(Found In) Lone Mountain (San Francisco, California): 1959 Mercury Monterey 2 Door Hardtop Coupe

photo-2The superstitions around “Mercury Retrograde” are perceived as explanations for communication and travel gone awry. Maybe that was the first mistake Ford made; naming their middle brand Mercury in the first place. For every two steps forward the brand made, it seemingly made two steps back.

They always ended up in the same place: being a Fancy Ford. Before it gave up the ghost and entered another period of review, the 1959 Mercury models tried to right any wrongs that prevented its individualized success on the medium car market.
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(Found In) Lone Mountain (San Francisco, California): 1954 Hudson Hornet Sedan

image After creating such a sensation on the Automotive market in 1948, The “Step Down” Hudsons found themselves left behind because of their extremely distinctive stance. The envelope Uni-Body that gave the rugged solidarity and premium prestige in the immediate post war proved a limited engineering dead end in the rapidly changing automotive market of the 1950’s.

More Film Noir than Technicolor, Hudson tried valiantly to freshen up and trim the relationship to fastback fancies of the 1940’s. Interestingly, the modernization worked to some degree better on other bodystyles, yet betrayed the aging roots on other models. For the final year of truly unique Hudson models, it proved many a fumbled opportunity.
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(Found In) Northbrae (Berkeley, California) : 1954 Buick Century Series 60 Riviera Hardtop Coupe

24491960910_e9746b5df3_kOnce Buick engineered their Nailhead V8, they weren’t happy with letting their competitors in-house and beyond have the performance crown. Buicks were once known as Banker’s Hot Rods. Returning for 1954 was the quicksilver Century, ready to snatch trophies from in house cousin the Oldsmobile 88, among others.

Along with accessible performance came a new beefier body, and a desire to capture even more sales. On the backs of the B-Body Special and Century, Buick wanted more than the delinquents in suits, it wanted to rob the whole medium price sales bank. In a number of ways they did.
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(Found In) Lone Mountain (San Francisco): 1958 Dodge Royal Lancer D-500 2 Door Hardtop Coupe

12666505_10153279337232201_596618935_nThe fabulous fin-tailed Forward Look rocked the industry in 1957. Beyond the styling and the engineering, Mopar’s mainstream brands all fielded muscle coupes and convertibles as halo highway eaters. The most demonic Dodge was the least known, however.

Not casting a singular performance model, the Royal Lancer decidedly played double duty, offering a multi-layered approach to the burgeoning medium priced luxury field. Perhaps the only Dodge tactic not encroaching fully on DeSoto territory, it’s among the rarest of a rare breed of bird.
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(Found On) Solano Avenue (Albany, California) : 1958 Chevrolet Biscayne 4 Door Sedan

12584137_10153265271507201_331493942_nAlthough recognized as an icon today, the 1957 line of Chevrolet standard sized cars got left in the popularity and newness dust by both rivals Ford and Plymouth. The remarkably upright and befinned Bel-Airs and below saw themselves trying to peddle modest virtues and technological updates compared to time-traveling Plymouths and Fancier Fords.

Of course, this didn’t sit well with USA-1, as they found themselves in the #2 spot by the end of the year, nor did it make General Motors feel comfortable about any upsurge with rivals. What to do? Bulk up your bargain offering for the next season. American consumers tend to associate value with bulk, what possibly could go wrong?

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(Found In) Fair Oaks (San Mateo County, California): 1959 Edsel Corsair 4 Door Sedan

24018417839_021f4fb5a0_kSo much of the narrative attention given to the Edsel brand is given to the first year cars. With high expectations and projections of greatness, the ultimate failure to meet the mark sours the story of the whole brand.

It decidedly makes the 1959 versions a case of “why bother?” Indeed, the Edsel was a Ford in a gaudier suit when Ford could ill afford the expense of tailoring a new set of clothes for an old body. One would also have to look at the case of saving face and not throwing in the towel as well. The 1959 Edsel in Ranger and Corsair guise were the inevitable placeholders before the eventual march off into oblivion.

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(Found In) The Bayview (San Francisco, California): 1958 Pontiac Star Chief Catalina 2 Door Hardtop Coupe

23985721980_fc3af3262e_kToday we feature a little Black Lives Matters automotive history alongside the trajectory of the Pontiac Motor Division in the late 1950’s. Our subject car has a story too precious to pass up in terms of our collective history. It follows the intersection of race, class, consumerism and pride all wrapped up in chrome dreams from Baghdad By The Bay. 

With a photo a little out of format for our blog, we bring you one very special Pontiac Star Chief. Pride of multiple generations of San Franciscans both migrant and born, its a cherished family heirloom that moves along the streets nearly 60 years later.
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(Found In) Lone Mountain (San Francisco, California) : 1958 DeSoto Adventurer Sportsman Coupe

12366640_10153190214917201_1545318438_nLong before the muscle car era kicked off in earnest in 1964, Highland Park fielded a ferocious foursome of super coupes in the mid-to late 1950’s. The second most hedonistic was the DeSoto Adventurer.

In DeSoto’s role as the less demure, more accessible Chrysler counterpart, the Adventurer focused quite a bit on outward glitter to compliment the marvelous performance capabilities unleashed by the chassis. Decked out with “Christmas Tree” tail lamps and “Firesweep” two-tone color panels, the Adventurer was the most expensive and prized gift you could receive from DeSoto retailers during the late 1950’s.

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(Found In) St. Johns (Portland, Oregon): 1959 Buick LeSabre 4 Door Sedan

12357975_10153180938342201_1941896055_n“Challenge Accepted” was the vow taken on by General Motors stylists. They made that commitment when they saw the newly wedge shaped and befinned second wave of Forward Look Chryslers starting to trickle out of Highland Park factories in September of 1956. The #1 manufacturer of motor vehicles in the world was not about to willingly surrender the design leadership crown to a competitor.

In a stroke of circumstance and marketplace upheaval, Buick, of all brands, became the purest expression of what General Motors stylists desired to do. Ready to leave the bulging behemoth persona behind, Buick shed as many ties to their recent past with their 1959 models. Rivaling the 1959 Cadillac for zeitgeist car of the year, the Buick’s influence on the full GM line truly makes it the leader in all the fresh efforts from GM that year.

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(Found In) The Bayview (San Francisco) – 1954 Lincoln Capri 4 Door Sedan

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Once upon a time in the early 1950’s, all the major American Luxury Brands retreated from reaching for the highly bespoke luxury stratosphere. Informed by World War II solidarity and Korean War rationing, long gone were the days of custom bodied cruisers for the rich and famous.

All Luxury cars proved much more of their worth in terms of tangible features and performance. Notably, Lincoln, like Packard moved slightly down-market, to be considered in choices alongside Oldsmobile Ninety Eights and Chrysler New Yorkers alongside their traditional Cadillac and Imperial contemporaries.

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