(Found In) Lone Mountain (San Francisco, California): 1958 Oldsmobile Super 88 Holiday Hardtop Coupe

IMG_3459Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Or in the eye of the buyer, I guess. In the twilight zone of the late 50’s, many an automobile brings up the question of what exactly did “good taste” mean in terms of what American car shoppers wanted.

This is where the 1958 Oldsmobile enters into our consciousness. When all is said and done, can you believe that it was one of the most popular faces for ’58? Perhaps entranced by all the sparkling jewelry, we spend time with this glittery gem, figuring out if it was a ghoul or the genteel beast most middle class buyers wanted that year.

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(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) Outer Richmond (San Francisco, California): 1972 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser Station Wagon

IMG_1435The Vista Cruiser is an interesting detour in the concept of the family hauler. General Motors always struggled a wee bit with the concept of the station wagon (and the minivan and SUV crazes that followed) compared to Ford and Chrysler.

While Ford had no problem not only selling plenty of Country Sedans and Country Squires, even their Ford wagons had a snob appeal that belied them sharing floor space with the most basic of Henry’s vehicular grandchildren.

GM tried low priced to luxury, 4 door hardtop and sporty station wagons with names like Fiesta and Nomad. Although those wagons have become collectors items in the current, they weren’t exactly prized in the past. Buick and Oldsmobile, in particular, passed the baton from their Full Sized wagons for a good half decade, relying on scenic-cruising bus inspired family haulers based on their intermediate platforms for that certain level of panache for suburban driveways. We celebrate an icon in the sunset of its years as the dog days of summer settle in.

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(Found In) Outer Richmond (San Francisco, California): 1965 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa Convertible

IMG_0622It’s weird to be David when your dad is Goliath. Compounding the dilemma is there’s always a series of giant killers out to strike down that object that towers over them. Here’s where we find the Chevrolet Corvair for its 6th Season, first comprehensive re-design standing in full embrace of its most appropriate mission statement.

Gone were the pretenses of being an economy machine. Gone with the wind was any pretense to really run with the pack of other jocks. The Corvair was General Motors first home grown international game player. Too bad dad was withholding of any true affection.

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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) 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) 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) Lone Mountain (San Francisco, California): 1964 Studebaker Avanti

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The Studebaker Avanti is the most Christ-like of all personal coupes. I’m not too sure that the end of production at South Bend fell on a Friday, or whether the revival of limited production models came on a Sunday. In a number of ways it was perfect, in other ways it was perfectly flawed.

As we start to close out the year, let’s revisit this car I’ve covered before in terms of which crosses it had to bear for the sins of Studebaker before arising to a bespoke role.

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Dynamic Divergence: Driving While Black, Part 2 – Redlining On The Road

14440911_1301386729872350_3531472899202609558_nOnce upon a time, in an America of a not too distant past, there was an interesting dynamic of who had access to necessities. In a country where we believe the myth of hard work and perseverance gets us far and wide, systematically bigotry kept and still keeps a number of people behind invisible yet visible lines of life.

Most would de-mark that to Redlining policies when it comes to the essential of housing, but how did it look, to be a person of color in pursuit of motor vehicles, past and present?

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(Found In) Lone Mountain (San Francisco): 1958 Dodge Royal Lancer D-500 2 Door Hardtop Coupe

12666505_10153279337232201_596618935_nThe fabulous fin-tailed Forward Look rocked the industry in 1957. Beyond the styling and the engineering, Mopar’s mainstream brands all fielded muscle coupes and convertibles as halo highway eaters. The most demonic Dodge was the least known, however.

Not casting a singular performance model, the Royal Lancer decidedly played double duty, offering a multi-layered approach to the burgeoning medium priced luxury field. Perhaps the only Dodge tactic not encroaching fully on DeSoto territory, it’s among the rarest of a rare breed of bird.
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