The first full month of autumn in the northern hemisphere is here, and it’s a little hard to believe it’s already October. I have some friends who aren’t “summer people” who had immediately started posting things on social media about pumpkins, bonfires, and hot apple cider even before September 22nd had arrived, the first official day of fall this year. I’ll say that moving back to the Midwest from the Southeast years ago had brought a much welcomed return to a comforting, familiar rotation of four, clearly defined seasons. At the same time, I’m definitely that friend who will call someone out for the premature celebration of a season that has barely just arrived. Hold up. Just put away those hay bales and cozy, fleece blankets for a second. It’s still literally 70 degrees Fahrenheit outside. One red maple leaf does not automatically make it fall.
(Flint suburb) Burton, Michigan. Saturday, September 18, 2021.
One thing I don’t mind, however, is the thought of rewatching all of the upcoming, holiday-themed television specials that usually start airing toward the end of this month. There’s a part of me that will always get really excited when I start seeing commercials for It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. All of those animated specials featuring the characters of Charles M. Schultz’s Peanuts comic strips will always act instantly as delicious visual and aural comfort food for me, with their jazz fusion-y soundtracks that feature lots of Fender Rhodes electric piano putting me in such a happy place.
(Lee Mendolson Film Productions and Bill Melendez Productions)
This particular Halloween special was one that was near and dear to my heart, since I was unable to go trick-or-treating with my friends until I was already in the seventh grade and quite “big” for doing so, as some neighborhood people who would answer the door would point out. My mom had insisted for years that Halloween was satanic, and my dad had simply let her run with this. Somehow, however, knowing that Lucy, Schroeder, Pig-Pen, and other members of the gang out there in Charlie Brown-Land were loading up on chocolate bars, candy corn, popcorn balls, and other treats was of some comfort to me, as witnessed through the warm glow of the Zenith in our living room. I may not be getting any candy, I’d think to myself, but at least I’m getting extra television.
(Lee Mendolson Film Productions and Bill Melendez Productions)
The outlier of that animated group, however, was always Charlie Brown. During the actual trick-or-treating sequence of that half-hour special, and while everybody else was getting tons of loot (including filthy Pig-Pen and chronically unpleasant and undeserving Lucy, who was fittingly dressed as a witch), Charlie Brown was treated like complete garbage, seemingly arbitrarily, door after door, by complete strangers. “I got a rock,” became his familiar, deflated refrain, after everyone in that group had gone around describing all the goodies that had been dropped into their bags.
I’d love a rewrite of this sequence where Charlie Brown gets a diamond, precious geode, or some other kind of expensive “rock” where he could then afford a fortune in candy, flaunt it in front of his so-called friends, and not give them so much as even one disgusting, orange circus peanut or Good & Plenty out of his bounty. By this paragraph, I realize that no one needs to point out to me that my essays sometimes meander a bit from my overall premise, but I guess that all this is to say that a rock for a Halloween “treat” is about as generic and nondescript a thing as I can think of.
Which brings me to our featured car. I’ve already written with about a different Plymouth product from that era that I was so thankful my parents didn’t end up bringing home, a latter-day Reliant four-door. The Acclaim and its Dodge twin, the Spirit, were introduced for model year ’89 as de facto replacements for the similarly sized K-cars, which included the Dodge Aries. The Acclaim was built on Chrysler’s new K-based AA platform, and was initially offered in three trim levels: base, mid-range LE, and the upscale LX.
Of their styling, I remember thinking when they were new that they were nice enough-looking cars, even if I couldn’t stand what looked like a nearly vertical rear window that looked like it was at something like a 95-degree angle to the trunk’s horizontal surface. Still, they looked clean and purposeful when they first came out, and I was encouraged that there were three different variants available, which seemed to convey some commitment to the new model by Chrysler-Plymouth.
First-year production numbers were decent, at around 78,000. The next year, figures were up sharply by almost 42%, to over 110,000. Indeed, 1990 would be the Acclaim’s brief, shining moment of glory during which it sold over one hundred thousand units. This was against about twice as many (195,000) Chevrolet Corsicas and also 266,000 Ford Tempos. Unlike Plymouth with the Acclaim, Dodge wouldn’t break the 100,000 production barrier with its Spirit, which came close in 1990 with 99,300 units built. The Spirit, however, would get a genuinely hot performance variant in the R/T for ’91, which was named Motor Trend’s “Domestic Sport Sedan Of The Year” both that year and in ’92, beating out the vaunted Ford Taurus SHO for that honor.
Initially, the Acclaim came standard with Chrysler’s naturally aspirated 2.5 liter four-cylinder engine with 100 horsepower, with the optional turbocharged version of that same engine yielding half again as much horsepower. For 1990, a 141-horse 3.0 liter V6 was added as an option. The turbo 2.5 disappeared after just two years, with only the standard four and the V6 remaining through final-year ’95, after which the Acclaim was replaced by the smoother-looking Breeze which featured Chrysler’s new “Cab Forward” design language. Total Acclaim production was about 470,500 over seven model years, a number which barely edged out that of its Dodge Spirit twin, which managed about 8,000 fewer units over the same time period.
Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois. Monday, September 20, 2021.
The Acclaim was given one restyle for ’93, featured on this example, by which point the three distinct trim levels had gone away just the year before. While the original Acclaim was no beauty winner, it could look like a reasonably attractive family car for what it was. However, on the mildly redone version with the larger, rectangular holes in its chrome grille and wheel covers that look so house-brand that I didn’t realize until later that the ones on the passenger’s side of this car didn’t match, the Acclaim’s sense of style seemed to have gone from looking passably middle-tier to nearly invisible.
I know it sounds like I’m piling on this undistinguished model from a storied make that had atrophied by this time to next to nothing from its halcyon days of hot Formula S Barracudas and Duster 340s. It’s just that I had such high hopes for Plymouth when the Acclaim came out. I had honestly thought its introduction was going to be one of the first steps in Chrysler Corporation reestablishing Plymouth as a volume make. I felt personally invested in Plymouth, as my family of origin had owned three Plymouths when I was very young, with a Duster, Fury, and Volaré all gracing our driveway at various points in the 1970s.
Getting back to Peanuts, I can imagine that by 1993, having one’s new car choices limited to an Acclaim and a few other extremely low-profile cars might have felt like the equivalent of getting a rock chucked into your trick-or-treat bag. Thanks, life. But, hey – a car is a car, and if it runs and accelerates well and gets one to where one needs to go and back, that would net huge points for a domestic car of its day. From everything I’ve read about it, the Acclaim was a very reliable machine. By the time it was new, Plymouth had definitely devolved into the “Charlie Brown” of makes, with no luck and no respect, not only within the Chrysler stable, but within all domestic nameplates. I look at this particular, nearly thirty year old car, though, and I can identify one other characteristic it shares with everyone’s favorite cartoon scapegoat: it seems almost just as lovable, simply for existing and for its determination to keep on going.
Edgewater Glen, Chicago, Illinois.
Monday, May 17, 2021.
1993 Plymouth Acclaim brochure photos as sourced from the internet.
Click here and here for related reading.
Happy Fall Mr. Dennis! Thank you for this great essay!
I’m a total summer person, but for me, Autumn is a close second. . I enjoy this time of year here in the beautiful Garden State of New Jersey, butit does bring lots of traffic from neighboring Staten Island and Brooklyn New York. These New Yorkers love to flood my county due to the numerous “pick your own” apple farms, pumpkin patches, haunted hay rides, petting zoo’s, and of course the beautiful fall foliage that we have his time of year. For those of you who live in Monmouth County, or visit, we’ve probably crossed paths at Delicious Orchards, Battleview Orchards, or Wemrock Orchards.
Autumn brings back memories of visiting car dealerships on Sunday nights I always enjoyed hunting out out the new models, trying to figure out what changes the manufacturers did to distinguish carryover models. Unfortunately, this practices has basically vanished.
It also brings back memories of September 1991,when I was in need of a new car, I wanted something practical, comfortable, and reliable that fit my budget. After checking out the Pontiac Grand Prix, Ford Tempo, and the Dodge Spirit. I ended up with a brand new left over 1991 Dodge Spirit ES, in bright white with white snowflake wheels, and grey interior. This car fit my needs perfectly. It had the 3.1 Mitsubishi V6 and fully loaded with every single option. This was my first new car ever, and being in my 20’s it was kind of an odd choice as I really didn’t fit the age bracket it attracted. But, I really liked this car a lot and served me well for many years,
Of course I always named my cars… So the Spirit was named Casper, since it was purchased in the fall, was white, and was a good spirit. This time of year I often think about Casper, and wonder if his spirit is still around,
Wemrock Orchards is my personal favorite, only a few miles from my family in Clarksburg. Their apple pies are the best, and a must have at Thanksgiving.
Back to the car…I actually like the refreshed look of the Acclaim…but still would love an AA body LeBaron.
Glad you enjoy the pies from Wemrock Orchards! I can’t decide which place makes the best apple pie, but I do think that Battleview Orchards makes the best apple cider doughnuts, and I love to wash them down with some of the apple cider from Delicious Orchards!
I live in Freehold, pretty close to both Wemrock and Battleview..and about 10 minutes from Delicious Orchards..
Wife and I lived just north of Lake Topanemus in the mid 80s and Delicious Orchards was a favorite, I used to bring my 67 Wildcat to Jersey Freeze on Saturday night.
I enjoy visiting Lake Topanemus. I go there all the time for walks, and just to relax. They have recently cleared some trees to expand the parking area. People don’t realize that the lake is man made…
I’ve live in Freehold for 35 years and only been to Jersey Freeze twice. I do all I can to avoid Bruce Springsteen, who still shows up there once in awhile.
I’ve always thought that naming cars is such a great practice, even though I can’t remember having a name stick over any of the cars I had ever owned or regularly driven. “Casper” was such a great name for a Spirit. And I always thought those wheels were sharp.
When you mentioned going to car dealerships in the fall, I have vague memories of stopping by dealerships as a teenager after business hours with friends and looking at the merchandise. In the summer, there would have been a bunch of other things to do, and the lasting daylight might have made me / us feel conspicuous, even if we weren’t doing anything wrong by just looking at the cars for sale.
I do really enjoy fall and feel like maybe I need to get some powdered donuts and cider from the local discount supermarket. The Montrose Apple Orchards in mid-Michigan was the place to go for stuff like this when I was growing up. Thanks for sharing your memories.
You’re welcome Joseph. And thank you for your amazing talent that shines through your essays.
I will confess to being a “fall guy” – except that I don’t much care for anything flavored or scented as pumpkin spice. This dark red makes a perfect autumn color for a car.
These cars are still maddening to me. After what seemed like forever with nothing but K cars in the showrooms, these were Chrysler’s first really new products in a long time. As ones that came from plenty and not from poverty, I expected a lot of these. Outside they were – OK. I thought back to 1965 where Ford was all angular and Chevy was all curvy, and how the 65 Plymouth kind of split the difference by being a softer version of angular. This Acclaim was the same way – all of the modern curves and contours were there, but the shape was very 1982.
It was inside where these died. The then-future Mrs. JPC had an 88 Accord that had suffered hail dents. We decided what to do and looked at some cars. These were new and I (more than she) wanted a look. The inside looked very American traditional – there was nothing really modern or youthful about it. One sit inside and the Acclaim was crossed from her list of possibilities. We ended up keeping the Accord, dents and all.
The early ’90s Accord interior looked very Japanese traditional, not all that different from Accords from the ’70s. I don’t get why Japanese traditional or German traditional is perceived as more youthful than American traditional, or why American traditional is often condemned by the automotive press.
I’m very curious now to look up interior pictures. Again, I’m somewhat uncomfortable getting interior shots of my subject vehicles. I’m trying to hypothesize as to whether a traditional, American-style interior would have been something to nudge me one way or another if I was in the market for a new car at the time these AA-bodies came out.
I’ll qualify that by saying that I’ve never owned a foreign car (my Ford Probe doesn’t count), so I have no frame of reference to saying I’d prefer one type of interior over another. There is a part of me that does actually appreciate a typically “American” car interior, but that’s probably also because the cars I grew up with in my family of origin were normally on the lower end of the niceness spectrum in terms of interior appointments.
Love the title, seeing that I was staring at the selfsame object (rock not car) this past Friday while I was up there for the weekend as they finally got the delayed 400th anniversary of the original landing celebrated, and I was part of the historical re-enactment going on in town.
Last time I saw that rock was 1956 on the family vacation. Same rock, same Greek Revival building to house it, the only difference is there’s now an explanatory sign giving the history of the rock admitting there’s absolutely no historical justification whatsoever to the legend. And the rock was originally a lot bigger.
I read that the Plymouth rock had actually broken in half at one point, but that both pieces are back together. My family had taken a trip to Cape Cod in the summer of ’90 (IIRC), and I think we actually did see the Plymouth rock. I can’t say for sure, but I was probably underwhelmed. I remember thinking it was some huge boulder, like the rock from The Prudential, but it was definitely not that. Symbolic, though.
From the front, the ’93 Acclaim looks about identical to the ’86 Monte Carlo LS I used to drive…
If you DIDN’T meander during one of these essays, I’d start to worry about you. “Ah!”, I’d say, “The agents of mediocrity have finally caught up with Joseph. The next article will mainly be about his 401k and how it relates to that 1979 Buick Century.”
I never liked these- they seemed like the “store brand” version of a real car. But now, I can appreciate them a whole lot more.
Apparently Apple now has the streaming rights to the Great Pumpkin, but they will be showing it on PBS at some point this season.
Haha! Thanks, Chris. House-brand is kind of what the ’93 refresh looked like to me. And to your point about appreciating them more now, any time I see a Plymouth (or Pontiac, or some other now-obsolete make), I’m usually going to try to photograph it. This Acclaim was in decent shape.
As for the “Great Pumpkin”, I have my favorite Peanuts specials on DVD (I’m old school), so I’ll probably be watching multiple times this fall if I feel like it. 🙂
If I’m not mistaken, that non-matching front wheel cover is from an early ’90s Plymouth Laser (the base-model Laser that hardly anyone bought). Which is funny, because someone clearly made an effort to source an actual PLYMOUTH wheel cover, even though it doesn’t match.
I knew only one person who had an Acclaim — a girl in college (mid 1990s) whose parents purposefully bought her the dullest car imaginable. Chrysler sedans of the era were good for that purpose.
When I first saw that you were drawing a Halloween analogy here, I thought it was going to be that a Reliant decided to dress up, but everyone knew what was under the costume.
Yes, the wheel covers are from a Laser — here’s a brochure image:
It is amazing to me that you were able to identify the front wheel cover as coming from a Plymouth Laser. I had a friend with a blue Laser back in the ’90s, and come to think of it, I think his had these same wheel covers.
About the Reliant, in doing some last-minute fact-checking on this essay last night, I discovered that the Acclaim and Reliant had near-identical exterior dimensions. I don’t know why I thought this before, but I had always thought the AA bodies were substantially larger than the Ks! Not the case.
I guess it’s just one of those tidbits that’s using up valuable brain space. Glad I was able to put this one to good use.
Growing up in a small town called Plymouth, I’ve always had a fondness for the Plymouth brand. Our high school was named after the town, so we could adopt Plymouth advertising slogans for school pep cheers (Do they do that anymore? Yeah, I am that old).
“Plymouth is out to win you over this year.” “The Plymouth beat goes on.” My personal favorite? “Who makes it? Plymouth makes it.” The cheer was great, but being a bit of a geek in high school, making it was a largely unrealized dream.
Besides Halloween, Plymouth is related to another fall event thanks to it being the location of America’s 1st Thanksgiving celebration. Plymouth might have died as a car brand, but Thanksgiving ensures the name will live on.
Here’s a bit of useless trivia regarding shared names of Plymouth and places. Besides the town where I grew up, a number of US places shared their name with the Detroit low priced 3. Unlike the traditional Chevrolet – Ford – Plymouth sales pecking order, the number of places sharing names with each brand is the exact opposite.
Wiki lists 30 places named Plymouth in the US for a solid 1st place finish in name sharing. Ford is a distant 2nd with only 7 places listed under that name. This counts only places actually named Ford and not places that have Ford as part of the name such as Rocky Ford or Rockford.
Automotive sales leader Chevrolet seems to have but a single place sharing the name, a small town in Harlan County KY. Even expanding the search to include Chevy and allowing it to be part of a place name, you only add 5 to the total thanks to a few places named Chevy Chase. A weak 3rd place finish.
I’m sure this has answered everyone’s questions on the subject. What? You didn’t ask? OK, too much time on my hands this morning. Besides, I feel Joe’s article liberated me to meander at will.
Well, I appreciated it.
I used to live in Bethesda, MD which adjoins Chevy Chase, MD. “Chevy” is pronounced with a hard C so it doesn’t sound like the car, but I’ve had several people ask me whether the town was named after the actor/comedian or vice versa (neither; it’s coincidental).
Rob, thank you for this. I would have assumed that the town of Chevrolet would have at least been in Michigan, but I suppose that might have been too obvious.
Plymouth as a car brand always stuck out to me, being named as it was not after one of the forefathers or founders of an auto company, but after a place. As such, it does sort of make sense to me that there would be more places called “Plymouth” than Ford or Chevrolet.
Plymouth did have some great slogans over the years. I remember researching old car magazines years ago, and when I would see the “Beat Goes On” ads, the Sonny & Cher song would start playing in my head. Now when I hear that song, I think of a hot Plymouth brand in the late ’60s and it makes me smile.
And I’m glad you also meandered so I wasn’t left hanging out there. LOL
My mom and dad had two Acclaims, an ’89 with a very unusual factory interior of bucket seats, floor shifter with console and an Infinity stereo. My mom loved that car and having driven it a few times, could see why. It compared nicely with the ’89 LeBaron Coupe I was driving at the time. Very comfortable and surprisingly sporty for a family sedan. It was lost in a wreck in 1997, and my dad decided the way it held up in the crash they would replace it with a later one with an airbag for even better protection for my mom.
The ’89 was very reliable except for the motor mounts would never last very long. I had the identical problem with my LeBaron. The last set of mounts I put in my LeBaron I filled the gaps with polyurethane and never had to replace them again. My dad’s replacement was a ’93 Acclaim with a vastly improved motor mount set up that was trouble free. My dad noted that the lower control arms on the ’93 were beefier than the ’89 and the fuel pressure for the TBI was higher. It too, was a reliable car up to the end giving my dad no trouble until the day it mysteriously caught on fire under the hood ending its life and the car was nearing 200k miles at that point. They replaced that with an ’03 Neon which ended my parents run of driving Plymouths that began in the 1960’s with my dad’s ’56 Savoy. The only Plymouth in the family now is my ’68 VIP.
The interior of the ’93 was a huge let down compared to the ’89 in every way. My mom wished she could have kept her wrecked ’89 and had my dad and I transfer the interior out of it into the ’93. If I were to come across an Acclaim in good shape, it would be a tempting purchase as a winter driver.
The decontenting or cheapening of a design always baffles me, as you seem to make reference to with the interior of the ’93 versus that of the ’89. It makes me wonder why – like, weren’t enough of these cars being sold to make a profit? It always makes me a little sad to think that an original design didn’t live up to someone’s expectations. People undoubtedly were proud of the work they had done on the first AA cars.
The analogy between Charlie Brown’s rock and the Plymouth Acclaim is a good one (even if it took a while to draw it out;). At least Charlie Brown was never kicked out of his family like Plymouth was.
I’ve only briefly been in Chicago a few times and seen movies, but even I can tell that the photos’ background is SO Chicago.
Man. Charlie Brown just got the worst treatment. Never mind the trauma-bonding that took place with “five-cent psychologist” Lucy, who abused him regularly and then tried to act as his therapist. As someone who has seen a therapist myself, the older I get, the less sympathy I have for Lucy (and real people like her) and whatever underlying issues she had that led her down the path of becoming what she was. She had choices.
I have always had a spot for the Acclaim. In some versions, it looked downright classy in its competitive set.
Then again, I also liked the Corsica and absolutely loved the Ford Tempo, so, there’s that. As for their replacements, I liked the Contour and Breeze, hated the Malibu. At least the first two were a decent drive and looked smart for their era, the Malibu was just awful to drive, to sit in, to look at, hell, to think about.
(I owned a Corsica with the terrible 2.8L V-6, but I owned over a dozen Tempos, and will probably have another one day. Never owned an Acclaim. Just never came up. I did own a Reliant briefly, but I’ll try not to hold that against the Acclaim if I ever come across one. I strongly considered a 1997 Breeze 5 speed and drove it for two weeks while deciding. )
Over a dozen Tempos?! That is amazing! Perhaps you are one of the only people in the world to be able to make that claim. Does that make you a metronome? (because you have so much tempo)
Seriously, you NEED to find the nicest Tempo out there and keep it as a classic car.
John, I’m glad you liked your Tempos. My first car was a hand-me-down ’84 Ford Tempo GL four-door that I came to actively dislike. It would just never stay running while at a stop. I’m sure the later Tempos were better. One thing I always liked about the original Tempos were their styling. They seemed so stylish and European, almost like Americanized Ford Sierras with a traditional three-box profile.
John – You and I have some similar tastes in cars. Even though they looked bit dated (compared to cars like the Taurus and the Accord), I actually liked the way the Spirit/Acclaim looked when they came out. I too also had a fondness for the Tempo/Topaz and the Corsica/Berettas around that time as well.
Is it just me, or does the right front wheel cover seem to be mimicking the wheels of early C4 Corvettes? I remember some Plymouths of that era had those wheel covers, with “PLYMOUTH” text in the center. Might even be from a Laser.
Joseph, I can relate on the brand affection/loyalty, even when you know that brand doesn’t make the best cars. In my case it was Dodge, as that’s all there was at my parents’ house until after I left for college. Of course Dodge got much better treatment from its parent company than sibling Plymouth…but we’ll see if Dodge as a brand can survive the Stellantis years.
Corey, I never would have connected the dots between the C4 wheels and the Plymouth Laser wheel covers. That’s brilliant, and I totally see it.
I do really hope any existing, former Chrysler brand makes it into the future, though it’s not easy to hold onto that hope.
Tina Turner had words to say about this car.
Despite the “c.” in the title, I think you’ve picked the year correctly. One year older and it’d have the nicer grille; one year newer and it’d have the motorised front passenger seatbelt. All the AA-body grilles are swappable, though, and there aren’t a whole lot of other tells until ’90/’91 (gasoline door).
(I am pretty sure the 2.5 turbo was available for four years: ’89, ’90, ’91, ’92.)
That commercial gave me goosebumps. I can’t get enough Tina Turner.
Can you really tell that this one doesn’t have the front mouse-belts? I know you’re the AA-Body King here at CC, but that’s not a detail I think I could recognize from these exterior shots. That’s amazing if you can!
I got my engine info from my 2003 edition of the Encyclopedia Of American Cars by the editors of Consumer Guide, but I’ll admit that information might have been updated later. Again, I’m leaning toward deference to you on the subject of AA-bodies, given that you have owned so many of them (and generously detailed your ownership experiences here).
I’m suspicious of those who can get “enough” Tina Turner. Or Dolly Parton. Only Parton didn’t do any Plymouth commercials I’m aware of, while Turner did several.
The motorised passenger-side halfass-seatbelt is positioned such that it’s more or less visible from angles including three of the pics you posted here. Take a look at the pics of this ’94 and compare to your pics at similar angles.
I did some further digging and I sit corrected: the 2.5 turbo could be had in the Spirit from ’89-’92, but in the Acclaim only ’89-’90.
One of my girlfriends couldn’t care less for all the Halloween and fall stuff, she just complains it get too damn cold. My other girlfriend, on the other hand, is fascinated by the seasons and holidays, to the level I am about cars, and I’m a gearhead, born that way.
That means she’s nuts about this time of the year. Years ago I had to put restrictions in place. No holiday or seasonal decorations, no special holiday or seasonal music, until 30 days before said start of the season or holiday. And any decoration must come down [or sometimes in her case, replaced by the next one] no longer than 2 weeks after the holiday ended, snow permitting!
2 Weeks ago we took an excursion out to go shopping, wearing our masks of course, and I was unprepared for what we saw; Christmas stuff everywhere! I guess I will never understand the corporate greed that propels this introduction of Christmas items for sale, even before the start of fall. It was still September, and here in Annapolis, MD it was approaching 90f, and there were no trees showing brown leaves. Yet the stores featured Christmas in their “Seasonal” department. The Halloween section had been shoved to the rear, because their Halloween displays had started on the first of July!
One of the reasons I like the Thanksgiving holiday is because [other than a few food items like turkeys] corporate America has not been able to commercialize that holiday. But this means they start even earlier with Christmas, because of the need to be FIRST to get those holiday profits, before the other big guys do.
Well got to go, gf Nikki is asking for help in placing Halloween color vinyl stickers on the bay window in the living room, she can’t reach the top level of windows!
These are both current girlfriends? That sounds like a very interesting life!
Yeah, stores are so dependent on Christmas season sales, they’d start in June if they could get away with it.
I am indeed a very fortunate man in many respects, but it was not our original intent. 5 years ago Nikki and I took Pepper into our home, as she was suicidal due to a very dysfunctional home life. We got her into therapy and as she progressed, slowly the 3 of us connected. I’m a few months shy of 70, Nikki is 36, and Pepper has her 32nd birthday in a couple of weeks. Yes I’m a lucky man, but it takes a commitment to total honesty and NO jealousy.
My secret plan is to celebrate her birthday with a weekend trip to the Strasberg Steam train museum, where the 2 of them will ride a train for the first time, and with a steam locomotive!
Here’s the latest photo of us; L-R; Pepper, me & Nikki
Bill, Christmas stuff already? Wow! The local neighborhood drug stores seem to put up seasonal stuff early, but now I’m curious to see if they’ve started with Christmas…
I thank that one of the reasons Thanksgiving hasn’t been able to be as commercialized as some of the other seasons is that it’s ostensibly about gratitude, versus consumerism (December holidays) or love / lust / romantic feels (Valentine’s Day). That’s my theory, anyway.
I do love Thanksgiving. The way everything smells – the food, the fall leaves outdoors, etc.
Like most, I’ve always found it a bit disappointing that seasonal decorations in the box stores seem to be out way too early. However, my wife, with almost 30 years in the inventory control software business, and the shopper in my household, pointed out that the merchandise cycles you see are mostly designed to ensure they are not holding what will soon become highly unsalable merchandise, quite literally beyond its sell by date.
So, if you are admiring a certain style of Christmas lights, and you want to be sure to get the style and quantity you want for your holiday display, you’ll buy them before Halloween, and probably not get much of deal.
If you walk the decoration aisles the first week of December, you’ll find the popular items sold out – and no more are coming in.
We spend our summer at the lake, and are avid boaters. I’ve been known to take home new life jackets from Costco driving in a snow storm. I bought my jet-ski in the third week of January for a reason – there were deals to be had at the annual boat show. I literally had to clean road salt off the trailer! The dealer had zero inventory by May. And this was 2016, well before the current shortage of everything.
I’ll forever defend the AA bodies. That vertical rear window is practical – crud doesn’t fall on it, it allows for excellent rear seat headroom and entry/exit, and a huge (by today’s standards) trunk opening. Compare each of those to this car’s last descendant, the FCA-era Chrysler 200, or many recent Asian sedans in this class, you’ll appreciate the practicality of the Acclaim. I happen to think they look good too – there are just enough curved edges on this car for it to not look boxy in a bad way. My favorite feature of this car though is the hidden nonsmoker bonus: open the front ashtray, remove the ashtray bin, and slide over the single cupholder to where the ashtray used to be. There’s a second cupholder hidden beneath the first one. (this only applies to Acclaims with a bench seat). I’ve shown this to more than one owner who didn’t know about it.
You’re being generous describing the ’93 model as getting a “restyle” – what, does a new grille insert and hubcaps qualify as a facelift in Mopar-land? I guess there’s also the all-amber front/side marker lamp that was already used on the Spirit. The two upscale Acclaim trim levels that were axed in 1992 were simply transferred to the LeBaron, which was now sold in three trim levels instead of one.
The Peanuts gang made their television not in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (1965) as many seem to think, but rather in advertising from 1959 for “The Ford Show”, sponsored by Ford and featuring Tennessee Ernie Ford (no relation to Henry). A year later, they showed up in Ford commercials promoting the new Falcon especially. All of these can be found on YouTube.
My first musical instrument was a Fender Rhodes, which I used when I played in a band when I was a college student in the late ’80s. I think I got it for free, This was around the time the FR went from a distinct instrument to the “electric piano” button on your Roland synth (or if you were poor like me, your Casiotone). A real Fender Rhodes in 1990 was worth about as much as a CRT television is today. The Hammond organ suffered the same ignominious fate. Nobody wanted these things then, but today vintage keyboards like Mellotrons are worth thousands, coveted by bands angling for a retro sound. Anyway, I schlepped the Fender Rhodes from gig to gig, always cursing how heavy it was compared to modern keyboards, and learning to live with the unchangeable sound of the thing, perfect for ’70s jazz-lounge or soft rock, less so for dance pop or hip-hop.
I just love the Fender Rhodes piano. It is one of my favorite instruments of all time. I’m into (among other music styles) a lot of jazz fusion of the ’70s, and it just sounds so mellow. I think I need a CD compilation of just FR sounds of the 1970s.
I liked reading about the nonsmoker bonus you described. I wonder if that was by design or a happy accident. And “restyle”, “refresh”, etc. – you understood what I meant. The ’93 was the first Acclaim since its introduction that looked different in some way.
I thought the initial Acclaim LX was a genuinely attractive car, especially with those alloys, and nicer looking than the LeBaron that came along later, with its padded roofs, etc.
I’d gladly listen to your Best of Fender Rhodes compilation; I too find the sound of its chiming tines to be one of the most beauteous things in the whole world. I just don’t like having to carry the thing around!
The hidden cupholder was definitely intentional – it had a round shape and size the same as the regular cupholder next to it. What I don’t know is whether it was intended to subtly discourage smoking. There was at least one car that unquestionably did though, from decades earlier. the Bricklin SV-1 was sold without an ashtray or lighter as part of its “safety” marketing. This was in an era when even the rear-facing third rows of station wagons had ashtrays.
Brother had an “89” Aclaim.Mom had a “90”.I think my brothers was an LE or something a bit upgraded. Mom’s latest forever as she drove so so little. The paint failed big time at about six years on. Eeek! Looked soo awful.
That’s what the Earl Scheib $99 special is for! Haha Was it a Florida car? That state wreaked havoc on my ’94 Ford Probe’s teal metallic clearcoat finish.
Interesting to think you’re just coming into autumn, Joseph. Down here it’s spring; the sun is shining more, the days are lengthening, daylight saving starting again, honeyeaters hovering under the veranda gathering spiderwebs for nesting materials, chooks and ducks on the lay again. And the lawns need mowing more frequently. And all the weeds have woken up too. But overall it’s nice and a real lift to the spirits after the (comparative, not absolute) cold and dark of winter.
As a kid I was always bothered by the books published in Northern Hemisphere countries showing the seasons half a year out of whack from how we know them down here, with stuff like snow at Christmas; I’d lived twenty-seven years before I ever saw snow at all, and it was a five hour drive to get there. Your post reminded me of how so many of these things made me ask “How come?”, which prompted lessons of the shape of our world and how it moves in space, turning this way and that for times and seasons. Different places can see and experience things differently at the same time.
As an Aussie, this Plymouth underlines the difference between the American sense of aesthetic circa 1990 and ours. Aside from a few small Mitsubishis which weren’t all that popular, this near-vertical rear window look didn’t fly down here. And the Mitsubishis had thin pillars. Oh, and the iconic (to us) WB Statesman. While not misshapen to the point of weirdness like some GM cars, this Plymouth does look odd to Aussie eyes. But then, we looked to Japan or Europe for our styling trends, and weren’t getting any cars from the US at this time. Chrysler would go on to have some success in the market with the Neon and the 300, but never seemed to get anywhere with midsize cars here. No matter how they were shaped.
I often think of the CC readership in other parts of the world, including yours in the southern hemisphere, when I make reference to the seasons. I think it’s cool that a flip-flop of what I’m experiencing up here.
When you mentioned Mitsubishis of the same era, I then remembered that the 1990 Galant had a more upright back window and greenhouse like this Acclaim, though there was slightly more rake to it.
Thanks! I think this is the Galant you’d be thinking of. It’s not that bad. Actually what I has in mind was the smaller Mirage, but on reflection the rear glass was quite curved and it was only the pillars that were near-upright.
I knew a Plymouth household when I was growing up, (’68 Satellite Sedan, ’72 Satellite Wagon, ’74 Duster). When they went to buy a new wagon in ’81, they found the Plymouth line and the remaining wagon too shrunken, and moved on to Chevrolet.
Watching Plymouth shrink to the Reliant, Horizon and M-Body Fury was painful. As you’ve noted, Plymouth had a history of both dynamic models and marketing and were a shadow of the themselves in the ’80s. The Reliant America value sedan, always painted ice blue, did not make for anything remotely scintillating in marketing or the showroom.
I also found the Acclaim initially refreshing, and was hopeful, but it was pretty apparent it was a Reliant with the edges rounded off and an updated interior. Another K car by any standard, even if a pretty good one.
From when a guy could daydream a little about a Plymouth…..
Great essay Joe, as usual.
My mom also thought that Halloween was satanic and/or a sure way to be poisoned or killed by neighbors who she was sure would be putting sharp things in those apples. That thought about the apples/candy — instilled in me from my earliest age — still gives me chills. Mom was not a believer in the inherent goodness of ones fellow man (or woman).
Nevertheless, I got over it…and happily went trick-or-treating for the very first time at the age of 40. When my first kid was 2.
I really like your last point in the essay and think that this is something that’s worth remembering about cars back in the day as well as today. For most families, cars provide transportation, and as long as they can do that dependably and within budget, that’s all they need to do. And there’s nothing shabby about that.
Thanks so much, Jeff! I will say this about finally getting to go trick-or-treating by my middle school years. It has only now occurred to me that this was around the time I started getting a ton of fillings at the dentist’s office. It is what it is. 🙂