(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) Northwest Berkeley (Berkeley, California) : 1970 Ford Thunderbird Landau Sports-Back Coupe

img_6719The Ford Thunderbird saw many persona changes to cope with the changing times throughout its life as a personalized chariot for a select few. From luxurious sports personal convertible to overwrought George Barris Custom to fascinatingly land bound ode to space and air travel, to suburban bordello on wheels, where was the Thunderbird by the time it turned sweet 16?

In reality, it faced its first true identity crisis. Due to some new beauty standards in the field, the Thunderbird underwent a major dose of rhinoplasty to keep up with newer, fresher faces influenced by a new boss from a new studio. As the Thunderbird transitioned to adulthood, we look at what the awkward adolescence looked like.

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Dynamic Divergence: Falcons On Film And A Requiem For Dystopian Hipster America

20121757552_79aa4759d4_z Once upon a time, on a website far far away but not really, when I was 30-ish years old, I declared the Ford Falcon the vintage chariot fancied the most by a certain demographic. Interestingly, at the same time I made such a grandiose generalization about my own respective urban peer group, I took up another anachronistic way of expression; Film Photography.

As we slide to a close of 2016, I reckon with the term hipster, and all things twee, including resurrecting the most basic of FordMoCo products from more than a half century ago. Trends come, trends go, however does the Falcon still have a fighting chance to continue to fly as it approaches 60 years old?

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(Found In) West Berkeley (Berkeley, California): 1963 Mercedes Benz 220SE Hardtop Coupe

image-41The incremental ways Mercedes Benz crept into the American Automotive market is a peculiar story of persistence and perfection. Although their offerings weren’t completely perfectly well baked for American Motoring demands, they did offer peerless posts to take in vast new landscapes in a completely foreign experience to what was determined to be American Luxury.

Meanwhile, traits, trends and trappings not unfamiliar to American motorists made these cars international stars in their own right. Once upon a time, the world over loved the personal fantasy of the Hardtop Coupe, not the carry all capabilities of a Crossover/Utility Vehicle. By securing a few halo spots, Mercedes made due and dough with their Fintail=related Coupes.

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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) Northwest Berkeley (Berkeley, California): 1964 Ford Fairlane 500 2 Door Hardtop Coupe

image (21).jpegIt’s not easy peaking the first time on stage. It happens with music acts, television shows, and quite often, cars. The combination of right place, right time and blessings from the stars (and economic conditions) bodes well for certain product successes. Here lies the story of the re-branded, midsized Ford Fairlane. For one shining moment, without market factors against it, it claimed a genre all unto it’s own.

By 1964, it found itself, like many a pioneering girl group in the shadows of something Supreme rising from Detroit. Once the starlet, now a reliable box office draw, it tried a hand at presenting something special, smart and sporty. Yet somehow time passed it by.

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(Found In) Cragmont (Berkeley, California): 1965 Pontiac GTO

image (31)In the middle Sixties fires shot among brands, the Pontiac GTO probably ranks a close second to one of the most potent bullets of the decade. Like the Ford Mustang, it satisfied a thirst for wild abandon behind smaller, sportier, more powerful machines from Detroit’s big three. The GTO maximized profits even further than the Mustang since it shared its humble body with other mid-sized Pontiacs, which, in reality, meant it shared quite a bit with offerings from Chevrolet, Oldsmobile and Buick as well.

Pontiac, holding court as the third most popular brand in America in the mid 60’s, saw that its latest crowned performance prince became the winner above all others when it came to the image of being the best jock on the road. For its sophomore season, it secured its ranks on the Varsity team of performance cars in the United States.

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(Found In) Cragmont (Berkeley, California): 1965 Plymouth Barracuda 2 Door Coupe

image (14).jpgAlthough it took the Aries initiative to market first, the Plymouth Barracuda didn’t exact run away with the fame or fortune of its most direct rival, the Ford Mustang. Innovative in its own ways, the Barracuda struck a bit of cult following above and beyond rampant Mustang mania.

It’s brave Valiant roots were far closer to the surface compared to the farce that the Mustang wasn’t a Falcon in drag, for one. Given the great bones that the most minature of Mopars available in the US contributed to its Ponycar offering meant that substance went hand in hand with new style for this most aquatic of horses.

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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) West Berkeley (Berkeley, California): 1967 BMW 2000 TiLux 4 Door Sedan

24628232036_231815b3c4_oAlthough the 2002 gets the majority of credit for BMW’s North American success, the models that laid the ground work for sports sedan dominance for half a century laid in the Neue Klasse sedans and related coupes released in 1962. From humble beginnings as an alternate for the growing German Post-War Middle Class, the 1500, 1800 and 2000 series sedans defined dynamic motoring the world over.

While redefining the world order of preferred athletic motoring, these cars also made sure that the BMW brand didn’t slink into bankruptcy and oblivion in a cold, harsh, competitive marketplace. They also set the style template for most Mid-sized BMW sedans for decades to come.

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