(Found In) Civic Center (San Francisco, California): 1985 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale 4 Door Sedan

imageIn so many ways for the last rear-wheel drive Oldsmobile 88, it was the same at the ending as it was at the beginning. Once the star of the horsepower race, over time the Oldsmobile 88 became your average middle class car for Ordinary People. It wasn’t so much a fall from grace one might expect. Moreso the manifestation was consistent conservatism for Lansing’s biggest bread and butter loaf.

For 35+ years, the 88 gave reliable doses of 6 passenger comfort, smooth rides, quiet operation and a decent surge of V8 power. Soon enough though, the double-eight badging would have little significance as the march of badge engineering acted as a stick of dynamite against the GM Sloan ladder from the 1920s. It continued to splinter and crack under the weight of more profits and more competition for a shrinking class of buyer.

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(Found In) Lone Mountain (San Francisco, California): 1954 Hudson Hornet Sedan

image After creating such a sensation on the Automotive market in 1948, The “Step Down” Hudsons found themselves left behind because of their extremely distinctive stance. The envelope Uni-Body that gave the rugged solidarity and premium prestige in the immediate post war proved a limited engineering dead end in the rapidly changing automotive market of the 1950’s.

More Film Noir than Technicolor, Hudson tried valiantly to freshen up and trim the relationship to fastback fancies of the 1940’s. Interestingly, the modernization worked to some degree better on other bodystyles, yet betrayed the aging roots on other models. For the final year of truly unique Hudson models, it proved many a fumbled opportunity.
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(Found In) West Berkeley (Berkeley, California): 1967 BMW 2000 TiLux 4 Door Sedan

24628232036_231815b3c4_oAlthough the 2002 gets the majority of credit for BMW’s North American success, the models that laid the ground work for sports sedan dominance for half a century laid in the Neue Klasse sedans and related coupes released in 1962. From humble beginnings as an alternate for the growing German Post-War Middle Class, the 1500, 1800 and 2000 series sedans defined dynamic motoring the world over.

While redefining the world order of preferred athletic motoring, these cars also made sure that the BMW brand didn’t slink into bankruptcy and oblivion in a cold, harsh, competitive marketplace. They also set the style template for most Mid-sized BMW sedans for decades to come.

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(Found On) Solano Avenue (Albany, California) : 1958 Chevrolet Biscayne 4 Door Sedan

12584137_10153265271507201_331493942_nAlthough recognized as an icon today, the 1957 line of Chevrolet standard sized cars got left in the popularity and newness dust by both rivals Ford and Plymouth. The remarkably upright and befinned Bel-Airs and below saw themselves trying to peddle modest virtues and technological updates compared to time-traveling Plymouths and Fancier Fords.

Of course, this didn’t sit well with USA-1, as they found themselves in the #2 spot by the end of the year, nor did it make General Motors feel comfortable about any upsurge with rivals. What to do? Bulk up your bargain offering for the next season. American consumers tend to associate value with bulk, what possibly could go wrong?

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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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(Found In) Fair Oaks (San Mateo County, California): 1959 Edsel Corsair 4 Door Sedan

24018417839_021f4fb5a0_kSo much of the narrative attention given to the Edsel brand is given to the first year cars. With high expectations and projections of greatness, the ultimate failure to meet the mark sours the story of the whole brand.

It decidedly makes the 1959 versions a case of “why bother?” Indeed, the Edsel was a Ford in a gaudier suit when Ford could ill afford the expense of tailoring a new set of clothes for an old body. One would also have to look at the case of saving face and not throwing in the towel as well. The 1959 Edsel in Ranger and Corsair guise were the inevitable placeholders before the eventual march off into oblivion.

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(Found In) St. Johns (Portland, Oregon): 1959 Buick LeSabre 4 Door Sedan

12357975_10153180938342201_1941896055_n“Challenge Accepted” was the vow taken on by General Motors stylists. They made that commitment when they saw the newly wedge shaped and befinned second wave of Forward Look Chryslers starting to trickle out of Highland Park factories in September of 1956. The #1 manufacturer of motor vehicles in the world was not about to willingly surrender the design leadership crown to a competitor.

In a stroke of circumstance and marketplace upheaval, Buick, of all brands, became the purest expression of what General Motors stylists desired to do. Ready to leave the bulging behemoth persona behind, Buick shed as many ties to their recent past with their 1959 models. Rivaling the 1959 Cadillac for zeitgeist car of the year, the Buick’s influence on the full GM line truly makes it the leader in all the fresh efforts from GM that year.

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(Found In) Richmond Annex (Richmond, California): 1964 Mercedes – Benz 220S 4 Door Sedan

22532986728_983fb0df46_zIt wasn’t quite the glory years period that Mercedes Benz would experience on the American Market in 1964. The seizing of the desirable luxury throne would take another decade. However, as Cadillacs, Lincolns and Imperials continued their march towards abundance and excess being synonymous with luxury, the Old World craftmanship from Germany started to appeal to a select number of fine goods consumers.

The springboard models for certain shoppers to transition away from traditional American Luxury barges where the redesigned W111 series cars from Mercedes Benz. Although the design process for these cars started in 1956, they incorporated features and technology far ahead of most manufactures for decades to come.

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