(Found In) Hoover/Foster (Oakland, California): 1969 Pontiac Bonneville 428 Convertible

IMG_4416The truth of the matter is that we can’t lead forever. As much as we crave the stability and consistency in life, time and competition makes sure that we never become stale. Pontiac found itself the leader of a new type of youthful, vibrant, and enthusiastic market of automobiles in the early 1960’s, far away from the gussied up Chevrolet with a Straight 8 that it was at the beginning of the 1950’s.

By the end of the 1960’s, success had started to spoil the sweetest of milk on the market. While all of Pontiac’s line-up in 1964 presented a sporting rakishness, just a mere 5 years later, like a number of American Brands, the Tin Indian tried to field itself in categories it was none too well adjusted to fit into.
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(Found In) Uptown (Oakland, California): 1968 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado Two Door Hardtop Coupe

img_6866Cadillac seemed more than likely a place for a closed coupled, personalized touring coupe to flourish. It may seem a bit surprising that Cadillac, given its success in the post war era and bountiful resources sitting on top of the General Motors throne, waited until 1967 to field one. Granted the financial losses on the Eldorado Brougham of the late 1950’s informed the decision to make the risk a cautiously executed once there had been a market determined.

Cadillac got a season and a half jump on Lincoln making a similar decision to re-enter this segment of the market with the personalized Mark Series Continental. The front wheel drive Eldorado ditched the premise of being the most deluxe of Cadillac convertibles in 1967. For the second full year jostling for King of The Road status, how did the ’68 Eldorado shape up against the pending Continental Mark III, and its lesser siblings the Riviera and Toronado for that matter?

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(Found In) Uptown (Oakland, California): 1969 Dodge Dart Custom 4 Door Sedan

img_5655Before the automotive market fully fragmented due to offerings to fit every type of vehicle lifestyle, the vast majority of automotive sales went to the 4 door sedan. Each American brand offered many flavors of door opening convenience through their line ups. Most often, each one was offered in bargain basement, deluxe and sometimes luxury trim by the mid 1960’s.

Dodge was no different in offering different flavors of its three different sedan sizes. The smallest you could get was the ever popular Valiant based A-body Dart before you stepped up to larger Coronet, Polara & Monaco offerings. The Dart’s aim scored success as a reasonable pair of sensible shoes, but how exactly?

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(Found In) Islais Creek (San Francisco, California): 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible Coupe

img_2170While once upon a time rival the Ford Thunderbird always seemed ready to switch up it’s identity to keep up with the party, the Chevrolet Corvette stayed very close to its roots. Nearly 65 years later the Corvette remains the longest running mass produced sports car on offer from the good old United States of America.

It wasn’t without many a harrowing challenge, questions about its credibility as such, and many many death watches. How did it stack up during it’s sophomore season of its 3rd generation?

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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) 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) Mission District (San Francisco, California): 1969 Toyota Corona Four Door Sedan

12626165_10153265452272201_1427667649_nIt didn’t take long for Toyota to learn some important basics about success in the American Market. Within 2 generations and one spectacular failure at the end of the 1950’s, Toyota was fast becoming the most important import brand in the United States as the 1960’s gave way to the 1970’s.

The brick laying car to Toyota’s success on the American Market was the 1965-1970 Corona. Riding into the marketplace where very few cars provided such an excellent motoring experience for the price, Toyota cleaned house, captured sales and ended up often being voted the compact car of choice over the others. It was a process of simply mastering minor details that other brands and efforts missed. By polishing details and heightening expectations of what a small car could be, the Toyota Corona revolutionized the American dream of what basic transportation could be.
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