Dynamic Divergence: Driving A Corvair At The End of the World

photo credit Philip Ruth

It’s been just 6 months since I made the most ridiculous vehicle decision in my life.

Is it really, tho?

I capped a decade of mad-cap vehicle choices with one of the most controversial things to roll on four wheels. Granted, I chose the 2nd generation Corvair, the lesser of the problematic versions of the oddball Chevrolet. I was told, warned, and threatened even, to stay away from the first generation cars and their handling abnormalities. You’d think Ralph Nader was a ghost already the way his diatribes from Unsafe At Any Speed haunted my vehicle search.

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(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) 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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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) Chinatown (Fresno, California): 1965 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Holiday Hardtop Coupe

IMG_9568Where The Action Is declared ads for the newest Oldsmobile Eighty Eights in more than half a Decade. While there was more magic once you hitched yourself to these new rocket coupes, sedans and convertibles, they held a lot more common with relatives under the General Motors empire as well.

In the shift away from large and in charge chariots being the heart of the market place, where would the premium performance preference lead the super sonic Super 88 replacement series, the Delta 88 throughout its life as Oldsmobiles struggled with being the preferred pride of middle American patriarchy?

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Once You Hit The Road: 35 Time Traveling Turnpike and Track Tunes

From my DJ website, some soon to be Summer Travel Tunes just for you.

DJ Larsupreme


It’s getting to be that season where we all start making our travel plans. We all seem to set our sights a-far as the days get longer and the unofficial start of summer looms near Memorial Day.  We’re all looking for those last minute deals on plane tickets and packages and wondering what does it mean to still use AirBnB in gentrifying big cities worldwide.

Once upon a time it was simpler and harder all at once. Travel came via Road and Rail, the locations less exotic, and often attached with many hassles.
 Especially for folks of color and those outside of heterosexual norms, the call of the open road via recreational travel came with many limitations of where one could safely stop, rest and nourish well into the 1960’s (and some would still say into today). For African Americans, this dovetailed into having The Negro Motorist Green Book from…

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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) Rockridge (Oakland, California): 1968 Saab 95 Station Wagon

In port cities there tends to be a wee bit more diversity in the classic cars one finds on the streets. Not everything slides into Camaro, Mustang and Cadillac territory. Liberal cities tend to have a bit of diversity in citizenry, and the heritage of such cultures might mean that there’ll be an eccentric offering showing a glimpse of history.

There’s this surprise of this Swedish Station Wagon that did more with far less than your average Country Squire that I found in the lush bushes of Rockridge recently. Stuffing plenty of capacity for buyers that might have a penchant for such a tiny meatball of a car was the calling card of this model for more than a decade.

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