(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) Hoover/Foster (Oakland, California): 1969 Pontiac Bonneville 428 Convertible

IMG_4416The truth of the matter is that we can’t lead forever. As much as we crave the stability and consistency in life, time and competition makes sure that we never become stale. Pontiac found itself the leader of a new type of youthful, vibrant, and enthusiastic market of automobiles in the early 1960’s, far away from the gussied up Chevrolet with a Straight 8 that it was at the beginning of the 1950’s.

By the end of the 1960’s, success had started to spoil the sweetest of milk on the market. While all of Pontiac’s line-up in 1964 presented a sporting rakishness, just a mere 5 years later, like a number of American Brands, the Tin Indian tried to field itself in categories it was none too well adjusted to fit into.
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(Found In) Uptown (Oakland, California): 1988 Mercury Sable GS 4 Door Sedan

IMG_3844We’ve covered how much of a revelation the Ford Taurus was to new car buyers when it debuted 32 years ago in the Fall of 1985. But what is to be made of its sister ship, the too new for now Mercury Sable? With half skirted wheels, a full light bar substituting for grille work and a “floating” roof above “wrap around” glass, the Sable gave visual incentive to move into tomorrow today with many a styling feature that once was the reign of Science Fiction.

But was there much substance underneath the fantasy found in fancy Ford dealerships? What *more* did you get over the already trend setting Taurus?

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(Found In) Fairview Park (Oakland, California): 1985 Ford Mustang LX Convertible

IMG_2633Don’t trust the adage that it’s not over until the Fat Lady sings. At least don’t trust her management. So goes the “disappearance” of the great American Convertible due to rollover safety regulations at the end of the 1970’s. Cadillac, and General Motors in particular, made a healthy profit touting their full sized convertibles as the final new versions of open-air motoring in 1975 and 1976. The government ended up having the last laugh.

Chrysler, looking for each niche to gussy up their new K-Car variants, returned to the convertible market first with their LeBaron. Ford, still offering carefree Pony motoring, in the form of their Mustang, felt a patriotic duty to chop of the top of their newest sports machine for the everyday American.

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

IMG_1956
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) 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: Town Pride – Oakland 100 years since becoming “Detroit of The West”

IMG_9202“Young blood, you should get you a Old Skool. Now that’s a true investment that’ll always increase in value” this old Black man said to me as he tried to sell me his 1971 Cutlass Supreme he’d just dumped $18,000 worth of work into. I was on my way to firm up details for a DJ gig that required me to walk through the monthly fair weather gathering between 21st and West Grand once anchored by the Telegraph Giant Burger location and the dueling Gas Stations on either side of Telegraph Avenue.

When I returned to the East Bay in 2011, it was a haven of the Oakland that had been rather key in bringing my family in their journey to this pocket of the West Coast. In the early 20th Century, Oakland more or less was The Detroit of The West.

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(Found In) Elmwood (Oakland, California): 1953 Oldsmobile Ninety – Eight Holiday Hardtop Coupe

IMG_9731Although still tied to the Futuramic Ninety Eights that pushed Oldsmobile into the stratosphere of the 1950’s a few years too early, the once again warmed over line topping Rocket Oldsmobiles had plenty of new before they were more fully redesigned for 1954.

Like a sneak preview of the potential return to the showroom in the years to follow, enough goodies went above and below the skin for 1953 the keep viewers glued to the screen for the latest flight into the Pre-Interstate highway space. Here’s why folks continued to make dates with rocket powered Oldsmobiles in 1953.

 

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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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