(Found In) Uptown (Oakland, California): 1988 Mercury Sable GS 4 Door Sedan

IMG_3844We’ve covered how much of a revelation the Ford Taurus was to new car buyers when it debuted 32 years ago in the Fall of 1985. But what is to be made of its sister ship, the too new for now Mercury Sable? With half skirted wheels, a full light bar substituting for grille work and a “floating” roof above “wrap around” glass, the Sable gave visual incentive to move into tomorrow today with many a styling feature that once was the reign of Science Fiction.

But was there much substance underneath the fantasy found in fancy Ford dealerships? What *more* did you get over the already trend setting Taurus?

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(Found In) Fairview Park (Oakland, California): 1985 Ford Mustang LX Convertible

IMG_2633Don’t trust the adage that it’s not over until the Fat Lady sings. At least don’t trust her management. So goes the “disappearance” of the great American Convertible due to rollover safety regulations at the end of the 1970’s. Cadillac, and General Motors in particular, made a healthy profit touting their full sized convertibles as the final new versions of open-air motoring in 1975 and 1976. The government ended up having the last laugh.

Chrysler, looking for each niche to gussy up their new K-Car variants, returned to the convertible market first with their LeBaron. Ford, still offering carefree Pony motoring, in the form of their Mustang, felt a patriotic duty to chop of the top of their newest sports machine for the everyday American.

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(Found In) Bushrod Park (Oakland, California): 1972 Ford LTD Hardtop Coupe

IMG_1956
In the vehicles that are the zeitgeist of the time, the various Ford LTDs are vastly underrated as symbols for the time. Starting as yet another push by Ford upmarket, it calling into question the reason behind the Mercury brand yet again in 1965.

By the early 70’s it was a reputable status symbol for those that wanted style, comfort, and isolation along with size without the expense of traditional posh offerings. As luxury efforts moved down market, there was little reason to upgrade beyond the whisper silent LTD.

1972 proved to be a bridge year. The traits and ethos of what had been traditional spectrum offerings of Full Sized cars was rapidly coming to a close. In a number of ways, this was the swan song season to the variety once well known, and offered most resplendently at the top of the Ford line.

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(Found In) Northwest Berkeley (Berkeley, California) : 1970 Ford Thunderbird Landau Sports-Back Coupe

img_6719The Ford Thunderbird saw many persona changes to cope with the changing times throughout its life as a personalized chariot for a select few. From luxurious sports personal convertible to overwrought George Barris Custom to fascinatingly land bound ode to space and air travel, to suburban bordello on wheels, where was the Thunderbird by the time it turned sweet 16?

In reality, it faced its first true identity crisis. Due to some new beauty standards in the field, the Thunderbird underwent a major dose of rhinoplasty to keep up with newer, fresher faces influenced by a new boss from a new studio. As the Thunderbird transitioned to adulthood, we look at what the awkward adolescence looked like.

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(Found In) Golden Gate (Oakland, California): 1965 Ford Custom 4 Door Sedan

img_4128In the rigorous world of competitive automotive sales, the full-sized Ford Automobile was oft the 2nd most beloved (and in a few cases in the post-war, the most loved) conveyance for Middle America. Ford, however, took to the diversification of size and style classes of Automobiles with zeal at the beginning of the 1960’s more than any other brand from the Big Three.

The Falcon took the lead in compact sales. The re-sized Fairlane usurped the market lock Rambler had on intermediates. The Thunderbird shattered the luxury field wide open with its personalized persona. And then there was of course, The Mustang, scrambling the compass of what Americans thought they wanted in a car in a profound way.Where did that leave the basic big Ford so beloved and nearly solitary in mission a decade before in 1965?

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(Found In) Longfellow (Oakland, California): 1976 Mercury Marquis Colony Park Station Wagon

img_3055 Once upon a time in a world 40 years ago, the way to haul the herds through freshly minted suburbia wasn’t via sport utility vehicles, nor minivans. The new fangled concept of all things in one crossovers would have bewildered the average buyer in 1976. Only one thing got-er-done in Bi-Centennial ’76, and that was the wooly mammoth clad in wood known as the full sized Station Wagon.

FordMoCo long dominated the niche in sales performance, and to varying degrees, prestige. The Di-Noc slathered Country Squire was one of the first Ford products that didn’t mind its position as a member of one of the low priced three brands, being acceptable in Fields and at Country Clubs. How did the further upmarket Marquis Colony Park fare among the fancy precious cargo carriers?
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(Found In) Northwest Berkeley (Berkeley, California): 1964 Ford Fairlane 500 2 Door Hardtop Coupe

image (21).jpegIt’s not easy peaking the first time on stage. It happens with music acts, television shows, and quite often, cars. The combination of right place, right time and blessings from the stars (and economic conditions) bodes well for certain product successes. Here lies the story of the re-branded, midsized Ford Fairlane. For one shining moment, without market factors against it, it claimed a genre all unto it’s own.

By 1964, it found itself, like many a pioneering girl group in the shadows of something Supreme rising from Detroit. Once the starlet, now a reliable box office draw, it tried a hand at presenting something special, smart and sporty. Yet somehow time passed it by.

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(Found In) Lone Mountain (San Francisco, California): 1959 Mercury Park Lane Cruiser 4 Door Hardtop Sedan

image (11).jpegWe’ve discussed before how choosing the name Mercury for its middle class brand might have been FordMoCo’s biggest mistake. Selecting the celestial body known to astrologically put the most mix-ups in our lives was just right for conjuring up a make full of surprises and shadows.

This Mercury Retrograde we once again trace back to the heady times of 1959, from the alternate perspective of a top of the line Park Lane, all dressed in Black. Different in mission and purpose than the bare bones Monterey, we’ll see how it was supposed to be a giant killer and a bridge to bigger things, but had to retrace its steps under the age of McNamara.

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(Found In) South Of Market (San Francisco, California): 1963 Mercury Meteor Custom Station Wagon

13895026_1232262606784763_38402590838525256_n We’ve covered the fall to earth of the 1962-63 Mercury Meteor before. What we didn’t cover were the distinct efforts of metal these Mercurial beasts were offered in. From bargain to slightly brash, it’s kind of a sad story that the 1-2-3 diversity left Mercury dealers with a plethora of plodding ambiguity.

Today we swap out the dashing, dapper coupe version for something far more practical. Spacious, savvy and spoiled with options, the upmarket Meteor Wagons should have been bigger hits.

 
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(Found In) Lone Mountain (San Francisco, California): 1959 Mercury Monterey 2 Door Hardtop Coupe

photo-2The superstitions around “Mercury Retrograde” are perceived as explanations for communication and travel gone awry. Maybe that was the first mistake Ford made; naming their middle brand Mercury in the first place. For every two steps forward the brand made, it seemingly made two steps back.

They always ended up in the same place: being a Fancy Ford. Before it gave up the ghost and entered another period of review, the 1959 Mercury models tried to right any wrongs that prevented its individualized success on the medium car market.
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