When one has discovered the opiate that is capturing cars in the wild, taking a weekend trip is a great opportunity to get a buzz. While this is all figuratively speaking, the Shafers did make a long weekend trip to Alabama via Memphis early last fall with lots of automotive finds as a bonus.
Driving manically in a Ford E-150 van isn’t as difficult as one might think. Worried about not reaching Sun Studio (where Elvis, Johnny Cash, and many others were first recorded) prior to its late afternoon closing, we squeaked through just in time. Seeing these parked on the street was sensory overload mixed with pangs of frustration as there simply wasn’t time to take pictures–or so I thought. It was soon evident the car gods were smiling upon me as the members of the Western Tennessee and Kentucky Road Rally were already getting a special tour, causing ours to be postponed for five minutes. Realizing this, I tore out the door to grab some pictures.
Hang onto your hat, this could be a fast ride!
Going in no particular order, let’s start with this ’66 Thunderbird, also seen at the top of the page. The ’64 and ’65 Thunderbird’s are a favorite of mine, but I have simply never been able to find as much fondness for this roof treatment thrust upon so many of the ’66 models. The color is great, but the roof treatment kills the deal, much like finding half a worm after biting into an apple.
Here’s a profile shot from a vintage ad to better illustrate the roof line. It possesses a funereal vibe.
Moving on, we find a 1976 or 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. Does any car embody the 1970s as well as this Oldsmobile? Is any car more definitive of the 1950s for non-car people than the ’57 Chevrolet parked behind it? And does anything ruin a car as much as the Continental kit on the ’55 Chevrolet sitting in front? There is a soliloquy to this generation Olds Cutlass Supreme here and here.
What do I spy behind the Oldsmobile? Is it a ’59 Pontiac?
No, it’s a matched pair of ’59 Pontiacs. The only obvious difference is the width of the stripe on the tires.
These are very long cars, as I had to crop a lot of sidewalk out of this profile shot. There is no shortage of fins and chrome on these two.
For you Mopar fanatics, this 1963 Plymouth (CC here) is the first of two pretty pentastars. This is what the 1962 Plymouth should have looked like. In fact, this Plymouth is so nice…
…even Elvis is about three seconds away from drooling over it. To get such a reaction from an avowed Cadillac man, the boys at Highland Park were certainly doing something right.
Not all the cars were American, as this Tatra demonstrates. If it looks familiar, I did a full CC on it here.
To keep the Tatra from feeling lonely, this second generation Corvair was another air-cooled, rear-engined cruiser on hand to keep it company. This Chevy was nice enough to make a rear-drive, V8 fan such as myself take pause and ponder the possibilities. However, some in-depth first hand experience can be found here.
Had time not been such a constraint, and had I not been so distracted by the Tatra, I would have taken more pictures of this Buick Regal T-Type and waxed poetic about it with a full CC. My suspicion is this Buick is a 1985 model; please speak up if this wrong.
This Buick stands in stark contrast to the 1969 Dodge Dart next to it.
The Darts intended for throttle junkies followed a proven formula of planting a potent V8 in a small body. The Buick Regal T-Type broke new ground, showing that a turbocharged 3.8 liter V6 could be a formidable power plant and how a V8 with a bunch of cubic inches wasn’t necessary to make copious amounts of power. While this statement may be bold, I will submit this Buick was one of the most transformative and influential cars of the 1980s. As proof, consider the direction Ford has taken with its EcoBoost line of engines. Sure, maybe it is thirty years later, but it also took a while for disc brakes and overhead cam engines to become mainstream in North America. It is also interesting to notice the similarities in size between the two cars.
Going back to before the time Elvis became popular, this 1954 Oldsmobile was parked nearest the door to the studio. For some odd reason, I suspect the Continental kit and wheel skirts are newer than the rest of the car. At least they aren’t permanent warts.
Here is a look at an unadulterated version.
Lastly, let’s go back to the pre-World War II era with this 1940 Buick. When my father purchased a pickup in 1985, there was a 1939 Buick sitting in the showroom. This ’40 sure reminds me of that and maybe this childhood experience explains my infatuation with, and admiration of, the immediate prewar cars. They all possess a certain charm, ambiance, and charisma that simply cannot be escaped and has yet to be duplicated.
Let’s enjoy a vintage look at this Buick.
Yes, the backseat truly is that roomy!
Finding these, a person really might want to venture out more often.
Wow what a great find! Is that a real Grand National? The chrome bumpers, stand-up hood ornament and incorrect wheels make me think it’s a Regal that’s trying to look like a GN.
the Buick looks like its an ’85 Regal T-Type instead of a Grand National
I do believe you are correct on it being a T-Type; my focus was likely to narrow and clouded by excitement! 🙂
I’ve changed the text.
+1 on the T-Type
Still a sexy Buick though 😉
Here is a GN I shot some time ago…
That Grand National looks like a T-Type instead
I prefer the Landau roof on the T-Bird.
I could easily put up with the TBird.It’s a close call with the 59 Pontiac though,I love the fins.
The eye candy is much appreciated on this holiday morning thanks Jason. The drivers must be at a meeting or having a meal, great opportunity to snap a few pics.
The Olds Cutlass is so pretty. I’m of the firm belief it would have sold just as well, if not better, as a Buick, Chevy or Pontiac. What a knockout styling job. It stands up to anything from the 50s or 60s even that beautiful Corvair.
I was thinking the earlier GNs had chrome bumpers…but far more interesting is that oddball Cutlass! That particular one is one of those regional special editions — note the brushed aluminum band over the roof and the chrome sport mirror on the driver door.
When I was a kid living near Chicago, these were called Cutlass GMOs (Gallant Men of Olds).
Where in Alabama did you go?
Marshall Space Center in Huntsville. Well worth the trip if one enjoys rocket history and space exploration.
Yes, it’s a Cutlass S with one of the regional packages, not a Supreme. “Crown” and “SX” were among the other names used.
Notice the passenger side mirror on the T-Bird. You’re looking at one of the rarest individual car parts ever. RH mirrors were rare enough then,
but I’m sure not more than a handful exist.
Jason, I’m with you on the 66 TBird. However, it is precisely the color combo that saves this one and makes me want to take it home. Excellent shots, all. Could this be the first time since about 1959 that two identical Pontiacs in that condition have parked right with each other?
And when, for the love of all that is holy, will we see a 62-64 Plymouth or Dodge without mods?
1+ on the Tbird.
Love them all.
The T-Bird is a beauty, but agree that the standard roof was better. It also needs the fender skirts!
That Buick had to be a nice place to be in during WW II compared to almost any other car. Living room comfort.
My favorite solution to the Landau Roof issue it to go with the convertible. The ’64-’66 Thunderbird instrument panel was “Airliner Inspired” with switch gear for the wipers/washers antenna and vents that hung down from under the dash and gauges that were mounted in gyroscope like pods. The best part is the back lit gauge faces and the thermometer like speedometer.
Better looking even with the top up.
Ford really went all-the-way on these Thunderbird instrument panels. I cannot fathom how many hours went into styling the insides of these cars. That instrument panel has got to be amazing at night!
Having taken mine completely apart, I can attest to just how many hours had to go into assembling the dash. The number of screws, nuts, clips, wires, bezels and lenses is mind boggling. Each one of the gauge pods has at least 20 separate pieces.
Any T-Bird experts catch what’s non-standard in the dash pic?
The radio certainly is cutting edge for that time period. 😉
We had a 65 Thunderbird so perhaps I’m biased but I’ve never liked the changes for the 66 that made it a less sleek and coordinated design package, not only the roofline but also the full-width taillights, the more fussy, egg-crate grille, and the overdone wheel covers shown in the ad. And these cars really need the fender skirts. Having said all that, this one is attractive in its own manner.
I love the 54-56 Oldsmobiles, really beautiful cars and very popular at the time. I saw virtually none with fender skirts or continental kits until they began appearing in car shows and museums decades later. And those simulated wire wheel covers must be very rare.
I love the color on the Tbird; it screams mid 60’s. Based on the colors available on the 66 Mustang, which I know much better, I’d say that’s Tahoe Turquoise. Very similar to the Dynasty Green that my 65 Mustang coupe wore originally, which is exactly what I like about it. Believe it or not, not every 65 Mustang was candy apple red, or white with blue stripes…
I also like the T-type Buick, which is probably my favorite 80’s car.
What a handsome Thunderbird!
Great show Jason, but we’ll have to agree to differ on the Thunderbird!
I will gladly take a pass on the Dart if only to be able to grab that Tbird. IMHO the 65 had a fat upper lip that the 66 cleaned up sooo nicely, even with the roofline. But then again, I’d replicate a neighbor’s ‘bird and go for pale yellow with a white top and a proper Q code 428 under the hood. Dee lishus.
Wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick? Yes, the ’40 over the ’85, please. That gunmetal and red wheel look is irresistible.