(Found In) Temescal (Oakland, California): 1962 Chevrolet Corvair 700 Sedan

IMG_2311It’s forgotten quite often that the original plan for the Chevrolet Corvair was to be an economical rival to the proliferation of modest European Sedans that found support on the shores of the United States throughout the 2nd half of the 1950’s. Not only was the Volkswagen Beetle a target. Sedans from Renault, Fiat and Volvo alongside more mundane rivals from the domestic market were part of The Corvair’s world domination plans.

Of course, the vast majority of Americans wanted their basic transportation, well, basic. Where did that leave the Corvair Sedans in the wake of the runaway niche success of the Corvair Coupes and new for ’62 Convertibles?

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Dynamic Divergence: Seeing The U.S.A. Through Chevrolet

IMG_1057The Wonder Years is now on Netflix. So of course, when left to my own devices with a Netflix account (I don’t have one personally) of course I’m going to indulge in repetition of comforts. Front and Center, 3 episodes in, is the Arnold family’s 1963 Chevrolet Impala Sport Sedan, Green with a White top, as they swoop back silently, in middle class white grief, back from Winne Cooper’s brother’s funeral.

It reminded me of a quote I’m paraphrasing about 1960’s Middle Class station that Oprah made once. The determining entrance point for all middle class families that had “arrived” in some sense was purchasing a Chevrolet Impala. Once upon a time, the true marker of comfort meant the largest, most luxurious Chevrolet. Between 1960 and 1965 that number went from just under half a million to more than a Million. Year after year, a sextet of tail lamps meant equal if not more than a six figure salary does today.

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(Found In) Outer Richmond (San Francisco, California): 1965 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa Convertible

IMG_0622It’s weird to be David when your dad is Goliath. Compounding the dilemma is there’s always a series of giant killers out to strike down that object that towers over them. Here’s where we find the Chevrolet Corvair for its 6th Season, first comprehensive re-design standing in full embrace of its most appropriate mission statement.

Gone were the pretenses of being an economy machine. Gone with the wind was any pretense to really run with the pack of other jocks. The Corvair was General Motors first home grown international game player. Too bad dad was withholding of any true affection.

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(Found In) San Gabriel Triangle (Albany, California): 1956 Chevrolet Bel-Air Sport Coupe

IMG_8460One thing that General Motors mastered to gain the meat of the US market share was planned obsolescence. GM tricked buyers better than any other corporate behemoth on the wonders of superficial change to convince them that the purchase they just made suddenly wasn’t Spring Fresh.

Underneath all of the dazzle, the majority of what American cars were stayed the same: Rear Wheel Drive, Drum Brakes, Solid Rear Axles and Body On Frame Construction had been mainstays under swoopy bodywork since the great depression.
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(Found In) Islais Creek (San Francisco, California): 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible Coupe

img_2170While once upon a time rival the Ford Thunderbird always seemed ready to switch up it’s identity to keep up with the party, the Chevrolet Corvette stayed very close to its roots. Nearly 65 years later the Corvette remains the longest running mass produced sports car on offer from the good old United States of America.

It wasn’t without many a harrowing challenge, questions about its credibility as such, and many many death watches. How did it stack up during it’s sophomore season of its 3rd generation?

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(Found In) Lone Mountain (San Francisco, California): 1951 Chevrolet Styleline Deluxe Bel-Air 2 Door Hardtop Coupe

img_4218Although Chevrolet always languished at the bottom of the traditional General Motors hierarchy, often it portrayed itself as an aspirational Cadillac for the everyperson. While Ford’s most often left it to middle child Mercury to dress up in Mama Bear Lincoln Luxury guise, Chevrolet quite often did drag in the duds more associated with the higher echelons of the country’s biggest manufacturer.

The most fashionable firecracker offered by Chevrolet was the first in the low-priced field 2 Door “Hardtop Convertible” mimicking the 1949 Coupe DeVille (and Roadmaster Riviera and Ninety Eight Holiday Coupes) named, in an oh-so-vacation minded frame of mind as the Bel-Air for 1950. How did it do in its sophomore season?

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(Found In) Noe Valley (San Francisco, California): 1957 Chevrolet Two-Ten Townsman 4 Door Station Wagon

image (16)Chevrolet may have dominated quite regularly when it came to sales for the majority of the immediate post war. One area the Chevrolet perpetually found themselves behind however, was in Wagon sales. Between advances and ability to exploit snob appeal, real wood or not, Ford sold more Ranch Wagons, Country Sedans and Squires to Chevrolets offerings quite regularly.

Behind slightly behind the curve at times with fresh offerings didn’t often help matters either.
Although much loved in retrospect, the 1957 Chevrolet line at the time rapidly ended up being old hat against The New Kind of 1957 Ford and The Star of The Forward Look ’57 Plymouth.

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(Found In) The Tenderloin (San Francisco, California): 1964 Chevrolet Chevy II Nova 400 Station Wagon

image (6) One must remember the scope and power of General Motors in the early 1960’s. When the Corvair didn’t conquer all, becoming the #2 sales holder among all domestic compact cars, Chevrolet and General Motors were not satisfied enough with quarter million rear-engined wonders that buyers chose.

Crash development to add an additional compact to the Chevrolet line started immediately. This brought no less that 5 miniature motoring experiences to the General Motors fold by 1962. What made the Chevy II so unique among all of those offerings?
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(Found In) Clawson (Oakland, California): 1971 Chevrolet Impala Convertible

image (28) The sporting pretense of the Full Sized Chevrolet had been on the wane for more than half a decade. Nevertheless, with market dominance unlike any other manufacturer, General Motors still saw it worthy to offer top down motoring to the masses in massive sizes when it re-designed its Full Sized Automobiles for the 1971 model year.

The most practical self-placement in a large fun in the sun machine was of course found in Chevrolet dealerships. in its 7th season in the Silver Spot among Chevrolet Full-sizers, the re-visioned ’71 Impala Convertible offered many tailoring options from later day Super Sport to Junior DeVille with the appropriate selection of option boxes.

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(Found In) Portola (San Franciso, California) : 1960 Chevrolet Impala Convertible Coupe

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It might be amazing to most minds that this flaming red finned flamingo of late 50’s meets the turn-of-the-decade imagination was considered more conservative than what came before. With some flattening of curves and angles, the Space, Spirit and Splendor of the 1960 full sized Chervolets prepped them for a decade of more mature motoring and discretionary buyer tastes.

The rationality mixed with moxie would propel the Impala towards becoming one of the keystone cars of the 1960’s. Like the missile trim on the sides, there was nowhere to go but forward for the priciest non-sports Chevrolet.
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