(Found In) Golden Gate (Oakland, California): 1961 Dodge Dart Seneca 2 Door Sedan

170D2987-5DBA-4EF4-88DA-A499E215FDCAStrange times call for strange subjects, correct? Nothing gets more absurd and always great for examination when it comes to automobiles than the products Chrysler Corporation produced between 1960 and 1962.

None of them can be considered, even in the context of the later googie-interstellar design influences throughout product design, ‘normal.’ They all beamed down from outer space and asked to be taken to our leaders. Strangest of all might be the collective 1961 line. The friendliest face, with the most devastating mission, would be the line of 1961 Darts. Granted the Dart line up of 1960 had already did plenty of damage to the order established on the planet Mopar.
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(Found In) Berkeley Flats (Berkeley, California): 1963 Plymouth Fury Convertible

20464969_10154770123392201_1109620352_oIt’s a miracle Chrysler Corporation survived to see 1965. From the quality disasters of The Forward Look the corporation plunged headfirst into a series of questionable styling ideas that left even loyalists debating whether they were driving the next greatest style sensation or a joke.

By 1963, the Mopar Madness of the last 2 seasons started to fade like a fever dream. Although none of the cars were all-new, they sure looked the part. It was most important at the bottom of the totem pole at Plymouth. The mighty rock had fallen far from its traditional 3rd place in sales last held in 1960. That total only held weight once you factored in Valiant sales. To the bread and butter basic big Plymouth, it found itself emerging from the Chevrolet market missile crisis of ’62 in a brand new suit.

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(Found In) Maxwell Park (Oakland, California): 1966 Chrysler 300 Convertible Coupe

IMG_8596By 1966, the performance brigade of big bruisers were rapidly losing ground to intermediate muscle machines and pony cars. Oldsmobile would send the Starfire into orbit one last time. The Impala SS started its rapid descent from its peak.

The Galaxie XL gained 7 Litres of might to fight for space as it was crowded out by the LTD, Thunderbird and Mustang over in Dearborn.
How was it for the grandfather of them all, the 300 Letter Cars?

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(Found In) McClymonds (Oakland, California): 1972 Plymouth Satellite Sebring 2 Door Hardtop Coupe

IMG_8449Chrysler Corporation products of the early 1970’s embraced more fully than any other brand of car the intergalactic possibilities and fantasies of Science Fiction in the earthbound chariots they offered to consumers. Going from rectilinear boxes of the 1960’s, Chrysler flooded every sight line with bulbous curves with their new Fuselage look for everything above the Valiant and Dart.

First filling the largest shadows with the C-Body full sized line, the 1971 re-skin of the intermediate B-bodies took on a futuristic shape that in all irony, would soon lose market share to a heap of neo-classical tastes.

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(Found In) Santa Fe (Oakland, California): 1964 Dodge Dart GT Convertible

IMG_7707Happy Spring! Here we find ourselves at Spring Equinox of 2017. What better way to celebrate the brightening longer days at this seasonal balance point than a shiny red super stock Dodge? Today’s example is a little bit flashier than the one that The Little Old Lady From Pasadena bought however.

This Dart Convertible brought a sparkle to the compact field for its sophomore season with a bit more muscle under the metal to keep up with more potent players from different brands. What other refinements were added more to the smallest Dodge for ’64?

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(Found In) Uptown (Oakland, California): 1969 Dodge Dart Custom 4 Door Sedan

img_5655Before the automotive market fully fragmented due to offerings to fit every type of vehicle lifestyle, the vast majority of automotive sales went to the 4 door sedan. Each American brand offered many flavors of door opening convenience through their line ups. Most often, each one was offered in bargain basement, deluxe and sometimes luxury trim by the mid 1960’s.

Dodge was no different in offering different flavors of its three different sedan sizes. The smallest you could get was the ever popular Valiant based A-body Dart before you stepped up to larger Coronet, Polara & Monaco offerings. The Dart’s aim scored success as a reasonable pair of sensible shoes, but how exactly?

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(Found In) Lone Mountain (San Francisco): 1960 Plymouth Fury Convertible

img_4850We’ve mused before about the 1960 Plymouth, and the future it found itself in not being as kind as its forebearers had promised it in the Fall of ’56.  Plymouth had a hard time moving on from its miserly image in general, with Dodge prominently powerful as a more premium player in the makings of Mopar at the turn of the decade.

Nevertheless, Plymouth was to offer a glamorous convertible, as expected by all of the Low-Priced Three as a traditional halo model. 1960 would be no different for Plymouth, as they rivaled Chevrolet for the most flamboyant offering for 1960 for the smallest of open top budgets.

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(Found In) South Berkeley (Berkeley, California): 1961 Plymouth Fury Four Door Hardtop Sedan

image-46There’s perhaps no bigger surprise underdog that early 1960’s full sized Plymouths. Due to a number of factors, especially from 1960 through 1962, the Big Bargain Basement Mopars found themselves not only at odds with their traditional market segment. They found displeasure among Mopar loyalists as well.

While the 1960 and 1962 versions get their fair share of flack, most of the mockery goes to the rather galactic looking 1961 versions of Savoy, Belvedere and Fury. How did this Extra-Terrestrial get let out of Area 51 to convince Highland Park executives that it was just the Science Fiction fantasy that America wanted during the Camelot years? It’s a peculiar question to ask.

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(Found In) The Tenderloin (San Francisco, California): 1950 Imperial Deluxe Four Door Sedan

image (25).jpegWe’ve spoken earlier about the Imperial Image problem. From the introduction of the brand in 1926 through 1954, it was positioned as the most premium Chrysler. That problematic push towards the glass ceiling of luxury brands always saddled Imperials with the upper middle class respectability of the Chrysler brand. The challenge, alongside sharing a heavy commonality with Chrysler cars, was being accepted as a legit full luxury competitor to Cadillac, Lincoln and Packard.

Compared to early depression era Imperials, the last that feathered flamboyance on buyers, the first Post-War Imperials doubled down on sturdy, stodgy and secure engineering and styling. The Post-War do-it-yourself motto shifted the palate of the most premium Chryslers from limousines towards a push at self-actualized luxury that would lead to Imperial becoming a separate marque by mid-decade.

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(Found In) Hoover-Foster (Oakland,California): 1982 Imperial FS (Frank Sinatra) Edition

image.jpegCelebrity endorsements of products weren’t anything new when morning re-dawn’d in ‘Murica in 1981. However, there was heightened trust put in old white dude celebrities where, perhaps, there shouldn’t have been. We had former actor Ronald Reagan as President that year. Reagan beguiled us with tales (perhaps too familiar 35 years into the future) about using traditional, conservative family values to return America. It was bought by the majority of voters still slumbering in a long term malaise that had dominated most of the 1970’s.

We also had Frank Sinatra providing a little blue light special to a gussied up Cordoba. Using the cachet that a regal name had, Lee Iacocca hoped for a lil’ Black Magic and inspiration to distract potential customers from Mopar’s Bankruptcy woes.

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