(Found In) Polk Gulch (San Francisco, California): 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale Convertible

image (5).jpegGeneral Motors’s status as the majority producer of Automobiles for much of the 20th Century meant it could waste time where other car manufacturers couldn’t. This meant that GM fielded no less than 3 automatic transmissions for shiftless driving throughout its 5 brands into the 1960’s. This also meant, as Air Conditioning became commonplace, and fun in the sun motoring became a thing of the past, GM fielded convertibles, full sized convertibles to boot, in all 5 brands way into the Disco Ball and Opera Window’d 1970’s.

Right in the middle of the pack, in the middle of the model generation, we have the Oldsmobile Delta 88. What’d you get over the other offerings at Chevy, Pontiac, Buick and Cadillac? Who bought these beautiful beasts?

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(Found In) Polk Gulch (San Francisco, California): 1969 Plymouth Fury III Convertible

imageDespite efforts to be a constant trendsetter, Plymouth proved itself to be an also-ran brand in the 1960’s. Always in the shadows of market competitors Chevrolet and Ford, Plymouth also had to fend for territory from not too costly sibling brand Dodge. Seemingly, whatever Plymouth had, Dodge wanted too. Without the customer base of Chevrolet, or the marketplace freedom of Ford, Plymouth was oft-left to itself to provide a narrow bandwith of consumer desires.

While this benefitted the skinflint image of the price-leading Valiant, it didn’t exactly do wonders for fancier wares that carried the Plymouth prestige parade. The Fury nameplate started out in the same league as the Chevrolet Impala in prestige in 1956. A Jupiter Return later, it was more or less a bargain stage brand, in 1, 2 and 3 strengths (each a little less despair provoking than the last). How does that translate to sales when this formula encapsulates a full sized convertible?
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(Found In) Clawson (Oakland, California): 1971 Chevrolet Impala Convertible

image (28) The sporting pretense of the Full Sized Chevrolet had been on the wane for more than half a decade. Nevertheless, with market dominance unlike any other manufacturer, General Motors still saw it worthy to offer top down motoring to the masses in massive sizes when it re-designed its Full Sized Automobiles for the 1971 model year.

The most practical self-placement in a large fun in the sun machine was of course found in Chevrolet dealerships. in its 7th season in the Silver Spot among Chevrolet Full-sizers, the re-visioned ’71 Impala Convertible offered many tailoring options from later day Super Sport to Junior DeVille with the appropriate selection of option boxes.

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(Found In) Richmond District (San Francisco, California): 1965 Buick Skylark Convertible

image (19)As we head into Convertible season, we look back 50+ years to the peak of the Convertible Market. All American brands minus soon to exit the sales field Studebaker offered convertibles. From petite to ponderous, the choices abounded for budgets stuck in the basement all the way to Bergdorfs.

Buick didn’t stay out of the game at all, offering convertibles in all series except the super exclusive Riviera for ’65. Prize of the smaller lines however was the delightful, spritely and spirited bird named Skylark. For those looking for a pinch of personal luxury in a more petite (if not by as much in the recent past) the Skylark proved the perfect pie to consume on the interstates.

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(Found In) Civic Center (San Francisco, California): 1966 Cadillac DeVille Convertible Coupe

image (5)As the 2nd half of the 1960’s got underway, Cadillac found itself not doing much wrong. The most premium General Motors offering had long banished American luxury rivals to the lower rungs of the sales charts, if not into the grave. However, this swagger combined with swelling size would eventually be the sword The Standard of The World would nearly mortally wound itself on.

The 1966 Model year represented perhaps the pinnacle of substance, style and snob appeal that would be eventually whittled away from copious Caddies for more than 2 decades. This knight in shining white armor droptop tells a rather peculiar tale of being laurel crowded, yet resting on said laurels at the same time.
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(Found In) Portola (San Franciso, California) : 1960 Chevrolet Impala Convertible Coupe

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It might be amazing to most minds that this flaming red finned flamingo of late 50’s meets the turn-of-the-decade imagination was considered more conservative than what came before. With some flattening of curves and angles, the Space, Spirit and Splendor of the 1960 full sized Chervolets prepped them for a decade of more mature motoring and discretionary buyer tastes.

The rationality mixed with moxie would propel the Impala towards becoming one of the keystone cars of the 1960’s. Like the missile trim on the sides, there was nowhere to go but forward for the priciest non-sports Chevrolet.
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(Found In) Uptown-Northgate (Oakland, California) 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Convertible

14870503304_33bc4e5b89_h The call to let the sunshine in and dawn the Age of Aquarius was a decade turning herald call. However, the sun was about to set on the American Convertible as the 1970’s plowed on. In the personalization and self-actualization days of the early 1970s, the coddling comforts of Air Conditioning, tinted glass and vinyl roofs conferred more savvy than free in-the-breeze sporty, top down motoring. Sunroofs and too many sunburns lead people away from top down motoring in the way it had been embraced in the past.

As sporting life gave way to laps of luxuries, convertibles fell on their swords one by one. One of the last rousing relative successes of the genre was the burgeoning darling of the middle of the market, the much beloved Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.
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(Found In) Fernside (Alameda, California): 1963 Mercury Comet S-22 Convertible

24511649174_c64999eed7_hFuller and Fancier than the Falcon, the Comet had carved out a pretty succesful niche as being a borderline Mid-sized entry level medium priced car in the early 196o’s. As the Falcon added to its repetoire, so did the Comet. For 1963 that mean a few more shots across the sky in hardtop coupe and covertible form. Not only was the fun in the way to accesorize your roofs, some new, some would say needed, zoom was available under the hood as well.

As compact cars struck different fancies in the ever diversifying American Automotive market, the Comet wanted to woo you with interstellar fantasies and earthbound charms a plenty. Charming, carefree and coy, it was one of the most compelling choices among compact cars in 1963.

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(Found In) Claremont (Oakland, California): 1966 Ford Thunderbird Convertible

24160339594_3a70c0783d_kThe Thunderbird legacy started as a top down thrill. However, the thrill was a bit muted in some ways. To give the original Thunderbird a leg up over a host of sports cars, the Thunderbird was marketed as a “personal” car. As such, comfort and convenience was built in from the beginning.

Featuring an optional Hardtop, and a slew of convienience options, the open air quotient always seemed to be an optional one. Ford flirted and fielded the idea of closing off the full free-breeze feeling as early as 1960 with an option of a sliding metal sunroof for Hardtop Coupes. But by 1966, the writing was on the wall within the confines of the Private World of Thunderbird.
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(Found In) Adams Point (Oakland, California): 1962 Pontiac Tempest Convertible Coupe

12306004_10153168671557201_719705256_n General Motors’s efforts at providing reduced sized motoring during the early 60’s delivered an engineering 1-2-3 punch. For 1960, ’61 and ’62, three different compact models from America’s premiere manufacturer took home the coveted Motor Trend Car of The Year award.

1961 belonged to the Pontiac Tempest. Where would Pontiac go for the encore season of 1962? Perhaps a little bit more sport, as par for the course in recent tradition in the scope of offerings from the “Tin Indian.” Have a coupe, have a convertible! All stripes of fun were in as the littlest Pontiac tried to offer the virtues of GM’s “excitement” brand in a more tidy, better handling package.

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