(first posted 4/13/2012)
So, it’s actually 1960. Aren’t you happy with the portrait I painted? What do you mean no? No? What do you want then?
This line of questioning brought to you by Virgil Exner, the head of Chrysler design confused about where to go next after he brilliantly boxed himself in with The Forward Look. The Finned Fantasies of what motoring would look like during those Camelot years from a flamboyant fifties perspective wrangled the styling crown from General Motors, but also boxed in Chrysler about where to go next with their designs.
For 1959 that meant doing, ironically, what General Motors did for years, if it ain’t broke, just add more chrome! And there was an effort to finally squelch the niggling quality bugaboos that plagued the fantastic forward look.
The result were cars that looked almost as chunky as the rotund General Motors cars they mocked, just when their main competitor, Buick, decided to pull out the equivalent of Swiss Army knives on their fendertips, with a surly face looking for a fight.
So, Chrysler (and Plymouth) to an extent remembered the plot and cleaned things up for 1960. Almost as clean and pure (except for the chunky front bumper assembly and trapezoid grille for everybody front end) as the original 1957 models. Dodge stuck with the “slather more chrome, it equates more value” mantra for 1960. And DeSoto was pretty much a carbon copy of the Chrysler line, with a few more fussy details.
But you would think, for all the hoopla about Chrysler’s “return” to Unit Body Construction for all of its products save Imperial, they would have gotten more than a rehash of then 3 year old styling themes. Then again, no American manufacturer was purely predicting the definition of 1960s style we would become accustomed to.
Only the Squarebirds, lower trim Lincolns and Ford Galaxie Sedans were using the semi blind C pillar, decidedly still attached to bodies with the same Space Age doodads of the previous decade. And all GM cars, although breathtaking in 1959, showed (at times awkwardly) the transition from the curvy exuberance of Harley Earl to the crisp precision preferred by Bill Mitchell.
And let us not discount, that in 1960, Mopars of all stripes were still excellent drivers, with the stout RB Block 383 sitting under the hood of our photo car. Torsion Bars that no longer snapped and the excellent Torqueflite Automatic were making their 4th season appearance as the 1960s dawned, and more and more Mopar loyalists could point to these 3 features as calling cards that made their cars among the most roadable in the land.
And, well, what has to be one of the most beautiful instrument clusters ever to grace any car came in all Chryslers starting in 1960 (although this is a 300F Cluster shown). At least the Astradome cluster with it’s indirect electro-luminiscent lighting looked like part of the future lighting up the space age 1960s that would never be.
But what of the Saratoga, not a name many automatically associate with Chrysler? When you think Chrysler you think 300 foremost, New Yorker second, Town & Country third. The shuffling game for the rest of the nameplates from the end of the war through 1962 confuses.
The most that I could ever figure out was that like the Oldsmobile Eighty Eight, the Saratoga was a way to get the Hemi V8 in a cheaper (and maybe a little bit lighter) car than the flagship model that introduced their overhead valve V8s. It disappeared for the 1953-56 seasons (to give DeSoto a reprieve?), to reappear during the Forward Look Fanfare of ’57. By the late 50s it bounced between being a more Buick Century themed car, offering an uprated V8 in the smaller Windsor chassis, or in other years utilized the long wheelbase New Yorker chassis and took on a more Buick Super like role of being a whole lotta Chrysler for a little less money.
As we know with a lot of cars, a lack of identity and purpose can be fatal for sales, as it basically sacked the whole DeSoto brand, along with Edsel, and a few other assorted Mid Priced cars (the disappearance of all big Mercuries above Monterey past 1960, and the decontented “Non Deuce” Buick Electra and the Invicta). The Saratoga would suffer the same fate as the Windsor moved up a slot as the DeSoto-cannibalizing Newport hit showroom floors in the fall of 1960.
Which is totally okay, as the Saratoga probably didn’t want its honor slain by the cockeyed 1961-62 models anyways. But they do mark an interesting footnote before Exner’s vision of the 1960s got psychotic before psychedelic drugs became prominent.
But this is not the vision (at least on a skin level) of what the 1960s would look like. Between the 1961 Continental and the 1961 General Motors line, flamboyance was out like a crinoline skirt. Oh but what fun it was while it lasted. If only they stopped there before we got to the 1961 Plymouth and 1962 Dodge. Jesus.
(Kudos to the photobombing the 1953 Commander Starliner is doing throughout this piece).
From the time I was a little kid, the trapezoidal grill looked wrong on these cars, although I have sort of come to like it now. Truthfully, the 60 is my favorite year of the whole 60-64 era. However, the 4 doors do not wear the fins quite so well as the 2 doors and convertibles. Even the wagons come off better than the sedans.
When you think about it, we Chrysler land-barge fans have a unique ability to pick and choose styling themes in the 1960-62 cars. Do you like or not like fins? Like or not like canted headlights? You can have one without the other, if desired, just pick your year. If you like neither, then it’s a Dodge Custom 880 for you, because you don’t deserve a Chrysler.
I will confess that this car was the subject of my recurring old car daydream (which every one of you has had at one time or another.) A black 1960 Chrysler convertible covered with dust and parked in an old woman’s garage. You see the car in the garage and get to know her. She sees how much you love the car. Her late husband loved the car just as much. She thinks that you should have it, because it should be appreciated. You thank her. You get it started and drive it home. You spend days cleaning and servicing it, and it turns out to be absolutely pristine. You go back and show it to the old lady, who breaks down in tears, so happy that you have made her wonderful husband’s car live again. Then you hear that she died later that evening.
Thanks, Laurence – now I won’t get any work done today at all. 🙂
I think the 4-door hardtops still look good. It’s the 4-door sedans with their B-pillar that throws off the lines.
I like big fins, canted headlights, and no “toilet seat” on the trunklid. That would make my favorite the 1961 Chryslers, though the featured car would certainly be welcome in my garage as well. Maybe one day I’ll be able to add a finned Chrysler to my fleet. I just haven’t found that nice old lady with one in her garage yet.
’61s are my favorite fin-bombs, too, although I think I’d take a ’55-6 before any of them. I’d miss the T-Flite, I’m sure.
I like the overall lighter look of the 1961. Back in the day the parents of a friend had a white Newport 4-door hardtop and it was a very attractive automobile. However, the boomerang taillights of the 1960 are a work of art while the heavily chromed ones on the 1961, not so much. The thick chrome side trim on this 1960 Saratoga looks somewhat out of proportion, almost like a 1960’s era Japanese tin toy version.
My tastes are in line with yours here; I actually quite like the canted lights and the fins, but the treatment of the taillights on the ’61 is downright clumsy compared to those delightful ’60 units.
“If you like neither, then it’s a Dodge Custom 880 for you, because you don’t deserve a Chrysler.”
“…the Saratoga probably didn’t want its honor slain by the cockeyed 1961-62 models anyways.”
In Canada, there was still a Chrysler Saratoga model through 1964. In 1965, Canadian-built Chrysler 300s were called “300 Saratoga”. I always thought it was a strange that they carried on the name in Canada but not the US, since Saratoga doesn’t have a particular significance to Canadians that I know of.
The Chrysler Windsor name was also used through 1966 in Canada. This makes more sense, since Chrysler Windsors (and Canadian-built 300s) were built at the plant in Windsor, Ontario.
For 1966, factory literature suggests that Chrysler had planned to again call Canadian 300’s “300 Saratoga”. Instead, 300s imported from the US were sold as the “300 Sport” model in Canada, and the domestically built 300 was just called the 300.
The Saratoga name cropped up again in the ’90s, on the European version of the LeBaron seadan (the Acclaim/Spirit based one).
Yep, Canada’s good old Plodge name games. The Windsor was basically our Newport until ’67, when almost everything harmonized.
I’d take the 300 from the same year over the Saratoga. The 300 has that cool slanted-eye look about on the front end and has a clean design. With the Hemi V8, it was probably a pretty fast car too. Would probably want to avoid the Imperial since it looks like an acid trip on wheels.
The 300 (and the Saratoga) got canted headlights one year later, in 1961. The last year for the Hemi was 1958. 1959 and later 300 “letter-model” cars received the 413cid big block, most with dual 4-bbl. carbs.
But Brian’s description of the 60 Imperial is as good as I have heard.
True, I got a chuckle out of that. The Imperials from 1957-63 are very polarizing designs, but then so are Cadillacs and Lincolns from about the same timeframe.
Of these years, other than Ozzie Nelson’s late ’50’s Imperial convertibles (due to the Nelson’s, I grew up fantasizing about playing golf and driving back and forth to the country club in a Crown convertible with the top down), I like the 1962 Imperial the best, despite the free-standing headlights. The redesigned gunsight taillights on the sheared fenders looked so cool on the cover of Motor Trend. I was disappointed the next year as I thought Engel’s redesigned rooflines on the 1963’s did not match up well with the Exner body.
I love the planed fins and the elongated gunsight tailights on the 62- but it almost seems like it would be obscene to have an early 60’s Imperial without florid fins- So If I had to choose one Id go 61- you get gunsight tailights suspended from some pretty out there fins, and freestanding headlights! But I really want 2- a 60 Imperial for the forward canted fins, and a 62 for the tailights and headlights and the split grille.
The Nelsons, I remember Ozzie never seemed to go to work. He worked in some kind of office in the early episodes, maybe an ad agency?
Great fantasy, with the golf and the Crown convertible. I somewhat got the dream fulfilled. Driving my 85 Lebaron convertible to the golf course has been fun, but it’s no Crown Imperial.
Did Ozzie smoke a pipe? With his ever present cardigan, he should have.
In theory Ozzie was a lawyer, which has long been an acceptable TV-character career along with law enforcement, teaching, & anything in the liberal arts.
In practice Ozzie was a workaholic.
There’s a soft spot in my heart for these ’60-’62 Chryslers. I don’t mind the trapezoidal grille at all.
My dad owned a 413-equipped ’61 New Yorker 4-door hardtop, from 1962-66. Probably the flashiest car we’d ever owned. Here’s how I remember the spaceship speedometer (which on his only went to 120): He broke it racing a friend down a Detroit expressway late at night. He estimated he was going 130.
It was traded in 1966 for a year-old Plymouth Fury III…I remember him calling it a gas hog and trading it after 6 months for a ’65 VW Beetle, which lasted about a year before trading for a ’65 Mercury Park Lane Breezeway with a 390…our second-flashiest car growing up.
Speaking of 61 Chryslers, would you have a pic of your dad’s car?
I, too have parents who bought a 1961 Chrysler Newport sedan in Formal Black. At 15, I washed it every Saturday so that it would glisten in the Houston sun come Sunday for church. With scrubbed whitewalls, it was stunning.
Beside the knock-out looks, the dash design, for those who have never seen one, rates as the number one space ship influenced design of all time. The pushbuttons for the TorqueFlite transmission were symmetrically placed on the left side of the steering wheel to match the Airtemp AC-heater pushbuttons on the right. The 3-D inspired Astra-Dome instrument panel sported electroluminescent individually lighted numerals.
To complete the avante garde futuristic theme, there were four rotating periscope like nozzles on top of the dash to blow the cold AC to the passengers.
I have a couple pics to show you. One is of the dash, the second is of our Chrysler stored in our barn since 1974-Dad drove it into the barn then. It was my mom’s car for garden clubbing and church, hence, it has always been parked inside. The third pic shows the Chrysler now that I washed it after the barn was renovated.
I plan to work on the engine, brakes, gas tank, and AC next year.
When you view the third pic of it shining like old times, you will agree with my wife who saw it in the early 70s and declared it to be…the Batmobile.
Cheers, Allen pic #1
Pic #2 of the 1961 Chrysler Newport stored in out barn since 1974.
Pic #3 of the 1961 Chrysler Newport in our barn after washing it for the first time since 1974.
My wife has named it The Batmobile.
Cheers, Allen in central Texas
Woo-Hoo ~ .
Glad you held onto it all these years .
I know ” Forward Look ” Mo Pars get all the hate but I rather liked them as they were fantastic drivers .
“Automatic auto-pilot”? “Mirrormatic Mirror”?
Ha ha ha! That has to be right out of the Department of Redundancy Department! The copywriter must’ve worked for the government at one time.
A friend of the family back in those days had one of those magnificent Dodge or Plymouth models – can’t recall which or what year, but it was a beautiful copper-like color. I especially liked the rear view mirror on the dashboard – really cool.
I agree with that dash cluster – right out of “Forbidden Planet” and the “Jetsons”. Man, I love that style to this day – it actually screamed “FUTURE” and “OPTIMISM”! What a concept, before society fell into itself…boy, what I could do with my 2004 Impala if I had the manufacturing ability…
Another great article.
Still chuckling over the “eating boogers” comment…
Car advertising of the Fifties and Sixties produced so many gloriously awful names for features and options — who can forget Wonder Bar radios or E-Z Eye tinted glass? I’d love to see a CC Outtake dedicated to these still-unrivaled-for-sheer, over-the-top-ooze descriptors.
How ’bout it, Paul?
“Wonder Bar” is a cool German joke though. Even most Americans are familiar with “wunderbar”, I think. But then there’s ones like the AMC Flash-o-Matic. I guess Rambler-o-Matic didn’t work. Or Ram-o-matic, long before Dodge trucks started identifying as male sheep.
But yes, checking almost any 1950’s-60’s brochure at oldcarbrochures will and you will discover tons of cool period ad agency option naming. Sometimes you even got your Fordomatic in chrome script on the trunk lid of your Tudor or Fordor.
It seems that from the one above Full Time Power Steering had turned into Constant Control Power Steering for 1960.
One of my most prized possessions is a pot metal “TRUCK-O-MATIC” badge from a very early Dodge pickup with the butterfly hood .
Sadly the junkyard had tossed the “worthless” hood onto a pile of scrap and so damaged the other one .
Lordy I love remote Desert junkyards ! .
Laurence, your photography is superb, capturing as it does “days of futures past”. Around the corner from me lived a fiftyish gentleman of some substance. I believe he was an attorney or a stockbroker. He drove a Chrysler hardtop coupe of this vintage; it may have been a New Yorker. It was gleaming anthracite black, and it radiated the elegance of a future that would surely soon come to be. God, I miss cars like this that are brimful of confidence. I know moderns are better when taken purely as cars, but still…But still…
Even if you don’t like the results, everyone has to admit that the mid 50’s to the very early 70’s was a really cool and adventureous time for the automobile. When had there been a time before or after where you’d find such large changes in style and innovation then that time period?
Love those Chrysler forward look cars!
Oh my, this brings back memories of Big Red, my 1960 New Yorker 2-door hardtop that I owned in the early 1980’s. I bought it from a fellow Chrysler fanatic who rescued it from someone’s back yard. He said it had 4 inches of water standing in the trunk when he got it – why there were no rust holes there I’ll never know. Big Red was this weird metallic slightly purplish red color – Chrysler called it Toreador Red, but what did they know – they also called the bright orangey red of my 1958 Plymouth convertible Toreador Red. It had a white top, and it too was delivered without the toilet-seat trunk lid, having instead a wide chrome and aluminum trim piece. The car had actually been reasonably well cared for, and had the typical Chrysler decent handling. It didn’t really have any bad habits except for the big 413 wedge’s appetite for fuel. One odd quirk was that the original owner had vibratooled the car’s serial number on the wheel covers, and it still had all four originals.
I knew a lot of Mopar guys back in the day…I remember there was some outfit that advertised in HMN that would tell you how many of a particular vehicle were registered in your state; when I asked them about 1960 New Yorker hardtops in Washington, they came back with the number 4. On reflection, I realized that I had seen three of them and knew a guy who had a fourth.
I ended up selling the car to Le Roi (Tex) Smith, who was living in Idaho at the time, and delivered it to him in Ontario, Oregon. It’s definitely one of the cars I wish I could have kept.
Le Roi (Tex) Smith! Now there’s a name from the past, if you read car mags back in the day. He wrote for Peterson’s back in the 60s, and I still remember pieces he did in the ’80s for a magazine called Car Exchange. I never missed an issue. AFAIR it morphed into another title in the 90s, but I can’t recall which.
When I was a toddler, the neighbors across the street had one of these, but it may have been a ’62, I vaguely recall the canted lights. What I remember most vividly, even as a tyke, was the sound it made. While my Dad’s brand new ’65 Galaxie 352 emitted a gentle exhaust hiss along with the gentile whine of the Cruise-O-matic while pulling away, this 4 year old Mopar was entirely different. The drivers would slowly back of the their driveway, pit it in D and off they went. Every revolution and every foot that car went, it emitted an eminently audible “BLUB” followed by a “WUB” which would increase in frequency as they pulled away, until the Torque-Flite shifted up. I remember asking my Dad why thier car sounded funny, and he said something like “because it’s old” or something like that. Little did I know.
I seem to remember a distinct, whiny, high-pitched starter noise: you could tell it was a Chrysler starting up from half a mile away.
It seems all Chryslers starters sound the same. My 76 Royal Monaco sounds almost identical to the 85 Lebaron conv I recently bought.
When my 76 was new, I showed the car to a friend, and he commented that it sure sounded like a Chrysler.
My 68 Fury III and my Dad’s 72 Polara sounded the same, too.
CA Guy and Dave C,
What you are describing was Chrysler’s big new starter that began production in 1962 and was used in virtually ALL Chryslers, Dodges and Plymouths, though I don’t think the smaller FWD cars used it as it may have been too big. They have a different sound when starting.
The new starter was a gear reduction starter and it had a most distinct sound and in 1975, the starter got more windings so had more torque and thus spun much faster so the familiar whir, whir, whir sound was higher pitched and quicker. It was last produced in 1987 if I recall right.
Chrysler was the only manufacturer to have a starter that sounded like that, Honda had a somewhat similar kind of sound, but it was distinct from Chrysler’s unit so not difficult to tell them apart.
Mopars always had an interesting exhaust note. I always thought it was because of a more aggressive cam profile than Ford or Chevy. That may have only been in the Road Runner 383 and TNT 440s though.
My brain keeps screaming ” ’65 Mustang” when I see that Studebaker. Raise the rear deck 4 inches and level it, push that inset on the door back to the fender but keep the crease that hits it where it is…
No kidding, me too, for quite awhile now. I’ve got a whole counterfactual history in my head, the one where Studebaker’s response to the ’53 GM/Ford sales war is to give up on the mainstream, downsize and just build performance cars, two-door Starliner coupes and convertibles with V8s only.
Mustang’s wheelbase was a foot shorter than the ’53 Stude coupes. Take that out from door to rear wheel well, shorten up the rear overhang, and you’ve got the 1960 Studebaker Stallion. If only…
Laurence, I always look forward to your dispatches from the Whatzit Era of design. One really minor point:
>…the stout RB Block 383…
The 361/383/400 engines are “B” blocks. The RB – R for “Raised,” IIRC – big wedges are the 413 and 440. Lot of interchangeability, the RBs have taller cylinder banks for a longer stroke.
I’m a little foggy on Mopar engines of this vintage, but I do know that the 383 in the 59-61 or so Chrysler/Desoto was a different 383 than was in the Dodge. It was the Dodge version that eventually became the corporate 383.
“The 383 cubic inch RB engine was only available in 1959-1960 on the US built Chrysler Windsor and Saratoga (thanks, Ian Smale and Bill Watson); at that time, American-made Chrysler and Imperial cars used the RB blocks, with the 413 going into Imperial,New Yorker, 300E, and 300F. U.S. Chrysler/Imperial usage.”
I stand corrected! Learn something new every day. 🙂
Laurence is right on this. In 1959 and 1960 only, there was a 383cid RB engine. Longer stroke (and taller deck) of the 413, but smaller cylinder bore.
Before the 440 and 426 “Street Hemi” were introduced (1966), the RB was also available with 426cid, called the “426 Max Wedge” in its most potent form.
Early-on there was was also a 350cid B block, available in 1958 only. Would confuse a lot of people now, since “350” is pretty much synonymous with Chevy today.
That ’58 is still the greatest Chrysler for me, especially the 300D. But yes, this 1960 dashboard is the Space Age captain’s console of all time. It was the stuff of dreams. There must be a radar screen in there somewhere.
Thanks for another gorgeous look at the Forward Look.
1. what’s a crinoline skirt?
2. why is this guy parking like he’s driving a 1993 Toyota Corolla????
Am I seeing (last 2 photos) where the Meteor got its final-year taillight & rear deck inspiration? Suddenly it’s 1963!
Although there are others (like the Plymouth Fury, 300 ‘Letter’ series and the Desoto Adventurer), I always thought the ’60 Saratoga was the high-point of Exner’s ‘Forward Look’ cars.
I assume that the Automatic Beam Changer referenced in the “Science of Silence” ad essentially performed the same function as GM’s Autronic Eye.
Around 1999 or 2000,I lived on First Hill in Seattle. The was a mint ’61 New Yorker wagon, black, parked two blocks from my place. Used to go just to stare at it and dream about it, sometimes I’d do that for 90 minutes or so. Just *loved* that particular car… I want to believe that by ’61 these cars had improved a great deal. Not sure if that’s so or not.
The Civic owner’s gotta be really nervous…
Exner’s best effort for ’60, along with the Valiant. But that configuration of nameplate, trim spear, and emblem just aft of the front wheels is a bit much.
For me, the big disappointment of the ’60 C-bodies was their retention of the ’57-59 cowl and windshield, along with most of the upper body profiles (door frames and roof lines). The look was heavy, a long-time Exner sin, especially on the sedans.
I wonder if the switch from body-on-frame to unitized construction led to such a conservative approach. That is, they took a body structure they knew well and adapted it to unitized construction rather than starting from scratch. It’s not an uncommon occurrence in material or process substitution.
I felt/feel the same way. I have to assume it was cost-driven; and that they essentially modified the existing body structure to unibody, with some obvious external changes. But cowls, windshields, doors and certain elements were expensive to re-tool, and thus they didn’t. The poor Imperial soldiered on with its distinctive 1957 windshield until 1967; for 10 years.
Indeed. Especially when you consider the last two unaltered bodies launched in the Exner era – the ’60 Valiant and the ’61 Dodge “Dart” pickup – dropped the compound curve windshield,
I think that given the budget Chrysler had during those times, and the fact that the cowl area and firewall portion of the car is the most expensive part to manufacture. Chrysler needed to get the most bang out of each tooling dollar. The one thing you have to give Chrysler credit for was the ability to give buyers the desired wrap around windshield without the intrusive dogleg that other manufactures dealt with. when the reverse A post went out of vogue, and the other car companies had to revise the cowl, firewall revisions to eliminate the dog leg, Chrysler could continue to use the same cowl, windshield format from 1957. Chrysler used theirs from 1957 to 1964. Imperial used theirs from 1957 to 1966. Starting in 1967 Chrysler and Imperial used the same cowl, fire wall, and windshield in an attempt to save manufacturing cost. Parents bought a new 1962 Chrysler Newport 2-door hardtop in May of 1962. I was white with red highlander interior. Black dashpad, goldentone radio, clock. The steering wheel was flat on the bottom and had the beautiful astradome instrument cluster. To this day, the most beautiful dash to look at night. The car was fast, and could out handle any full sized car from GM and Ford. Unfortunitaly the car was destroyed on November 3, 1972 after some drunk woman was racing down our street in a 1967 Ford LTD and hit the Chrysler in the back and ended up in the drivers door. Our Chrysler was pushed into our 1967 MGB GT which suffered minor damage. In April of 1973 my dad drove the car from San Jose, Ca to Madera, Ca about 130 mile trip to deliver the car to my uncle who transplanted the motor into his 1940 Chevrolet Master Deluxe Panel where it resides to this day.
I miss Laurence’s photography! Captures cars as Art!
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I like em, the automatic features are a buzz I have a 59 built for 1960 car it has one automatic feature self cancelling flashing indicators, thats it, everything else is manual, a far cry from the Chryslers of the same year for sure, Very few if any came here Ive seen the odd saratoga badged wagon but no hardtops, nearly everything we got had to run the gaunlet of Canadian Plodge model compaction then rare RHD CKD builds its amazing anything turned up here at all from North America but it did in microscopic numbers.
I must have missed this feature when this article first came out: The sedan pictured wears the hardtop roof style really well. Chrysler sure had the design chops then. Too bad the cars didn’t hold up as well – a feature that appears to haunt them to this day.
Yes, I would own that car, even if it was a pillared sedan, just for the space-age whimsical beauty of it all!
Was this about the time when GM’s styling boss reportedly walked into their conference room, tossed a hand full Mopar brochures on the table, and growled at his styling team: “Why don’t you all just quit!” ?
The brochure was for the 1957 Plymouth. Harley Earl supposedly slammed it down on Clare MacKichan’s desk.
The smooth sweep and ‘just right’ angle of the fins, along with the great curve of the taillights, make the 1960 Chrysler my favorite of the Forward Look cars. It doesn’t have that menacing, somewhat cartoonish look of so many other Exner creations, harkening back to the more restrained ’55-’56 cars.
As others have mentioned, the grille could have been better, but I like the horizontal headlights better than the canted ones of the 1961 version. Then there’s that fabulous, fifties’ jet-age instrument cluster. I agree it seems like something out of the old, classic sci-fi movie Forbidden Planet which, in this case, is a good thing.
As a native of the SF Bay Area (like Laurence), I love the photos and recognize the localities. Looking at the length of that old Chrysler parked on a San Francisco street which exceeds the space of a pavement between driveway cutouts, it’s not a wonder why you’d want to have a car with a smaller footprint if you drive a lot in SF.
Whomever lives in that maroon house in the background has a definite affinity for these cars. I used to live near him and there would typically be about 15-20 late ’50s/early ’60s cars, typically Chrysler products, but also the odd Mercury, Thunderbird or Studebaker. Parking permits are required in that neighborhood, so he spent a fair amount of money on them just to park them on the street. (To say nothing of moving them around to keep from getting tickets on the various weekly street cleaning days!) Some were in really great shapes, others a bit rough, with everything in between, and clearly always roadworthy. Eventually most of them disappeared — sold, I think, and I haven’t driven by that house in a year or two, but I’m sure there are still a few there!
I have seen this v very car on Balboa street in San Francisco. He owns a number of older classics which he seems to shuttle around the streets of SF which is no small feet given the street sweeping schedule and parking limits.
Love the domed dashboards in these. Reminds me of a neighbor who owned a white 2 door 62 Chrysler 300 (non letter) I was a small boy and very disappointed to see him trade it in on a 74 Newport!
As I read through this article, I was reminded of a place and time that I haven’t thought about in YEARS.
When I still lived in the Lima, OH area (in the 70’s), there was an independent hardware store in town. One of the owner/managers, a rather portly older man, drove a BEAUTIFUL metallic reddish-purple Chrysler 2-door hardtop. 1959 or 1960, I believe. Even at the time, when I had NO interest in cars like that, this one was striking.
I moved away and have no idea what happened to the car. The hardware store went out of business (I’ve often wondered what happened to its employees, most of whom were elderly).
Always been a fan of these one step up from entry level mid priced cars. Olds Super 88, Buick Century (Invicta) Pontiac Star Chief (Executive) Mercury Montclair, Chrysler Saratoga. Nicer interiors and you usually got a bigger engine.
I think those Chrysler designs were among the best looking American fin-cars. Though I had to chuckle the first time I heard the slogan “Suddenly it’s 1960”!
In hindsight, that slogan would probably apply much better to the ’53 Studebaker coupe.
Happy Motoring, Mark
3 types of Chrysler used to land here in those days local assembly Canadian used US imports and the Australian restyling efforts on the old Cranbrook body, Chrysler was a confusing brand. luv the astrodome though that was clever.
Was still in high school when I used to be a helper at the Phoenix Garage and Storage. Had to make 3 trips to the parts store in order to get correct parts for the brakes on a 1960 Chrysler. Walter, the owner of the shop, was a Chrysler fan. Had three “Town And Country” at the time that were his own. Got some time behind the wheel in the ’60. Beautiful car, yes. I’d rather have the Studebaker.
Despite the glamour, the one I got to drive back when I was very young and the car was fairly new, was a delight. Very similar to the one in the article, it was a real man’s big car. A lot going for it then and now.
Ozzie Nelson was a famous bandleader during the 1930’s. Harriet was a vocalist for the band. Have been a fan for many years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccbkrDJN7bo