(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?

Continue reading “(Found In) Maxwell Park (Oakland, California): 1966 Chrysler 300 Convertible Coupe”

(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.

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

(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.

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

(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.

Continue reading “(Found In) Cragmont (Berkeley, California): 1965 Plymouth Barracuda 2 Door Coupe”

(Found In) Potrero Hill (San Francisco, California): 1966 Chrysler 300 2 Door Hardtop Coupe

12305959_10153168570327201_567136321_nThe Chrysler 300 found itself no longer suffering from a split identity by 1966. Gone for good was the ultra sport-lux Letter series version.

Around since 1962, the Non-Letter 300 went toe to toe with mainstream Bankers hot-rods from perpetual cross town rival Buick. With a smidgen more cachet than the Flint offering, the 300 proved a brisk bet in the equally stuffy Chrysler showroom. With far less outre styling compared to the beginning of the 1960’s, these big block brutes gave Chrysler a sophisticated foothold in the upper crust performance market.

Continue reading “(Found In) Potrero Hill (San Francisco, California): 1966 Chrysler 300 2 Door Hardtop Coupe”

(Found In) Downtown/City Center Plaza (Oakland, CA): 1968 Plymouth Valiant Signet 2 Door Sedan

12167370_10153094429002201_114606198_n (1)American buyers have always appreciated a reliable “appliance” car. More often than not, Plymouth provided safe and sane reliable transportation as their bread and butter. Perhaps the most refined expression of the wholesome “Peanut Butter and Wheat Germ Sandwich” expression of Plymouth values was the 3rd Generation Plymouth Valiant sold from 1967 through 1976.

For such a humble car, few automobiles have been admired for their all around staid status the way Plymouth Valiants (and to a lesser degree their sister car the Dodge Dart) are. The official ride of High School Chemistry Teachers and Lesbian Librarians of the 1960’s can still be seen in locales that don’t encourage rust to rise on their quarter panels nearly 50 years later.

Continue reading “(Found In) Downtown/City Center Plaza (Oakland, CA): 1968 Plymouth Valiant Signet 2 Door Sedan”

(Found In) Golden Gate (Oakland, California): 1962 Chrysler 300 Sport 2 Door Hardtop Coupe

12087436_10153074251357201_328820744_nChrysler, in actuality, was quite early to the “Super Coupe” game that really took off at the turn of the 1960’s. As a harbinger of obsession that would become the Personal Coupe market as the 1960’s became the 1970’s, Chrysler launched a very, very special “300” series in 1955 in anticipation of hyper personalized transportation for discriminating buyers.

By 1962, however, Chrysler was ready to cash in on the most exclusive in-house name they possessed by bringing it closer to popular price points for shoppers. Here lies the tale of the 300 Sport, inspired internally and externally to follow market trends by making something special out of extra trim. While this had a potency wilting influence over the true letter series cars, it proved an easily exploitative avenue to bring extra revenue to the premium brand.

Continue reading “(Found In) Golden Gate (Oakland, California): 1962 Chrysler 300 Sport 2 Door Hardtop Coupe”

(Found In) Guerneville (California) – 1971 Plymouth Satellite Regent Station Wagon

14601062062_07038a8acb_z

Once upon a time in America, the Station Wagon once reigned as the ultimate Suburban Status Symbol. Costing more than convertibles for their extra utility, each manufacturer south of the top luxury brands scrambled and served up the finest confections they could possibly think of to the discerning growing families on cul-de-sacs nationwide.

Plymouth, once a provider of sensible small steel wagons in the early fifties had latched onto the faux pretense of wood paneling suburban good taste as 2 decades passed. The heavy influence of The Ford Country Squire made sure that image was part and parcel of most family conveyances. To deviate from this norm typically meant death to your Station Wagon business.

Continue reading “(Found In) Guerneville (California) – 1971 Plymouth Satellite Regent Station Wagon”

(Found In) West Oakland – 1963 Dodge 330 Four Door Sedan

image (23) There’s something always a bit sinister about a car with flat black paint and “Baby Moon” hubcaps. Who knows what’s going on as the driver of this 1963 Dodge 330 Sedan pulled over on West Grand Boulevard to take a phone call? Will his mission report self destruct?

In a lot of ways, the 1963 offerings from Highland Park, Michigan reflected an attempt to make it back from the brink of disaster that their 1962 models had caused. The metaphor for pulling over and rethinking the strategy for success is clearly laid out in the styling morph these almost-Full Sized cars did in one model season.

Continue reading “(Found In) West Oakland – 1963 Dodge 330 Four Door Sedan”

(Found In) San Francisco, California – 1961 Chrysler Newport Convertible

image (5)

Though some parts of the country might be burrowing out of blizzards, it’ll be soon migration season for a particular type of bird. Spring equinox is less than a month away. Soon that special bird of automobile, the vintage convertible, will find its way back into ever-increasing sunlight. This seems like the perfect time to tell the story of a rather rare and odd bird.

Continue reading “(Found In) San Francisco, California – 1961 Chrysler Newport Convertible”