(first posted 8/28/2014) This large ad from a November 1970 Life magazine was a fun one to upload; it didn’t fit on my scanner and I had to do separate takes. I realized afterward that it’s freely available online, but what’s the fun in posting a vintage ad you didn’t find yourself? Regardless of the source, it’s an interesting spot because it not only previews Chrysler’s coming woes, but makes a rather direct point about its divergence from its B-body sedan sibling. As we debate the fine differences between two-door sedans and closely related coupes, keep this ad in mind. And remember: it’s no ordinary two-door!
Why Chrysler was so enthusiastic to point this out is a bit confusing. According to my Encyclopedia of American Cars, the two-door Belvedere sedan was discontinued after 1967 and even then, it sold less than ten percent what the Belvedere hardtop and Satellite hardtops managed.
In fact, it’s rare to see any pillared ’66-’70 B-body two-door, so why so much effort went into chopping out two inches from the wheelbase is anyone’s guess. To my eyes, the hardtops of this era look plenty distinguished from other B-bodies.
It’s not like the roofline of the new 1971 was all that different from the four-door’s, which we can now confidently refer to simply as “sedan.” In fact, the imbalance between the front and back door here looks to favor the coupe, despite all the trouble invested in differentiating the two. I apologize to fans of the ’71 B-body for choosing this unflattering shot to make my point.
It’s not pretty, though; this look worked so much better on the C-bodies. See why I love the Fuselage cars??
Getting back on track, I suppose that what this ad speaks to is something I wasn’t around for. There must have been complaints that the B-body two-doors were insufficiently distinguished from their four-door brethren.
To that end, the ’71 coupe does offer some subtle and attractive changes over its sedan counterpart. I’m a fan of the loop bumper, and its implementation on the Sebring, along with the relocation of turn signals to the negative area beneath, is attractive. The rear styling treatment, too, is a big improvement over the sedan’s dumpy looking underbite.
But it wasn’t enough, despite Plymouth’s ad. By 1974, the last year of the Sebring, 152,000 Satellites total were being shifted; in other words, a lot fewer than GM’s Colonnades. No advertising was necessary to distinguish a two or four-door Chevelle, after all. Fast forward twenty years to the era when the Sebring name would be slapped on a stretched, Chrysler-badged Eclipse and the Monte Carlo would revert to being a Lumina minus two doors and 1.5 inches in height (making it barely a coupe) and it would seem the situation reversed itself. Twenty years further, and everyone has withdrawn from the segment except for Honda who finally makes a properly-differentiated (and not-so-pretty) midsize coupe. The more things change…
Last Night’s Dream: 1960 Plymouth XNR – Haven’t I Seen Your Face Around Here Before?
Curbside Classic: 1971 Plymouth Road Runner – Sherwood Be Nice
As these arrived in ’71, I thought they were okay. For appearance, I’d pick this sedan over the Malibu sedan, which was actually a bit of a dog with its crappy unadorned greenhouse. This Plymouth design obviously suffered from being updated in unflattering ways through a very long run through ’78.
The coupes are kind of cool, and a period novelty now.
These cars were known for cheap interior bits, a lack of sound insulation, and a general feel of cheapness that became wildly apparent when GM introduced their fully updated ’73 intermediates.
If the quality had been better and if they had been replaced by something more modern by ’75 (the “Small Fury” barely counts), these might be more fondly remembered.
I written about this before, but I am at a complete loss as to why anyone would want any of the intermediate cars during these years when you could have had a better full size car, or a very nice compact car that seated the same number of passengers.
Why would anyone want this car when they could have had a Dart or a Valiant that was built better and was more practical?
These two door vehicles were completely off the mark styling-wise. Instead of a formal three box appearance which the Gran Prix, the Mark III and the Monte Carlo clearly showed as the new look for the next generation of personal luxury car – Chrysler did some kind of bloated soft-pony car look. Only AMC with its Matador Coupe looked as out of place as these cars did to new car buyers in the early 1970s.
It was obvious by 1973 that this styling was passé, but Chrysler was stuck with it and they were trying to make it appear more formal with bizarre halo vinyl roofs and worse, hood ornaments! Torino was just as misshapen, but Ford was able to pull it off better than Chrysler could.
It was obvious that the next generation of this kind of car needed to be more space efficient, more fuel friendly, smaller, and more in line like the compact cars that sold next to them in the showrooms.
By the end of the decade, these cars were indeed replaced by three box compacts that were a return of a sorts to the mid-1960s styling-wise.
The entire period between 1969-1979 was less than flattering for Detroit’s mid sized cars. Until GM began downsizing, it was freaking confusing what the point of these cars were in the marketplace.
Well, I’m at a loss why anyone would want one of the oh so blah looking fullsized Chrysler cars, or the Dart or Valiant for the same reason, they were just a box on wheels. And you think the B-Body cars felt cheap? I learned to drive in a Plymouth Scamp, and the only car I can think of that matched it in the cheap department is the Maverick my friend’s mom had about the same time. In ’75, they sadly made the B-Bodies so ugly, they made the Colonade cars almost look good. Almost.
Amen to that. The comments in the R-body post left me scratching my head. Not the ones about the frameless door glass, 16.0 sec. 0-60, Consumer Reports having to buy a second test car or the front end jiggling after hitting a bump. I knew most of that. The amazing part was the lovefest for a car that, as I learned this week, dated back to 1962!
You don’t have to be crazy to love Mopars, but it sure makes it easier. 🙂
Your last point strikes a chord. Chrysler made a lot of mistakes in the 70s, but the biggest, in my opinion, was not fully re-skinning the B-Body in 1975. they did the by-then-critical work on the 2-doors, but left the haunches of the sedans and wagons to do battle against the Colonnade onslaught.
Clearly, by then money was an issue, but the continuing investment in their money-sucking European operations would have been better spent here.
Ford was caught in the same trap, but better managed to graft neo-classical trim to their intermediates before going full angular with the ’77 LTD II/Cougar.
The ’75-’78 B-Body 2 doors aren’t my favorites, but they do feel more in line with the competition. Ironically MPC gave us a hypothetical re-skinned ’75 four-door via their first quick crib of their ’75 Sport Fury tool to make a “Sheriff Rosco” Dukes of Hazard police car…
Love that model!
That was just the box art. Fortunately or unfortunately, the kit still contained the old-style body.
Fun fact; the boxart of the 2018-ish Dukes of Hazzard reissue still shows that “never was” body. I’d assume the boxart model either was hand converted, one-off into the incorrect four-door or was simply a coupe kit photographed as such and the door shutlines changed by retouching the photo.
My feelings about these cars have softened a bit,I hated them when compared to the beautiful coke bottle 68 – 70s and the earlier straight edge models when new.They still look bloated and puffed up but so did the 71 Mustang and Javelin.I wonder how much making it different to the 4 door ate into profits?
For the most part, the differences are not much more than what GM did putting different metal on their various mid-size cars between divisions.
Chrysler actually deserves credit for recognizing how important mid-size coupes would be to the ’70s market place, and they invested a little extra in making their offering a bit sportier. The problem was, GM was the style leader, and they shifted mid-size coupes from sporty to neoclassical looks, and ran away with the market. It took Chrysler until ’76 to crib the GM look and make a hit with the Cordoba.
Thanks Dave,they were plenty sporty enough with a big block
When I had my second-generation Firebird, I parked it beside my friend’s 1973 Sebring Plus 2-door hardtop. The two cars were remarkably similar in layout and size – both with bucket seats and consoles, and within a couple of inches in wheelbase, height, width, and length. So I would say that this shorter 2-door body was a way to compete with Camaro/Firebird and Mustang/Cougar in a slightly different way than the Barracuda/Challenger did.
ALL the intermediate offerings from Detroit were doing this by 1970, though none were advertising it like Chrysler-Plymouth was in this ad.
If you go back through auto history, you will usually find that car manufacturers often had more than 1 wheelbase for their cars in production at one time. A 2 door coupe had a shorter wheelbase than a 4 door sedan. A convertible was also, usually, on a shorter wheelbase. Chrysler, with Dodge and Plymouth did something, however, that GM wasn’t able to do until their 1973 intermediates rolled out: give their 2 door and 4 doors a noticeably difference appearance. Until these 1970 Chrysler intermediates rolled into showrooms, most 2 doors looked like their 4 door “sisters” but with 1 long (er) door instead of 2 shortish doors on each side of the car. They also had a different front grille / bumper treatment depending on the number of doors. Ford/Mercury gave their “high line” 2 and 4 doors the same grille that was different from their cheaper models…but GM’s divisions had none of this differentiation to claim.
BTW, I thought I really wanted a Plymouth Satellite Sebring Plus….until I drove one. The steering was WAAAY too light in effort and had no feeling to it at all as though the steering wheel was a decoration. And yet the brakes were too touchy.
This is actually reminiscent of what Studebaker did in 1953. None of the sheetmetal interchanged between the Loewy coupes and the “regular” cars, although they had similar styling cues. To the end of their days, the Hawks were completely different bodies than the other Studes.
Chrysler didn’t really do any better with the concept than Studebaker did.
Howard, I’m a bit perplexed by your statement that “if you go through auto history, you will usually find that that car manufacturers had more than 1 wheelbase….a 2 door coupe had a shorter wheelbase than a sedan. A convertible was usually also on a shorter wheelbase”
I’m having a bit of a hard time remembering examples of this. What time frame are you referring to? Yes, there were often lwb cars in many brands; the Pontiac Bonneville being a typical example. But both the Bonneville and the Catalina had coupes and convertibles.
Could you give some examples? I’m sure there are some, but you did use the word “usually”.
The 1968-72 GM A body was thus, 112 inches for 2 doors, 116 for 4 doors. There are folks who measure all things automotive by this generation of A body, but like you, I would say that the practice was far from universal.
OK; we all know about that one…:) And the Studebakers.
Howard said “usually”, in terms of coupes and convertibles being on a shorter wheelbase. Those two are generally seen as exceptions, and not the usual.
In the 20s and 30s, ultra-expensive cars were often available with shorter wheelbases for roadsters, like the Mercedes SSK and Duesenberg SSJ. Cadillacs came in a number of wheelbase lengths in the 30s, but coupes and roadster bodies were available on all but the longest ones, and even then, you could get a coachbuilder to build one if you really wanted it.
But in terms of typical mass production cars, I’m not coming up with a lot. Maybe I’m missing something?
Was that the first Chrysler product with power steering you’d ever driven? For decades, Chrysler’s disconnected feeling, overboosted power steering was common knowledge. Any Chrysler product with power steering was like that.
FWIW, my mother’s ’73 Coronet had a tad more feel to its PS than her ’65 Coronet. But the difference, such as it was, was very minimal. It might have been just that it was new and felt “tighter”.
I remember a friend whose dad had a ’68 Dodge Phoenix (rebadged Plymouth Fury). He spoke of his dad being able to spin the wheel with one finger at parking speed, as though it was something to be proud of!
A friend of mine loved that, he doesn’t “understand” why anyone would want steering with any feel to it.
For many years, Chrysler Corporation advertising touted its “full-time” power steering as a feature, not a bug. With Chrysler power steering, the boost was as strong at 70 mph as it was while parking the car.
A friend of mine loves the old over assisted cars you can drive with one finger. I don’t get it. I had my ’18 Challenger’s steering on “sport” about 30 seconds after I got into it the first time. If there was a higher effort setting, I would have it there. Over assisted steering was one of my complaints about cars for many years.
When my friend drove it, once, he complained endlessly about the “too hard” steering, the “truck” ride, and the “touchy as hell brakes”. I will agree, the brakes (Six piston Bembro) are touchy, but once you get used to them, they are amazing.
Many cars today are using electric power steering. Those also have an over boosted feeling.
You are right with your history Howard, 2-door models often had a shorter wheelbase than their 4-door counterparts. That’s still the case over at Honda where the wheelbases for the Civic and Accord coupes are shorter than for the 4-doors. The recently departed 3-series coupe had a shorter wheelbase than the 4-door. Same was true for the Altima coupe versus the sedan.
Interestingly the Toyota Solara and Camry sedan shared a wheelbase even though they were separate nameplates.
2-doors are a tough sell these days. If you aren’t going to make the car significantly more attractive than the 4-door you won’t find many takers. A shorter wheelbase can help but requires a different roof line and often a shorter rear floor.
That’s not to say the coupe always needs a shorter wheelbase to look better than the 4-door. The old G35 Coupe had movie star looks and the same wheelbase as the sedan.
Like Gem, I like these better than I did 10 or 15 years ago. Back when these were common, you could also find the older 1966-70 cars around as well, which were better built and much more solid. I also preferred the style of the earlier cars.
These 71 Satellites sure were modern when they came out, though. The mother of my sister’s best friend got a red 72 Satellite coupe (with the silver lower trim) to replace her 66 Satellite convertible.
I like the earlier cars, too; finding a pic of the ’70 hardtop coupe was fun. Actually, I’d be happy with most any 68-70 B-body, quite possibly a four-door or wagon.
I don’t think the neoclassical look deserved to be so popular; it was regressive and it was safe. It’s not like the ’71 B-body was cluttered in the way those cars were and Chrysler deserves credit for trying to do something so mod. Too bad the rest of the car didn’t do enough to make up for the tinny impression made by large expanses of painted sheet metal. Like I said, the C-bodies wore this look better but regardless, it deserves to be remembered less harshly.
I’m with you. As a kid, I was excited to see this bodystyle, and interested to see where it led to. Then Detroit embraced that formal look, and that just looked weird to the rest of the world. Europe went origami-look, and japan and Australia sort of had a foot in both camps.
What strikes me now is how Chrysler obviously tried to carry over some of the styling cues from the 1970 Satellite to the 1971 version – particularly the grille with the slightly raised section in the middle (which, ironically enough, harkens back to the 1957-58 Plymouths!). I had never noticed that before.
The coupes were okay, but the sedans landed with a thud. They somehow looked like fleet vehicles even in their top trim levels. That’s probably because even their top trim levels were painfully plain, especially when compared to the Ford Torinos, which featured very nice interiors for their 1970 makeover. But the overall exterior design of these cars is TOO simple and clean. There is nothing there to hold the viewer’s interest.
I think the Plymouth Sebring coupe is better looking than the Chevy Chevelle at this point. But looks alone don’t sell a car.
I apologize for running off at the mouth. I guess usually (at least in referring to convertibles was a bit “out there”. I also accidentally called the referred to here as 70s and not 71s.
Using the full sized Chrysler as an example…3 different wheelbase lengths in 1940 and 4 in 1941. In 1950 again 4 lengths on the new cars. By 1960 this was down to 2.
Right; and coupes and convertibles were available on both of those 1950 Chrysler wheelbases (the other two were for the 8 passenger stretch sedans, which are not relevant).
Most of the mid and premium brands typically had two wheelbase lengths, and a full complement of body styles. Ford even tried that in 1957-1958, and in that case , the hardtop coupe and convertible were only available on the long wheelbase version 🙂
In fact, it’s rare to see any pillared ’66-’70 B-body two-door, so why so much effort went into chopping out two inches from the wheelbase is anyone’s guess. To my eyes, the hardtops of this era look plenty distinguished from other B-bodies.
The only thing distinguishing the ’67 -’70 B-Body hardtops from the two-door coupe was a B pillar and fixed rear windows. You hadn’t perhaps forgotten about those? It was the body style used for the famous Road Runner.
My mistake. I saw illustrations of the one you posted about, but when it came to finding pictures of actual models in the flesh, ones the blue ’66 in the second picture were more common. I also didn’t search Roadrunners, but Belvederes because I thought it’d more directly lead me to a total stripper.
At any rate, my point is that the greenhouse of the two-doors like the one you posted was already substantially different from that of the four-door. I assumed that by the strictest definition of two-door sedans, we were talking about a mere relocation of the post and other minimal changes related to fitting a quarter window.
“I also didn’t search Roadrunners, but Belvederes” – there was your problem. All of the 68-70 Belvederes are Road Runners now. Just like all of the 63-64 Belvederes are now Max Wedge clones. 🙂
Chrysler made a point of calling its pillared 2-door ’68-’70 B-Body cars “coupes” while the previous models were 2 door sedans. It was a justifiable move, because as Paul notes, they merely “pillared” the hardtop, but they definitely kept pillared 2-doors in the lineup through ’70.
One question though – I know the Roadrunner had fixed rear side glass – was that also the case for the Belvederes, or a consequence of Plymouth’s de-contenting to produce a budget muscle car? Would seem a bit surprising in an era when A/C was still pretty rare on intermediates.
The regular versions had roll-down quarter windows. Not sure, but that first gen of Road Runner may have had flipper windows like the Duster did. I do know that there was a strippo version of the 73-74 Charger with fixed quarter glass.
The 68 Roadrunner started as a Belvedere-level pillared coupe (rubber floor, plain bench, etc). It had an option to upgrade to Satellite-level trim (carpet, dressy bench, more exterior chrome).
The Roadrunner was so popular that a hardtop version was added during the 68 model year. RR hardtops had Satellite-level trim standard.
The 67 had the box sedan roof. The 68 was the first year that hardtop and pillared coupe shared a roof.
I’ll admit I’m biased in that I once owned a ’77 “Fury” sedan, but I have always thought that these 1971 Plymouth (and Dodge) intermediates were some of the best looking cars of their time. They were clean, proportionate, and didn’t need any “gingerbread” to look appealing; the fuselage look at it’s best. I haven’t seen a 2 door in years, but every time I see a sedan it still makes me turn my head. And yes, the faux Mercedes front end on the later cars brutally clashed with the rest of the car.
I loved these when they came out in the fall of ’70, a neighbor had a red one with white stripes on it with a 383. I didn’t like the red interior at all though. I wanted a ‘Cuda or a Challenger in ’74 when I was buying my first car, but I wasn’t 18 when they killed them and my mother wouldn’t go to the local dealer to try to grab up the last decent ‘Cuda around in time before someone grabbed it, so I ended up ordering a Roadrunner. It took 2 tries (The dealer totally screwed up the first order), but finally, in November(I ordered it the first time in May!) it showed up. I still like the styling of both the early and middle years, after ’74, they made it ugly, and I hated the last years of these cars, the 2 doors anyway. They made the 4 doors a long time without many changes and I’ve always wanted one, and another 71-74 Roadrunner. If I suddenly hit the lottery, I would fly to Vegas, go to my old car’s current owner’s house, and make an offer for my old car he couldn’t refuse, and drive it back. It looks better now than the day I got it, almost 40 years ago, and the stroker 440 in it now would have little more power than the near stock 360 had when I traded it in April ’77.
I “test drove” one of these back in 1982 when I was bored and done with classes and looking for mischef. I took it out on the interstate and floored it until the next exit three miles away. Underwhelming and it ate 1/4 of a tank (1 mpg?) while maybe topping 100 mph. I took it back and hopped happily into my folk’s 1976 XR-7 Cougar and drove away. It must have had a 318, but still…
The engines in these cars went from a weak 225 slant six to a more than decent 440, and there are a few Hemi cars too, so your “test drive” doesn’t have much relevance if you don’t know what engine it had. In ’73-’74, the 360 4 barrel powered cars were one of the quickest small block cars made, period. 15.20’s bone stock was typical, and that’s what my 360 Roadunner did at Milan Dragway in early ’75. After some mods, it was running 13.30’s at Irwindale, outside LA, just about exactly what my 2010 Challenger R/T does today.
Saw this at the show yesterday
Lovelovelove these cars! Second only to the 68-69 Charger for the best looking Mopar ever in my eyes. I love ’em so much I own a 71 Road Runner and a 71 Satellite sedan.
What I don’t understand is why the design is so polarizing, particularly the coupe? Its so very similar to, and actually shares its entire front subframe with, the E-Body Barracuda that has become such a celebrated classic. I think its a genuinely good-looking car and looks tough as a Road Runner and GTX..
+1, but I love them more than the 68/69 Charger. Top 3 US design for me. Got a pic of your Road Runner?
this is the last picture I took before I disassembled it for restoration. Its an ex-street racer Six Pack car that Im restoring to as-raced condition
Soooooo good looking. Here’s one I discovered on the streets of Melbourne a while back. I’m not near my books, but there is an issue of Collectible Auto featuring a great interview with John Herlitz on these with great concept drawings.
Dodge bumblebee tail stripes on a Plymouth!
“I really wanted a ’71 Charger, but all I could find was this thing called a Plymouth.”
(Apologies – the Plymouth name wasn’t used so much Down Under.)
I’ve seen that one, in Northcote, and uploaded to the CC Cohort page. It looks to be badged a Satellite Sebring.
Yep, that’s where I caught it.
the wheels and stripe ruin what would otherwise be a nice Satellite
Agreed with many of the posters here, these cars were some of the best looking vehicles to come out of Chrysler in the 70’s, even the sedans. 5mph bumpers ruined em in 74 (even though I thought the 75 Fury sedan was a good looking car), I’d still take one of these over the dowdy Malibu and ungainly bloated Torino. I’m a bit partial to the Dodge Coronet sedan version, as it had more proportionate wheel openings, vs. the flat-topped ones on the Satellite. But for coupes, that ’71 Satellite was as slick as any car could get in the early 70’s. And a 440 six-pack option…. every boy’s dream.
“There must have been complaints that the B-body two-doors were insufficiently distinguished from their four-door brethren.”
I don’t know that there were complaints. As noted in other posts, the pre-1970 B-body two- and four-doors weren’t really any less distinct from one another than most other two- and four-doors of the same model were. I think this was just an idea that Chrysler came up with and ran with. In this period, Chrysler seemed to be quite taken with building different body styles of the same basic design, or the same basic design sold by multiple brands, on different wheelbases or with different sheet metal, in circumstances where that wouldn’t normally be expected. With the notable exception of the Duster, the end results rarely seemed to be different enough or sell well enough to justify the extra expense that must have been involved.
Is this any different from a Road Runner/Challenger other than the side window opening? I can believe criticism for looking to similar, the rear 3/4 view only shows a lower roofline change.
All this talk of two door sedans is interesting for an Australian. Throughout my childhood, virtually all family cars were localised versions of US intermediates and compact – Falcons, Holdens (GM) and Valiants. Throw in some of the larger UK brands, which were similar in size to the US based cars and save for a few Euros that was the entire market until the Japanese got serious in the paste 1960’s.
All of these sedans had one thing in common – four doors. I cannot recall a volume selling two door sedan here, ever. There were coupes of the US based cars, but a sedan always had four doors. On my first ever trip to the USA (mid 1980’s) I saw a late 1960’s Galaxie two door that was not a coupe – and it took me a while to realise it was a sedan, with only two doors!?! Strange…..
From what I have read on CC it seems that two door sedans were regarded as a viable family car option for decades. I just wonder why the trend never really gained acceptance in Australia?
The VH Charger outsold the sedan when it was first released. Not really a 2-door sedan (that mantle was taken by the virtually non-existent ‘hardtop’) but nonetheless a small blip in the scheme of things.
I often wondered what would’ve happened if Chrysler had adapted that Charger styling to the rear of the Valiant. That would certainly have fixed the sedan’s ungainly-looking long droopy tail!
You’re probably already aware the Charger was a very, very late addition in the VH development. The original Charger proposals included a very Gremlinesque ‘hatch’ with a tailgate hinged on one side. The sedans and hardtops do look awkward, but the utes and wagons look great.
Giving the Chargers rear-end treatment to the sedans would only have led to accusations that Chrysler weren’t offering variety and their cars looked all the same. Ford had the same trouble with their Fairlanes in the early seventies, which is why the ZH series was made to look very Mercury when the XC series Falcon came out.
Which Valiant had an ungainly tail? I still own a VJ series Ranger sedan (245 Hemi, auto). It’s rear-end treatment is certainly droopy, but I wouldn’t say the rear end of these looks ungainly. That implies it looks as though there is something wrong with it. I much prefer it to the Kingswood and somewhat cleaner than the XB Falcon of the same era.
I’m not sure the ZH went so far as Mercury. It certainly shifted back in look to fullsize US Ford.
I got no prejudice against mopar, with a VG hardtop and AP5 Safari in my history, but the VH+ and CH sedans and coupes didn’t quite look as balanced in profile against the HQ or XA or even the comparative Satellite. No offence intended.
The ZH Fairlane drew heavily on early seventies Mercury. I have an article in a car magazine from that period that I picked up years ago at a swap meet. They admitted that was the new look of the ZH Fairlane.
I believe I found the models that Ford Australia designers used.
Play with the grille on a 1970 Mercury Meteor or Monterey and you have the front end of our 1976-79 Fairlane. Fiddle with the taillights on a 1970 Mercury Marauder and you have the rear-end of a ZH.
It wasn’t the first time we drew on US Fords for design cues. The big, jutting curves at the front of a 1970 Mercury Montego was the basis of the ZF and ZG Fairlanes.
Doctor, you make a convincing argument. My take has always been 1974 US Ford LTD for the ZH.
If you had more info like this from that mag, it would be great if you added it to the comments in the Landau article. Cheers.
Ashley, for many of us Aussies in the sixties and even into the seventies, a car was still very much a luxury item. Even a cheap car. You could only afford one. So the car you got had to be practical, easy for the oldies to get in and out when you took them for a Sunday drive (as often happened back then). That meant four doors.
The last time we really had a wide choice of body types was in the thirties, when most cars had a separate chassis. There were still several bodybuilders in each capital city who could knock up a special body in low-volume runs, for customers who wanted something other than the usual four door sedan. But check the production figures, and the four door sedan was usually the biggest seller. And different bodies were often built down to a price. I saw a thirties roadster body from a Vauxhall once, and the workmanship was rough as guts. Likewise in a thirties Standard roadster. Restorers do better woodwork now than the factory did back then.
After the war, many bodybuilders had turned to other pursuits, and small runs of different bodies were no longer economically viable. A40 tourers and Vauxhall Caleche roadsters were available, but I only remember seeing one Austin tourer on the road; the sedans were everywhere. Don’t think they ever sold the 2 door sedans here. Then ion the fifties you got the dominance of the Holden – unless you got the sedan, it was a ute or van. No other choice.
Those Vauxhall roadsters were bodied by Holdens yep rough as Ive seen some, but have a look at unrestored 50s and 60s cars anywhere other than the exterior is rough and unfinished, Ive done up several VW Holden Hillman etc as long as the outside was shiny people didnt care it was a car and they considered themselvesw lucky to have one.
I think the last large 2-door car would have been the Studebaker Lark, and most of the 2-doors would have been bought by the police. Some states kept buying coupes into the 1970s for some roles eg highway patrol.
I agree with Ashley & Pete’s ideas. There is also a degree of “why wouldn’t you want 4 doors?”, the price difference was ‘only’ $50 after all for a 1965 Ford. More to the point, how many buyers would not have bought a 4-door if the 2-door was not available?
Im probably in the minority here, but I really like the ’73/’74 Satellite and RoadRunner better than the loop bumpered ’71 and ’72. Probably the only car on the planet that looks better with the 5mph bumpers.
As per usual, the sedan variants are irrelevant to me except to plunder for parts to restore the coupes. I do have a SMALL soft spot for its Coronet twin though. My gramma had a ’71-ish Coronet 4 door up until I was like 12 or so. Metallic dark spinach green outside, black vinyl interior. Fratzog logo’d dogpans and a 318. I can still remember the smell of hot Mopar vinyl in a NJ summer! The car ran great right up until the mid 80s when the tinworm finally won out. To this day my dad laments that it was junked, as the thick wall 318 had barely 50K miles on it. Impractical to ship from NJ to TN though…
I agree, and have always preferred the 73-74 Satellite Sebring (and Charger) to the original 71-72 version.
OH, and speaking of Satellites….
$10K seems just a BIT high, $8K would be right on the money if I had that much cash to play with. That copper color looks fantastic on this car, but those late 90s dirt bag wheels would be in my trash pile faster than the ink would dry on the title transfer!
Wow, that car really does wear it’s bumpers well. Great color. Need’s to lose the spoiler. Nice.
To respond to the earlier comment about the over assisted Chrysler power steering.
I remember my Dad telling me what happened to him during his first week of ownership of his 55 New Yorker. , He was pulled over by a South Dakota State Trooper for weaving the New Yorker as he was driving down the road. The trooper thought my Dad had been drinking. Dad was just trying to steer his Chrysler
Dad said once he was used to it, the Chrysler Power steering was fine, but it had that little road feel
We had one of those in the color pictured in the ad (with the addition of a black vinyl top). My dad bought it used from a gentleman in St. Louis known as “Uncle Leonard,” famous for his appliance store and schlocky commercials. It may have had a slightly shady past as the trunk lock was filled in and painted over. I just remember that it had a 400 cu motor coupled with a torqueflite automatic. Powerful stuff, even with the 2.73 rearend gearing that hampered acceleration but made for a very fast car once you were rolling. My most vivid memory is running late to a Buddy Rich concert in 1977 and greatly exceeding the speed limit on the Great River Road near Alton IL. We come around a corner and “BAM” there’s the reflecting decal of a state patrol car. He never moved. All I can think is he was napping or otherwise occupied.
Why did Chrysler put the coupes on a shorter wheelbase and make a big deal about it? For a very simple reason – GM did it in 1968 with its intermediate line-up. Ford would follow suit with its intermediates for 1972.
These cars are the perfect example of the “me-too” thinking that ruled product planning and design at Chrysler and, to a lesser extent, Ford, by the early 1970s.
GM did it, lots of people bought it, so that settled it. Someone once quipped that, by the early 1970s, GM product planners were earning every penny, because they were making product plans not only for GM, but for the rest of the industry, too.
Chrysler took the additional step and made the coupes look different from the sedans. GM’s 1968 intermediate two-doors and four-doors rode on different wheelbases, but it was apparent that they all shared the same basic sheet metal, regardless of how many doors they sported.
Chrysler, unfortunately, had to spread the cost of that unique sheet metal over a much smaller production base, which hurt the corporation when it had to spend more money to meet federal emissions and safety standards.
The real problem with these cars, though, is that they were designed for a vanishing market. Chrysler gave them sleek sheet metal that looked like it was designed with NASCAR in mind, and emphasized the muscle car versions. The only problem was that GM had changed the game by rolling out the 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix and 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. To add insult to injury, GM put them on the longer SEDAN wheelbase to give them unique proportions!
The Chrysler intermediates were out of style from the moment they were introduced, and the most prominent models were aimed at a dying market. By the early 1970s, high insurance premiums had killed the market for muscle cars. The first wave of baby boomers were getting married and having children. They didn’t want Hemi-powered Road Runners. They wanted Monte Carlos or Grand Prixes or Cutlass Supremes…or even Torino Squires.
It’s fun to look at these cars today, and I love to see well-preserved ones. But, as a car-crazy kid in the 1970s, I remember thinking that these cars were okay, but mainly driven by aging Mopar enthusiasts. They weren’t cars that I fervently prayed my parents would choose for our next car. My grandmother’s 50-something first cousin had a burnt-orange metallic 1973 Plymouth Satellite Sebring with the “Sundance” interior. I remember thinking that it looked dowdy and boring, particularly next to a Colonnade Monte Carlo, Cutlass Supreme or Grand Prix. Even the Ford Torino was a more convincing option, as the up-market versions did a good imitation of an LTD.
You are right about how unappealing the sedans were. My Mopar flame was starting to burn bright by 1974 and I tried to convince my mother to go look at a Satellite or a Coronet when she was looking for a sedan to replace her 72 Cutlass Supreme. I was successful at getting her to drive into the lot of the local ChryPly dealer. Then she got one look at the row of Satellite sedans and would not even stop the car. Out we went. She almost bought a 74 Gran Torino sedan but that deal fell through and led to a Luxury LeMans.
Some saw the potential of wondering what if Chrysler had deeper pockets and go to the idea of creating the cars that we known as “phantom cars” like this Phantom 1971 Superbird and this Phantom 1971 Charger Daytona.
A Like for the Lumina / Monte Carlo… Kind alike Mopar appeared in the first “Shaft” movie…
This ad brings back many fond (and some not so fond) memories of a 74 Satellite that I inherited from my grandfather years ago. I can’t say for certain why I loved it so much, but despite being rather cumbersome and having seatbelts that only three people in this world could work, I often regret getting rid of it. It was tan, with a matching vinyl top, two doors, and the ever popular workhorse 318 w/ 3-speed torqueflight. Tempermental though it was, I could usually coax it to take me wherever I needed to go. It even managed to survive a cross country trip between SC and CA (minus one wheel bearing and spindle; who knew you were supposed to regrease those things?), towing another car on the way back at the age of 26. It seemed like nobody liked the car besides me. It wasn’t that great on gas (12 mpg around town right before we parted ways), had a huge rear blind spot, and the A/C was reluctant to be coaxed back into service after sitting for so many years. Of course the safety belt interlock was fun to torture passengers with from time to time, and the rear crank half-windows were neat novelties. Long story short, I still regret getting rid of it. Unfortunately someone thought it would make a great hood ornament for their early 90s Camry. Damage wasn’t extensive, but I ended up selling it to a local repair shop owner for $100. Worst decision I have ever made, and believe me I’ve made plenty of bad ones before…
(long time lurker, first time poster so bear with me with regards to my post wandering a bit)
I’m very late to the party, perhaps wisely. I never ‘got’ these cars, nor the whole appeal of the fuselage styling syndrome. To me and my basic self, the Scamp was a superior design, even the Duster somewhat. Better proportioned.
But the 2 door Granada, Cutlass sedan, and later Fairmont seemed to be some of the most cohesive designs back then….not this.
Man, I tell you, that loop bumper design is genius. Just flat out genius. I can understand why it is polarizing, but there’s just a certain understated menace that it has that I still can’t quite put my finger on it. Plus, the idea of it is genius from a safety standpoint. You’d have to think that it would be safer in a frontal collision…..I have no stats to back that up, but the placebo effect at least works wonders for me here.
The loop bumper does nothing for safety, nor do any bumpers really (they protect the chassis from low speed bumps and scrapes, not so much the occupants) but I agree otherwise. Having the bulk of the front end design encased in a reenforced chrome plated uber grille assembly does a hell of a lot better job at keeping a typically vulnerable portion of the car looking fresh than typical designs for the era(I’m looking at you Mercury Montego/Cyclone. I’ve seen some rough B bodies searching old car classifieds, but the front ends of 71s almost always look fresh, even with the bodies behind it faded, rusted and battered. 73-74s look worse for wear on average, and those were supposedly 5mph compliant.
I think the shape adds to the menace. I personally think this is the only loop bumper any automaker did that didn’t make the car look like a front heavy ant eater, 71-74 Chargers don’t come off nearly as well, and the 1970 Charger’s biggest asset is that fantastic 68 body to distract from that questionable facelift.
The green 1970 Satellite is exactly my first car. Same color, hubcaps and hardtop. Came into the family in early 1976. Purchase price of $1200us. It had a 318 and 904 automatic. Possibly one of the best cars I’ve ever had. Other than the absolute lack of road feel thru the steering it was absolutely great. Put a set of $50 ET uni-lug mags with some BFGs on it almost immediately. I almost waxed the paint off of it..
Oh and it didn’t run in cold weather and had to jam the choke open with a pencil going over the Rockies in the winter. Ok it wasn’t perfect.
I seem to stand alone here in liking this era B-body sedans. The early ones I like best. The 1974 sprouted a heavier Government-mandated bumper, and later, Chrysler transformed it into the “Small” Fury (and Monaco) by making it BIGGER, all of the added length in front overhang which made the greenhouse look disproportionately small. I do confess to having owned one from 1978, its last year, more for the 440 engine than the newer, bigger size.
It’s been said before that it’s not particularly difficult to understand what Chrysler was doing with the completely different intermediate sheetmetal for the coupe in 1971. In effect, they were trying to pull a Chevrolet/Pontiac intermediate personal luxury car on the cheap. It’s no different if Chevy and Pontiac had ditched their intermediate Chevelle and Tempest coupes when they came out with the 1969 Grand Prix and 1970 Monte Carlo.
So, Chrysler tried to spoof the mid-size PLC class with the 1971 Sebring Plus and Charger SE models. The irony is if they had simply kept the traditional intermediate line-up and added a unique PLC in ’71, they might have gotten the stunning success of the 1975 Cordoba five years earlier. But Chrysler was still in musclecar mode (the groundwork for the 1971 coupes would begin around 1969) and back then, they didn’t really grasp how big brougham would become in the seventies.
These cars look so much better when you add an accessory (or two)