(Found In) Civic Center (San Francisco, California): 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera Cruiser Station Wagon

IMG_3341What if I proposed to you that the Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera was the most polarizing car of the last 40 years? I’m sure you’d point out there’s plenty of other cars that deserve a bigger medal in terms of era defining cars but I have some key arguments.

Some will say that it was the car that planted the seeds of death for the Oldsmobile brand. Others will tout their ability to abuse the basic sound design of them (of course, once those pesky GM bugs got worked out of the earliest editions) for more than 2 decades and multiple hundreds of thousands of miles worth of trips that could loop the globe. The true meaning of it, as a symbol, lies somewhere down the middle of course, and I try to rectify that while looking at this indeterminable of model year well-equipped Cruiser Wagon version.

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(Found In) Civic Center (San Francisco, California): 1977 Toyota Corona Station Wagon

IMG_2305In a number of ways Toyota was the most “American” of Japanese manufacturers. Once on their feet in the U.S. market in the early 70’s, they fielded a line up not dissimilar, albeit smaller and far more efficient, than Detroit rivals.

Mainstream models came in sizes small (Corolla), medium (Corona) and large (Crown/Cressida). There was a “pony” car (Celica) to boot. That’s no different than Ford in the 1960’s minus a halo coupe once you think about it.We’ve made friends with the 3rd Generation car. Today we see what the 5th generation had to offer when you opted for the wagon version.

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(Found In) Civic Center (San Francisco, California): 1987 Ford Taurus GL Station Wagon

IMG_0412It was a revolution on wheels for the ordinary American Family Sedan. Even more so as a Station Wagon. Therein lies the miracle of the Original Ford Taurus. Long having played catch up to everyone else when it came to mainstream innovation, Ford fancied a future for mainstream buyers GM, Chrysler and a host of competitors couldn’t envision slipping into as tomorrow’s dream today.

The softening of the two and three traditional boxes that the average sedan and wagon came in softened a lot of buyer’s hearts. Far from the upright, puritan machines that had courted most American buyers since the Post-War. Stepping up to an international stage in design language, the Taurus showed that patrician pragmatic patriotic lines could only take the American car only so far into the future. Readying us for a slew of technology for the 21st Century, we have the re-imagined family truckster to look over 30 years after it flew into dealerships for its second season.

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(Found In) Civic Center (San Francisco, California): 1996 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight Regency Elite Sedan

IMG_9789There’s been plenty said and 20/20 hindsighted about the fall of Oldsmobile and the historic brand’s demise in 2004. In reality it was a mixed storm, and an amazing bellwether of where consumer tastes had gone alongside the pursuits of ultimate profits by behemoth corporations.

In the crosshairs of being one of America’s legacy brands was the longest lasting legacy flagship, the Ninety Eight. Since 1941, the nameplate graced either the priciest or nearly most pricey proposition in the Oldsmobile showroom. By the time it was aging into being an AARP senior citizen in more ways than one, it found itself condensed down in Oldsmobile’s attempt to assert value priced luxury against the shifting tides towards international flair for fancy, while abdicating the throne to something new in Oldsmobile’s sky, the Aurora. How does one step down from such a profound legacy?

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(Found In) Civic Center (San Francisco, California): 1966 Cadillac DeVille Convertible Coupe

image (5)As the 2nd half of the 1960’s got underway, Cadillac found itself not doing much wrong. The most premium General Motors offering had long banished American luxury rivals to the lower rungs of the sales charts, if not into the grave. However, this swagger combined with swelling size would eventually be the sword The Standard of The World would nearly mortally wound itself on.

The 1966 Model year represented perhaps the pinnacle of substance, style and snob appeal that would be eventually whittled away from copious Caddies for more than 2 decades. This knight in shining white armor droptop tells a rather peculiar tale of being laurel crowded, yet resting on said laurels at the same time.
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(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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