(Found In) Longfellow (Emeryville, California): 1968 AMC Rambler American 440 Station Wagon

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Always walking to the beat of a different drum, the heritage of AMC stretched back into two independents that had long done it their way. It’s by no chance that the first, least expensive option on offer in their showrooms nationwide relied on the manifest-destiny ringing “American” nameplate.

Back in the days of AMC being rooted in Nash, the Rambler concept was by far the most continually successful compact car concept, making sure to offer those a lot of comfort in their decreased footprint. Closing in on 20 years after the beginning of that risk, what did the littlest AMC product give you in 1968?

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(Found In) Rockridge (Oakland, California): 1968 Saab 95 Station Wagon

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In port cities there tends to be a wee bit more diversity in the classic cars one finds on the streets. Not everything slides into Camaro, Mustang and Cadillac territory. Liberal cities tend to have a bit of diversity in citizenry, and the heritage of such cultures might mean that there’ll be an eccentric offering showing a glimpse of history.

There’s this surprise of this Swedish Station Wagon that did more with far less than your average Country Squire that I found in the lush bushes of Rockridge recently. Stuffing plenty of capacity for buyers that might have a penchant for such a tiny meatball of a car was the calling card of this model for more than a decade.

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(Found In) Santa Fe (Oakland, California): 1968 Chevrolet Caprice Custom Coupe

24154492823_93527b6c57_k The increased emphasis of accessible luxury made the Caprice the new King of the Chevrolet castle in a short number of buyer seasons. Although the Impala still held the sway over many new car buyers as the default choice for motoring finery, more and more people elevated their purchases to the most princely of Chevies as the 1960’s wound down.

American audiences love a little snob appeal. The American-as-Apple-Pie and Baseball Impala seemed too optimistic a choice, too unaware to cynical self preservation and exclusivity. Hoping to catch buyers before they elevated themselves further up the Sloan ladder, or into different products within Chevrolet’s showroom, the Caprice vowed to be the luxury car for the every-person.
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(Found In) Cleveland Cascade (Oakland, California): 1968 Lincoln Continental Hardtop Coupe

12357984_10153180981312201_1785917170_nAlthough a styling revolutionary, the 1961 Lincoln Continental wasn’t exactly a sales champion. The infinite varieties available for consumption in Cadillac showrooms allowed the Standard of The World to consistently outplace its Dearborn bred rival throughout the 1960’s.

By 1966, Lincoln was through with making due with a two model system of a basic 4 door Sedan and the ultra-rare and unique on the American market 4 door convertible. The standard bearer of post-war automotive affluence, the Two Door Hardtop Coupe, returned that year, and grew ever more distinctive each model year.
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(Found In) Lower Haight (San Francisco, CA): 1968 (Buick) Opel Kadett Station Wagon

9319809292_59693dfe72_z As omnipresent as the original Volkswagen Beetles continue to be some 35+ years after the last one was sold in the United States, one forgets that it wasn’t always the only import popular with American audiences before Civic/Corolla domination. In fact, the quite often second most popular import in America could be found in your Buick dealer, via Germany.

General Motors had from time to time given its American brands something different to sell. Their were the price gap cars that came at the end of the Roaring Twenties. In fact, Pontiac cannibalized parent brand Oakland during that period. When foreign car popularity took off in the Mid 50’s and more buyers craved more sensible cars, General Motors took to importing their overseas offerings. Pontiac offered Vaxhalls from the UK. Buick offered Opels from Germany.

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(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.

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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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