(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) The Tenderloin (San Francisco, California): 1950 Imperial Deluxe Four Door Sedan

image (25).jpegWe’ve spoken earlier about the Imperial Image problem. From the introduction of the brand in 1926 through 1954, it was positioned as the most premium Chrysler. That problematic push towards the glass ceiling of luxury brands always saddled Imperials with the upper middle class respectability of the Chrysler brand. The challenge, alongside sharing a heavy commonality with Chrysler cars, was being accepted as a legit full luxury competitor to Cadillac, Lincoln and Packard.

Compared to early depression era Imperials, the last that feathered flamboyance on buyers, the first Post-War Imperials doubled down on sturdy, stodgy and secure engineering and styling. The Post-War do-it-yourself motto shifted the palate of the most premium Chryslers from limousines towards a push at self-actualized luxury that would lead to Imperial becoming a separate marque by mid-decade.

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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) The Tenderloin (San Francisco, California): 1956 (Packard) Clipper Super Sedan

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Although the voyage was almost over, the (Packard) Clipper was one mighty ship. Full of technological advances, most reserved for the premium revamped Packards of 1955, they should have held the tiller til brighter successes throughout the rest of the 1950’s.

Many factors prevented their efforts at buoying the fleet of Packards while exploring the Medium-Price field against Oldsmobiles, Buicks, Chryslers and Mercuries. All but in name, they were the final formal Packards, and some of the finest to boot.
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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) Temescal (Oakland, California): 1957 Oldsmobile Golden Rocket 88 Holiday Hardtop Four Door Sedan

image (22)Rockets start to fall back to the earth after they pierce their way into outer space. That’s pretty much the legacy of Oldsmobile during the second half of the 50’s. As the Overhead Valve V8 performance revolution Oldsmobile inspired in 1949 spread to all popular priced cars in the middle of the decade, the laurel brand of Lansing found itself in a dilemma.

Where was the athlete to go when so many challengers to the crown were on the track and field? Was it mission impossible to attempt to maintain the performance crown? Was adding luxury and maintaining consistency the key to longevity, success and praise?

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(Found In) Golden Gate Park (San Francisco, California): 1962 Plymouth Fury Four Door Sedan

image (13) You shouldn’t believe everything you hear over dinner party chatter. Especially when you’re already on the ropes with your business. Chrysler Corporation seemed perpetually going just askew of where buyers wanted for a good portion of the Post-war era.

First the boxy post-war efforts, then the lack of an Automatic transmission, then the quality debacles of The Forward Look to some rather interstellar looking land based transit as the decade clock ticked over into the 60’s, it was a surprise that Highland Park found buyers for their wares. Yet another goof greeted them for 1962.
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(Found In) Clawson (Oakland, California): 1973 Lincoln Continental 4 Door Sedan

photo 2Much can be said for the foreboding presence that many a vintage domestic luxury sedan exudes. With forty-plus years of changing automotive trends, a premium offering like a 1973 Lincoln Continental perhaps tells even more of a story compared to when they were new.

As a cross between 1960’s restraint and 1970’s isolation, these Continentals struck a Goldilock’s “just right” once you got past the intimidating presentation.

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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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(Found In) Oak Center (Oakland, California): 1970 Oldsmobile Ninety – Eight Holiday 4 Door Hardtop Sedan

24201093003_f2e9738c84_kThe Oldsmobile Ninety Eight had made a career of stating “why buy a Cadillac?” The distance between what the Oldsmobile offered at a 25-30% discount over a comparable edition of The Standard Of The World often made the Ninety Eight seem like the most sensible sensation in the Near-Luxury field.

Quite often, the details of this most premium of Oldsmobiles actively upset product managers at Cadillac. The “Deep Discount DeVille” matched with the sterling reputation Oldsmobile cultivated for decades, but most importantly in the post-war market, set the groundwork for the brands stratospheric rise during the “me” decade of the 1970’s which found the brand even ahead of Ford at points for the #2 spot on the sales charts. Continue reading “(Found In) Oak Center (Oakland, California): 1970 Oldsmobile Ninety – Eight Holiday 4 Door Hardtop Sedan”