Vintage Snapshots: American Cars In The Netherlands, 1960s and 1970s.


CC reader magnus sent me a few snapshots of American (and one Franco-American) cars taken in Holland. As always, the contrast is what makes them so compelling; this fine Corvette is snuggled up next to an East-German 2-stroke Wartburg 323.

I should point out again that American cars had a lot of appeal and prestige value in certain European countries, The Netherlands being one of them. These are countries that commonly had little or no domestic auto industry, and thus chauvinism was not a factor. In fact, it was probably more a case of reverse-chauvinism (if that’s a thing), as in a statement to countries like Germany, Italy and France that no, we are not impressed.

The situation was a bit different in the ’50s and early ’60s, when big American cars were also a viable alternative for those looking for a roomy car, like these Chevys. And note that both of them are six cylinder versions, as they were of course cheaper as well as typically had lower taxes, often based on displacement. Given the lack of freeways at the time and the generally low performance of most cars, these sixes were seen to be quite adequately powered.

Like so many things, that changed in the late ’60s, and performance-oriented American cars became a hot item with a somewhat different crowd than those buying six cylinder sedans in the ’50s. This all pretty much started with the Mustang, which made a big impact on Europe, and led to a huge transformation towards sporty coupes and such of all kinds. Like in the US, four door sedans fell very much out of favor.

Here’s a Mustang (with almost obligatory driving lights) with a Chevelle Malibu.

At first my eyes only saw the Facel Vega HK 500 parked on this narrow street. But then I realized that it’s parked behind a Falcon sedan. I can’t make out what’s behind the F-V, but the sheer size of it strongly suggests another American.