(Found In) Temescal (Oakland, California): 1962 Chevrolet Corvair 700 Sedan

IMG_2311It’s forgotten quite often that the original plan for the Chevrolet Corvair was to be an economical rival to the proliferation of modest European Sedans that found support on the shores of the United States throughout the 2nd half of the 1950’s. Not only was the Volkswagen Beetle a target. Sedans from Renault, Fiat and Volvo alongside more mundane rivals from the domestic market were part of The Corvair’s world domination plans.

Of course, the vast majority of Americans wanted their basic transportation, well, basic. Where did that leave the Corvair Sedans in the wake of the runaway niche success of the Corvair Coupes and new for ’62 Convertibles?

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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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(Found In) Gold Coast (Alameda, California): 1962 Studebaker Lark Regal VIII 4 Door Sedan

IMG_5645A wing, a prayer, and perhaps some emergency road flares. That encapsulated where Studebaker was by 1962 with their standard passenger car line. Where the innovation of cropping the circa ’53 standard Studebaker down to the Lark in 1959 was a stroke of genius, by 1962 many manufacturers crowded around the special bird to make a feast. No longer was it the only downsized dowager with the pride of a potent V8 engine.

A nip and a tuck of plastic surgery, some new features and a fretting over where to go next signified where the Lark was in 1962. Emphasis on the blossoming of the specialized small American car seen elsewhere creeped in too. How much of the old bird was new in ’62.

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(Found In) Ralph Bunchie (Oakland, California): 1962 Buick Invicta 4 Door Hardtop Sedan

img_6097Buick was never really known as the flamboyant choice of cars in the General Motors stable. However, starting in the Mid 1950’s, Buick found its way to being one of the most fashionable plates car buyers dined off of. For the 1954-57 models it seemed more keeping up with the Jonesin’ for wild color and fabric combinations. However, by 1958, the glittery flamboyance jumped the shark, followed by the Batman inspired ’59, and the relatively less marvel superhero themed 1960 version.

By 1962, under the influence of ever calming industrial design, Buick found itself refining into the solid state of automotive conservatism it has been long term known for. Gone were the protrusions of previous years for a statelier ride. How did that graft onto the Banker’s Hot Rod Du Jour, The 1962 Invicta?

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(Found In) Fairfax (Oakland, California): 1962 Rambler Classic Custom 4 Door Sedan

img_2375In the era of planned obsolescence, independent brands, out of necessity didn’t “keep up with the times.” Smaller brands like Studebaker, AMC and a number of independent brands before them didn’t have the market share or profits to field new styling and the required sheetmetal every 2 or 3 years, or, in the case of General Motors, the extreme of every model year for 1957, ’58 and ’59.

As a wave of consumer backlash against this process developed, American Motors in particular, was well situated to take advantage of the march of “progress” fielded by the big three. Their smaller, sensible, upright rolling orthopedic shoes of automobiles, assembled with care and craft not necessarily known in their price class lead them to rise in sales during the leaner, recession restricted years of 1958 through 1961.  How did that do for ’62?

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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) 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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(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.

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(Found In) Alberta Arts District (Portland): 1962 Ford Thunderbird Landau Two Door Hardtop

11830178_10152970839432201_804884135_nThe truth of the matter is, even if the Ford Thunderbird wasn’t the absolute best choice in its field, it definitely found itself being a trend setter. Although I don’t consider it the first and foremost Personal Luxury Coupe it did carry the sales torch in that genre for more than a decade.

Glittering gadgets, glamour and unique styling were one way that the Thunderbird stayed ahead of the rest of the personal nests from the best of the manufacturing world. In 1962, Ford tested two distinct oceans of taste. One of those was an homage to the baby bird stages of the Thunderbird’s life, and another that would see it through many years of middle aged bloat before it became a fit senior citizen.

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(Found In) Portola District (San Francisco) – 1962 Pontiac Grand Prix 2 Door Hardtop Coupe

11301581_10152876411207201_154592208_nThe personal coupe/personal luxury market took many a year to mature into the market definition it would become in the early 1970’s. As strides were made by individual brands in the early 1960s, there was a question of which tactics would be the most successful.

The key elements to this style of automobile were the perfect ratio of luxury, performance, style and accessible price. The 1953 Studebaker Coupes pointed in the initial direction, as did the 1958 Thunderbird. The initial response from all other brands ran a full gamut of responses. Pontiac had a special way of dealing with the dilemma as well.
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