of a bottom-of-the-line electric blue Dodge Coronet. The Ford would have rusted out quickly, but it would been so much more fun getting to that point than in the Dodge.
Back in 1988 I went to the car show with my father in search of a new car. I really wanted him to get a Lada Niva or Volkswagen Fox. He bought a Ford Tempo L two door. Its ok, I’ve since owned three Lada Nivas but no VW Fox.
My parents were looking to replace the second car they had just given to my sister when the new Ford Taurus came out for MY 1986.
The Dennis brothers all lobbied hard to get Mom and Dad to look at a new Taurus “L” (back when the catalogue showed the entry level Taurus having that hideous, black, slatted grille that didn’t make it to production), and simply bump our ’84 Tempo down to second-car status.
It didn’t work out that way, but the car we did buy, an ’85 Renault Encore three-door hatchback, was one of my favorite cars my family ever owned. (Yes, I just wrote that.) It was largely trouble free and lived a long life due to regular maintenance and my brother’s excellent care of it once he got a hold of it as his own car.
Back in 1974 I wish my parents had bought a Volvo 145 wagon with the “tailgunner seat” instead of the 164 sedan. We always had sedans and hatchbacks and as a kid I thought station wagons were really cool. Other than that we usually got interesting cars.
There were a few, but not all new at the time….
Around 1990 there was a black 1964 Thunderbird for sale at a salvage yard near Carbondale, Illinois. It was immaculate, thus why it didn’t get relegated to the yard. Asking price was $1500. No dice.
A Mustang GT or Cougar XR-7 instead of his dull ’88 Tempo.
There was a Dodge Ramcharger somewhere along the line, also.
There were lots of cars that I admired as a kid but dreams and reality didn’t come together back then. Long story short, one of my siblings crushing medical debts kept us in the category of the working poor. We were a one car family and most of the cars we had weren’t high on most people’s lists and were bought well used for cheap. We were just grateful that they started and got us home most of the time.
Your story sounds a bit like mine. My only sibling (brother) was quite sick with RA during much of our childhood, and that drove many financial decisions, including automobiles. I didn’t understand it all for years until I had a family (thankfully all healthy), but I see now what a strain it must have caused for my parents. It kept a cap on all our dreams.
Oooo, true confessions time. In 1984, my parents were looking to replace either one of their 74 Darts. I was 8 at the time and campaigned hard for . .. a Renault 18i Wagon. It was blue and amazingly roomy inside for its compact exterior size. It has European engineering, I pointed out. Despite drawing the Renault logo obsessively for weeks all over my schoolwork, they did not succumb and bought . . . an 81 AMC Spirit which was NOT amazingly roomy inside and not MUCH better durability wise than the Renault.
Another bad recommendation was when I insisted in 1988 at the age of 12 that my dad trade in his 1973 LeSabre for a used 1985 Pontiac Sunbird. If the LeSabre had had transmission problems and age related problems, (plus at 12 it was hideously embarrassing to be seen in this ancient dinosaur) the Sunbird was much worse with a short disaster of overheating problems which led to another recommendation, a new 1989 Plymouth Sundance which served very well until it was replaced by another recommendation, a new 1995 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, in turn replaced by another recommendation, a new 2011 Dodge Charger. Those have been my Dad’s car to date; Ma is still driving the 1996 Oldsmobile Ciera I bought new and handed off to her when I wanted a 1993 Cutlass Convertible.
In the summer of 1987, I was 2 years from getting my drivers license so my Mom, not needing a big car for me and my older brothers anymore, was shopping for a new Corvette, the car she always wanted, to replace her ‘82 Delta 88 that I loved.
Now, most red blooded, car crazy teenaged boys would be ecstatic at the thought of having easy access to a new Corvette but I hated Corvettes.
Since it was the summer of 1987 and I was a car crazy kid, and she was obviously entertaining performance cars, I begged and pleaded for one of the last Buick Grand Nationals. No way, it was “too macho of a car” were her exact words. I couldn’t get her to bite on one of the Monte Carlo SSs at the same dealer as the Corvette either. She wanted a Vette and that was that. She got a white automatic Z52 (couldn’t even get a stick!) and kept it for more than 10 years so it worked out.
Exactly 30 years later to the date though, in June 2017, I finally got a Grand National.
I assume you got to drive the Corvette. Did you warm up to it? You’re right, most teenage boys would have gladly traded places with you, although the C4 Corvettes to me were not exactly the high point of that particular automobile. The Monte would have been a good choice for her; I can understand why she wouldn’t bite on the GN – at the risk of sounding sexist, if any car was a man’s car (particularly in the 80’s), that was it!
In the Fall of 1974, my mom was looking for a car, as my Dad and her were splitting up and he was moving to California with their only car. At Taylor Chevrolet in Rochester, NY, 6 year old me lobbied hard for her to buy a ‘74 “Spirit of America” Nova hatchback. Don’t remember the price, but she settled for a base cream colored hatchback with the 6 and a luxurious AM radio. Turned out to be a great car and she had it for 8 years. I don’t think I’ve seen a Spirit of America car on the road in 25 years.
The Grand National, having owned one, was an immensely better car than the Corvette. Huge interior space,loads of back seat room, huge trunk, more reliable and less rattly, and much less of a poser image. GM didn’t make a whole lot of world class cars in the ’80’s. A lot of what they made were very good but had faults but the Grand National was faultless and a world beater.
I owned a GN, ‘faultless’ is not a word that comes to mind. It was plagued by GM’s lackadaisical approach to the 1980’s. A fast, comfortable (seats were only okay) highway cruiser with surprisingly good mileage definitely. But bordering on incompetent on twisty roads, and coming up short in terms of braking.
Still miles better than the ‘81 Delta 88 that preceded it, a hand-me-down.
I would have loved a Holden Monaro, but of course there was no hope of that, I would have been willing to settle for a HQ Premier wagon, With a V8 and TriMatic.
But the 1971 Valiant wagon with a 245 automatic they did buy, met with my approval.
My mom drove an ’88 Mustang GT convertible, so I’d say my parents made a pretty good choice.
It’s 1983. My dear beloved father had passed and my mother wanted to sell our 1978 Buick Le Sabre Custom Sedan.
I wanted her to buy a 1983 Ford Thunderbird “Aerobird”. So did my Ford loving eldest brother.
My middle brother wanted her to buy a new Mercedes 190E.
She said she wanted another Buick. I told her to buy a V8 Buick Regal Coupe. The local Buick dealer had plenty of them on his lot.
Her choice? A 1983 Buick Century Limited sedan with the “Iron Duke” 151 CID 4cyl.
I was told “Well the Regals they had were all in white, and I don’t want a white car.”
So she bought her little brown Buick, an appropriate color since it was a little turd that couldn’t get out of its own way and finally died when a timing gear chipped its teeth and the engine tagged the valves.
At least that time she listened to my eldest brother and bought a 1988 Ford Taurus with the 3.0 V6 to replace it.
Fifteen years later after the Century debacle, in 1998 she and I went car shopping and she listened to me and bought her last car, a V6 Dodge Status. As much as I slag on Chrysler, it was a good car for her.
My late father fought his battle with her for a brand new, midnight blue 1978 Sedan de Ville, and lost. In honor of my father my first two cars were Cadillacs. 😉
In 1985 my dad test drove a new Pontiac Grand Prix that was 2 tone gold and black with a 305 4 barrel. It seemed like such a cool car and I tried really hard to get him to buy it but he eventually settled on an 85 Grand Marquis, the 5th of 7 that he would own.
I remember trying to persuade my father to replace the 1962 Mercury Comet sedan with a 1970 Mercury Cyclone. Yeah, like a 15 year old can have that much influence. When he said no, I suggested a Montego four door hardtop. No, the front grille turned him off. He eventually bought a Cutlass Supreme four door hardtop with the 350V8 and four barrel carb, single exhaust. Nicely optioned(No A/C Canadian car, haha). Well, I soon got to like the Cutlass, it was fast as I quickly found out. He kept the car for a decade then agreed to have me factory order an 80 Cutlass LS sedan.
My parents got divorced before I became a teenager, and I didn’t have any sway over what cars they chose to get.
But my dad had pretty good tastes of his own and bought some pretty cool cars for the times and eras, including an ’85 Audi 5000, an ’86 Camaro Berlinetta, and an ’88 Honda Prelude. He was out of my life by the time I hit driving age, but any of those would have made for an awesome first car in the late 90s.
I remember sometimes Dad, on the way home from a shopping trip to Fedco (long gone uber-department store, kinda like Walmart), letting us wander the used car lots lining Holt Boulevard in Pomona, just to look, but never buy. We (the kids) probably tried to sell him on various impractical cars every visit, like a Datsun 280ZX or an XJ6, never really being serious about it.
However, I do remember, the one time we all went to the Los Angeles Auto Show I spent a lot of time trying to sell Mom and Dad on a grey-market import Citroen CX Wagon (“Estate”). Not badged Citroen, just “CX Auto”. I got them the brochures and roped in a salesman, had them sit in it and hear the spiel, the hydropneumatic suspension, everything. Way too expensive, of course, we had never bought a new car and never would, and the CX was quite expensive for a new car. But it would have been so cool!
When I was 10 years old my father began looking for a replacement for the family 1964 Chevy BelAir Station Wagon which had developed some sort of problem with its transmission (3-speed manual on the column with overdrive) that was going to be expensive to repair. The only options were the basic small 283 V-8 engine with a 2-barrel carb, overdrive, and a pushbutton AM radio. I think it might have been around $500.00 or so to repair it back in 1969.
My father was torn between getting another station wagon or a sedan. Among the cars he brought home were a 1969 Buick Sport Wagon (white with simulated woodgrain paneling) which he decided was too small. A 1969 Chrysler Town & Country (medium green metallic with simulated woodgrain paneling) which he decided was too expensive. There was a bright red ’69 Oldsmobile Delta 88 4-Door Hardtop which my dad really liked, but he ultimately decided that, being a hardtop, it was unsafe and he wanted the added security of having a center pillar, just in case the car was ever in an accident. The car that he almost bought was a ’69 Chrysler Newport 4-door sedan, but he ultimately decided that what he needed was a another station wagon.
Depressingly, we ended up with 1969 Chevrolet Townsman in light green metallic. It had the 350 V-8 with a 4-barrel carb, 3-speed turbohydramatic transmission, power steering, power brakes, a power tailgate window, a roofrack and rear window air deflector, full wheel covers and an AM pushbutton radio. Still no air, but it did move nicely, if it wasn’t exactly a hot rod. I really would have preferred the Olds or the Chrysler.
I was pretty lucky. My Dad had a real eclectic/weird taste in cars so usually he and I pretty much agreed in cars.
The only time I remember us not agreeing was over a 66 Thunderbird Landau at his favourite used car dealer. I don’t remember why he didn’t want to get it but I do remember a neighbour up the road bought it and irritated me for years as I used to see it almost daily.
I don’t recall any car I wish my parents had bought but I do remember one I wish they hadn’t traded in…
1968 Chevelle SS 396 4speed
In 1966 THE car of cars back then : The newly launched DS21 Pallas in gris palladium with a contrasting black roof and brown buffalo leather.
Dad and his business partner had sold over 20000 portable transistor radios from the French REELA brand back in 65.
The owner of REELA was one of Paris wealthiest men back then called monsieur Lamar.
He was a strange character to say the least, when my dad’s business partner showed off in his new BMW 2000 in Paris, during the next visit monsieur Lamar showed them his newly acquired BMW 2000 CS Coupe.
Just to show them who’se got the biggest one !
Anyway he made a promise to the both of them that he’d buy them a DS 21 Pallas if they’d sell 20000 transistor radios the next year.
On red French tax-free plates, he’d arrange that as monsieur Lamar had very long arms so to speak.
Unfortunately the next season Japanese radio manufacturers came on the market and it turned out to be a long hot summer, which lead to dramatic low sales.
A wet summer made more people stay at home and spend their holiday bonus on other stuff like transistor radios.
So no DS 21 Pallas, but the black 404 Diesel went on, and on and on.
Dad’s partner’s BMW was never used again for business trips, it pulled to the right every time you passed a service sration in need of petrol and it turned out to be a very temperamental car to handle.
But every time I see a grey palladium DS I must think of that story.
Those Japanese basterds! LOL
In the late seventies REELA went bust as they were no match for the tsunami of Japanese ‘ solid state’ radios.
I can think of two examples, and one was a Safari.
In ’55 they tried out a ’54 Ford Mainline and a ’54 Chevy 210. I thought the Ford was a better car because the Chevy showed several signs of hidden wear. They bought the Chevy. They were probably right. The Chevy served well.
Then in ’59 they were moving up to a wagon because wagons were Cool. They tried out a ’56 Safari and a ’57 Bel Air. I lobbied for the Safari but they bought the Bel Air. In that case I was probably right, because the Bel Air was a pure lemon.
Anything but the cars we had as a kid! Growing up in the 60’s, all my dad would buy at county auctions were old cop cars.
Back then none had power anything. The only option was automatic transmission. Not even a AM radio. I remember his 1965 Plymouth Belvedere 1. Four door sedan black with spotlights and only a 318. When he got it had 89000 miles for a 2 year old car. He paid $327.00.
I tell people that I spent a lot of time in the back seat of a cop car as a kid.
I would have preferred to travel in the back of an (Australian) Falcon wagon than a Cortina wagon during my childhood. Much more spacious. In hindsight it’s probably better that my parents spent money on my education and other important things.
The only “cool” car they ever owned was the 65 Mustang convertible my mom bought new while they were dating. 6 cylinder, 3 on the floor, honey gold with white top and white base interior. After that, boring family cars. As a kid, my biggest wish would have been AM/FM stereo. My parents would only spring for AM radio. My dad’s sweet spot was base V8, automatic, vinyl seats, vinyl top, full wheel covers and A/C…never power windows or locks, and NO cruise because that would make the driver not pay attention to the road?!?
My brother and myself actually persuaded my father in buying a car we both wanted him to buy.
In 1979 when our Peugeot 404 Familale got too rusty, a replacement was needed. At first we argued that a Jaguar Mk2 from the sixties would be a very good family car but my father was not interested. An uncle owned a Triumph 2500TC and we got him to loan us the car for a few days. My father was impressed with the smooth six cylinder and electric overdrive, so a few weeks later he bought one himself. We loved that car, it was the only interesting car our father bought.
It was a watershed moment for me, since then I have only driven old British cars (with a few exceptions of course).
My parents were divorced, so that gave me double the chances to strike out. I still recall Mom shopping for a 72 Cutlass Supreme 2 door. I lobbied hard for the blue convertible with white buckets on the showroom floor. She bought a light green hardtop. At least it had air and power windows, so it wasn’t so bad.
In 1974 I lobbied my father for an Avanti II. He went so far as to call Nate Altman to discuss it, but decided 1) it was not the kind of car he was looking for and 2) in the deteriorating economy he skipped a car altogether that year.
I tried again in 1976, showing him a brochure of the new 76 Chrysler New Yorker – just like the prior year Imperial but less expensive. He agreed that it was beautiful, but passed because 1) Chryslers are troublesome and 2) their resale values sucked. His 76 Mercury Monarch Ghia was less impressive, though it was fun to drive with its 351 V8.
I can’t do this one, because I idolized my father and thought his every automotive decision was brilliant. It wasn’t until later, when I developed my own tastes, that I began thinking some of his earlier choices were questionable.
Can relate to that theory
Risk averse, and and influenced by having a trusted garage, looking for value, and not being a petrolhead – but on those criteria, his choices were predictable, not questionable (except the one time he deviated from his norm and bought a Peugeot 104
1972. My parents had just sold our ’69 2door Impala to my grandparents as their ’64 Ford Galaxie was destroyed at a stop light in a multicar accident. We are at Dexter Chevrolet on 8 Mile and car shopping. The yellow Corvette is clearly out of the running as a 2 seater with a 4 seat family need, but the orange and white Chevrolet pick up might work????? Nope. They are looking at another Impala – God no. Please help. Please, wont someone intervene? Here’s an option. I lobbied hard for a convertible, something different, something fun, something more colorful that what we ended up with, a green on green with a green vinyl roof 1972 Impala with a base 350. I was 10 at the time and just did not understand my parents practicality nor the cost of cars. Hell, I still don’t.
I wish my father bought a 1973 Mustang instead of the 1973 Thunderbird that he did buy. Heck, I wish that he bought a 1970-71 Thunderbird, which I preferred.
I always wanted my Dad to replace his Ninety-Eight with a Custom Cruiser, and whatever Mom was driving at the time with a convertible. But Dad had a strange hatred of wagons in spite of hauling seven of us on a regular basis, and convertibles were out, as he didn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to enjoy a closed, air conditioned drive.
Which could be why I have a Ford Flex and a Mustang convertible among my current vehicles.
I didn’t really get into cars until my high school years, so the ’68 Country Squire LTD we had during my formative years was actually ‘just right.’ Dad drove the ’68 F-100 that I later bought and owned for a decade on our IL farm, and later bought the ’71 Vega notchback that would become my first car.
When my Dad was shopping for a car to replace the ‘68 Impala, we went from dealer to dealer looking at the various options, including Ford! We were always a Chevy family, so that seemed like sacrilege to me at 12 years old.
At the dealer, he had eyed a gold ‘73 LTD 2 door with a brown vinyl top, but the car that caught my eye was the dark blue Thunderbird with a white vinyl top across the showroom. He ignored my suggestion. Most likely due to cost. I had learned later that those T-Birds were basically a Lincoln Mark IV, albeit watered down.
The LTD turned out to be a good car, and I ended up with it as my first car as I’ve stated on these pages many times. And I became a Ford guy after that, despite growing up in a Chevy household.
In ‘77 however, we ALL agreed on his choice, a ‘77 Nova Concours in Firethorn Red (same as his old ‘66 Impala) with a red crushed velour interior. We used to call that car my Mom’s “Little Caprice”. After all the Malaise Era had to offer, that little car with a 305 V8 under the hood was fast in comparison. Oh, and it was a two door coupe, so it didn’t look lame like a four door sedan to my then 17 year old eyes.
Funny you showed an ad for a ’65 Bonneville wagon, as the first new American car I ever lusted for was the brand-new blue metallic Pontiac Bonneville 4-door hardtop parked in our next door neighbor’s Alexandria Virginia driveway. But we were headed overseas, where my Dad was assigned to the American embassy in Lisbon Portugal, and needed something less massive and more frugal, which wound up being a white 1965 Corvair Monza 4-door/automatic.
Fast forward to our return to the US in August, 1968. I was 12, and the Corvair had been left behind in Portugal. So I was with my folks and two brothers, car-shopping at an NYC Chevy dealer. I really wanted them to buy the brand-new Yellow Impala convertible sitting in the showroom.
Nope! We got the classic suburban mommy-mobile – a leftover demo 1967 Malibu Concours station wagon. It was white with medium blue vinyl interior, and (of course) the fake wood siding with chrome roof rack and a power tailgate window. All this propelled by a 327/4 barrel V8 coupled to (I think) a Powerglide, along with factory AC (a first for us), and what I consider an extremely rare option in a ’67 Chevy – a factory Delco AM-FM radio! I know that GM offered AM-FM in the Chevelle as early as 1964. But our ’67 Malibu was the oldest Chevy I’ve ever seen with a factory AM-FM radio.
It turned out to be a pretty nice car, though Mom hated how big it was. and persuaded Dad to buy her a 1970 VW Squaeback, which turned out to be the biggest lemon our family ever owned. The Malibu wagon soldiered on reliably as Dad’s car, until about 1976, when it got sold after the typical GM rust started consuming it’s Fisher body.
Happy Motoring, Mark
We did have a 1965 Bonneville wagon – white with blue interior and factory a/c, our first car to have it. It replaced a much less luxurious 1963 Catalina wagon and was succeeded by a 1967 Executive dealer demonstrator equipped with virtually every option (e.g., auto temp control, cruise, 8-track, cornering lights, even a black vinyl roof topped by a chrome rack). That was the one time I was asked my opinion; it was either that car or a brand-new ’68 Executive wagon. I loved the front-end styling of one and detested the other, and they went with my choice (or at least my choice confirmed what they’d already decided; I was a little twerp, after all).
In Fall of ’81, when I was 10, my parents were looking to replace the ’76 Volare station wagon. They were going back to GM and swore off Chrysler. We looked at every midsize – Malibu, Monte Carlo, Cutlass Supreme, LeMans and Grand Prix. My 10-year old self liked the green Cutlass Supreme we test drove best, but I guess it was too expensive – ended up with a base LeMans 2 door in white with maroon interior. AM radio with AC cruise and a rear window defogger as only options. Ended up being a good car but I though a white car was boring. Looking back now, it seems odd my parents traded in a station wagon for a two-door coupe with 3 kids in tow. I remember mom being worried about us opening the back doors while driving so needed a coupe.
Must have been a used or leftover 1978-81 LeMans coupe; there was no 1982 LeMans, just the facelifted version sold as the “Bonneville Model G” sedan and wagon (Grand LeMans in Canada).
Dad bought a beautiful white-with-red 1957 DeSoto Fireflite convertible after I pleaded with him to go for the Chrysler New Yorker Convertible. More power; more prestige. He felt he could not justify the additional cost, but I knew the FirePower engine would make a significant difference in performance, and I later discovered this to be true when I was “beaten” in a back-road contest against a 1958 Oldsmobile, 371 cu. in. 300 hp Super 88. The contest was close — and the DeSoto, with the 341 cu. in. 290 hp FireDome engine overran the Olds on the top end — but had this been in a New Yorker, there would have been no contest from start to finish.
In the mid-nineties, my dad was in need of a cheap car. I found a 1986 Mercury Sable with low kilometers. It needed rear shocks, but was otherwise in excellent condition. I suggested that he buy it. He dilly-dallied, phoned a friend and asked if it seemed like a good deal, had lunch, and eventually drove off to have a look at the Sable.
When he arrived at the seller’s home, the car had already been bought and was being driven off. My mom said the car looked beautiful, and that my dad looked forlorn as he watched it go.
A few days later he bought a gawd-awful K-car with a large dent, and with endless voice commands barking from the dash.
Yeah. Those voice commands were the big ‘Suddenly it’s 1990’ thing in the ’80s.
The Nissan Maximas and Zs had a pleasant female voice with a Japanese accent to repeat things like “Key is in de ignition” and “Lights ah on”, while the tarted-up K-cars offered this gruff male voice barking out “DON”T FORGET YOUR KEYS!” and “YOUR DOOR IS OPEN!”
Back then, I had a chance to test a Canadian Le-Baron and it’s gruff male voice was barking in French!
Happy Motoring, Mark
Dad was an attorney whose financial success in that field was reasonable but sharply curtailed by his unusually strong and upright ethics and honesty. I was still in the wrong half of 15 years old to get a learner’s permit, but I lobbied and badgered and begged and argued and pleaded and cajoled and rationalised and debated and harangued him to buy a green/green 1962 Dodge Lancer 770 with the aluminum-block 225 and pushbutton automatic to replace…
…his white 1984 Caprice Classic when its 305 failed. He was looking at Caprices and Clown Vics and Tauruses. It was, ah, a steep uphill battle, even though the Lancer had just 20k original miles.
There’s more to the story, but it’ll keep.
In the ‘70s VW of America advertised the Westfalia camper bus as the “Campmobile” and pitched it as a combo family wagon and camping rig. My parents, who bought a low-line Chevrolet wagon every 5 years, would roll their eyes as I tried to sell them on how perfect the (expensive, cumbersome, fragile) VW would be for our family. Of course it would have been a disaster but oh so cool.
When I was ten, I thought it would be cool if my parents bought a Hummer to replace their two-year old equinox because I thought it would be cool to own a hummer.
Now that I’ve driven an H2 a little bit at my old job, I’m glad that they didn’t listen to me.
In 1970 we REALLY wanted dad to get a Mustang to replace his 1961 Chrysler Newport and join the 1966 Ford Ranch wagon in the stable. Alas we ended up with a 4 door Torino. Made sense though for a family of 5, with us all hitting our teenage years soon.
The Ford wagon was handed down to us in 1975 when he bought a Dodge Dart, his last new car. After that he made do with a Fiat Ritmo (briefly of course), a Dodge Coronet, my old Corolla, and finally his mom’s Buick Regal.
I have many times wondered how my parents put up with little car nut me in terms of choosing the family car. Anyway I made the occasional useful contribution but was like with almost everything else not in the loop, and besides as in the stories above would have recommended a Citroen DS or a Ford Consul or some other eccentric kid obsession choice, depending on what age.
But we’re talking 1950’s Cheapskate Dad. Studebaker Champion, Plymouth Plaza, Chevrolet Yeoman, Ford Falcon. It had to be a bargain somehow, even if it really wasn’t. Every single one a six, way before BMW made them cool.
Then when I was first away at college I heard from my younger sister about a (used) new red 1967 Ford two door. I pictured one of those notchback Custom two door sedans with the dog dish hub caps. Probably metallic beige. At Christmas I found a red Galaxie semi-fastback two door hardtop with factory AC, etc. in the driveway. Black vinyl interior.
The Galaxie had rather heavy yet numb power steering and probably not that exact handling. But the body/frame design from 1965 really worked. Quiet, low road noise and no harshness. Plus 390 V8 sound and torque. Everyone’s favorite car ever, including my mother’s, a Country Squire aspirant who had suffered all those years with the dog dish hubcap, rubber floor mat, six cylinder penalty box mobiles.
But check it out. This is a seriously good looking car, although not know as any kind of design icon. All the lines and shapes are extremely well done.
If I were to make a list of cars as design icons the 1965 Ford Galaxie would be in there somewhere. A clean sheet design, very new and pure and rectilinear. The 1967 face lift version only shares internal structure and windshield, and while continuing the same identity is really a different animal in terms of overall design.
Detail design on cheaper cars has improved a lot since then. Cheap but dimensional plastichrome grilles etc.have replaced cheap stamped bits on lower end cars, etc. But if you ignore those limitations, again this is a very good looking car.
Too much to mention. Just a few of them: Ford Capri 2.8i (in black), Ford Granada Mk2 2.8i, any second gen Opel KAD-series, Citroën CX GTi (in dark blue metallic), Peugeot 604.
What we really had, in chronological order: Simca 1100, Ford Fiesta 1100S, Ford Fiesta 1300S.
Growing up in England in the early 1970s, as a 10 year old I wished my dad would get a Rover 2000. One day he did and I was completely overjoyed. Unfortunately it was rusty and hardly a runner – I only remember one journey in it before it was disposed of.
He then had a Morris 1800 company car and spent my time telling him to get a Wolseley 6 instead. As an 11 year old everything was so simple.
I really like that Bonneville wagon at the top. I liked wagons as a kid, and it’s something I would have liked my dad to bring home. My personal favourites were the big Fords from 1965-1970. They wouldn’t need the fake wood, but the room and styling would have worked for me. A big Galaxie from the same period (4-door or 2-door hardtop) would have been great as well. The 2-door ‘67 Beaumont (6, Powerglide, non-functional AM radio) we had just wasn’t the same. My dad made pretty good money, but he didn’t really like to spend a lot of money on cars.
Back in the 80’s we were a Family of 5 persons (my parents, my 2 sisters and me), and we needed a family car, capable also to pull our caravan for holidays.
We had a Chrysler-Simca 1308GT thall fell apart because of the rust.
I wanted my dad to buy a 5-door Chevrolet Citation, because I always liked Chevrolets, but his budget was not big enough.
I found him a used Renault 20TS in very good near new condition, and this time he agreed and bought the Renault.
I turned 18 when we had it, and after having got my driving license, I also could drive this car which was a great pleasure!
We were tent camping with the ’65 Impala wagon. The local Ford dealer was also an El Dorado camper dealer. Got dad to look at something like this, but could not convince him to buy. My younger brother wanted a boat.