(Found In) Lone Mountain (San Francisco, California): 1951 Chevrolet Styleline Deluxe Bel-Air 2 Door Hardtop Coupe

img_4218Although Chevrolet always languished at the bottom of the traditional General Motors hierarchy, often it portrayed itself as an aspirational Cadillac for the everyperson. While Ford’s most often left it to middle child Mercury to dress up in Mama Bear Lincoln Luxury guise, Chevrolet quite often did drag in the duds more associated with the higher echelons of the country’s biggest manufacturer.

The most fashionable firecracker offered by Chevrolet was the first in the low-priced field 2 Door “Hardtop Convertible” mimicking the 1949 Coupe DeVille (and Roadmaster Riviera and Ninety Eight Holiday Coupes) named, in an oh-so-vacation minded frame of mind as the Bel-Air for 1950. How did it do in its sophomore season?

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(Found In) Golden Gate (Oakland, California): 1964 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight Holiday Sports Sedan

img_2769By 1964, General Motors premium efforts offered up a magic brew of marketing and moxie. Where Ford and Chrysler could only work their mojo into offering perhaps only 2 or 3 premium sedans, General Motors had a slew of them. Most credit Ford with starting the brougham brigade, in actuality Pontiac brought the bourgeois to more of the masses with their Bonneville Brougham.

Before you cashed in with a Cadillac, there were two steps that you could sit on up the Sloan Ladder. We’ve covered the Electra 225 already, but one favorite on Dynamic Drives is one of our favored subjects from after dark. Today we present yet another Oldsmobile Ninety Eight.

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(Found In) Tresle Glen (Oakland, California): 1959 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight Holiday Hardtop Sedan

img_2284 Although the tidal change that the 1959 General Motors Full Sized line was, perhaps no marque needed that change more than Oldsmobile. The brand had gone from offering the most conservative offerings in 1957 to the most derided offerings for 1958.

Mocking came in the form of musical notes written on the chrome trim in comics of the period, mocking the excessive levels of trim of the loving motorboats on offer from Lansing that year. Fortelling a renewed appreciation for simplicity and decorum, the 1959 Oldsmobile line pointed in the direction of a series of ever increasingly elegant offerings for middle class buyers for the next decade.
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(Found In) The Tenderloin (San Francisco, California): 1959 Cadillac Series 62 4 Window Hardtop Sedan

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Whether you consider the 1959 Cadillac a zeitgeist or stereotype on wheels; you’re right. No other car sums up the last theatrical breath of the middle decade of the last century to so many eyes like the cream crop cars from General Motors that paraded their proud feathers worldwide starting in the fall of 1958.

What they held, what they hid, was confidence and charisma in the absolutely ordinary. Beyond the wildness that might have been expected, they didn’t take as much of a risk as rivals that survived the decade did.

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(Found In) Noe Valley (San Francisco, California): 1957 Chevrolet Two-Ten Townsman 4 Door Station Wagon

image (16)Chevrolet may have dominated quite regularly when it came to sales for the majority of the immediate post war. One area the Chevrolet perpetually found themselves behind however, was in Wagon sales. Between advances and ability to exploit snob appeal, real wood or not, Ford sold more Ranch Wagons, Country Sedans and Squires to Chevrolets offerings quite regularly.

Behind slightly behind the curve at times with fresh offerings didn’t often help matters either.
Although much loved in retrospect, the 1957 Chevrolet line at the time rapidly ended up being old hat against The New Kind of 1957 Ford and The Star of The Forward Look ’57 Plymouth.

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(Found In) Polk Gulch (San Francisco, California): 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale Convertible

image (5).jpegGeneral Motors’s status as the majority producer of Automobiles for much of the 20th Century meant it could waste time where other car manufacturers couldn’t. This meant that GM fielded no less than 3 automatic transmissions for shiftless driving throughout its 5 brands into the 1960’s. This also meant, as Air Conditioning became commonplace, and fun in the sun motoring became a thing of the past, GM fielded convertibles, full sized convertibles to boot, in all 5 brands way into the Disco Ball and Opera Window’d 1970’s.

Right in the middle of the pack, in the middle of the model generation, we have the Oldsmobile Delta 88. What’d you get over the other offerings at Chevy, Pontiac, Buick and Cadillac? Who bought these beautiful beasts?

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(Found In) Cragmont (Berkeley, California): 1965 Pontiac GTO

image (31)In the middle Sixties fires shot among brands, the Pontiac GTO probably ranks a close second to one of the most potent bullets of the decade. Like the Ford Mustang, it satisfied a thirst for wild abandon behind smaller, sportier, more powerful machines from Detroit’s big three. The GTO maximized profits even further than the Mustang since it shared its humble body with other mid-sized Pontiacs, which, in reality, meant it shared quite a bit with offerings from Chevrolet, Oldsmobile and Buick as well.

Pontiac, holding court as the third most popular brand in America in the mid 60’s, saw that its latest crowned performance prince became the winner above all others when it came to the image of being the best jock on the road. For its sophomore season, it secured its ranks on the Varsity team of performance cars in the United States.

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(Found In) The Tenderloin (San Francisco, California): 1964 Chevrolet Chevy II Nova 400 Station Wagon

image (6) One must remember the scope and power of General Motors in the early 1960’s. When the Corvair didn’t conquer all, becoming the #2 sales holder among all domestic compact cars, Chevrolet and General Motors were not satisfied enough with quarter million rear-engined wonders that buyers chose.

Crash development to add an additional compact to the Chevrolet line started immediately. This brought no less that 5 miniature motoring experiences to the General Motors fold by 1962. What made the Chevy II so unique among all of those offerings?
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(Found In) Downtown Oakland (Oakland, California): 1964 Cadillac Sedan DeVille

13840661_10153649486877201_544268345_oFinned and Fancy, Cadillac seemingly could do little wrong in the early 1960’s. Recognizing continuity as a cash cow and cementing a legacy, Cadillac style and substance found itself setting in stone a luxury legacy that still stands 50 years later.

Improvements under the skin, the best that General Motors would offer buyers, gave many luxury buyers possibly the best bargain on the globe. Effortless, peerless performance, seductive silence and still swanky style kept these jewel boxes on 4 wheels interstate royalty envied globally.

 

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(Found In) Clawson (Oakland, California): 1971 Chevrolet Impala Convertible

image (28) The sporting pretense of the Full Sized Chevrolet had been on the wane for more than half a decade. Nevertheless, with market dominance unlike any other manufacturer, General Motors still saw it worthy to offer top down motoring to the masses in massive sizes when it re-designed its Full Sized Automobiles for the 1971 model year.

The most practical self-placement in a large fun in the sun machine was of course found in Chevrolet dealerships. in its 7th season in the Silver Spot among Chevrolet Full-sizers, the re-visioned ’71 Impala Convertible offered many tailoring options from later day Super Sport to Junior DeVille with the appropriate selection of option boxes.

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