(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) Golden Gate Park (San Francisco, California): 1962 Plymouth Fury Four Door Sedan

image (13) You shouldn’t believe everything you hear over dinner party chatter. Especially when you’re already on the ropes with your business. Chrysler Corporation seemed perpetually going just askew of where buyers wanted for a good portion of the Post-war era.

First the boxy post-war efforts, then the lack of an Automatic transmission, then the quality debacles of The Forward Look to some rather interstellar looking land based transit as the decade clock ticked over into the 60’s, it was a surprise that Highland Park found buyers for their wares. Yet another goof greeted them for 1962.
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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) 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 In) The Bayview (San Francisco, California): 1969 Dodge Charger R/T 2 Door Hardtop Coupe

12570985_10153265225732201_290692963_n If this Dodge Charger was decked out in All-Black, it would cut a far more threatening presence on the streets of San Francisco. As it stands, resplendent in a shade close to gold, it remains one of the most celebrated muscle machines of the late 1960’s.

The Charger was a cross section model with little definition. It too big to be a Pony Car, too unique in design to be a mainstream Mid Sized Muscle car (and Dodge had Coronet R/T models to serve that purpose) yet not as luxurious as some rivals to be cast as a personal coupe. In theory, it was one of the most unique Mopar offerings for the 2nd half of the 1960’s, and had a special corner of the market all to itself.
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(Found In) West Berkeley (Berkeley, California): 1967 Plymouth Sport Fury Convertible

23103158215_cfa935d04f_h In actuality, the Plymouth Fury was the first fearsome Full-Sizer among the Low Priced Three. Plymouth’s Super Sports Coupe debuted as one of the 4 Mopar Super Coupes in 1956, 2 seasons ahead of Chevrolet’s Impala. In addition, the Fury right away asserted itself as performance focused first, with the first 3 seasons dedicated to exclusive coupes with top tier powertrains.

The Sport Fury designation came along in 1959, again, 2 years ahead of the Impala SS. Despite always being ahead of its General Motors rival, the Plymouth’s actual emphasis on go to go along with the show often left it in the shadows of its crosstown rival.
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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) 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.

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(Found in) Islais Creek (San Francisco) – 1968 Dodge Coronet 440 4 Door Sedan

11160290_10152735412347201_1140823247_nOne would look at this swanky “all new” for 1968 mid-sized Dodge and not see an older “full sized” Dodge underneath.

However, Mopar middle children for nearly 2 decades before they were re-visioned 20 years later back to full sized sedan status can all trace their roots back to the infamous shrunken sales failures of 1962.

Each year more and more sheetmetal distance was put between that failed start and a semblance of success. Underneath however, were the main basic goodies that had long proved these to be rather wonderful choices in the intermediate field.

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(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.

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