(Found In) Civic Center (San Francisco, California): 1977 Toyota Corona Station Wagon

IMG_2305In a number of ways Toyota was the most “American” of Japanese manufacturers. Once on their feet in the U.S. market in the early 70’s, they fielded a line up not dissimilar, albeit smaller and far more efficient, than Detroit rivals.

Mainstream models came in sizes small (Corolla), medium (Corona) and large (Crown/Cressida). There was a “pony” car (Celica) to boot. That’s no different than Ford in the 1960’s minus a halo coupe once you think about it.We’ve made friends with the 3rd Generation car. Today we see what the 5th generation had to offer when you opted for the wagon version.

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Dynamic Divergence: My Mother (And) The Car

photo-1-3Social Networking can bring about some really awkward interactions with parents if they are young enough and/or technologically savvy. In my case, they center around my mother and her opinions on some of the curbside classics I find and post to Facebook from time to time.

Due to her direct experience as a fashion conscious (and cautious) teenager in the mid 1970s, a number of classic cars can elicit some pretty strong memories. “Oh god! That is the same Comet grandma tried to buy for me my junior year” was her robust response to this Split Pea Green Comet I found in the El Cerrito hills.

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Dynamic Divergence: Back To School Essentials – 6 Rides That Where The Lead Of The Carpool

ff865f9002544b89d4a03df523a03cd5-stationwagon-seat-beltsWe’ve seen our nation wide open on the highways this summer. Now it’s time for us to head back to the realities of gaining more knowledge. It’s back to school season, and every big box parking lot is filled with the spoils of breeding the next generation of thinkers and doers…and spoiled brats and bullies too.

We’ve typically gone back to school in the back seats of nearly 80 years of family haulers as schools became anchors of suburban development, long out of the walking distance of the industrial revolution, yet closer in than one room school houses of America’s rural frontier myths. In terms of utility, intelligence and style, what were some of the premiere pods of the Carpool over the years?

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(Found In) Bushrod Park (Oakland, California): 1972 Ford LTD Hardtop Coupe

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In the vehicles that are the zeitgeist of the time, the various Ford LTDs are vastly underrated as symbols for the time. Starting as yet another push by Ford upmarket, it calling into question the reason behind the Mercury brand yet again in 1965.

By the early 70’s it was a reputable status symbol for those that wanted style, comfort, and isolation along with size without the expense of traditional posh offerings. As luxury efforts moved down market, there was little reason to upgrade beyond the whisper silent LTD.

1972 proved to be a bridge year. The traits and ethos of what had been traditional spectrum offerings of Full Sized cars was rapidly coming to a close. In a number of ways, this was the swan song season to the variety once well known, and offered most resplendently at the top of the Ford line.

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(Found In) Outer Richmond (San Francisco, California): 1972 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser Station Wagon

IMG_1435The Vista Cruiser is an interesting detour in the concept of the family hauler. General Motors always struggled a wee bit with the concept of the station wagon (and the minivan and SUV crazes that followed) compared to Ford and Chrysler.

While Ford had no problem not only selling plenty of Country Sedans and Country Squires, even their Ford wagons had a snob appeal that belied them sharing floor space with the most basic of Henry’s vehicular grandchildren.

GM tried low priced to luxury, 4 door hardtop and sporty station wagons with names like Fiesta and Nomad. Although those wagons have become collectors items in the current, they weren’t exactly prized in the past. Buick and Oldsmobile, in particular, passed the baton from their Full Sized wagons for a good half decade, relying on scenic-cruising bus inspired family haulers based on their intermediate platforms for that certain level of panache for suburban driveways. We celebrate an icon in the sunset of its years as the dog days of summer settle in.

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(Found In) Northgate (Oakland, California): 1972 Buick LeSabre Hardtop Coupe

IMG_1155When did Buick become a car for the elderly? It’s really hard to say. For most of the early post-war era, Buick more or less espoused the belief in more subtle, less ostentatious luxury, in comparison to GM cousin brand Cadillac. During that same period, there were extensions downward to price categories just above Chevrolet, and attempts at re-cementing their reputation as Banker’s Hot Rods as well.

Another belief was offering a whole lotta car for a minimum of a premium. As the Special nameplate drifted out of sight to re-appear as a luxury compact in the fall of 1960, the least dear Buick for your pocketbook became the LeSabre. Perhaps being a perennial customer favorite with people starting in 1959 lead to something of a reputation.

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Dynamic Divergence: Malaise Memories

IMG_9549There’s the very pertinent reality that, in terms of car enthusiasm there’s a huge bias towards cars of the immediate Post-War. In the glow of the found memories of mid-century economic prosperity, the reverence for cars with fins and full metal jackets lined inside and out still looms heavily over the shadow of car enthusiasm.

The cars that command average American Salaries if not more at auctions have years of birth of at least 45 years old, are considered at their finest bloom once they’ve hit the silver fox age of 50, and become really intensive things to insure and keep in good health once they hit 60 and beyond. Hiding in the shadows are the cars under 45 years old to those that are being ditched as students graduate college, leaving behind family hand-me-downs and first rides from the era of The X-Files and Moesha. Malaise Machines,” they’re called.

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(Found In) Park Merced (San Francisco, California): 1972 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight Coupe

IMG_9002The Oldsmobile Ninety Eight once sat in a rarefied holy trinity at the temple of General Motors opulence. The eldest and the most modest of the trio between the most Senior Buick, the now Electra 225, and the myriad of Cadillac DeVilles and Fleetwoods, the Ninety Eight negotiated for the least of your finances for the most security and the most sensible set of luxury trappings for your dollar.

Often great enough for many a generation of buyers who felt like they had “made it” the Ninety Eight was ready, willing and able to celebrate Oldsmobile’s 75th year of manufacturing automobiles with a even more goodies for customers on deck after a full redesign for 1971.

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(Found In) Mission District (San Francisco, California): 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass “S” Hardtop Coupe

IMG_8691As Oldsmobile rose to their zenith in the 1970’s, it started to do so by playing musicial chairs with the various marketing images that made for being the toast of the town image that it had fostered since the 1950’s. The Olds-multiplicity of the brand had been a constant mix of practicality, performance and posh since the end of World War II. For the Elegant Ninety Eights there were the Superlative Super 88’s. For the practical F-85 there was the swashbuckling Cutlass. For the sword of intermediates, a crowned princess Supreme started an ascent to the top of the charts like Diana, Mary and Florence starting in 1966.

The “Little Limousine” sparkled the most when it focused on a formal roof’d coupe. Where did that leave it’s athletic, buxom and liberated sister ship the Cutlass S? In a curious place as Oldsmobile never wanted to commit to one specific identity.

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(Found In) Mission District (San Francisco, California): 1972 Toyota Crown Mark II Station Wagon

IMG_8659Out of the Japanese brands that landed in the American Market during the 1950’s and 1960’s, Toyota learned the quickest how to adapt to the foreign to them trends that set the Jones’s hearts alight. One trend realized was the splintering of the American Market, as the generation of Boomers headed to dealerships, they weren’t happy with one-size fits all motoring in escalating finery that had dominated the automotive landscape from The Great Depression through the Fabulous Fifties.

Indeed, after landing a hit with the Corona during the 2nd half of the 1960’s, Toyota went above and below, bringing the baby bear Corolla and the Papa Bear Crown stateside. For those moving immediately out of their Coronas could find themselves in the Mama Bear Corona Mark II.

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