(Found In) Temescal (Oakland, California): 1962 Chevrolet Corvair 700 Sedan

IMG_2311It’s forgotten quite often that the original plan for the Chevrolet Corvair was to be an economical rival to the proliferation of modest European Sedans that found support on the shores of the United States throughout the 2nd half of the 1950’s. Not only was the Volkswagen Beetle a target. Sedans from Renault, Fiat and Volvo alongside more mundane rivals from the domestic market were part of The Corvair’s world domination plans.

Of course, the vast majority of Americans wanted their basic transportation, well, basic. Where did that leave the Corvair Sedans in the wake of the runaway niche success of the Corvair Coupes and new for ’62 Convertibles?

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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) Gold Coast (Alameda, California): 1962 Studebaker Lark Regal VIII 4 Door Sedan

IMG_5645A wing, a prayer, and perhaps some emergency road flares. That encapsulated where Studebaker was by 1962 with their standard passenger car line. Where the innovation of cropping the circa ’53 standard Studebaker down to the Lark in 1959 was a stroke of genius, by 1962 many manufacturers crowded around the special bird to make a feast. No longer was it the only downsized dowager with the pride of a potent V8 engine.

A nip and a tuck of plastic surgery, some new features and a fretting over where to go next signified where the Lark was in 1962. Emphasis on the blossoming of the specialized small American car seen elsewhere creeped in too. How much of the old bird was new in ’62.

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(Found In) Ralph Bunchie (Oakland, California): 1962 Buick Invicta 4 Door Hardtop Sedan

img_6097Buick was never really known as the flamboyant choice of cars in the General Motors stable. However, starting in the Mid 1950’s, Buick found its way to being one of the most fashionable plates car buyers dined off of. For the 1954-57 models it seemed more keeping up with the Jonesin’ for wild color and fabric combinations. However, by 1958, the glittery flamboyance jumped the shark, followed by the Batman inspired ’59, and the relatively less marvel superhero themed 1960 version.

By 1962, under the influence of ever calming industrial design, Buick found itself refining into the solid state of automotive conservatism it has been long term known for. Gone were the protrusions of previous years for a statelier ride. How did that graft onto the Banker’s Hot Rod Du Jour, The 1962 Invicta?

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(Found In) Uptown (Oakland, California): 1969 Dodge Dart Custom 4 Door Sedan

img_5655Before the automotive market fully fragmented due to offerings to fit every type of vehicle lifestyle, the vast majority of automotive sales went to the 4 door sedan. Each American brand offered many flavors of door opening convenience through their line ups. Most often, each one was offered in bargain basement, deluxe and sometimes luxury trim by the mid 1960’s.

Dodge was no different in offering different flavors of its three different sedan sizes. The smallest you could get was the ever popular Valiant based A-body Dart before you stepped up to larger Coronet, Polara & Monaco offerings. The Dart’s aim scored success as a reasonable pair of sensible shoes, but how exactly?

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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) 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) Fairfax (Oakland, California): 1962 Rambler Classic Custom 4 Door Sedan

img_2375In the era of planned obsolescence, independent brands, out of necessity didn’t “keep up with the times.” Smaller brands like Studebaker, AMC and a number of independent brands before them didn’t have the market share or profits to field new styling and the required sheetmetal every 2 or 3 years, or, in the case of General Motors, the extreme of every model year for 1957, ’58 and ’59.

As a wave of consumer backlash against this process developed, American Motors in particular, was well situated to take advantage of the march of “progress” fielded by the big three. Their smaller, sensible, upright rolling orthopedic shoes of automobiles, assembled with care and craft not necessarily known in their price class lead them to rise in sales during the leaner, recession restricted years of 1958 through 1961.  How did that do for ’62?

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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) South Berkeley (Berkeley, California): 1961 Plymouth Fury Four Door Hardtop Sedan

image-46There’s perhaps no bigger surprise underdog that early 1960’s full sized Plymouths. Due to a number of factors, especially from 1960 through 1962, the Big Bargain Basement Mopars found themselves not only at odds with their traditional market segment. They found displeasure among Mopar loyalists as well.

While the 1960 and 1962 versions get their fair share of flack, most of the mockery goes to the rather galactic looking 1961 versions of Savoy, Belvedere and Fury. How did this Extra-Terrestrial get let out of Area 51 to convince Highland Park executives that it was just the Science Fiction fantasy that America wanted during the Camelot years? It’s a peculiar question to ask.

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