Automobile Driving Museum – El Segundo, CA (USA)

It is well known that attractions right on your own doorstep are the ones you are least likely to visit, with priority always going to things that are further away, as a “day out”. And whilst that is certainly true when you are talking of things close to the place you live, it can also apply whilst away, where the things that are so close to your hotel are ones that never seem to get to the priority they perhaps deserve. That’s certainly the case for the museum being outlined here. It is situated in El Segundo, a proverbial stone’s throw from LAX airport and getting there from my habitual hotels probably takes less time than it does for me to walk to Hertz to collect a rental car. Although I’ve been staying in this part of LA for more than ten years now, this museum has remained one that I never quite got around to visiting. The lure of a display of old cars should have been enough, of course and there is the added attraction that if you go on a Sunday, then some of them are out on the street and you can secure a (pre-booked) ride in one around the local streets. I was not organised enough to do that, though in fact as the museum was quiet when I arrived, I could have claimed a spot in real time, but I did have a couple of hours to explore the museum before it closed for the day and here is what I found.

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1886 Mercedes-Benz Patentwagen: Built in 1885 by the German Carl Benz, this is widely regarded as the world’s first practical automobile, a self-propelled vehicle for carrying people, and first car put into series production. It was patented and unveiled in 1886. The original cost of the vehicle in 1886 was 600 imperial German marks, approximately 150 US dollars (equivalent to $4,524 in 2021). After developing a successful gasoline-powered two-stroke piston engine in 1873, Benz focused on developing a motorized vehicle while maintaining a career as a designer and manufacturer of stationary engines and their associated parts. The Benz Patent-Motorwagen was a motor tricycle with a rear-mounted engine. The vehicle contained many new inventions. It was constructed of steel tubing with woodwork panels. The steel-spoked wheels and solid rubber tires were Benz’s own design. Steering was by way of a toothed rack that pivoted the unsprung front wheel. Fully elliptic springs were used at the back along with a beam axle and chain drive on both sides. A simple belt system served as a single-speed transmission, varying torque between an open disc and drive disc. The first Motorwagen used the Benz 954 cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine with trembler coil ignition. This new engine produced 500 watts (2⁄3 hp) at 250 rpm in the Patent-Motorwagen, although later tests by the University of Mannheim showed it to be capable of 670 W (0.9 hp) at 400 rpm. It was an extremely light engine for the time, weighing about 100 kg (220 lb). Although its open crankcase and drip oiling system would be alien to a modern mechanic, its use of a pushrod-operated poppet valve for exhaust would be quite familiar. A large horizontal flywheel stabilized the single-cylinder engine’s power output. An evaporative carburettor was controlled by a sleeve valve to regulate power and engine speed. The first model of the Motorwagen had not been built with a carburettor, rather a basin of fuel soaked fibers that supplied fuel to the cylinder by evaporation. The vehicle was awarded the German patent number 37435, for which Karl Benz applied on 29 January 1886. Following official procedures, the date of the application became the patent date for the invention once the patent was granted, which occurred in November of that year. Benz unveiled his invention to the public on 3 July 1886, on the Ringstrasse in Mannheim. Benz later made more models of the Motorwagen: model number 2 had 1.1 kW (1.5 hp) engine, and model number 3 had 1.5 kW (2 hp) engine, allowing the vehicle to reach a maximum speed of approximately 16 km/h (10 mph). The chassis was improved in 1887 with the introduction of wooden-spoke wheels, a fuel tank, and a manual leather shoe brake on the rear wheels. About 25 Patent-Motorwagen were built between 1886 and 1893. Bertha Benz, Karl’s wife, whose dowry financed the development of the Patent-Motorwagen, was aware of the need for publicity. She took the Patent-Motorwagen No. 3 and drove it on the first long-distance internal combustion automobile road trip to demonstrate its feasibility. That trip occurred in early August 1888, when she took her sons Eugen and Richard, fifteen and fourteen years old, respectively, on a ride from Mannheim through Heidelberg, and Wiesloch, to her maternal home town of Pforzheim. In Germany, a parade of antique automobiles celebrates this historic trip of Bertha Benz every two years. On February 25, 2008, the Bertha Benz Memorial Route, following the route of Benz’s journey, was officially approved as a Tourist or Scenic Route by the German authorities as a route of industrial heritage of mankind. The 194 km (121 mi) of signposted route leads from Mannheim via Heidelberg to Pforzheim (Black Forest) and back. A number of replica models were built by Mercedes-Benz to mark the car’s centenary.

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1904 Schacht: Schacht was an American manufacturer of automobiles, trucks and fire trucks from 1904 to 1940. The company was started by William and Gustav Schacht in Cincinnati, Ohio. Production of automobiles was from 1904 to 1914 with over 8,000 automobiles produced. The company was renamed the G.A. Schacht Motor Truck Company and production of trucks and fire trucks continued until 1940.

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1914 Saxon


1916 Franklin: The Franklin Automobile Company was a marketer of automobiles in the United States between 1902 and 1934 in Syracuse, New York. Herbert H. Franklin, the founder, began his career in the metal die casting business before establishing his automobile enterprise. Controlled by Herbert H. Franklin it had very few other significant shareholders. Franklin bought its vehicles from the H. H. Franklin Manufacturing Company which was only moderately profitable and frequently missed dividends on common stock. The two major characteristics of their automobiles were their air-cooled engines and in the early years their lightness and responsiveness when compared with other luxury cars. The Franklin companies suffered financial collapse in April 1934. Aside from his consequent retirement CEO Herbert Franklin’s lifestyle was unaffected. All Franklin cars were air-cooled, which the company considered simpler and more reliable than water cooling, and the company considered light weight to be critical in making a well-performing car given the limited power of the engines then available. Most Franklins were wood-framed, though the very first used an angle iron frame (1902) and, beginning in 1928, the heavier cars adopted a conventional pressed-steel frame. Lightweight aluminium was used in quantity, to the extent that Franklin was reckoned to be the largest user of aluminum in the world in the early years of the company. Offerings for 1904 included a touring car model with a detachable rear tonneau and which seated 4 passengers. The transverse-mounted, vertical straight-four engine, producing 10 hp, was mounted at the front of the car. A 2-speed planetary transmission was fitted. The car weighed 1100 lb (499 kg). List price was US$1300. By contrast, the Ford Model F in 1905 was priced at $2,000, the FAL was US$1750, a Cole 30 or Colt Runabout was US$1500, the Ford Model S $700, the high-volume Oldsmobile Runabout US$650, Western’s Gale Model A US$500, the Black could be as low as $375, and the Success hit the amazingly low US$250. Franklin cars were technological leaders, first with six cylinders (by 1905) and automatic spark advance, in 1907. Demonstrating reliability, L.L. Whitman drove a Franklin from New York City to San Francisco in 1906 in 15 days 2 hours 15 minutes, a new record. Franklin were undisputed leaders in air-cooled cars at a time when virtually every other manufacturer had adopted water cooling as cheaper and easier to manufacture. Before the invention of antifreeze, the air-cooled car had a huge advantage in cold weather, and Franklins were popular among people such as doctors, who needed an all-weather machine. The limitation of air-cooling was the size of the cylinder bore and the available area for the valves, which limited the power output of the earlier Franklins. By 1921, a change in cooling—moving the fan from sucking hot air to blowing cool air—led the way to the gradual increase in power. Franklins were often rather odd-looking cars, although some were distinctly handsome with Renault-style hoods. Starting in 1925, at the demand of dealers, Franklins were redesigned to look like conventional cars sporting a massive nickel-plated “dummy radiator” which served as an air intake and was called a “hoodfront”. This design by J. Frank DeCausse enabled the Franklin to employ classic styling. The same year, Franklin introduced the boat-tail to car design. In 1930 Franklin introduced a new type of engine which ultimately produced 100 hp with one of the highest power-to-weight ratios of the time. In 1932, in response to competition amongst luxury car makers, Franklin brought out a twelve-cylinder engine. Air cooled with 398 cubic inches (6.5 L), it developed 150 hp. It was designed to be installed in a lightweight chassis, but the car became a 6,000 pounds (2,700 kg) behemoth when Franklin engineers were overruled by management sent in from banks to recover bad loans. Although attractive, the Twelve did not have the ride and handling characteristics of its forebears. This was the wrong vehicle to be building after the crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression. The cars sold poorly and failed to recover the company’s investment. The company declared bankruptcy in 1934. Car production did not survive, but the name and assets were sold. Production of air-cooled engines for commercial and aircraft use was continued by Aircooled Motors of Syracuse. This company was bought after World War II by Preston Tucker. The flat-six engines were fitted with water-cooling jackets and used in the short lived Tucker automobile. The company was sold again after Tucker was disbanded. Franklin engines powered numerous light planes (owing to their light weight) as well as most early American-built helicopters. Aircooled Motors, the last company to manufacture air-cooled engines under the Franklin name, declared bankruptcy in 1975. Its designs were sold to the Polish government. Engines based on these designs remain in production.

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1917 Overland

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1922 Detroit Electric: The Detroit Electric was an electric car produced by the Anderson Electric Car Company in Detroit, Michigan. The company built 13,000 electric cars from 1907 to 1939. Anderson had previously been known as the Anderson Carriage Company (until 1911), producing carriages and buggies since 1884. Production of the electric automobile, powered by a rechargeable lead acid battery, began in 1907. For an additional US$600, an Edison nickel-iron battery was available from 1911 to 1916. The cars were advertised as reliably getting 80 miles (130 km) between battery recharging, although in one test a Detroit Electric ran 211.3 miles (340.1 km) on a single charge. Top speed was only about 20 mph (32 km/h), but this was considered adequate for driving within city or town limits at the time. Today, the rare few examples in running condition that are still privately owned can have difficulty being licensed in some countries due to their very low speed. Today, due to time taking a toll on the efficiency of the engines, and due to having to use batteries that are not as powerful or efficient as the original batteries, as modern car batteries are not intended for continued output, many are only able to achieve their advertised top speed downhill, or with favorable winds. Cars in running condition only are operated uncommonly, and for short distances. Running cars weigh more than they were built to, because owners will install roughly 14 car batteries, and a balancing charger, rather than the original batteries that weighed much less. Cars today must have their battery sets changed relatively frequently. For example, a private owner who is only the 3rd owner of his car, has changed batteries 3 times since purchasing his vehicle in 1988. The Detroit Electric was mainly sold to women drivers and physicians who desired the dependable and immediate start without the physically demanding hand cranking of the engine that was required with early internal combustion engine autos. A statement of the car’s refinement was subtly made to the public through its design which included the first use of curved window glass in a production automobile, an expensive and complex feature to produce. The company production was at its peak in the 1910s selling around 1000 to 2000 cars a year. Towards the end of the decade, the Electric was helped by the high price of gasoline during World War I. In 1920, the name of the Anderson company was changed to “The Detroit Electric Car Company” as the car maker separated from the body business (it became part of Murray Body) and the motor/controller business (Elwell-Parker). As improved internal combustion engine automobiles became more common and inexpensive, sales of the Electric dropped in the 1920s, but the company stayed in business producing Detroit Electrics until after the stock market crash of 1929. The company filed for bankruptcy, but was acquired and kept in business on a more limited scale for some years, building cars in response to special orders. The last Detroit Electric was shipped on February 23, 1939, (though they were still available until 1942), but in its final years the cars were manufactured only in very small numbers. Between 1907 and 1939 a total of 13,000 electric cars were built. Notable people who owned Detroit Electrics cars included Thomas Edison, Lizzie Borden, Charles Proteus Steinmetz, Mamie Eisenhower, and John D. Rockefeller, Jr. who had a pair of Model 46 roadsters. Clara Ford, the wife of Henry Ford, drove Detroit Electrics from 1908, when Henry bought her a Model C coupe with a special child seat, through the late teens. Her third car was a 1914 Model 47 brougham. Genzo Shimazu, founder of the Japanese battery company Japan Storage Battery Co. (known today as GS Yuasa), imported two Detroit Electric cars shortly after starting the company in 1917. Using his own batteries, he drove them around Tokyo to demonstrate the effectiveness of battery technology. Shimazu used them as daily drivers for 29 years until his retirement in 1946. With a return of interest in electric vehicles at the beginning of the 21st century, GS Yuasa restored one of the vehicles to running condition with a modern lithium-ion 24-volt battery in 2009, registering the date, May 20, as Electric Car Day in Japan. 

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1926 Pontiac Six: The 1926 Pontiac Six was first introduced as the Series 6-27 using Fisher Body coachwork, and only offered a 2-door 2-passenger Coupe or 5-passenger Coach with a list price of US$825. It was first introduced January 3, 1926, while manufacture at the Oakland Factory in Pontiac Michigan began December 28, 1925 and introduced the Pontiac straight-6 engine split-flathead which was designed by Henry M. Crane. As this was an entry-level vehicle, options were limited to a front and rear bumper, rear mounted spare tire and a heater for the passenger compartment. The Coach came painted in Sage Green with Faerie Red striping while the Coupe had Landau bars on the roof and was painted in Arizona Grey while both came with black fenders. Mid-year changes were introduced in August adding three more coachwork choices, while the coupe was available in blue with a red stripe, the coach was available in blue or gray with an orange stripe. Deluxe models could be distinguished by having both the fender and body in one color. When the model year had finished 76,742 cars had been manufactured. When model year 1927 began, it was renamed the “New Finer Series 6-27” and a Sport Roadster or Sport Coupe was now offered as a 2-passenger with optional rumble seat. Prices reflected the popularity of the brand and ranged from US$775 for a choice of the Sport Roadster, 2-passenger Coupe or 2-door 5-passenger Coach to US$975 for the Deluxe Landau Sedan. Earlier in 1925, the GM Art and Color Section, headed up by Harley Earl standardized all GM products and continued the tradition of planned obsolescence which introduced yearly appearance, mechanical upgrades or new optional equipment that in later years became standard equipment, and the 1928 Pontiac Six “New Series 6-28” was the new sales leader favourite of GM and saw various changes too. The front fenders now had a higher crown which meant that the edge of the fender came further down the sides of the tires and covered more of the front of the tire with a beaded edge. All previous “Deluxe” models were renamed “Sport”, and the Indian head hood ornament no longer had a headdress, which now signified it was using the likeness of an Indian brave. Prices remained under US$1,000 for all coachwork choices. January of 1929, the updated Series 6-29 “New Big Six” was introduced, signifying that the engine displacement was now at 200 ci, and styling was now influenced by the Vauxhall 20-60 which GM had previously purchased in 1925. All vehicles built between August and October of 1929 were identified as Series 6-29A. Some of the improvements recorded were appearance, mechanical or feature enhancements to include a vertical centre divider on the surface of the radiator, vertical louvers on the sides of the engine cover, oval opera windows on closed body sedans, and a combination transmission and ignition lock. When the Wall Street Crash of 1929 occurred in September, both Pontiac and Oakland sales dropped dramatically and because Oakland was the more expensive, GM leadership decided that Pontiac should remain. January of 1930 introduced the Big Six Series 6-30B and some of the improvements recorded were a rearward sloping windshield, a beltline molding that extended around the exterior, and exterior sun visors above the windshield. Wheel dimensions were measured at 29″ and model year production dropped to 62,888. For model year 1931 the “Fine Six Series 401″ was introduced in January, and the most notable changes were a 112″ wheelbase, seven body style choices, while it shared appearance and technical advancements introduced by GM on all cars for this model year. This was the last year for Oakland, and prices remained close in comparison to Chevrolet at US$675 for a choice of a 2-passenger Coupe or 2-door 5-passenger sedan to US$785 for the 4-door 5-passenger Custom Sedan. Model year production improved to 84,708. 1932 was the first year that Pontiac offered two products, with the Series 302 V8 being renamed from the previous Oakland Model 301 V8. The Series 402 Six offered the same appearance, mechanical and optional equipment installed on all GM vehicles that year, a 114″ wheelbase, including the availability of a radio, relocating the sun visor to inside the vehicle, replacing the vertical engine compartment vents with individual doors, fender lights on deepened crown front fenders, and sharing the curved front bar between the headlights used on the 1932 Chevrolet. Kelsey-Hayes spoked 18” wire wheels were optional covering four-wheel mechanical drum brakes.

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1928 Buick

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1928 Studebaker

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1929 Packard


1929 Durant

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1931 Ford Model A: The Ford Model A was the Ford Motor Company’s second market success after its predecessor, the Model T. First produced on October 20, 1927, but not introduced until December 2, it replaced the venerable Model T, which had been produced for 18 years. This new Model A (a previous model had used the name in 1903–04) was designated a 1928 model and was available in four standard colours. By February 4, 1929, one million Model As had been sold, and by July 24, two million. The range of body styles ran from the Tudor at US$500 (in grey, green, or black) to the Town Car with a dual cowl at US$1200. In March 1930, Model A sales hit three million, and there were nine body styles available. Prices for the Model A ranged from US$385 for a roadster to US$1400 for the top-of-the-line Town Car. The engine was a water-cooled L-head inline four with a displacement of 3.3 litre. This engine provided 40 bhp. Top speed was around 65 mph (105 km/h). The Model A had a 103.5 in (2,630 mm) wheelbase with a final drive ratio of 3.77:1. The transmission was a conventional unsynchronized three-speed sliding gear manual with a single speed reverse. The Model A had four-wheel mechanical drum brakes. The 1930 and 1931 models were available with stainless steel radiator cowling and headlamp housings. The Model A came in a wide variety of styles including a Coupe (Standard and Deluxe), Business Coupe, Sport Coupe, Roadster Coupe (Standard and Deluxe), Convertible Cabriolet, Convertible Sedan, Phaeton (Standard and Deluxe), Tudor Sedan (Standard and Deluxe), Town Car, Fordor (five-window standard, three-window deluxe), Victoria, Town Sedan, Station Wagon, Taxicab, Truck, and Commercial. The very rare Special Coupe started production around March 1928 and ended mid-1929. The Model A was the first Ford to use the standard set of driver controls with conventional clutch and brake pedals, throttle, and gearshift. Previous Fords used controls that had become uncommon to drivers of other makes. The Model A’s fuel tank was situated in the cowl, between the engine compartment’s fire wall and the dash panel. It had a visual fuel gauge, and the fuel flowed to the carburettor by gravity. A rear-view mirror was optional. In cooler climates, owners could purchase an aftermarket cast iron unit to place over the exhaust manifold to provide heat to the cab. A small door provided adjustment of the amount of hot air entering the cab. The Model A was the first car to have safety glass in the windshield. Model A production ended in March 1932, after 4,858,644 had been made in all body styles. Its successor was the Model B, which featured an updated inline four-cylinder engine, as well as the Model 18, which introduced Ford’s new flathead (sidevalve) V8 engine.

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1932 Packard 900

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1935 Chrysler Airflow: The Chrysler Airflow is a full-size car produced by Chrysler from 1934 to 1937. The Airflow was the first full-size American production car to use streamlining as a basis for building a sleeker automobile, one less susceptible to air resistance. Chrysler made a significant effort at a fundamental change in automotive design with the Chrysler Airflow, but it was ultimately a commercial failure due to a lack of market acceptance and controversial appearance. Chrysler also marketed a companion model under the DeSoto brand, the DeSoto Airflow, and the appearance was also offered on the Chrysler Imperial. Carl Breer, along with fellow Chrysler engineers Fred Zeder, and Owen Skelton, began a series of wind tunnel tests, with the cooperation of Orville Wright, to study which forms were the most efficient shape created by nature that could suit an automobile due to the increased speed vehicles at the time were capable of attaining and the resulting wind noise inside the passenger compartment. Chrysler built a wind tunnel at the Highland Park site, and tested at least 50 scale models by April 1930. Their engineers found that then-current two-box automobile design was so aerodynamically inefficient that it was actually more aerodynamic when tested as if being driven backwards. Applying what they had learned about shape, the engineers also began looking into unibody construction to achieve rigidity with less weight than could be achieved with the conventional separate frame and body. The strengthening was demonstrated in a publicity reel. The car thus represented a breakthrough in lightweight-yet-strong construction, as well as increasing the power-to-drag ratio, since the lighter, more streamlined body allowed air to flow around it instead of being caught against upright forms such as radiator grilles, headlights and windshields. Traditional automobiles of the day were the typical two-box design, with about 65% of the weight over the rear wheels. When loaded with passengers, the weight distribution tended to become further imbalanced, rising to 75% or more over the rear wheels, resulting in unsafe handling characteristics on slippery roads. Spring rates at the rear of traditional vehicles, which used leaf springs, were therefore necessarily higher, and passengers were subjected to a harsher ride. Innovative weight distribution in the new Chrysler Airflow stemmed from the need for superior handling dynamics. The engine was moved forward over the front wheels compared with traditional automobiles of the time, and passengers were all moved forward so that rear seat passengers were seated within the wheelbase, rather than on top of the rear axle. The weight distribution had approximately 54% of the weight over the front wheels, which evened to near 50:50 with passengers and resulted in more equal spring rates, better handling, and far superior ride quality. Chrysler would not build another unibody vehicle until 1960 with the Virgil Exner Forward Look. Prior to the Airflow’s debut, Chrysler did a publicity stunt in which they reversed the chassis, placing the front axle and steering gear of a conventional 1933 Chrysler Six at the back of the car, which allowed the car to be driven “backwards” throughout Detroit. The stunt caused a near panic, but the marketing department felt that this would call attention to the poor aerodynamics of current cars, and send a hint that Chrysler was planning something big. The car that emerged was like no other American production car to date. The Airflow, which was heavily influenced by the streamlining design movement, was sleek and low compared to other cars on American roads. The car’s grille work cascaded forward and downward forming a waterfall look where other makes featured fairly upright radiators. Headlights were semi-flush to areas immediate to the grille. The front fenders enclosed the running surface of the tire tread. The rear wheels were encased by fender skirts. Instead of a flat panel of glass, the windshield comprised two sheets of glass that formed a raked “vee” both side to side, and top to bottom. All the windows were made of safety glass. Passengers were carried in a full steel body (at a time when automakers like General Motors, Ford and even Chrysler itself continued to use wood structural framing members in their car bodies) that rested between the wheels instead of upon them. The front seat was wider than in other cars and the rear seat was deeper. Overall, the car possessed a better power-to-weight ratio, and its structural integrity was stronger than other like models of the day. The car was introduced in January 1934, months before it was put in production. Production peaked at only 6,212 units in May 1934 — very late in the year and barely enough to give every dealer a single Chrysler Airflow. The factory had not accounted for significant manufacturing challenges and expense due to the unusual new Airflow design, which required an unprecedented number and variety of welding techniques. The early Airflows arriving at dealerships suffered from significant problems, mostly the result of faulty manufacturing. According to Fred Breer, son of Chrysler Engineer Carl Breer, the first 2,000 to 3,000 Airflows to leave the factory had major defects, including engines breaking loose from their mountings at 80 mph. For 1934, both Chrysler and its junior running mate, DeSoto, were scheduled to offer the Airflow. DeSoto was assigned to offer nothing but Airflows; Chrysler, however, hedged its bets and continued to offer a six-cylinder variant of its more mainstream 1933 model cars. The Airflow used a flathead I8 engine and was produced in both 2-door coupe and 4-door sedan variants. Pricing was simplified at US$1,345 ($27,245 in 2021 dollars) for a choice of two, two-door sedans or two, four door sedans labeled Coupe, Brougham, Sedan and Town Sedan. Chrysler of Canada produced an Airflow Six, model CY, which was basically a DeSoto Airflow with a Chrysler grille, bumpers, instrument panel and emblems. A total of 445 were built. The Airflow Six was dropped at the end of 1934. The appearance was also used for commercial trucks as the Dodge Airflow. The Chrysler line of eight-cylinder Airflows included model CU Airflow Eight (123.5 in (3,140 mm) wheelbase), model CV Airflow Imperial Eight (128 in (3,300 mm) wheelbase), model CX Airflow Custom Imperial (137.5 in (3,490 mm) wheelbase). At the very top was the model CW Airflow Custom Imperial with a body built by LeBaron on a 146.5 in (3,720 mm) wheelbase. The CW had the industry’s first one-piece curved windshield on a production automobile. Within six months of the Airflow’s introduction, the vehicle was a sales disaster. Adding insult to injury, General Motors mounted an advertising campaign aimed at further discrediting the Airflows. Most automotive historians, though, agree that the Airflow was shunned in large part because buyers did not like its looks. The hood, waterfall grille, headlamps, and fenders were all merged into one continuous form that was interpreted as an “anonymous lump”. While thoroughly modern, the public was slow to embrace the Airflow. At the depth of the Great Depression, the car seemed to be too advanced, too different for many consumers. While Airflows sold in respectable numbers in its first year, Chrysler’s traditional sedans and coupes far outsold the Airflow by 2.5 to one, with first year Airflow sales at 10,839 units. DeSoto fared far worse than Chrysler for 1934. Without any “standard” car to sell, DeSoto’s sales numbers plunged. And while the Airflow design looked somewhat sleek on the Chrysler’s longer wheelbase, the DeSoto appeared to be short and stubby. Rumours also persisted that the “new-fangled” body was unsafe, which was mostly untrue. In one widely distributed advertising film shown in movie theatres, an empty Airflow was pushed off a Pennsylvania cliff, falling over 110 ft (34 m); once righted, the car was driven off, battered, but recognizable. Stung by the lack of consumer interest in the car, Chrysler responded by making modifications to the body that brought the front of the car more in line with public taste. Foremost of 1935 changes was the placement of a slightly peaked grille that replaced the waterfall unit of 1934. The Airflow models offered for 1935 were the same as in 1934, with the exception of the Airflow Eight two-door sedan, which was dropped. Chrysler Airflow production dipped below 8,000 units for 1935, with roughly four Airstreams produced for every Airflow. For 1936, the Airflow surrendered its smooth backside when a trunk was tacked onto the body of the car. The grille also became more pronounced. Only one Airflow body style, the four-door Imperial sedan (C-10) broke the 1,000 unit mark with 4,259 units built. Otherwise, total Airflow production sank to 6,275 units compared to the concurrent Airstream models, which sold more than 52,000 units for 1936. 1936 would be the last year that Chrysler’s premium Imperial model range would carry the Airflow. Lifeguard tires were introduced, which had two tubes inside the tyre. In 1936 the Lincoln-Zephyr was introduced as a two- or four door sedan and while it was also a streamlined product, it sold much better than the Airflow and had a V-12 engine. In its final year, the Airflow was reduced to one model, the Airflow Eight, offered as a two-door coupe and four-door sedan. A total of 4,600 units were produced before the program was cancelled. While the Airflow may have signaled Chrysler’s attempt to set itself apart from other manufacturers, the failure of the car in the marketplace caused the company to take a more conservative path with its future models. Until the debut of Virgil Exner’s “Forward Look” cars of 1955, Chrysler’s corporate styling was conservative and mainstream. It is rumoured that Ferdinand Porsche imported an early Airflow coupe into Germany, and using this model for “inspiration”, designed the first Volkswagen Beetle. The similarities between early Volkswagen Beetles and the Airflow coupes could be a testimony to this hypothesis. However, the general lines of the KDF-Wagen were drawn as early as 1932, and the Czech Tatra 97 and Tatra 77 are far more likely inspirations. German automaker Adler also introduced a streamlined sedan in 1937. Regardless, the revolutionary benefits of the design were immediately evident to designers the world over. U.S. designers could not and did not ignore the benefits of all-steel construction, aerodynamics and a rear seat forward of the rear axle. General Motors was quick to respond with all-steel “Turret Tops”, and later introduced a fastback coupe appearance on all of their nameplates from 1942 until 1950, offering the appearance on the Chevrolet Fleetline, Pontiac Streamliner, Oldsmobile 88 Club Coupe, Buick Super Sedanette and Cadillac Series 61 Sedanette; other manufacturers either followed suit or went out of business. In other countries, where gasoline was more expensive and practical considerations were therefore more important than styling, the flattery-by-imitation was even more sincere. Volvo was one of the first to get a smaller copy of the Airflow into production. The Peugeot 202 and the larger Peugeot 402 would become a major sales success (to Chrysler’s chagrin), and imitating the Airflow would be a secret of the success of a brand-new venture in the auto business called Toyota.

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1936 Ford V8 Roadster: The Model 48 was an update on Ford’s V8-powered Model 40A, the company’s main product. Introduced in 1935, the Model 48 was given a cosmetic refresh annually, begetting the 1937 Ford before being thoroughly redesigned for 1941. The 1935 Ford’s combination of price, practicality, and looks vaulted the company ahead of rival Chevrolet for the sales crown that year, with 820,000 sold. The Ford Model 48 has a front-mounted engine, and rear-wheel drive. It features a traditional body-on-frame design, and was offered with ten different body styles, made by various different coachbuilders. Ford used a simple, and cheap U-profile ladder frame made from pressed steel. In front, the Model 48 has a stub-type beam axle with a single transverse leaf spring, and a single, triangular-shaped combined longitudinal and transverse control arm. The rear axle is a live beam axle that also has a single, transverse leaf spring, combined with a triangular-shaped combined longitudinal and transverse control arm. The wheelbase is 112 in (2,845 mm). On all four wheels, the Ford Model 48 has mechanically operated 12.0 in (305 mm) drum brakes, and 6.00 by 16 inch tyres. The steering system is a conventional worm-and-sector steering system. The rolling chassis has conventional grease nipples, and a total mass of 2,010 lb (910 kg). The engine is Ford’s 3.062 90° flathead V8 Otto (spark ignition) engine. It is liquid-cooled, and consists of five main cast pieces made of a light metal alloy: the engine block with cast-in cylinders, the intake plenum, two flatheads, and a fairly expensive oilpan. Both the crankshaft and the camshaft have three bearings each; every two conrods share a single bearing. The main oil line is a steel tube installed above the centrally located, plastic gear-driven camshaft. The camshaft bearings have annular groves which allow the oil to pass down to the crankshaft below. The ignition distributor is driven by the camshaft and has a centrifugal force actuated, automatic ignition retard/advance system. Ford chose to install two water pumps in the engine that are driven by a belt. The same belt also powers the generator and the generator-mounted cooling fan. For mixture formation, the engine has a single Solex 30 LFFK two-barrel downdraft carburetor that is fed by an intake plenum mounted, mechanically driven fuel pump. Kremser (1942) writes that the engine has a compression of ε=6.15, and a rated power of 85 hp at 3800/min (with the max power being 90 hp, whereas according to Oswald (1979) the compression is ε=6.3, and the rated power 89 hp at 3800/min. Oswald also gives a torque figure 152 lb/ft which Kremser omits. From the engine, the torque is sent through a dry single-disk clutch to a three-speed sliding-mesh transmission that is, due to its design, not synchronized. The car’s final drive is 4.11; a 3.78 final drive was available as a factory option, which allows a top speed of 135 km/h (84 mph). The 1935 Ford was a thorough refresh on the popular V8-powered Ford. The four-cylinder Model A engine was no longer offered, leaving just the 221 CID (3.6 L) V8 to power every Ford car and truck. The transverse leaf spring suspension remained, but the front spring was relocated ahead of the axle to allow more interior volume. The body was lowered and new “Center-Poise” seating improved comfort. Visually, the 1935 Ford was much more modern with the grille pushed forward and made more prominent by de-emphasized and more-integrated fenders, reflecting modern Art Deco influences. A major advance was a true integrated trunk on “trunkback” sedans, though the traditional “flatback” was also offered. Outdated body styles like the Victoria were also deleted for the year. The wooden panels were manufactured at the Ford Iron Mountain Plant in the Michigan Upper Peninsula from Ford owned lumber. Two trim lines were offered, standard and DeLuxe, across a number of body styles including a base roadster, five-window coupe, three-window coupe, Tudor and Fordor sedans in flatback or trunkback versions, a convertible sedan, a woody station wagon, and new Model 51 truck. Rumble seats were optional on coupe model. An oil pressure gauge (costing $4) and two windshield wipers were optional. If one got the optional radio, it replaced the ash tray. Chevrolet regained the sales lead at the end of 1936, but the Ford still sold well. A new club cabriolet model was introduced with a fully framed windshield and weatherproof top, and the convertible sedan gained the popular integrated trunkback design. The look was updated with an inverted pentagonal grille with all-vertical bars beneath a prominent hood and three horizontal chrome side strips (on DeLuxe models). The V8 DeLuxe was called Model 68. A concealed horn, long a prominent part of the Ford’s design, also brought the car into modern times. The new trucks continued with the old grille. Other major changes for 1936 were the use of pressed steel “artillery” solid wheels instead of wire wheels. Six models were made with stainless steel bodies in a collaboration between Ford and the Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corporation to promote use of the metal. In 1938, Ford brought out new styling for its cars. Initially, only a V8 was offered, producing either 60 hp or 85 hp like 1935 Fords.

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1937 Packard V12

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1937 Pierce-Arrow V12 Town Car: The Pierce-Arrow car brand, produced from 1901 to 1938, was known for having one of the first Town Cars, or open coach designs, beginning in 1905. Pierce-Arrow Town Cars were predominantly owned by the very wealthy, including the royal families of Japan, Persia, Saudi Arabia, Greece, and Belgium. Town Cars were produced in various models: Brougham Town Car, Metropolitan Town Car and the Limousine Landau Town Car. First seen in 1934, the Metropolitan Town Car was mounted on either the eight- or twelve-cylinder Pierce-Arrow chassis. The eight cylinder model had 150 horsepower. The twelve cylinder model had 185 horsepower.

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1940 American Bantam: American Austin Car Company was founded in 1929, in Butler, Pennsylvania, in premises that had belonged to the Standard Steel Car Company. Their intention was to assemble and sell in the United States a version of the Austin 7 car, called American Austin. After some initial success the Great Depression set in, and sales fell off to the point that production was suspended. In 1934 the company filed for bankruptcy. The automobile was designed in the hopes of creating a market for small-car enthusiasts in the United States. The cars had 747 cc inline-four engines, enabling the car to return 40 mpg‑US (48 mpg‑imp; 5.9 L/100 km), and travel 1,000 miles or 1,600 kilometres per 2 US qt (1.7 imp qt; 1.9 l) fill of oil. It was capable of 50 mph (80 km/h) in high gear. Styling resembled small Chevrolets, with Stutz- and Marmon-style horizontal hood louvres. The bodies were designed by Alexis de Sakhnoffsky and made by the Hayes Body Company of Detroit. The coupe was billed as a sedan, and sold for $445, slightly less than a Ford V8 roadster. The Great Depression made the cheaper secondhand cars more appealing, so sales dropped off. More than 8,000 cars were sold during the company’s first (and best) year of sales, but sales fell off to the point that production was suspended in 1932. It restarted in 1934 with bodies now made in-house, but stopped again between 1935 and 1937. About 20,000 cars were produced. Beginning in the 1960s, the car gained a following with hot rodders, as well as among drag racers. The 75 in (1,900 mm) wheelbase made it attractive, even compared to the Anglia. In 1935, Roy Evans, a former salesman for Austin, bought out the bankrupt company, which was reorganized under the name American Bantam. The formal connection with Austin in the UK was severed, though a relationship was maintained. A series of changes were made to the American Austin car design, including a modified engine and an exterior sheetmetal designed by Alexis de Sakhnoffsky. Production was resumed in 1937, and continued through 1941. Despite a wide range of Bantam body styles, ranging from light trucks to woodie station wagons, only about 6,000 Bantams of all types were produced. American Bantam’s 1938 model was the inspiration for Donald Duck’s car which was first seen in Don Donald (1937).

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1940 Packard Darrin: Between 1939 and 1942, designer and entrepreneur Howard A. Darrin (1897-1982) built a series of semi-custom automobiles for the Packard motor Car Company. There were several body styles: a Convertible Victoria, style #700, offered in the One-Twenty and Custom Super Eight One-Eighty model ranges, and convertible sedan (#710), and sport sedan (#720) as Custom Super Eight One-Eighty models only. When he closed the doors of his Darrin of Paris shop in Los Angeles, California, in 1939 (after only two years), Packard took over the handling of these cars. Some were built by Central Manufacturing Co. in Connersville, Indiana, Coachcraft, Ltd., Hollywood, California, and Bohman & Schwartz, Pasadena, California. After WW2, there was an extremely rare Darrin convertible based on the Clipper Custom Super. 

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One of the special features of the museum is a recreation of a 1930s-style Showroom and this features a series of Packard cars as well as a 1936 Lincoln Brunn. Sadly, you cannot enter this area and taking pictures of the cars within proved quite difficult

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1941 Packard 110: The Packard Eighteenth Series One-Ten was a range of six-cylinder automobiles produced by the Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan during the 1940 and 1941 model years. The One-Ten designation was renamed from the previous Packard Fifteenth Series Six (115-C). The One-Ten shared the wheelbase of the One-Twenty but was given the One-Ten designation to indicate it was the entry level product. Packard reintroduced a line of six-cylinder cars in 1937 after a ten-year absence as a response to the economic depression and ongoing recovery cycle in the United States. As an independent automaker, Packard could not look to other internal divisions to support its luxury models, so the inclusion of the Six, and the later One-Ten, was necessary to aid in supporting the firm’s bottom line until better times returned. Critics of the Packard Six and One-Ten have long maintained they hurt Packard’s reputation of being America’s premier luxury marque. Still, the reintroduction of the Six could not have come at a better time for the automaker, just prior to the nation’s 1938 economic depression. By offering the less expensive model, the company was able to attract buyers who would otherwise be unable to purchase more expensive cars. Prices ranged from USD$867 ($16,770 in 2021 dollars) for the Business Coupe to USD$1,200 ($23,210 in 2021 dollars) for the Station Wagon. Built on a shorter wheelbase than the senior Packards, the One-Ten was introduced in August 1939. The One-Ten was available in a broad range of Body styles, including both two and four-door sedans, station wagon and convertible. Total output for the 1940 model year was 62,300 units. Following its successful first year, the 1941 One-Ten model range was expanded, and a second trim level, the Deluxe was added. Packard also added a taxi line within the One-Ten model range. Options for the One-Ten included heater, radio, spotlight, and despite its low-line status, air conditioning. For 1942, Packard made a decision to retain numerical designated models within its senior line and the One-Ten reverted to being called Packard Six.

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1941 Lincoln Continental: The Lincoln Continental began life as a personal vehicle for Ford Motor Company President Edsel Ford. In 1938, Ford commissioned a one-off design he wanted ready for his March 1939 vacation from company Chief Stylist Eugene T. “Bob” Gregorie. Using the blueprints of the streamlined Lincoln-Zephyr as a starting point, Gregorie sketched a design for a convertible with a redesigned body; allegedly, the initial sketch for the design was completed in an hour. At the time work had begun on the first Continental coupe, Lincoln had previously cancelled the Lincoln K-series coupes, sedans, and limousines, and produced the very limited Lincoln Custom limousine, along with the smaller Lincoln-Zephyr coupes and sedans, while the all-new Mercury Eight was also introduced in 1939. Ford wanted to revive the popularity of the 1929–1932 Lincoln Victoria coupe and convertible but with a more modern approach, reflecting European styling influences for the Continental. By design, the Edsel Ford prototype could be considered a channelled and sectioned Lincoln-Zephyr convertible; although the vehicle wore a conventional windshield profile, the prototype sat nearly 7 inches lower than a standard Lincoln. With the massive decrease in height, the running boards were deleted entirely. In contrast to the Zephyr (and in a massive change from the K-Series Lincoln), the hood sat nearly level with the fenders. To focus on the styling of the car, the chrome trim on the car was largely restricted to the grille; instead of door handles, pushbuttons opened the doors. As with the Lincoln-Zephyr, the prototype utilized a 267 cubic-inch V12 engine, transverse leaf springs front and rear as well as hydraulic drum brakes. The design would introduce two long-running features used in many American automobile designs. The modified body gave the design new proportions over its Zephyr counterpart; with the hoodline sitting lower over the V12 engine and the passenger compartment moved rearward, the prototype had more in common with classic era “long-hood, short deck” body configurations versus being a strict adherent of contemporary streamline moderne design trends. As a consequence of the smaller trunk space, the spare tyre was mounted behind the trunk; while disappearing on American cars, the externally mounted, covered spare tyre remained a feature on European-produced cars. The prototype designed by Gregorie was produced on time, making the deadline to be delivered to Edsel Ford in Florida. Interest from well-off friends was high; Edsel sent a telegram back to Michigan that he could sell a thousand of them. In reference to its European-inspired design, the Lincoln-based prototype received its name: Continental. Immediately, production commenced on the Lincoln Continental, with the majority of production being “Cabriolet” convertibles and a rare number of coupes. These were extensively hand-built; the two dozen 1939 models and 400 1940-built examples were built with hand-hammered body panels; dies for machine-pressing were not constructed until 1941. The limited number of 1939 models produced are commonly referred to as ‘1940 Continentals’. Lincoln Continentals from 1939 to 1941 shared largely the same body design with each other; based on the Lincoln-Zephyr, the Continental received few updates from year to year. For the 1942 model year, all Lincoln models were given squared-up fenders, and a revised grille. The result was a boxier, somewhat heavier look in keeping with then-current design trends, but perhaps less graceful in retrospect. 1942 production was shortened, following the entry of the United States into World War II; the attack on Pearl Harbor led to the suspension of production of automobiles for civilian use. After World War II, the Lincoln division of Ford returned the Continental to production as a 1946 model; Lincoln dropped the Zephyr nomenclature following the war, so the postwar Continental was derived from the standard Lincoln (internally H-Series). To attract buyers, the design was refreshed with updated trim, distinguished by a new grille. For 1947, walnut wood trim was added to the interior. Following the death of Edsel Ford in 1943, Ford Motor Company re-organized its corporate management structure, which led to the 1946 departure of the Continental’s designer Bob Gregorie. That year’s Continental, the first postwar model, was designed by famed industrial stylist Raymond Loewy. 1948 would become the last year for the Continental, as the division sought to redevelop its new 1949 model line as an upgraded version of the Mercury; the expensive personal-luxury car no longer had a role at Lincoln.

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1941 Plymouth Convertible

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1941 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible: The Fisher-bodied Series 40-62 was the new entry level product for the 1940 model line and was upgraded with a low sleek “torpedo” style C-body with chrome window reveals, more slant in the windshield, and a curved rear window. The new C-body that the 1940 Cadillac Series 62 shared with the Buick Roadmaster and Super, the Oldsmobile Series 90 and the Pontiac Custom Torpedo featured shoulder and hip room that was over 5 inches wider, the elimination of running boards and exterior styling that was streamlined and 2-3 inches lower. When combined with a column mounted shift lever connected to the Hydramatic automatic transmission, the cars offered true six passenger comfort. It was GM’s competitor to the popular selling Packard One-Twenty. These changes were carried over to the Cadillac Sixty Special borrowing a naming convention from the entry-level Buick Special. The styling feature distinguishing all V-8 Cadillacs was once again the grille. Although grilles had the same pointed shape as in 1939, the grille bars were heavier and fewer in number. Two sets of louver bars appeared on each side of the hood. Running boards were a no cost option. The Series 62 was available as a club coupe or a sedan, with 2-door and 4-door convertibles introduced mid-year. Sales totaled 5,903 in its inaugural year accounting for about 45% of Cadillac’s sales. The 2-passenger Coupe was listed for US$1,685 ($32,591 in 2021 dollars), the 5-passenger Touring Sedan was US$1,745 ($33,752 in 2021 dollars), and the 4-door Convertible Sedan was US$2,195 ($42,456 in 2021 dollars). While the 2-door could only accommodate 2 passengers, they were labeled as “coupes” instead of the more accurate roadster, then in 1941 passenger capacity increased to four. In 1941, the one piece hood came down lower in the front, included the side panels and extended sideways to the fenders. A single rectangular panel of louver trim was used on each side of the hood. The rectangular grille was wide, vertical, and bulged forward in the middle. Rectangular parking lights were built into the top outer corners of the grille. Headlights were now built into the nose of the fenders, and provision for built in accessory fog lights was provided under the headlights. Three chrome spears appeared on the rear section of all four fenders. Rear fender skirts were standard. The Series 62 offered the only 4-door convertible built by Cadillac in 1941 and it would be the last time this bodystyle was ever made by the marque. All Cadillacs shared the same 346 cu in (5.7 L) 135 hp L-head V8 that year, with power rising to 150 hp. Sales more than quadrupled to 24,734, accounting for 37% of Cadillac sales in a sales year that well more than doubled the previous Cadillac sales rate record set during the two model years of 1926–27, in part due to the huge popularity of the new Series 61. Evidently the new “torpedo” style with its low streamlined runningboardless bodies and expansive shoulder room had proved a big hit. The following model year, abbreviated as it was by a world war, would set no such sales record.

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One of a series of diorama-type displays, this contained an International Metro Van in Snap On Tools livery. The International Metro Van, made by International Harvester, is a step van, also known as walk-in or multi-stop delivery truck. This vehicle type was one of the earlier, mass-produced forward control vehicles, once commonly used for milk or bakery delivery, as well as ambulance services, mobile offices, and radio transmitter vans. Typically, they were 1/2-, 3/4-, or 1-ton panel trucks that allowed the driver to stand or sit while driving the vehicle. Variations included a passenger bus called a Metro Coach, a Metro partial cab-chassis with front-end sections (for end-user customization), and a cab-over truck called a “walk-in cab”. The truck (also called a chassis cab) variation could be configured with a separate box or container for cargo transport or left open to be fitted with other equipment such as a compactor for a garbage truck or a stake bed. The International Harvester Metro Van was produced in the United States from 1938 until 1975 and sold internationally. The drive train was originally based on the 1937-40 D-Series trucks. One of the first models built was sold to the Czechoslovakian Army and destroyed by the German army during World War II. Unlike their trucks and other vehicles, the Metro bodies were built by the Metropolitan Body Company on Grand Street in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a company that International Harvester would later purchase in 1948. Final assembly was then done in one of the IH manufacturing plants. The original design was by Raymond Loewy of Studebaker and Coke bottle fame. The Metro design was one of several with which Loewy was involved or created during his association with International Harvester. The overall design of the Metro vans remained somewhat unchanged from 1938 until 1964 when it was redesigned by the in-house design team in the Chicago Metro plant to be competitive with the Boyertown and Hackney vans. The corners were squared and an opening hood was added for easier access to coolant and oil dipstick. An eight-cylinder engine was also made available. In the 1950s, International Harvester began producing variations such as the “Metro-Lite,” and “Metro-Multi-Stop” vans. In 1959, the “Metro Mite” was introduced. It was based on the Scout drive train. In 1960 the “Bookmobile” was built by the Metropolitan Body Company on an IHC chassis. By 1972, all IHC Metro Vans were stripped-chassis that other manufacturers could build on. After 1975 they were discontinued along with all other light-duty trucks except for the Scout, which was last made in 1980. The Metro Van was re-issued by Navistar in 2000, as a medium-sized delivery truck. Other than by model name, it is unrelated to the original Metro line. In 2005, Navistar purchased the Workhorse Group, a manufacturer of step-van and motor home chassis, to seemingly re-enter the delivery van market. For a short time Workhorse offered an integrated chassis-body product, similar in nature to the original International Harvester van, called the MetroStar. In September 2012, Navistar announced the discontinuation of Workhorse and the closure of the plant in Union City, Indiana. With the introduction of the Metro Van body in 1937, a new manufacturing facility opened at 151 Kossuth Street in Bridgeport, Connecticut. All Metro Van bodies through its closing in the early 1970s were built in the Kossuth Street facility. Metro Van bodies were sold for all major truck builder platforms until 1947, when it started producing exclusively for International Harvester as it switched back to commercial production from building gun turrets and bomb blast shields for the war effort. MBC became a wholly owned subsidiary of International Harvester in January, 1948. During the late 1930s MBC were pioneers in the development of cab over engine (COE) route delivery bodies. MBC had an extensive patent protected line of utility cabs, beds, and bodies with unique functional aspects that likely contributed to International Harvester Company’s position as an innovator and market leader in the commercial truck industry in the latter half of the 20th century.

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Elsewhere there was plenty of automobilia with everything from old petrol pumps to roadsigns, and small scale models.

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1947 Packard Super Clipper

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1947 Triumph 1800 Roadster: The 1800 Roadster, model number 18TR, was designed in the closing days of World War II. Triumph had been bought by the Standard Motor Company in 1944, and the managing director of Standard, Sir John Black, wanted a sports car to take on Jaguar, who had used Standard engines in the pre-war period. Frank Callaby was selected to style the new car. After getting Black’s approval for the general shape, Callaby worked with Arthur Ballard to design the details of the body. Design of the rolling chassis was by Ray Turner. Walter Belgrove, who had styled the pre-war Triumphs and was employed as Chief Body Engineer, had no part in the design. Early post-war steel shortages meant that the body was built from aluminium, using rubber press tools that had been used making panels for the largely wooden bodied Mosquito bomber that had been built by Standard during the war. The frame was hand welded up from steel tube. The engine was a version of Standard’s 1.5-litre, four-cylinder side-valve design that had been converted to overhead valves by Harry Weslake and built by Standard exclusively for SS-Jaguar before World War II. The Triumph version differed from the Jaguar version in having a 6.7:1 compression ratio instead of the Jaguar’s 7.6:1 and a downdraught Solex carburettor instead of the Jaguar’s side-draught SU. A four-speed gearbox with synchromesh on the top three ratios was used. The tubular steel chassis was a short-wheelbase version of the 1800 saloon, featuring transverse leaf sprung independent suspension at the front and a live axle with semi-elliptic springs at the rear. The rear track was wider than the front by some 4 inches. Brakes were hydraulic. The body design was anachronistic. A journalist old enough to remember the pre-war Dolomite Roadster that had inspired the car felt that the elegant proportions of the earlier model had been abandoned in favour of a committee-based compromise, “a plump Christmas turkey to set against that dainty peacock … [more] Toadster [than Roadster]”. The front had large separate headlamps and the radiator was well back from the front between large “coal scuttle” wings. Passenger accommodation was on a bench seat that was claimed to seat three: the car’s 64 inch width helped make a reality of the three-abreast seating, and the approach meant a column gear change was required. The car’s unusual width also made it necessary to fit three screen wipers in a row, an example followed by early shallow windscreen Jaguar E Types. Additional room for two was provided at the rear in a dickey seat with its own folding windscreen: this was outside the hood that could be erected to cover the front seat. Entry and exit to the dickey seat was never easy and a step was provided on the rear bumper. The Roadster was the last production car with a dickey seat. The actor, John Nettles, drove a red 1947 Triumph Roadster 1800 in the 1980s television series, Bergerac. Two cars were actually used over the duration of the series production. This was made evident by the colour difference of the front mudguards and body without hood ornament on one car used in the earlier series and the same colour front mudguards and body with the hood ornament on the other car used in later series. The same number plate J 1610 was used on both cars in the series. In some episodes both cars appeared purporting to be the same car. The only significant update in the Roadster’s production came in September 1948 for the 1949 models, when the 2088 cc Vanguard engine, transmission, and rear axle were fitted. A retrograde step was the fitting of a three-speed gearbox even though it now had synchromesh on bottom gear. Apart from minor modifications to the mounting points, the chassis, suspension and steering were unaltered. This later version of the Roadster was given the model designation TRA. The car was never made in large numbers and was mainly hand built. 2501 examples of the 1800 and 2000 of the larger-engined version were made. Production ended in October 1949.

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1949 Buick Estate Model 59 Woodie: The first Buick Estate station wagon was a large-bodied 121.0 in (3,073 mm) wheelbase GM C platform Buick Super introduced mid-year only for 1940 with a wooden body, the same year the wooden-body station wagon Packard One-Ten was first introduced. The 1940 Super Estate was very exclusive, and was installed with the second largest engine offered at the time, with a retail price of US$1,242 ($24,023 in 2021 dollars) while the limousine Buick Limited manufactured 1,739 for a listed retail price of US$2,199 ($42,533 in 2021 dollars ) with similar length and interior comfort. The appearance of the wood panels using both mahogany panels with oak trim was different from other wagons that used one source of wood. Production totals record that 495 found buyers at the same time the 4-door Touring Sedan sold 95,875 and 4,764 convertible coupes were made. Earlier in 1934 a two-door station wagon was offered on the Buick Series 50 by special request. In 1942 all GM vehicles had an appearance upgrade where the trailing edge of the front fender was extended across the front doors that was called “Airfoil” accented by parallel chrome strips on the front and rear fenders on Buick vehicles. In later years the character line of the “Airfoil” feature was accented with a stainless steel strip that evolved into the Buick Sweepspear for several decades. The introduction of a station wagon was a novel body style as GM first introduced it in 1939 for the Chevrolet Master, 1940 for the Oldsmobile Series 60 and 1937 for the Pontiac Streamliner and all used wooden body panels for the passenger compartment. 1935 was the year the Chevrolet Suburban carryall/panel truck was built with an all-steel body on a truck-based chassis and offered a choice of side-hinged rear panel doors, or a rear tailgate/lift window could be selected for cargo area access while only offering two side mounted doors, resembling a cargo van that could seat up to eight passengers. 1937 was also the year Packard first offered a station wagon on the junior series Packard Six Model 115-C. Buick and Packard had a professional rivalry and the introduction of the Packard Station Wagon was an opportunity Buick leadership saw an opportunity to offer one for Buick. For 1941 and 1942, Buick switched to the GM B platform Special continuing to offer the 121 in (3,073 mm) wheelbase while the Oldsmobile Series 60 continued to use the shortest A-body. 1940 is also the year the station wagon returned to Packard on the luxurious Packard One-Twenty which also had a 122 in (3,099 mm) wheelbase. The retail price for the Special Estate was US$1,463 ($26,953 in 2021 dollars and a similar production total of 838 were produced, while the Touring Sedan made 91,138. In 1941 the Chrysler Windsor Town & Country station wagon was introduced shortly thereafter. Later after automobile production resumed at the end of World War II, the Estate returned to Buick’s C platform Super and Roadmaster for the 1946–49 model years and a long tradition of contracting the station wagon body style was provided by Ionia Manufacturing, also known as Mitchell-Bentley Corporation that today is called, Mitchell Corporation, which built all Buick station wagon bodies between 1946 and 1964 instead of GM’s Fisher Body. The 1946 Super Estate was listed at US$2,594 ($36,046 in 2021 dollars and production total of 786 were produced while still offering the 121.0 in (3,073 mm) wheelbase. Packard didn’t offer a competitive appearance station wagon until 1948 with the Packard Station Sedan.

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1949 Crosley Woodie: Crosley was a small, independent American manufacturer of subcompact cars, bordering on microcars. At first called the Crosley Corporation and later Crosley Motors Incorporated, the Cincinnati, Ohio, firm was active from 1939 to 1952, interrupted by World War II production. Their station wagons were the most popular model, but also offered were sedans, pickups, convertibles, a sports car, and even a tiny jeep-like vehicle. For export, the cars were badged Crosmobile. Beginning in the late 1930s Crosley developed low-priced compact cars and other pint-size vehicles. The first experimental prototype of the Crosley car was the 1937 CRAD (for Crosley Radio Auto Division) that had a 18 inches (46 cm) rear track. With the assistance of his brother, Lewis, a graduate engineer, Crosley also designed assembly plants for his manufacturing operations at Richmond and Marion, Indiana. On April 28, 1939, the first Crosley production car debuted at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to mixed reviews. It was a two-door convertible that weighed under 1,000 pounds (454 kg). Initially offered at US$325 for a two-passenger coupe or $350 for a four-passenger sedan, The Crosley cars were cheaper than the nearest competition, the American Austin Car Company’s American Bantam, which sold for $449 to $565. The Crosley car’s chassis had an 80-inch (203.20 cm) wheelbase and used beam axles with leaf-springs (half-elliptic springs in front, and quarter-elliptic springs in the rear). Under the hood, a four-gallon, gravity-fed gas-tank mounted above the motor made it possible for the car to operate without a fuel pump. The engine was a small, air-cooled Waukesha two-cylinder boxer, much like that of the Citroen 2CV, and had a fan as an integral part of the flywheel. The engine was connected to a three-speed transmission that provided power directly via a torque tube to the rear axle, eliminating the need for joints. This arrangement was judged unreliable, and conventional universal joints were fitted starting in 1941. Production for 1939 was 2,017 units; however, only 422 cars were built in 1940. For 1941 a range of new, body-style variations of the 48-inch (1.22 m) wide car were introduced to expand the line-up: a station wagon, two panel vans (one called the “Parkway Delivery” had no front cabin roof), and a pick-up truck and “Covered Wagon” model that could convert into a truck by means of a removable back seat and detachable soft-top over the rear section. Crosley built nearly 2,300 cars in 1941. When the company introduced its first metal-topped model, the “Liberty Sedan,” for 1942, pricing across the model range was $299 to $450. During World War II, the Crosley car became attractive due to gasoline rationing and the car’s fuel efficiency, an estimated 50 mpg (US) at speeds of up to fifty mph. Crosley was the last company to cease production of civilian vehicles in 1942, after building another 1,000 units that year. When the onset of war ended all automobile production in the United States in 1942, Crosley had produced a total of 5,757 cars. During the pre-war years the Crosley company operated manufacturing plants in Camp Washington, Ohio; Richmond, Indiana; and Marion, Indiana. The Crosley factories were converted to wartime production during the war. The Crosley Corporation was involved in war production planning before December 1941, and like the rest of American industry, it focused on manufacturing war-related products during the war years. The company made a variety of products, ranging from proximity fuzes, radio transceivers, field kitchens, and quarter-ton trailers, to gun turrets, among other items. Powered gun turrets for PT boats and B-24 and B-29 bombers were the company’s largest contract. Crosley also produced a number of experimental vehicles during the war for the U.S. government. Crosley’s auto manufacturing division, CRAD, in Richmond, Indiana, produced experimental motorcycles, tricycles, four-wheel-drive military light utility vehicles, a self-propelled gun, and continuous track vehicles, some of which were amphibious models. All of these military prototypes were powered by the 2-cylinder boxer engine that powered the original Crosley automobiles. Crosley had nearly 5,000 of the engines on hand when auto production ceased in 1942, and hoped to put them to use in war-time production of miniature vehicles. One vehicle prototype was the 1942–1943 Crosley CT-3 “Pup,” a lightweight, single-passenger, four-wheel-drive vehicle that was transportable and air-droppable from a C-47 Skytrain. Six of the 1,125-pound (510 kg), 2-cylinder Pups were deployed overseas after undergoing tests at Fort Benning, Georgia, but the project was discontinued due to several weak components. Seven of 36 Pups built are known to survive. Post-war production began with 4,999 vehicles in 1946, and increased to five-figure numbers, producing more than 22,500 cars in 1947. Crosley sales peaked in 1948, with 24,871 or 27,707 cars sold, depending on the source; however, the CoBra copper and stamped steel “tin block” engine proved a major misstep. Although it had proven reliable in military use, it fared poorly under less diligent civilian maintenance. The CoBra was replaced with a redesigned and more reliable conventional cast-iron engine in 1949, but the company’s reputation suffered. Sales fell to 8,939 units in 1949, and to 7,612 in 1950. The addition of the Crosley “Hotshot” sports model and the “Farm-O-Road” model, a combination farm-tractor and all-wheel-drive vehicle in 1950, could not stop the decline. More trouble came after the Big Three automakers introduced bigger, more lavish cars, and began manufacturing them in higher volumes and priced, in some cases, only little higher than a new Crosley car. Crosley sales dwindled to 4,839 units in 1951; only 1,522 Crosley vehicles were sold in 1952. Production ceased on July 3, 1952, when the final Crosley rolled off the production line. Crosley sold about 84,000 cars in total before closing down the operation in 1952. Crosley continued building engines for a short while to fulfill a government contract, but eventually the rights to the engine were sold. The Crosley plant in Marion, Indiana, was sold to the General Tire and Rubber Company.

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1949 Kaiser

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1952 MG TD: The post-war TC was replaced in 1950 by the TD, which combined the TC’s drivetrain, a modified hypoid-geared rear axle, the MG Y-type chassis, a familiar T-type style body and independent suspension using coil springs from the MG Y-type saloon. A 1950 road-test report described as “most striking” the resulting “transformation … in the comfort of riding”. Also lifted from the company’s successful 1¼-litre YA saloon for the TD was the (still highly geared) rack and pinion steering. In addition the TD featured smaller 15-inch disc type road wheels, a left-hand drive option and standard equipment bumpers and over-riders. The car was also 5 inches wider with a track of 50 inches. For the driver the “all-weather protection” was good by the standards of the time. For night driving, instrument illumination was “effective but not dazzling, by a pale green lighting effect”. There was still no fuel gauge, but the 12 gallon tank capacity gave a range between refuelling stops of about 300 miles and a green light on the facia flashed a “warning” when the fuel level was down to about 2½ gallons. In 1950 the TD MkII Competition Model was introduced, produced alongside the standard car, with a more highly tuned engine using an 8.1:1 compression ratio giving 57 bhp at 5,500 rpm. The higher compression ratio engine was offered with export markets in mind, and would not have been suitable for the UK, where thanks to the continued operation of wartime fuel restrictions, buyers were still limited to 72 octane “Pool petrol”. The TD MkII also featured twin fuel pumps, additional Andrex dampers, and a higher ratio rear-axle. Nearly 30,000 TDs had been produced, including about 1700 Mk II models, when the series ended in 1953 with all but 1656 exported, 23,488 of them to the US alone.


1952 Volkswagen


1956 Morgan Plus 4

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1955 Nash Rambler Wagon: The Rambler received its first restyling in 1953, and resembled the “senior” Nash models that had received all-new “Airflyte” styling the year before. The new styling was again credited to Italian automobile designer Battista “Pinin” Farina. The hood line was lowered and a new hood ornament, designed by George Petty was optional. The “racy” ornament “was a sexy woman leaning into the future, bust down, and pointing the way.” The standard engines were increased with manual transmission cars receiving a 184 cu in (3.0 L) I6 producing 85 hp, while a 90 hp 195.6 cu in (3.2 L) I6 powered cars with the optional “Hydra-Matic” automatic supplied by General Motors. The Custom models added Nash’s “Weather Eye” heating and ventilation system, as well as a radio as standard equipment, with the convertible and hardtop versions all getting a continental tire at no extra cost. The marketing campaign focused on the Nash Rambler as a second family car. Advertisements also featured the wife of Jimmy Stewart and her Country Club 2-door hardtop she described as “a woman’s dream-of-a-car come true!” and promoting buyers to spend “one wonderful hour” test driving to discover how “among two-car families – four out of five prefer to drive their Rambler.” A survey of owners of 1953 Ramblers conducted by Popular Mechanics indicated the majority listed their car’s economy as the feature they like best. After they had driven a total of 1.5 million miles, owners’ complaints included a lack of rear-seat legroom, water leaks, and poor dimmer switch position, but none of the Rambler drivers rated acceleration as unsatisfactory. Fully 29 percent had no complaints and “only four percent of Rambler owners described the car as too small and 67 percent rated their Ramblers as excellent over-all.” Production for the model year was 31,788 and included 9 Deliveryman models in the station wagon body, 15,255 Country Club hardtops, 10,598 Convertible Landaus, 10,600 Custom station wagons (of which 3,536 were in the Greenbrier trim and 7,035 with 3M’s DI-NOC simulated wood-grain trim), and 1,114 standard wagons. After offering only two-door-only models, Nash introduced a four-door sedan and a four-door station wagon in the Nash Rambler line starting with the 1954 model year. This was the automaker’s response to demands of larger families for more roomy Ramblers. The four-door body styles rode on a longer, 108 in (2,743 mm) wheelbase. Following the industry practice at the time, the heater and radio were now made optional. Added to the option list was Nash’s exclusive integrated automobile air conditioning system, a “very sophisticated setup” for the time incorporated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning in one system that was “priced lower than any other competing system; at $345, it was a remarkable advance.” The four-door Rambler sedan was at first only available in “Custom” trim. The “Country Club” hardtop became available in the lower-priced “Super” trim and without the “Custom” model’s standard Continental tire (external spare tire carrier). The 4-door station wagons were designated Cross Country. They featured an unusual roofline that followed the slope of the sedan’s roof, then dipped down behind the rear seat area before leveling and continuing rearward. The design by Bill Reddig allowed the use of the same dies to produce door framing for sedans and station wagons, while the dip in the rear portion of the roof included a roof rack as standard equipment to reduce the visual effect of the wagon’s lowered roofline. There was turmoil in the U.S. automobile market as the Ford-Chevy sales war broke out and the two largest domestic automakers cut prices to gain sales volume.[25] This battle decimated the remaining independent automakers in their search for customers. The marketing battle put a squeeze on the much smaller independent automakers, so even though the Nash Rambler economy cars proved popular in the marketplace, they were not particularly profitable for the company. On May 1, 1954, Nash and Hudson Motor Car Company announced a merger, and the successor corporation was named American Motors Corporation (AMC). Following the merger, Hudson dealers began receiving Ramblers that were badged as Hudson brand cars. The Hudson Ramblers and Nash Ramblers were identical, save for the brand name and minor badging. The Nash Rambler’s most significant change for the 1955 model year was opening the front wheel wells resulting in a 6-foot (2 m) decrease in the turn-circle diameter from previous year’s versions, with the two-door models having the smallest in the industry at 36 ft (11 m). The “traditional” Nash fixed fender skirts were removed and the front track (the distance between the center points of the wheels on the axle as they come in contact with the road) was increased to be even greater than was the Rambler’s rear tread. Designers Edmund Anderson, Pinin Farina, and Meade Moore did not like the design element that was insisted by George Mason, so soon as Mason died, “Anderson hastily redesigned the front fenders.” Tongue-in-cheek, Popular Science magazine described the altered design for 1955: the “little Rambler loses its pants.” As part of the facelift for 1955, the Rambler’s grille was also redesigned with only the center emblem differentiating the cars now sold by both Nash and Hudson dealers. The Rambler was a new model for Hudson dealers and it replaced the compact Hudson Jet. The interiors of the economical Nash Rambler were designed by Helene Rother to also appeal to the feminine eye. American Motors featured “Created to Your Discriminating Taste” in the car’s marketing knowing what women looked for in a car and Rother’s designs featured elegant, stylish, and expensive fabrics that coordinated in colors and trim. Model and trim combinations were again reshuffled with a two-door Suburban and Club two-door sedans available in “Deluxe” or “Super” versions. Four-door sedans and wagons came as Super or Custom models, while a new Deluxe four-door sedan was introduced. The pillarless Country Club hardtop was reduced to only the “Custom” trim, while the convertible model was no longer available. Fleet sales-only versions included a Deliveryman wagon that was not shown in the regular catalog, as well as another new model, a three-passenger business coupe: a two-door sedan with no rear seat. The automaker’s marketing efforts included sponsorship of the Disneyland television show on the ABC network. The inaugural broadcast was on 25 October 1955; just five days after the new Ramblers debuted in both Nash and Hudson dealerships, and the Disney show quickly become one of the top watched programs in the U.S., thus helping AMC sell more cars. The focus continued on economy and a Rambler four-door set an all-time record for cars with automatic transmissions of 27.47 mpg‑US (8.56 L/100 km; 32.99 mpg‑imp) in the 1955 Mobil Economy Run. The U.S. domestic market was turning to bigger and bigger cars; therefore, prospects for the compact Nash Rambler line were limited and production was discontinued after the 1955 model year. The smallest car in the July 13, 1951, 400-lap NASCAR sanctioned Short Track Late Model Division race in Lanham, Maryland, was a Nash Rambler Country Club (two-door hardtop). Owned by Williams Nash Motors of Bethesda, Maryland, the car was driven to victory by Tony Bonadies of Bronx, New York. He stayed in the back of the 25-car field on the quarter-mile (0.40 km) track until making a steady move up to the lead position. The Nash Rambler was also the only car to run the entire 100-mile race without making a pit stop. On July 18, 1952, the NASCAR Short Track race at the Lanham Speedway, was 400 laps on a 0.2-mile (0.32 km) paved oval for a total of 80 miles (129 km). Tony Bonadies finished the race in 4th place in a 1952 Nash. The sales war between Ford and Chevrolet that took place during 1953 and 1954 reduced the market share for the remaining automakers trying to compete against the standard-sized models offered by the domestic Big Three (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler). American Motors responded to the changing market by focusing development on the 108 in (2,743 mm) wheelbase four-door versions that it had introduced in 1954. Production of the original compact Nash Rambler ended in 1955 as AMC introduced an all-new Rambler for the 1956 model year. These used the 108 in (2,743 mm) wheelbase and became larger cars, but were “compact” compared to ones made by the Big Three. The bigger Rambler models were sold by both Nash and Hudson dealers and they carried respective Nash and Hudson brand logos. The new for 1956 Rambler was arguably “the most important car American Motors ever built” in that it not only created and defined a new market segment, emphasized the virtues of compact design, but also enabled the automaker to prosper in the post-World War II marketplace that shifted from a seller’s to a buyer’s market.

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1956 Plymouth Belvedere: All Plymouths were treated to a major overhaul for the 1955 model year. This was the first year of Chrysler stylist Virgil Exner’s “Forward Look.” The Belvedere returned as top-of-the-line, and the Plaza remained the entry level model. Chrysler promoted the all new appearance, showing cars built at the Lynch Road Factory in a featurette movie Here. Midway through the model year (on February 26), the engine’s stroke was increased by a quarter inch, increasing displacement from 217.8 to 230.2 cu in (3.6 to 3.8 L) and increasing power from 100 to 110 hp. For 1956, Plymouth styling evolved from that of the 1955s. Most notable would be the introduction of the first push-button automatic transmission to appear in an American automobile, and a more dramatic rear-end treatment highlighted by a pair of rakish tail-fins. In early 1956, the Fury joined the Belvedere line as a special-edition high-performance coupe. Belvedere remained the top full-line series through 1958. In 1956, Plymouth added seat belts. In 1956, Chrysler’s chief engineer in a public relations campaign took a Belvedere and had a Chrysler turbine engine fitted instead of the standard gasoline engine, and was driven across the US. The 1956 models came with more V8 power upgrades, up to 180 bhp 270cid V8, 187 bhp 277cid V8, 200 bhp 277cid V8, with a 240 bhp 303cid V8 for the Fury. Tail fins featured for the first time, in what Exner christened the “Forward Look”.

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1957 Lincoln Capri Convertible: The Lincoln Capri is an automobile that was sold by the Lincoln division of Ford Motor Company from 1952 until 1959. A full-size luxury car, the Lincoln Capri derives its name from an Italian island in the Gulf of Naples. Introduced as a premium trim variant of the two-door Lincoln Cosmopolitan, the Capri was introduced in 1952 as a stand-alone model line serving as the premium Lincoln. With the introduction of the Lincoln Premiere (and Continental), the Capri replaced the Cosmopolitan as the standard Lincoln product line. The Lincoln Capri was produced across three generations; following its withdrawal, Lincoln rebranded the Capri using only its division name (following a practice used from 1946 to 1951). Along with the Lincoln Premiere and the Continental model lines, the Lincoln Capri was replaced by the 1961 Lincoln Continental. For 1956, the Capri shared a division-wide restyling and gained the new 285 hp 368 cu in (6.0 L) Lincoln Y-Block V8 (with a four-barrel carburetor and 9:1 compression), as well as all-new 12-volt electrical system to cope with the proliferation of power accessories. The Capri moved down-market, becoming Lincoln’s entry-level model and the newly introduced Premiere based on it became the upper level Lincoln-branded model.In addition, the convertible disappeared from the model range, which already lacked for a four-door hardtop. Sales dropped dramatically, to only 8,791 in 1956 while the listed retail price for the Hardtop Sport Coupe was US$4,119 ($41,054 in 2021 dollars. This is not to imply that over all sales did not increase for 1956. The total production for both Capri and Premiere models was 50,322. Four-way power seats were optional. The Capri’s appearance borrowed from the radically different concept cars, the Mercury XM-800 and the Lincoln Futura in an era of fascination with the Space Race and Mid-century modern architecture and appearances. 1957 introduced a driving light below the conventional sealed beam, two-way headlight while giving an appearance of having stacked dual headlights. A new camshaft and higher 10:1 compression boosted output to 300 hp. The new cam did not, however, increase compression, contrary to Flory’s misapprehension. Even so, sales declined again, to 5,900 units (despite the addition of a 4-door landau hardtop). A facelifted design for 1957 featured more pronounced fins. Total production for 1957 for the Capri and Premiere lines was 41,123. To emphasize Lincoln’s exclusivity and specialized appearance, there were 20 available colours, with 34 two-tone exterior colour selections for 1956, increasing to 76 two-tone colour choices and only 18 single colour selections for 1957.

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1957 Edsel: The Edsel was technically a separate marque that was planned, developed, and manufactured by the Ford Motor Company for model years 1958–1960. With the Edsel, Ford had expected to make significant inroads into the market share of both General Motors and Chrysler and close the gap between itself and GM in the domestic American automotive market. Ford invested heavily in a yearlong teaser campaign leading consumers to believe that the Edsel was the car of the future – an expectation it failed to deliver. After it was unveiled to the public, it was considered to be unattractive, overpriced, and overhyped. The Edsel never gained popularity with contemporary American car buyers and sold poorly. The Ford Motor Company lost $250 million on the Edsel’s development, manufacturing, and marketing and the very name “Edsel” became a popular symbol for a commercial failure. The Ford Motor Company had become a publicly traded corporation on January 17, 1956, and thus was no longer entirely owned by members of the Ford family. The company was now able to sell cars according to current market trends. Ford’s new management compared the company’s roster of makes with that of General Motors and Chrysler, and concluded that Lincoln was competing not with Cadillac, but with Oldsmobile, Buick and DeSoto. Ford developed a plan to move Lincoln upmarket, with the Continental broken out as a separate make at the top of Ford’s product line, and to add a premium/intermediate vehicle to the intermediate slot vacated by Lincoln. Marketing research and development for the new intermediate line had begun in 1955 under the code name “E car”,which stood for “experimental car.” Ford Motor Company eventually decided on the name “Edsel”, in honour of Edsel B. Ford, son of the company’s founder, Henry Ford (despite objections from Henry Ford II). The proposed vehicle marque would represent the start-up of a new division of the firm alongside that of Ford itself and the Lincoln-Mercury division, whose cars at the time shared the same bodies. The Edsel was introduced amid considerable publicity on “E Day”—September 4, 1957. It was also promoted by a top-rated television special, The Edsel Show, on October 13, but the promotional effort was not enough to counter the adverse initial public reaction to the car’s styling and conventional build. The day after its launch, the Edsel was described as a “reborn LaSalle,” a brand that had disappeared in 1940. For months, Ford had been telling the industry press that it “knew” (through its market research) that there would be great demand for the vehicle. Ford also insisted that, in the Edsel, it had built exactly the “entirely new kind of car” that Ford had been leading the buying public to expect through its pre-introduction publicity campaign for the car. In reality, however, the Edsel shared its engineering and bodywork with other Ford models, and the similarities were apparent once the vehicle was viewed first-hand. The Edsel was to be sold through a newly formed division of the Ford Motor Company, as a companion to the Ford Division, Mercury Division, Lincoln Division and (newly formed but also short-lived) Continental Division. Each division had its own retail organization and dealer network. The free-standing Edsel Division existed from November 1956 until January 1958, after which Edsel sales and marketing operations were integrated into the Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln division. Initially Edsel was sold through a new network of approximately 1,187 dealers. This briefly brought the total number of dealers of all Ford products to 10,000. Ford saw this as a way to come closer to parity with Chrysler, which had 10,000 dealers, and General Motors, which had 16,000. As soon as it became apparent that the Edsels were not selling, many of these dealers added Lincoln-Mercury, Ford of Britain, or Ford of Germany franchises to their dealerships with the encouragement of Ford Motor Company. Some dealers, however, closed For the 1958 model year, Ford produced four submodels of Edsel: The larger Mercury-based Citation and Corsair, and the smaller Ford-based Pacer and Ranger. The Citation was offered in two-door and four-door hardtop and two-door convertible versions. The Corsair was available in two-door and four-door hardtop versions. The Pacer was available as a two-door or four-door hardtop, four-door sedan, or two-door convertible. The Ranger was sold in two-door and four-door hardtop or sedan versions. The four-door Bermuda and Villager wagons and the two-door Roundup wagon were based on the 116-inch wheelbase Ford station wagon platform and shared the trim and features of the Ranger and Pacer models. The Edsel offers several of what were then considered innovative features, among which are its rolling-dome speedometer; warning lights for such conditions as low oil level, parking brake engaged, and engine overheating; and its push-button Teletouch transmission shifting system in the centre of the steering wheel (a conventional column-shift automatic was also available at a reduced price). Other Edsel design innovations include ergonomically designed controls for the driver and self-adjusting brakes (which Ford claimed for the Edsel as a first for the industry, even though Studebaker had pioneered them earlier in the decade). The Edsel also offers such features, advanced for the time, as seat belts (which were available at extra cost as optional equipment on many other makes) and child-proof rear door locks that could only be opened with the key. In the first year, 63,110 Edsels were sold in the United States, and 4,935 were sold in Canada. Though below expectations, this nevertheless represented the second-largest launch for any new car brand to date, exceeded only by the DeSoto introduction in 1929. For the 1959 model year, the Edsel brand fielded only two series, the Ford-based Ranger and Corsair. The larger Mercury-based Edsels were discontinued. Replacing the Pacer as the top-line Ford-based Edsel, the new Corsair was offered as a two-door and four-door hardtop, four-door sedan, and two-door convertible. The Ranger was sold as a two-door and four-door hardtop, two-door and four-door sedan, and the Villager station wagon. In the 1959 model year, 44,891 Edsels were sold in the U.S., and 2,505 were sold in Canada. For the 1960 model year, Edsel’s last, only 2,846 vehicles were produced. All but the pilot cars were assembled at the Louisville, Kentucky assembly plant. The marque was reduced to the Ranger series of sedans, hardtops, convertibles, and the Villager station wagons. The Edsel shared a basic chassis, glass, and major sheet metal with the 1960 Ford Galaxie and Fairlane models that were built on the Louisville assembly line with it. But the Edsel has its own unique grille, bonnet, and four upright oblong taillights, along with its side-sweep spears. The Edsel’s front and rear bumpers were also unique. The 1960 Edsel rides on a 120-inch wheelbase, compared to the concurrent Ford’s 119-inch span, and it also uses a different rear suspension. The cars did, however, share engines and transmissions. Ford announced the end of the Edsel program on Thursday, November 19, 1959. However, production continued until late in November, with the final tally of 2,846 model year 1960 cars. Total Edsel sales were approximately 116,000, less than half the company’s projected break-even point. The company lost $350 million, or the equivalent of $2,900,000,000 in 2017 dollars, on the venture. Only 118,287 Edsels were built, including 7,440 produced in Ontario, Canada. By U.S. auto industry standards, these production figures were dismal, particularly when spread across a run of three model years. Historians have advanced several theories in an effort to explain the Edsel’s failure. Popular culture often faults the car’s styling. Consumer Reports has alleged that poor workmanship was the Edsel’s chief problem. Marketing experts hold the Edsel up as a supreme example of the corporate culture’s failure to understand American consumers. Business analysts cite the weak internal support for the product inside Ford’s executive offices. According to author and Edsel scholar Jan Deutsch, the Edsel was “the wrong car at the wrong time.”

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1957 Ford Thunderbird: The Ford Thunderbird began life in February 1953 in direct response to Chevrolet’s new sports car, the Corvette, which was publicly unveiled in prototype form just a month before. Under rapid development, the Thunderbird went from idea to prototype in about a year, being unveiled to the public at the Detroit Auto Show on February 20, 1954. It was a two-seat design available with a detachable glass-fibre hard top and a folding fabric top. Production of the Thunderbird began later on in 1954 on September 9 with the car beginning sales as a 1955 model on October 22, 1954. Though sharing some design characteristics with other Fords of the time, such as single, circular headlamps and tail lamps and modest tailfins, the Thunderbird was sleeker and more athletic in shape, and had features like a bonnet scoop and a 150 mph (240 km/h) speedometer hinting a higher performance nature that other Fords didn’t possess. Mechanically though, the Thunderbird could trace its roots to other mainstream Fords. The Thunderbird’s 102.0 inches wheelbase frame was mostly a shortened version of that used in other Fords while the car’s standard 4.8 litre Y-block V8 came from Ford’s Mercury division. Though inspired by, and positioned directly against, the Corvette, Ford billed the Thunderbird as a personal car, putting a greater emphasis on the car’s comfort and convenience features rather than its inherent sportiness. The Thunderbird sold exceptionally well in its first year. In fact, the Thunderbird outsold the Corvette by more than 23-to-one for 1955 with 16,155 Thunderbirds sold against 700 Corvettes. With the Thunderbird considered a success, few changes were made to the car for 1956. The most notable change was moving the spare tyre to a continental-style rear bumper in order to make more storage room in the boot and a new 12 volt electrical system. The addition of the weight at the rear caused steering issues. Among the few other changes were new paint colours, the addition of circular porthole windows as standard in the fibreglass roof to improve rearward visibility, and a 5.1 litre V8 making 215 hp when mated to a 3-speed manual transmission or 225 hp when mated to a Ford-O-Matic 2-speed automatic transmission; this transmission featured a “low gear”, which was accessible only via the gear selector. When in “Drive”, it was a 2-speed automatic transmission (similar to Chevrolet’s Powerglide). The Thunderbird was revised for 1957 with a reshaped front bumper, a larger grille and tailfins, and larger tail lamps. The instrument panel was heavily re-styled with round gauges in a single pod, and the rear of the car was lengthened, allowing the spare to be positioned back in the boot. The 5.1 litre V8 became the Thunderbird’s standard engine, and now produced 245 hp. Other, even more powerful versions of the V8 were available including one with two four-barrel Holley carburettors and another with a Paxton supercharger delivering 300 hp. Though Ford was pleased to see sales of the Thunderbird rise to a record-breaking 21,380 units for 1957, company executives felt the car could do even better, leading to a substantial redesign of the car for 1958.

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1957 Ford Fairlane Convertible: For the 1955 model year the Fairlane name replaced the Crestline as Ford’s premier full-sized offering. Six different body styles were offered, including the Crown Victoria Skyliner with a tinted, transparent plastic roof, the regular Crown Victoria coupe with much stainless steel trim, a convertible Sunliner, the Victoria hardtop coupe, and traditional sedans. All featured the trademark stainless-steel “Fairlane stripe” on the side. Power options were a 223 cu in (3.7 L) straight-6 engine and a 272 cu in (4.5 L) V8. The 292 cu in (4.8 L) Y-block was offered as an option and was called the Thunderbird V-8. The Fairlane 4-door Town Sedan was the most popular sedan Ford sold that year, having manufactured 254,437 with a listed retail price of US$1,960 ($19,826 in 2021 dollars Few changes were made for 1956; a four-door Victoria hardtop and two new, more powerful V8 options, of 292 cu in (4.8 L) and 312 cu in (5.1 L), the latter available up to 225 bhp were introduced. The Lifeguard safety package was introduced. The two-door Victoria hardtop featured a new and slimmer roofline. A one-year only two-door station wagon, the 1956 Ford Parklane, featured Fairlane-level trim. It was marketed to compete against the Chevrolet Nomad. For 1957, a new style gave a longer, wider, lower, and sleeker look with low tailfins. The new proportions and modern styling were a hit with customers to the extent that the Ford outsold Chevrolet in 1957 for the first time since 1935. A new top trim level, the Fairlane 500 was added to the Fairlane model line and the Country Squire continued to be the luxury station wagon while the Country Sedan was now added to the Fairlane model line, while engine choices were largely the same as the year before. The big news for 1957 was the introduction of the Fairlane 500 Skyliner power retractable hardtop, whose solid top hinged and folded down into the trunk space at the touch of a button, while the Ford Ranchero 2-door coupe utility was also introduced. Another facelift for 1958 had fashionable quad headlights, a grille that matched the 1958 Thunderbird, and other styling changes. New big-block FE V8s of 332 and 352 CID (5.4 L and 5.8 L) replaced the previous largest V8s, and a better three-speed automatic transmission was also available with a steering column transmission gear selector lever. A new top-level full-sized model was introduced at mid-year 1959, the Ford Galaxie. The 1959 Galaxie displayed both “Fairlane 500” and “Galaxie” badging. An all new design came in for 1960.

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1959 Austin Healey 3000: Donald Healey had been producing a range of expensive sports cars from the 1940s, cars such as the Silverstone, the Abbott and the Farnham. For the 1952 London Motor Show, he produced a new design, which was called the Healey Hundred, based on Austin A90 mechanicals, which he intended to produce in-house at his small car company in Warwick. It was one of the stars of the 1952 Show, and it so impressed Leonard Lord, the Managing Director of Austin, who was looking for a replacement to the unsuccessful A90. that Lord struck a deal with Healey on the spot, to build it in quantity. Bodies made by Jensen Motors would be given Austin mechanical components at Austin’s Longbridge factory. The car was renamed the Austin-Healey 100, in reference to the fact that the car had a top speed of 100 mph. Production got under way in 1953, with Austin-Healey 100s being finished at Austin’s Longbridge plant alongside the A90 and based on fully trimmed and painted body/chassis units produced by Jensen in West Bromwich—in an arrangement the two companies previously had explored with the Austin A40 Sports. By early 1956, production was running at 200 cars a month, 150 of which were being sold in California. Between 1953 and 1956, 14,634 Austin-Healey 100s were produced, the vast majority of them, as was the case for most cars in this post war era, going for export. The car was replaced by an updated model in 1956, called the 100-6. It had a longer wheelbase, redesigned bodywork with an oval shaped grille, a fixed windscreen and two occasional seats added (which in 1958 became an option with the introduction of the two-seat BN6 produced in parallel with the 2+2 BN4), and the engine was replaced by one based on the six-cylinder BMC C-Series engine. In 1959, the engine capacity was increased from 2.6 to 2.9 litres and the car renamed the Austin-Healey 3000. Both 2-seat and 2+2 variants were offered. It continued in this form until production ceased in late 1967. The Big Healey, as the car became known after the 1958 launch of the much smaller Austin-Healey Sprite, is a popular classic now. You come across the 3000 models more frequently than the 100s, as they accounted for more than 60% of all Big Healey production

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1960 Chevrolet Impala Convertible: As part of a GM economy move the 1959 Chevrolet Impala was redesigned to share bodyshells with lower-end Buicks Oldsmobiles, and Pontiacs. Using a new X-frame chassis the roof line was 3 inches lower, bodies were 2 inches wider, the wheelbase was 1-1/2 inches longer, and curb weight increased. Flattened tailfins protruded outward, rather than upward. The taillights were a large “teardrop” design at each side, and two slim-wide, nonfunctional front air intake scoops were added just above the grille, The Impala became a separate series, adding a four-door hardtop and four-door sedan to the two-door Sport Coupe and convertible. Sport Coupes featured a shortened roof line and wrap-over back window. The standard engine was an I6, while the base V8 was the carryover 283 cu in (4.6 L), at 185 hp. Optional were a 283 cu in with 290 hp and 348 cu in (5.7 L) V8 up to 335 hp. Standard were front and rear armrests, an electric clock, dual sliding sun visors, and crank-operated front vent windows. A contoured hooded instrument panel held deep-set gauges. A six-way power seat was a new option, as was “Speedminder”, which allowed the driver to set a needle at a specific speed, which triggered a buzzer when exceeded. The 1960 Impala models reinstated three round taillights on each side, and a white band running along the rear fenders. Seven versions of the 283-cu in and 348-cu in V8s were offered: the carbureted Turbo-Fire 283 cu in \could have either 170 or 230 hp (130 or 170 kW). The 348 cu in was available in 250 to 320 hp with a 350 hp Special Super Turbo-Thrust with triple two-barrel carburettors, 11.25:1 compression ratio, and dual exhausts. Fuel injection was no longer an option on full-size Chevrolets. New to the options list was cruise control. Production was 490,000 units. A new design arrived for 1961. 

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1962 Ford Thunderbird: The Thunderbird was redesigned again for 1961 with styling that gave the car a unique bullet-like body side appearance. A new engine, the 390 cu in (6.4 L) FE V8, was the standard and only engine initially offered in the Thunderbird. It was rated at 300 bhp and was mated to a 3-speed automatic transmission. The new Thunderbird was well received with 73,051 sold for 1961. The car was 1961’s Indianapolis 500 pace car and was featured prominently in US President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural parade, who appointed Ford executive Robert McNamara as Secretary of Defense. It also benefitted from product placement, notably on the popular television series 77 Sunset Strip. A vinyl-roofed Landau option with simulated S-bars was added to the Thunderbird for 1962 as was a Sports Roadster package for convertible models. The Sports Roadster included 48-spoke Kelsey-Hayes designed wire wheels and a special fibreglass tonneau cover for the rear seats which gave the car the appearance of a two-seat roadster like the original Thunderbird. The Sports Roadster package was slow-selling due to the high price of the package and complexity of the tonneau cover, resulting in few Thunderbirds being equipped with it. Newly optional for 1962 was an upgraded version of the 390 cu in (6.4 L) V8 called the “M-Code” (a nickname used in reference to the letter M used as the engine code in the VIN in cars so equipped). The M-Code version of the 390 cu in (6.4 L) V8 was equipped with three two-barrel Holley carburetors and was rated at 340 bhp. M-Code V8 Thunderbirds are exceptionally rare with only 200 being sold between 1962 and 1963. For 1963 only, Y-code cars could come equipped with the same 390 cubic inch V8 also equipped by the factory with tri-power carburetors only if the buyer desired air conditioning. Few other changes were made to the Thunderbird for 1963 as Ford prepared to introduce a new version for 1964. A horizontal styling line was added that ran from the point where bumper and fender meet back through the door and angled down. Small diagonal chrome bars were added in this area on the door. Alternators rather than generators were a new feature on all 1963 Thunderbirds.

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1962 Chevrolet Corvette: The first generation of Corvette was introduced late in the 1953 model year. Originally designed as a show car for the 1953 Motorama display at the New York Auto Show, it generated enough interest to induce GM to make a production version to sell to the public. First production was on June 30, 1953. This generation was often referred to as the “solid-axle” models (the independent rear suspension was not introduced until the second generation).Three hundred hand-built polo white Corvette convertibles were produced for the 1953 model year. The 1954 model year vehicles could be ordered in Pennant Blue, Sportsman Red, Black, or Polo White. 3,640 were built, and sold slowly. The 1955 model offered a 265 cu in (4.34 litre) V8 engine as an option. With a large inventory of unsold 1954 models, GM limited production to 700 for 1955. With the new V8, the 0-60 mph time improved by 1.5 seconds. A new body was introduced for the 1956 model featuring a new “face” and side coves; the taillamp fins were also gone. An optional fuel injection system was made available in the middle of the 1957 model year. It was one of the first mass-produced engines in history to reach 1 bhp per cubic inch (16.4 cc) and Chevrolet’s advertising agency used a “one hp per cubic inch” slogan for advertising the 283 bhp 283 cu in (4.64 litre) Small-Block engine. Other options included power windows (1956), hydraulically operated power convertible top (1956), heavy duty brakes and suspension (1957), and four speed manual transmission (late 1957). Delco Radio transistorised signal-seeking “hybrid” car radio, which used both vacuum tubes and transistors in its radio’s circuitry (1956 option). The 1958 Corvette received a body and interior freshening which included a longer front end with quad headlamps, bumper exiting exhaust tips, a new steering wheel, and a dashboard with all gauges mounted directly in front of the driver. Exclusive to the 1958 model were bonnet louvres and twin trunk spears. The 1959–60 model years had few changes except a decreased amount of body chrome and more powerful engine offerings. In 1961, the rear of the car was completely redesigned with the addition of a “duck tail” with four round lights. The light treatment would continue for all following model year Corvettes until 2014. In 1962, the Chevrolet 283 cu in (4.64 litre) Small-Block was enlarged to 327 cu in (5.36 litre). In standard form it produced 250 bhp. For an extra 12% over list price, the fuel-injected version produced 360 bhp, making it the fastest of the C1 generation. 1962 was also the last year for the wrap around windshield, solid rear axle, and convertible-only body style. The boot lid and exposed headlamps did not reappear for many decades. An all-new C2 generation model was launched for 1963.

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1965 Ford Mustang Fastback: Drawing on inspiration from the mid-engined Ford Mustang I concept vehicle, Lee Iacocca ordered development of a new “small car” to vice-president of design at Ford, Eugene Bordinat. Bordinat tasked Ford’s three design studios (Ford, Lincoln-Mercury, and Advanced Design) to create proposals for the new vehicle. The design teams had been given five goals for the design of the Mustang: It would seat four, have bucket seats and a floor mounted shifter, weigh no more than 2,500 pounds (1,100 kg) and be no more than 180 inches (4,572 mm) in length, sell for less than $2,500, and have multiple power, comfort, and luxury options. The Lincoln–Mercury design studio ultimately produced the winning design in the intramural contest, under Project Design Chief Joe Oros and his team of L. David Ash, Gale Halderman, and John Foster. Development of the Mustang was completed in a record 18 months from September 1962 to March 1964. and Iacocca himself championed the project as Ford Division general manager. The styling is often credited to one person, and that is not accurate, as this was very much a team effort, it has been reported by those involved. To decrease developmental costs, the Mustang used chassis, suspension, and drivetrain components derived from the Ford Falcon and Fairlane. It used a unitised platform-type frame from the 1964 Falcon, and welded box-section side rails, including welded crossmembers. Although hardtop Mustangs accounted for the highest sales, durability problems with the new frame led to the engineering of a convertible first, which ensured adequate stiffness. Overall length of the Mustang and Falcon was identical, although the Mustang’s wheelbase was slightly shorter. With an overall width of 68.2 in (1,732 mm), it was 2.4 in (61 mm) narrower, yet the wheel track was nearly identical. Shipping weight, approximately 2,570 lb (1,166 kg) with the straight six-cylinder engine, was also similar to the Falcon. A fully equipped V8 model weighed approximately 3,000 lb (1,361 kg). Although most of the mechanical parts were from the Falcon, the Mustang’s body was completely different; sporting a shorter wheelbase, wider track, lower seating position and lower overall height. An industry first, the “torque box” was an innovative structural system that greatly stiffened the Mustang’s construction and helped contribute to better handling. The car was launched in 17th April 1964, as a hardtop and a convertible, with the fastback version following in August. It was an instant sensation, with demand massively exceeding supply. Since it was introduced four months before the normal start of the 1965 production year and manufactured alongside 1964 Ford Falcons and 1964 Mercury Comets, the earliest Mustangs are widely referred to as the 1964½ model. Nevertheless, all “1964½” cars were given 1965 U.S. standard VINs at the time of production, and – with limited exception to the earliest of promotional materials – were marketed by Ford as 1965 models. The low-end model hardtop used a “U-code” 170 cu in (2.8 litre) straight-6 engine borrowed from the Falcon, as well as a three-speed manual transmission and retailed for US$2,368. Standard equipment for the early 1965 Mustangs included black front seat belts, a glove box light, and a padded dash board. Production began in March 1964 and official introduction following on April 17 at the 1964 World’s Fair. V8 models got a badge on the front fender that spelled out the engine’s cubic inch displacement (“260” or “289”) over a wide “V.” This emblem was identical to the one on the 1964 Fairlane. Several changes to the Mustang occurred at the start of the “normal” 1965 model year in August 1964, about four months after its introduction. These cars are known as “late 65’s”. The engine lineup was changed, with a 200 cu in (3.3 litre) “T-code” engine that produced 120 hp. Production of the Fairlane’s “F-code” 260 cu in (4.3 litre) engine ceased when the 1964 model year ended. It was replaced with a new 200 hp “C-code” 289 cu in (4.7 litre) engine with a two-barrel carburettor as the base V8. An “A-code” 225 hp four-barrel carburettor version was next in line, followed by the unchanged “Hi-Po” “K-code” 271 hp 289. The DC electrical generator was replaced by a new AC alternator on all Fords (a way to distinguish a 1964 from a 1965 is to see if the alternator light on the dash says “GEN” or “ALT”). The Mustang GT version was introduced as the “GT Equipment Package” and included a V8 engine (most often the 225 hp 289), grille-mounted fog lamps, rocker panel stripes, and disc brakes. In the interior the GT option added a different instrument panel that included a speedometer, fuel gauge, temp. gauge, oil pressure gauge and ammeter in five round dials (the gauges were not marked with numbers, however.) A four-barrel carburettor engine was now available with any body style. Additionally, reverse lights were an option added to the car from August 1964 production. In 1965, the Shelby Mustang was born, it was available only in newly introduced fastback body version with its swept-back rear glass and distinctive ventilation louvres. The standard interior features of the 1965 Mustang included adjustable driver and passenger bucket seats, an AM radio, and a floor mounted shifter in a variety of colour options. Ford added additional interior options during the 1965 model year. The Interior Decor Group was popularly known as “Pony Interior” due to the addition of embossed running ponies on the seat fronts, and also included integral armrests, woodgrain appliqué accents, and a round gauge cluster that would replace the standard Falcon instrumentation. Also available were sun visors, a (mechanical) remote-operated mirror, a floor console, and a bench seat. Ford later offered an under-dash air-conditioning unit, and discontinued the vinyl with cloth insert seat option, offered only in early 1965 models. One option designed strictly for fun was the Rally-Pac. Introduced in 1963 after Ford’s success at that year’s Monte Carlo Rally and available on other Ford and Mercury compacts and intermediates, the Rally-Pac was a combination clock and tachometer mounted to the steering column. It was available as a factory ordered item for US$69.30. Installed by a dealer, the Rally-Pac cost US$75.95.A 14″ rim option was available for Rally-pac and GT350R vehicles widening front and rear track to 57.5″. Reproductions are presently available from any number of Mustang restoration parts sources. A compass, rear seat belts, A/C, and back-up lights were also optional. The 1966 Mustang debuted with moderate trim changes including a new grille, side ornamentation, wheel covers and filler cap. Ford’s new C-4 “cruise-o-matic” three-speed auto transmission became available for the 225 hp V8. The 289 “HiPo” K-code engine was also offered with a c4 transmission, but it had stronger internals and can be identified by the outer casing of the servo which is marked with a ‘C’. The long duration solid-lifter camshaft that allowed the high revving 289 to make the horsepower it was known for, was not friendly for a low stall speed automatic torque converter. The “HiPo” could be spotted very easily by the 1-inch-thick vibration damper, (as compared to 1/2 inch on the 225-hp version) and the absence of a vacuum advance unit on the dual point distributor. With the valve covers off, there is a large letter “K” stamped between the valve springs, along with screw in studs (vs. a pressed in stud for other 289s) for the adjustable rocker arms. A large number of new paint and interior color options, an AM/eight-track sound system, and one of the first AM/FM mono automobile radios were also offered. It also removed the Falcon instrument cluster; the previously optional features, including the round gauges and padded sun visors, became standard equipment. The Mustang would be the best-selling convertible in 1966, with 72,119 sold, beating the number two Impala by almost 2:1. The 1965 and 1966 Mustangs are differentiated by variations in the exterior, despite similar design. These variations include the emblem on the quarter-panels behind the doors. From August 1964 production, the emblem was a single vertical piece of chrome, while for 1966 models the emblem was smaller in height and had three horizontal bars extending from the design, resembling an “E”. The front intake grilles and ornaments were also different. The 1965 front grille used a “honeycomb” pattern, while the 1966 version was a “slotted” style. While both model years used the “Horse and Corral” emblem on the grille, the 1965 had four bars extending from each side of the corral, while on the 1966, these bars were removed. The 1966 model year saw introduction of ‘High Country Special’ limited edition, 333 of them were sold in Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska. When Ford wanted to introduce the Mustang in Germany, they discovered that Krupp company had already registered the name for a truck. The German company offered to sell the rights for US$10,000. Ford refused and removed Mustang badges from exported units, instead naming the cars as T-5 (a pre-production Mustang project name) for the German market until 1979 when Krupp copyrights expired. In 1965, Harry Ferguson Research purchased 3 Mustang notchbacks and converted them to 4×4 in an attempt to sell potential clients on their FF AWD system. A similar system was used in the Ferguson P99 Formula One car, and would go on to be featured in the Jensen FF, widely considered the first AWD passenger car. As in the Jensen FF, the AWD Mustangs also featured an ABS braking system, long before such a feature was commonplace. Ford Australia organised the importation and conversion of 1966 Mustang to right-hand-drive for the Australian market. This coincided with the launch of new XR Falcon for 1966, which was marketed as “Mustang-bred Falcon”. To set the official conversion apart from the cottage industry, the RHD Mustangs were called “Ford Australia Delivered Mustang” and had compliance plates similar to XR Falcon. About 209 were imported to Australia with 48 units were converted in 1965 while the further 161 were done in 1966. The 1967 model year Mustang was the first redesign of the original model. Ford’s designers began drawing up a larger version even as the original was achieving sales success, and while “Iacocca later complained about the Mustang’s growth, he did oversee the redesign for 1967 .” The major mechanical feature was to allow the installation of a big-block V8 engine. The overall size, interior and cargo space were increased. Exterior trim changes included concave taillights, side scoop (1967 model) and chrome (1968 model) side ornamentation, square rear-view mirrors, and usual yearly wheel and gas cap changes. The high-performance 289 option was placed behind the newer 335 hp 6.4 litre FE engine from the Ford Thunderbird, which was equipped with a four-barrel carburettor. During the mid-1968 model year, a drag racer for the street could be ordered with the optional 428 cu in (7.0 litre) Cobra Jet engine which was officially rated at 335 hp. All of these Mustangs were issued R codes on their VIN’s. The 1967 Deluxe Interior was revised, discontinuing the embossed running horse motif on the seat backs (the source for the “pony interior” nickname) in favor of a new deluxe interior package, which included special colour options, brushed aluminium (from August 1966 production) or woodgrain dash trim, seat buttons, and special door panels. The hardtop also included upholstered quarter trim panels, a carryover from the 1965-66 deluxe interior. The 1967 hardtop also had the chrome quarter trim caps, carried over from 1965-66, but these were painted to match the interior in 1968 models. The 1967 deluxe interior included stainless steel-trimmed seat back shells, similar to those in the Thunderbird. These were dropped at the end of the 1967 model year, and were not included in the woodgrain-trimmed 1968 interior. The deluxe steering wheel, which had been included in the deluxe interior for the 1965-66, became optional, and could also be ordered with the standard interior. The 1968 models that were produced from January 1968 were also the first model year to incorporate three-point lap and shoulder belts (which had previously been optional, in 1967-68 models) as opposed to the standard lap belts. The air-conditioning option was fully integrated into the dash, the speakers and stereo were upgraded, and unique center and overhead consoles were options. The fastback model offered the option of a rear fold-down seat, and the convertible was available with folding glass windows. Gone was the Rally-Pac, since the new instrument cluster had provisions for an optional tachometer and clock. Its size and shape also precluded the installation of the accessory atop the steering column. The convenience group with four warning lights for low fuel, seat belt reminder, parking brake not released, and door ajar were added to the instrument panel, or, if one ordered the optional console and A/C, the lights were mounted on the console. Changes for the 1968 model increased safety with a two-spoke energy-absorbing steering wheel, along with newly introduced shoulder belts. Other changes included front and rear side markers, “FORD” lettering removed from hood, rearview mirror moved from frame to windscreen, a 302 cu in (4.9 litre) V8 engine was now available, and C-Stripe graphics were added. The California Special Mustang, or GT/CS, was visually based on the Shelby model and was only sold in Western states. Its sister, the ‘High Country Special’, was sold in Denver, Colorado. While the GT/CS was only available as a coupe, the ‘High Country Special’ model was available in fastback and convertible configurations during the 1966 and 1967 model years, and as a coupe for 1968. The 1968 Ford Mustang GT Fastback reached iconic status after it was featured in the 1968 film Bullitt, starring Steve McQueen. In the film, McQueen drove a modified 1968 Mustang GT 2+2 Fastback chasing a Dodge Charger through the streets of San Francisco. There were further annual updates until the model’s replacement in 1973, but with each the car got steadily bigger and less overtly sporty. Sales reduced, too, suggesting that Ford were losing their way. Mustang II did not fix that, of course, but gradually, the legendary nameplate has returned to delivering the same sort of promise as those early and much loved cars were able to do.

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1968 Ford Thunderbird: The Thunderbird’s fifth generation brought the second major change in the car’s design direction since its debut in 1955. From 1958 through 1966, the Thunderbird had remained fundamentally the same in concept as a two-door coupe/convertible with two rows of seating. The introduction of the Ford Mustang in early 1964 created a challenge to the Thunderbird’s market positioning. The Mustang was also a two-door coupe or convertible with two rows of seating at a substantially lower price. To prevent overlap, The Thunderbird was moved upmarket. The 1967 model year was a larger Thunderbird with luxury appointments in line with a Lincoln. The new Thunderbird was no longer unibody, but a body-on-frame construction with rubber mountings between the body and frame to reduce noise and vibration. In contrast to the previous generation of the Thunderbird was the discontinuation of a convertible model and the addition of a four-door sedan body style. The four-door featured suicide doors for rear-seat access and the appearance of a coupe. This was by a panel that extended into the rear door window area and covered to match the standard vinyl top with simulated landau bars helping camouflage the cut line. A design feature of the fifth-generation Thunderbird was the gaping, fighter jet-inspired grille opening that incorporated hidden headlights. The 1970 model year Thunderbird continued with the same platform and many of the same parts and styling cues from the 1967 through 1969 models such as the sequential turn signals incorporated into the full-width tail lamps. The most noticeable change was in the front fascia, where a large, prominent projection resembling a bird or eagle’s beak was now used, in line with long, angular lines in the hood. Semon “Bunkie” Knudsen, a former GM executive now president of Ford, is said to be responsible for this dramatic change. The T-bird was offered in coupe or sports-back models for these two years, the latter being a further distinction from the 1967 through 1969 models. In 1971, Neiman Marcus offered “his and hers” Thunderbirds in its 1970 catalog, with telephones, tape recorders, and other features. Sold only as a pair, they retailed for a total of US$25,000 (equivalent to $167,276 in 2021). The 1971 Thunderbird was mostly a carry-over from the 1970 model as Ford prepared to release a new, larger Thunderbird for 1972. It was also the last year to offer a four-door. A sixth generation car was launched for 1972.

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1970 Dodge Challenger: Almost certainly a belated response by Dodge to the Mustang and Camaro, the Challenger was introduced in the autumn of 1969 for the 1970 model year, one of two Chrysler E-body cars, the other being the slightly smaller Plymouth Barracuda. Both the Challenger and Barracuda were available in a staggering number of trim and option levels, offering virtually every engine in Chrysler’s inventory. The first Barracuda had actually beaten the Mustang to market by a few weeks, but it was the Ford which really captured the public’s imagination and which came to define the sector known as the “Pony Car”. There was room for more models, as GM discovered when they produced the Camaro and Firebird in 1967. The Challenger’s longer wheelbase, larger dimensions and more luxurious interior were prompted by the launch of the 1967 Mercury Cougar, likewise a bigger, more luxurious and more expensive pony car aimed at affluent young American buyers. The wheelbase, at 110 inches was two inches longer than the Barracuda, and the Dodge differed substantially from the Plymouth in its outer sheetmetal, much as the Cougar differed from the shorter-wheelbase Ford Mustang. Air conditioning and a heated rear window were optional. Exterior design was done by Carl Cameron, who also did the exterior for the 1966 Dodge Charger. Cameron based the 1970 Challenger grille off an older sketch of his 1966 Charger prototype that was to have a turbine engine. The Charger never got the turbine, but the Challenger featured that car’s grille. Although the Challenger was well received by the public (with 76,935 produced for the 1970 model year), it was criticised by the press, and the pony car segment was already declining by the time the Challenger arrived. Sales fell dramatically after 1970, and though sales rose for the 1973 model year with over 27,800 cars being sold, Challenger production ceased midway through the 1974 model year. A total of 165,437 Challengers were sold over this generation’s lifespan.

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1971 AMC Javelin: The AMC Javelin was restyled for the 1971 model year. The “1980-looking Javelin” design was purposely made to give the sporty car “individuality,” even at “the risk of scaring some people off.” The second generation became longer, lower, wider, and heavier than its predecessor. Wheelbase was increased by 1-inch (25 mm) to 110 in (2,794 mm). The indicated engine power outputs also changed from 1971 to 1972–74. Actual power output remained the same, but the U.S. automobile industry followed the SAE horsepower rating method that changed from “gross” in 1971 and prior years to “net” in 1972 and later years. The new design incorporated an integral roof spoiler and sculpted fender bulges. The new body departed from the gentle, tucked-in look of the original. The media noted the revised front fenders (originally designed to accommodate oversized racing tyres) that “bulge up as well as out on this personal sporty car, borrowing lines from the much more expensive Corvette.”[64] The new design also featured an “intricate injection moulded grille.” The car’s dashboard was asymmetrical, with “functional instrument gauges that wrap around you with cockpit efficiency”.[66] This driver-oriented design contrasted with the symmetrical interior of the economy-focused 1966 Hornet (Cavalier) prototype. AMC offered a choice of engines and transmissions, included a 232 cu in (3.8 L) Inline 6; and a 401 cu in (6.6 L) V8 with a single 4-barrel carburetor and high compression ratio of 9.5:1 rated at 330 bhp at 5000 rpm and 430 lb⋅ft (583 N⋅m) at 3400 rpm of torque, forged steel crankshaft and connecting rods engineered to withstand 8000 rpm. The BorgWarner T-10 four-speed manual transmission came with a Hurst floor shifter. From 1971, the AMX was no longer available as a two-seater. It evolved into a premium high-performance edition of the Javelin. The new Javelin-AMX incorporated several racing modifications and AMC advertised it as “the closest thing you can buy to a Trans-Am champion”. The car had a fiberglass full-width cowl induction hood, as well as spoilers front and rear for high-speed traction. Testing at the Ontario Motor Speedway by Penske Racing Team recorded that the 1971 Javelin AMX’s rear spoiler added 100 lb (45.4 kg) of downforce. Mark Donohue also advised AMC to make the AMX’s grille flush for improved airflow, thus the performance model received a stainless steel mesh screen over the standard Javelin’s deep openings. The performance-upgrade “Go Package” provided the choice of a 360 or 401 4-barrel engine, and included “Rally-Pac” instruments, a handling package for the suspension, “Twin-Grip” limited-slip differential, heavy-duty cooling, power-assisted disc brakes, white-letter E60x15 Goodyear Polyglas tires (on 15×7-inch styled slotted steel wheels) used on the Rebel Machine, a T-stripe hood decal, and a blacked-out rear taillight panel. The 3,244-pound (1,471 kg) 1971 Javelin AMX with a 401 cu in (6.6 L) V8 ran the quarter-mile in the mid-14 second range at 93 miles per hour (150 km/h) on low-lead, low-octane gas. The 1972 model year Javelins featured a new “egg crate” front grille design with a similar pattern repeated on the chrome overlay over the full-width taillights. The AMX version continued with the flush grille. A total of 15 exterior colors were offered with optional side stripes. To consolidate the product offering, reduce production costs, and offer more value to consumers, the 1972 AMC Javelins were equipped with more standard comfort and convenience items. Engine power ratings were downgraded to the more accurate Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) net hp figures. Automatic transmissions were now the TorqueFlite units sourced from Chrysler, called “Torque-Command” by AMC. American Motors achieved record sales in 1972 by focusing on quality and including an innovative warranty called the “Buyer Protection Plan” to back its products. This was the first time an automaker promised to repair anything wrong with the car (except for tires) for one year or 12,000 miles. Owners were provided with a toll-free telephone number to AMC, as well as a free loaner car if a repair to their car took more than a day. By this time, the pony car market segment was declining in popularity. One commentator has said that “[d]espite the Javelin’s “great lines and commendable road performance, it never quite matched the competition in the sales arena … primarily because the small independent auto maker did not have the reputation and/or clout to compete with GM, Ford, and Chrysler”. During the 1972 and 1973 model years 4,152 Javelins were produced with optional interior design by fashion designer Pierre Cardin. The official on-sale date was 1 March 1972. The design had multi-coloured pleated stripes in red, plum, white, and silver on a black background. Six multi-colored stripes, in a nylon fabric with a stain-resistant silicone finish, ran from the front seats, up the doors, onto the headliner, and down to the rear seats. Chatham Mills produced the fabric for the seat faces. Cardin’s crest appeared on the front fenders. MSRP of the option was $84.95 ($519 in 2015 dollars). A 2007 magazine article described the design as the “most daring and outlandish” of its kind. The 1973 Javelin had several updates, most noticeably in the design of the taillights and grille, although the AMX grille remained the same. While all other AMC models had bumpers with telescopic shock absorbers, the Javelin and AMX were fitted with a non-telescopic design that had two rigid rubber guards. These allowed the cars to withstand a 5-mile-per-hour (8 km/h) front and 2.5-mile-per-hour (4 km/h) rear impacts without damage to the engine, lights, and safety equipment. The doors were also made stronger to comply with new U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) safety standards that they withstand 2,500 pounds (1,134 kg) of impact for the first 6 inches (152 mm) of crush. The “twin-cove” indentations were eliminated from the Javelin’s roof and a full vinyl top was made available. The 1970–1972 “Turtle Back” front seats were replaced by a slimmer, lighter, and more comfortable design that provided more legroom for rear-seat passengers. The SST moniker was dropped, and the car now simply known as Javelin. All engines incorporated new emissions controls. The 1973 401 cu in (6.6 L) V8 was rated at net 255 hp and achieved 0 to 60 mph acceleration in 7.7 seconds with a top speed of 115.53 mph (185.93 km/h), despite the Javelin’s four-place size and weight. Performance figures conducted by Road Test magazine of a 1973 Javelin SST with the 401 cu in (6.6 L) 4-barrel V8 engine and 4-speed manual transmission resulted in “respectable” quarter-mile (402 m) dragstrip runs of 15.5 seconds at 91 mph. American Motors continued its comprehensive “Buyer Protection” extended warranty on all 1973 models that now covered food and lodging expenses of up to $150 should a car require overnight repairs when the owner is more than 100 miles (161 km) away from home. The automaker promoted improved product quality with an advertising campaign that said “we back them better because we build them better”. Profits for the year achieved a record high. Javelin production for the 1973 model year totaled 30,902 units, including 5,707 AMX units. Javelins driven in the Trans-Am captured the racing title for American Motors in both the 1971 and 1972 seasons. The back-to-back SCCA championships with specially prepared race cars was celebrated by AMC by offering a limited run of “Trans Am Victory” edition 1973 Javelins. The package was available on cars built from October to 15 December 1972, on any Javelin SST, except with the Cardin interior. A single magazine advertisement, featuring the winning race drivers George Follmer and Roy Woods, promoted the special package. These cars came packaged with an additional cost optional visibility group, light group, insulation group, protection group, and sports-style steering wheel, but also received at no additional cost (but valued at $167.45) three other features—large “Javelin Winner Trans Am Championship 1971–1972 SCCA” fender decals on the lower portion behind the front wheel openings, 8-slot rally styled steel wheels with E70X14 Polyglass raised white letter tires and a “Space-Saver” spare tire. The Trans Am Victory cars were also typically pre-built even more “heavily optioned than regular production Javelins.”[84] American Motors designed a quick identification system of its models by an information-rich Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) system. However, because this was only a limited promotional “value added” marketing campaign, except as noted on the original window sticker, there is no VIN or door tag code to distinguish an authentic Trans Am-Victory edition car. By 1974, the automobile marketplace had changed. Mid-year, Chrysler abandoned the pony car market. Whereas Ford replaced its original Mustang with a smaller four-cylinder version, and other pony car manufacturers also downsized engines, the Javelin’s big engine option continued until the production of the model ended in October/November 1974 amidst the Arab oil embargo and overall declining interest in high-performance vehicles. The 1974 AMX did not do as well in the marketplace when compared to the new Camaro, Firebird, and the downsized Mustang II – all of which saw increased sales. Javelin production meanwhile reached a second-generation high of 27,696 units. Out of that total number, a total of 4,980 Javelin-AMX models were produced for the final model year. A new seatbelt interlock system prevented the car from being started if the driver and a front passenger were unbuckled. The functional cowl-induction fiberglass hood was no longer available for 1974, and the output of the 401 cu in (6.6 L) V8 dropped by 20 hp. Some late-production cars came with hoods made from steel. Several factors led to the demise of the Javelin model, not least of which was the economic climate of the time. While the 1974 model was exempt from stricter 1974 bumper standards, AMC estimated it would take $12 million in engineering and design work to revise the bumpers to meet the 1975 standards. American Motors also introduced the all-new 1974 Matador coupe, described by Popular Mechanics as “smooth and slippery and actually competes with the Javelin for “boss” muscle-car styling”. The automaker also needed a manufacturing line to build its all-new AMC Pacer. Nevertheless, more cars were built during the final year of Javelin production than the prior second-generation years, with 27,696 units built, of which 4,980 (about 15 percent) were Javelin AMX models.

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1976 Cadillac Coupe de Ville: This body style was produced from 1971 through to 1976. With 64.3 inches front shoulder room (62.1 inches on Cadillac) and 63.4 inches rear shoulder room (64.0 inches on Cadillac) the new for 1971 full-sized GM cars set a record for interior width that would not be matched by any car until the full-size GM rear-wheel-drive models of the early to mid-1990s. The styling of the new Cadillacs bore a strong resemblance to the models they replaced, but there were differences. Pairs of individually housed squarish headlamps were set wider apart. The V-shaped grille had an egg-crate style insert and was protected by massive vertical guards framing a rectangular license plate indentation. A wide bonnet with full-length windsplints, a prominent centre crease and hidden windshield wipers was seen. A Cadillac crest decorated the nose and new indicator lamps appeared atop each front fender. A horizontal beltline moulding ran from behind the front wheel housing, almost to the rear stopping where an elliptical bulge in the body came to a point and where thin rectangular side markers were placed above and below the chrome strip. The rear wheel openings were again housed in fender skirts. Tail lamps were of the same type as before but were no longer divided by a chrome bar. Long horizontal back-up lamps were set in the bumper, on either side of a deeply recessed license plate housing. De Villes were set apart visually by thin bright metal rocker panel steps and signature script on the front fenders bearing the series name. The bottoms of the rear fenders were decorated with a bright metal beauty panel that was wider than the rocker panel strips and blended into the moulding running along the bottom of the fender skirt. The standard engine remained the 472, still rated at 375 SAE gross hp and 365 lb/ft of torque. Detailed styling changes were made every year throughout the 5 year production run, with energy absorbing bumpers appearing in 1973, a year in which sales set a new record at 216,243. 1974 saw the introduction of the optional “Air Cushion Restraint System”. Known today as airbags, this option provided protection for front seat occupants in the case of a frontal collision. One bag was located in the steering wheel, the other in the dashboard in front of the front seat passenger. The glove box was replaced with a lockable storage compartment under the dashboard. The option was unpopular and was discontinued after the 1976 model year.

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1977 Chrysler New Yorker Landau Coupe

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1984 Plymouth Voyager: Lee Iacocca and Hal Sperlich had conceived their idea for a modern minivan during their earlier tenure at Ford Motor Company. Henry Ford II had rejected Iaccoca’s and Sperlich’s idea (and a prototype) of a minivan in 1974, then rumored to carry the name “Maxivan”. Iaccoca followed Sperlich to Chrysler Corporation, and together they created the T115 minivan — a prototype that was to become the Caravan and Voyager, known colloquially as the “Magic-wagons” (a term used in advertising). The Chrysler minivans launched a few months ahead of the Renault Espace (the first MPV/minivan in Europe, initially presented to executives as a Talbot (which was made up of Chrysler Europe’s disposed assets) in 1979, but not launched until 1984), making them the first of their kind — effectively creating the modern minivan segment in the US. In 1984, Chrysler marketed the rebadged Plymouth variant of its new minivan as the Voyager, using the Chrysler’s S platform, derived from the K-platform (Plymouth Reliant and Dodge Aries). The Voyager shared components with the K-cars including portions of the interior, e.g., the Reliant’s instrument cluster and dashboard controls, along with the K-platform front-wheel drive layout and low floor, giving the Voyager a car-like ease of entry. The Voyager was on Car and Driver magazine’s Ten Best list for 1985. For 1987, the Voyager received minor cosmetic updates as well as the May 1987 introduction of the Grand Voyager, which was built on a longer wheelbase adding more cargo room. It was available only with SE or LE trim. First-generation Voyager minivans were offered in three trim levels: an unnamed base model, mid-grade SE, and high-end LE, the latter bearing simulated woodgrain paneling. A sportier LX model was added in 1989, sharing much of its components with the Caravan ES. Safety features included 3-point seat belts for the front two passengers and lap belts for rear passengers. Standard on all Voyagers were legally mandated side-impact reinforcements for all seating front and rear outboard positions. Safety features such as airbags or ABS were not available. Notably, the Voyager, along with the Dodge Caravan, are considered to be the first mass-produced vehicles to have dedicated built in cup holders. Original commercials for the 1984 Voyager featured magician Doug Henning as a spokesperson to promote the Voyager “Magic Wagon’s” versatility, cargo space, low step-in height, passenger volume, and maneuverability. Later commercials in 1989 featured rock singer Tina Turner. Canadian commercials in 1990 featured pop singer Celine Dion. 1984-1986 Voyagers could be equipped for five, six, seven passengers, with an eight-passenger variant available only in 1985. Five-passenger seating, standard on all trim levels, consisted of two front bucket seats and an intermediate three-passenger bench seat. In 1985, on base and SE models, the front buckets could be replaced by a 40/60 split three-passenger bench seat, bringing the total number of occupants to six. Seven-passenger seating was an option on SEs and LEs, with dual front buckets, an intermediate two-passenger bench, and a rear three-passenger bench. Eight-passenger seating was available on SE models only, with both the additional middle two-passenger bench and three-passenger front bench. Depending on configuration, the base model could seat up to six, the SE could seat up to eight, and the LE could seat up to seven. The two bench seats in the rear were independently removable (though not foldable), and the large three-seat bench could also be installed in the 2nd row location via a second set of attachment points on the van’s floor, ordinarily hidden with snap-in plastic covers. This configuration allowed for conventional five-passenger seating with a sizable cargo area in the rear. The latching mechanisms for the benches were very intuitive and easy to operate. On base models, the front buckets were low-back items, upholstered with plain cloth or vinyl. On SEs, the buyer could choose between low-back buckets with deluxe cloth or high-back buckets in upgraded vinyl. LEs came standard with high-back front buckets, upholstered in either luxury cloth or luxury vinyl. In 1985 and 1986, there was also a five-passenger version with a back seat that could be folded flat with the pull of a handle into a bed that filled the rear compartment from the back of the front seats to the rear. This option was known as the Magic Camper. The Magic Camper back seat had an extra rear-facing cushion that formed the back-most section of the bed when folded flat and the seat, though very heavy, was removable. The Magic Camper option included a tent that attached magnetically to the side of the vehicle allowing access in and out of the sliding side door. For 1987 the six- and eight-passenger options were withdrawn, leaving seating for five standard and for seven optional on the base and SE, and seating for seven with high-back front buckets standard on the LE, Grand SE, and Grand LE. Deluxe cloth upholstery was now standard on base and all SE models, with the luxury vinyl optional on SEs. On LEs, luxury cloth came standard and for the first time, leather seats were available on the LE models. For the first 3 years of production, two inline-4 engines with 2 barrel carburettors were offered. The base 2.2L was borrowed from the Chrysler K-cars, and produced 96 hp (72 kW) horsepower. The higher performance fuel injected version of the 2.2L engine later offered in the Chrysler K-cars was only offered in the Voyager for the 1987 model year, and would remain the base powerplant until mid-1987. Alongside the 2.2L, an optional Mitsubishi 2.6L engine was available producing 104 hp. At launch, the Voyager’s low horsepower to weight ratio had not been much of a concern. Its main competitors were the Toyota Van and the Volkswagen Vanagon, both of which offered similar performance. In mid-1987, the base 2.2L I4 was replaced with a fuel-injected 2.5L I4, which produced 100 hp while the Mitsubishi G54B I4 was replaced with the new fuel-injected 3.0L Mitsubishi V-6 producing 136 hp in March of that year. A turbocharged version of the base 2.5L producing 150 hp was available in 1989 and 1990. Also in 1989, revisions to the Mitsubishi V-6 upped its output to 142 hp. In 1990, a new 150 hp 3.3L V-6 was added to the option list. Sales of the 2.5 turbo dwindled as a result, and it was dropped at the end of the year. A second generation model arrived for 1991.

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1987 Plymouth Gran Fury Police Car: In 1982, Plymouth downsized the Gran Fury again, this time sharing the mid-size M platform with the Chrysler Fifth Avenue (called Chrysler New Yorker/New Yorker Fifth Avenue for 1982 and 1983) and the Dodge Diplomat. In addition to the R-body Gran Fury, the M-body Gran Fury replaced the M-body Chrysler LeBaron, which had moved to the compact K platform that year. Now considered a mid-sized car, this generation Gran Fury was close to the exterior size of what was once the compact Valiant and Volaré but offered more interior room. The M-body was in fact heavily based on the Volaré’s F platform. Like its predecessor, the 1982 Gran Fury was introduced later than its Chrysler and Dodge siblings; the Chrysler LeBaron and Dodge Diplomat had used the M-body since 1977. For 1979, all M-body coupes were offered with 2 different roof treatments. The Chrysler LeBaron, Dodge Diplomat, Plymouth Gran Fury (in the U.S.) and Caravelle Salon (in Canada), had a more formal rear side window treatment with a tall, narrow rectangular shape, rather than the “triangle” shape of the standard trim model. This more formal coupe was only sold for one year. 1982-1989 Plymouth Gran Fury shared the Dodge Diplomat’s front and rear fascias. They were virtually identical with the exception of badging. Once again, the third generation Gran Fury was available in base and higher-end “Salon” trim. As in previous years, the higher-volume Gran Fury base model catered more towards fleet customers while Gran Fury Salons were geared more towards private customers and offered options such as full vinyl roofs, velour upholstery, turbine-spoke wheels, power windows, and power locks. Although available to retail buyers, Gran Fury was far more popular with police departments and other fleet buyers, primarily since the car was reasonably priced and had a conventional drivetrain with proven components that could withstand a good deal of abuse. The Gran Fury, however, was much less powerful than both its Big Three competitors as well as the Chrysler Corporation’s earlier police offerings. The most powerful engine available to police departments was a 165 hp iteration of the 318 ci V8, capable of an 18.16 second quartermile in period testing – slower than the 90-hp Volkswagen Rabbit GTi. This generation of the Gran Fury sold in respectable numbers. However, despite having the same base prices as the Gran Fury (just under $12,000 USD for their final year), the Diplomat always outsold it, usually by several thousand units each year. The Chrysler Fifth Avenue’s total sales were always more than that of the Gran Fury and Diplomat by far, even though it generally cost about $6,000 USD more. This last car to carry the Gran Fury nameplate remained largely unchanged for its 7-year run. Declining sales, a lack of promotion, and technical obsolescence—the platform dated back to the 1976 Plymouth Volare and Dodge Aspen—eventually contributed to the model’s demise in early 1989. That year, a driver-side airbag became standard; this would be the last RWD Plymouth until the introduction of the Prowler. While Dodge offered the 1990 Monaco, and later the 1993 Intrepid, Chrysler never replaced the Gran Fury with any other large car in the remainder of the Plymouth brand’s existence until its demise in the 2001 model year.

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1989 Pontiac Fiero GT: The Pontiac Fiero is a mid-engine sports car manufactured and marketed by Pontiac for model years 1984-1988. Designed by George Milidrag and Hulki Aldikacti as a sports car, it was the first two-seater Pontiac since the 1926 to 1938 coupes, and the first mass-produced mid-engine sports car by an American manufacturer. Progressive technologies incorporated in the Fiero design, included composite panels, unique for their time. Other features included hidden headlamps and integrated stereo speakers in the driver and passenger headrests. The Fiero was discontinued after annual sales fell steadily. The Fiero was conceived as a small, two-seat sports car with all new suspension and a V6 engine. While General Motors’s management were opposed to investing in a second two-seater sports car that might compete with the Corvette, young Pontiac engineers in 1978 were able to sell the Fiero concept to the corporation as a fuel-efficient four-cylinder “commuter car” that just happened to have two seats, rather than a muscle car. When the engineers brought back a running prototype in less than six months, it was given the green light for production. They perceived the oil crisis as a market opportunity for a fuel-efficient sporty commuter car. The Fiero was redesigned to use a fuel efficient version of GM’s 2.5 L four-cylinder Iron Duke engine capable of 31 mpg‑US (7.6 L/100 km; 37 mpg‑imp) in the city and 50 mpg‑US (4.7 L/100 km; 60 mpg‑imp) on the highway with the economy-ratio transmission option. The fuel economy was considered as impressive for a 2.5 L engine of the period, but the three-speed automatic reduced highway mileage to only 32 mpg‑US (7.4 L/100 km; 38 mpg‑imp). With respect to fuel economy, the Fiero appealed to market niche distinct from the Corvette’s. The Fiero was an unusual design for GM, and stood out from their other products. It’s development budget, from design to plant retooling, was 400 million dollars, a small fraction of what GM generally spent on bringing a typical prototype car into production. Pontiac assigned oversight of the Fiero project to Hulki Aldikacti, a Turkish born executive with over twenty years of experience. Aldikacti’s initial challenge was with GM’s corporate structure, which split its engineers into two categories: the car engineers who would create blueprints for the car, and manufacturing engineers who would work out the fabrication and assembly issues. Fiero blueprints traveled back and forth between the two engineering branches, resulting in a waste of time and money. Aldikacti was forced to sit the two teams of engineers down next to one another, allowing for no excuses as to why there was “no build” after his design was done. Many modifications in the Fiero’s designs were needed to be made for production; for instance, despite his long-standing interest in manufacturing body panels from plastic, Aldikacti consented to metal body pieces, the dies for which were much less costly. As the prototypes took shape, the exterior lines resembled more of a Ferrari or Porsche than a typical GM car, but the tight budget was taking its toll on the design, particularly on Aldikacti’s dream of a high-performance, aluminum-block V6; the cost of developing a new engine would be more than the production of the whole car itself. Instead, Aldikacti was forced to settle for the already manufactured four-cylinder engine GM produced for the Pontiac, the “Iron Duke,” nicknamed for its heavy iron block. This engine was too blocky to fit into the tiny car so it was equipped with a smaller oil pan, causing the engine to run on less oil than it was originally designed for. Another issue was weak connecting rods that would shatter, blowing pieces through the engine block and dumping oil on hot exhaust components. The word Fiero means “very proud”, “fierce”, “bold”, “haughty” “cruel”, “severe” in Italian, and “wild”, “fierce”, or “ferocious” in Spanish. Alternative names considered for the car were Sprint (which had previously been used on a GMC and would later end up being used for a Chevrolet instead), P3000, Pegasus, Fiamma, Sunfire (a name which would later be applied to another Pontiac), and Firebird XP. Aldikacti’s unorthodox design methods and personal manner made him unpopular to most of GM’s bureaucracy. He was told by counterparts at other GM divisions three times that his project had been cancelled by corporate management. However, the Fiero project was kept alive at the wishes of certain high-ranked defenders, chief among them William Hoglund, who took over Pontiac in 1980. Hoglund took the reins when the brand’s popularity was heavily diluted; Pontiac’s cars were said to be bland, outdated, and what customers of the past would buy. In 1983 Hoglund told his top three dozen staffers that Pontiac would rebuild itself with cars that were “exciting” and “different.” These terms only described one of Pontiac’s cars in their current lineup, Aldikacti’s “commuter car”. In order to meet the target of building 100,000 cars a year Hoglund’s marketing team committed to sell, Hoglund negotiated a deal to reopen a plant once shut down in the heart of Pontiac, Michigan. He and his staff wanted to prove that cooperation between management and labour could be solved without the use of robots on the assembly line, which GM’s top executives wanted to use. Hoglund allowed hourly paid workers to name Aldikacti’s car while applying this theory; the name “Fiero” was the choice. A mid-engine layout was originally chosen as a way to reduce both aerodynamic drag and vehicle weight to improve fuel efficiency, and also for its handling, traction, and braking benefits. However, the performance potential of the mid-engine layout was not realized when the Fiero debuted. As a cost-saving measure commonly employed at GM at the time, the tires, brakes, and suspension components were carried over from other GM platforms such as the X and T platforms. As a result, the handling abilities of the Fiero were merely on par with other contemporary sporty coupes (Road & Track 1985). Additionally, the Iron Duke engine, which was designed for optimal running at low RPM, was unsuited to drivers who purchased the Fiero expecting a quick, high-revving motor keeping with the design of the car. As drivers attempted to frequently run the engine at greater RPM than it was designed for, the engines experienced a number of reliability problems and breakdowns were frequent. The public had high expectations for the Fiero with its mid-engine layout and aggressive styling, which resembled exotic mid-engine sports cars like the Ferrari 308GTB. While initially garnering good reviews for its handling (Motor Trend 1984), the Fiero soon received negative reviews from other automotive critics who expected higher performance from a mid-engine two-seater. Despite the criticism, the Fiero sold well and although Pontiac operated three shifts at the factory during 1984, they could not keep up with initial demand. The sharing of suspension and other components with other GM cars meant the rear suspension and powertrain was virtually identical to that of the Phoenix; the Fiero even included rear tie rod ends attached to a “steering knuckle”, although these were hard-mounted to the engine cradle and only used for maintaining the rear tire alignment. The front suspension was derived from the Chevette.By 1985, the oil crisis was over and demand developed for a Fiero having more engine power and better performance. Pontiac responded by introducing the GT model which included upgraded suspension tuning, wider tires, and a V6 engine having 43 hp more than the base four-cylinder. Finally in 1988, numerous changes were made to the Fiero to bring it in line with its original design. The most significant was a completely redesigned suspension (and parts of the space frame) to realize the potential of the mid-engine layout. The unique suspension included new two-piece brake calipers and upgraded brake rotors. These had been part of the Fiero’s initial design, but cost-cutting kept them from being implemented sooner. The available I4 and V6 engines benefited from evolutionary improvements, but the planned availability of turbochargers and newer DOHC engines did not happen before production stopped. In spite of the much-improved car which finally had realized its potential after years of mismanagement, GM ended production after the 1988 model year due to declining sales figures. Bad press and consumer sentiment frequently cited heavy media coverage of Fiero engine fires, as well as the poor reliability and performance of the 1984–1987 models. The Fiero began production in August 1983. In an effort to sell the car as economically sensible, GM equipped and sold the Fiero as a commuter car; although the marketing build-up leading to initial release indicated anything but a regular commuter. The car also proved uncomfortable for some drivers because of the lack of power steering. At the beginning of production the Fiero was only available in Red (M71) and White (M40) colors with Black (M41) and Light Gray Metallic (M14) introduced later, the paint shop was only able to handle four different colors at a time. All 1984 models came with the same 2.5 L I4. Although sales literature listed only two models available in 1984, there were at least three models available with different optional packages. There was the Fiero Coupe, the Sport Coupe and the SE. The Fiero Coupe, also called “Fuel Economy Leader”, came with the MY-8 4-speed manual transaxle that had a 0.73 overdrive top gear along with a high mpg 3.32:1 axle ratio. This gave it an EPA highway/city rating of 50/31 mpg. Air conditioning and automatic transaxle could not be ordered. The starting price for the Fiero Coupe was $7,999. The Fiero Sport Coupe, also referred to as the “base car”, came with the M-19 four-speed manual with a 0.81 top gear along with 4.10:1 differential, giving it better acceleration at the cost of fuel economy, 42/26 mpg. An automatic 3-speed transmission, MD-9 Hydramatic 125-C, was available along with A/C. The starting price was $8,499 for the Sport Coupe. The top model was the Fiero SE, starting at $9,599, it included the WS-6 handling package along with other trim upgrades. The marketing included title sponsorship of Daryl Hall & John Oates tour supporting the release of their Big Bam Boom album. From November 1984 through 1985, each tour venue had Fiero banners and signage above the main stage, new Fieros on display, and Pontiac dealer ticket giveaways. Sales managers at Pontiac dealerships also received a limited edition “Pontiac Fiero Presents Daryl Hall & John Oates” vinyl greatest hits album enticing them to participate in the sponsorship tour. The LP was Rock ‘n Soul Part 1. The album cover featured Hall & Oates standing with a red 1984 Fiero SE. Also, for marketing purposes, the 1984 base model was featured in a 1983 episode of the television show Hardcastle & McCormick. The 1984 model line included a limited “Indy Pace Car” edition, consisting of an Indianapolis 500-themed option package on SE-model vehicles (a package that was specially reissued in 1985). Approximately 2,000 of these vehicles were sold. The Indy had aero body cladding and new front and rear fascias that would be used on the 1985 GT. Only the four-cylinder engine was available, though a few prototypes were fitted with a unique periscope-style inlet sprouting from the engine compartment and curving up and over the roof. This “periscope” style inlet was used on the three actual Indy Pace Cars used at the 1984 Indianapolis 500. This inlet scoop fed the 2.7 L Super Duty engine which was only exclusive to the actual Pace Cars. The Super Duty engine was rated at 232 hp at 6,500 rpm and 210 lb⋅ft (280 N⋅m) of torque at 5,500 rpm. Pontiac’s general manager Bill Hoglund nominated John Callies to drive the actual pace car at Indy. Callies was the factory’s lead engineer on both the pace car and IMSA programs. The Fiero became the first 4-cylinder car to pace the 500 since a Stoddard-Dayton paced the 1914 race. The production of the 1984 model ran from July 1983, until almost the end of 1984, this resulted in Pontiac exceeding its first year goal of 80,000 units, which was 28,000 more than the initial estimate and the most two seater cars produced by any US manufacturer at the time.The 1985 Fiero did not appear in showrooms until January 1985, with the introduction of the GT model, which looked very similar to the 1984 Indy model without the decals or body colour wheels. The three models, and four colors from the previous year were still available and the complaint about insufficient power was addressed, much to the satisfaction of the general public. A 2.8 litre V6 engine rated at 140 hp and 170 lb/ft (230 Nm) was put into the car, satisfying most critics of the base engine. The V6 was paired with a modified Muncie 4-speed transmission. The four-cylinder engine was slightly modified, adding roller lifters and resulting in a power increase of 2 hp. It could now also be paired with a Japanese-designed Isuzu five-speed transmission as used in the J-body platform, also produced at the Muncie, Indiana plant. The 1986 Fiero arrived on September 12, 1985, however, the GT model was not originally listed. The previous year’s GT became the 1986 SE. The 1986 GT was delayed until January 3, 1986. This was the first time the fastback roofline was offered, sometimes referred to as a “1986½” model, as the new fastback body restyle was not yet ready for release at the start of the model year. Though originally conceived by Pontiac insiders as a new model, possibly called the “GTP” or “GTU,” it has been said that GM management at the time felt that using “GTP” or “GTU” suggested a racing car, an image they did not want to promote. Individuals present at the unveiling of the new fastback roof style, in February 1984, at GM’s Arizona test track, actually thought it was a new Corvette at first. The Muncie/Getrag 5-speed transaxle, which did not arrive until June 1986, became the standard transaxle in V6 models. Models equipped with the four-cylinder engine received minor changes. Standard wheels were now 14-inch and the SE receives the GT’s aerodynamic front end and rear spoiler. Stereo speakers were now mounted in the sail panels instead of the headrests. The new Performance Sound System includes a 5 1/4-inch subwoofer with an amplifier. Red and Light Gray Metallic colours were dropped in favour of Light Gold Metallic (M56), Silver Metallic (M16) and Bright Red (M81). The clutch hydraulic systems were redesigned with new master and slave cylinders and the optional air conditioner gets a lighter compressor and condenser. 1987 saw changes to the front and rear fascias on the “base coupe” with the SE and GT models keeping the same “Aero” nose. The new non-aero noses lost the black bumper pads of the earlier models and had a smoother look. The four-cylinder engine’s power rating increased to 98 hp with some major modifications which included a roller cam, redesigned intake manifold, distributorless ignition system (DIS), open combustion chamber cylinder head and upgraded throttle-body fuel injection system. This was the last year for the spin-on oil filter on the four-cylinder. Bright Blue (M21) and Medium Red Metallic (M77) were added and replacing the ribbed black molding was the round style found on the GT models. As a side note, the SE models retained the ribbed molding, and added the aero nose found on the GT. Redesigned headlight motors appeared in 1987. Additionally, starting with the 1987 model Pontiac dealerships offered an upgrade in the form of an “option” that changed the original body to a Pininfarina Ferrari 308-type body, called the Fiero Mera. Corporate Concepts completed the “Mera” transformation and none were sold as kit form. The Mera body change was offered only on new Fieros, sold through Pontiac dealers and is considered a model in its own right. Only 247 Meras were produced by Corporate Concepts before production was halted when Corporate Concepts was sued by Ferrari. The 1988 Fiero brought a new suspension design, thought by many to have a striking resemblance to those designed by Lotus, which at the time, was about to be acquired by General Motors. The suspension was never a Lotus design though; it was the suspension the Pontiac engineers had designed in the beginning, along with what they learned from the racing program. Up front were revised control arms and knuckles that reduced steering effort and improved the scrub radius. At the rear, a tri-link suspension with all new knuckles was installed. This new suspension came with staggered wheel sizes on WS6 suspension equipped models, with 15 in (380 mm) by 6 in (150 mm) wide wheels up front and 15 in (380 mm) by 7 in (180 mm) wide wheels in the rear for improved handling balance and to offset the slightly increased front track that resulted from the improvements. Topping off the package were the new vented disc brakes at all four corners, which addressed braking complaints of road testers. A variable effort electro-hydraulic power steering unit, the same design later found on the GM EV1, was also to be a late addition. This option never made it to production – one reason cited is that models with the prototype power steering were noted as being too loud. The four-cylinder engine received an in-pan oil filter element and balance shaft. A “Formula” option was added, which offered many of the GT features with the standard coupe body, including the 120 mph (190 km/h) speedometer, WS6 Suspension (which includes offset crosslace wheels) and the rear spoiler. 1988 marked the end of production for the Fiero. Improvements to suspension, brakes, steering, and improvements to both the four-cylinder and V6 engines took the car to a level far beyond the 1984 model that had received much criticism. 1988 was also the only year a yellow exterior color was available as a factory option. On August 16, 1988, the last Fiero rolled off the Pontiac, Michigan, plant line. A total of 370,168 units were manufactured over five years of production. At the time, the Fiero’s reputation suffered from criticisms over performance, reliability, and safety issues.

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Cadillac Allante: The Cadillac Allanté is a two-door, two-seater luxury roadster produced from 1987 until 1993. It used a Cadillac chassis and running gear with a body built in Italy by coachbuilder Pininfarina. It was expensive to produce with the complete bodies flown to Detroit for final assembly. Over 21,000 were built during its seven-year production run. The name Allanté was selected by General Motors from a list of 1,700 computer generated selections. Originally designed to compete with the Mercedes-Benz SL and Jaguar XJS, the Allanté originally featured a slightly modified variant of the 4.1 L V8 used across Cadillac’s model line. This was expanded to 4.5 L in 1989, and upgraded to the 4.6 L L37 Northstar in its final year, 1993. The Allanté incorporated an international production arrangement that was similar to the early 1950s Nash-Healey two-seat sports car. The Allanté bodies were designed and manufactured in Italy by Pininfarina and were shipped 4,600 miles to the U.S. final assembly with domestically manufactured chassis and engine. Specially equipped Boeing 747s departed from Turin International Airport with 56 bodies at a time, arriving at Detroit’s Coleman A. Young International Airport about 3 miles northeast of Cadillac’s new Hamtramck Assembly plant, known as the “Allanté Air Bridge”. The expensive shipping process stemmed from GM’s recent closing of Fisher Body Plant #18, which had supplied Cadillac bodies since 1921. It was not the first time that Cadillac utilized Pininfarina, having farmed out body production for the 1959 Eldorado Brougham and design and coachworks for several one-offs, customs, and concept cars. All Allanté models featured a fully electronic instrument and control panel, which was angled towards the driver, and featured no knobs or manual controls. General Motors (GM) also implemented electronic controls in its mid-to-late 1980s vehicles such as the Buick Reatta, Buick Riviera, and Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo, although these vehicles included a touchscreen control panel called the Graphic Control Center (GCC), which the Allanté did not feature.

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1995 AREX: “The AREX (American Roadster Experimental) is an American car,” designer David Stollery explained, “and I feel Chevrolet has that image … the Heartbeat of America.” He was unable to get GM motors, but they did introduce us to Gale Banks. The guys at Banks built a prototype intercooled Twin-Turbo 6-liter Chevy, capable of in excess of 800 hp. They stuffed it in the middle of the AREX and shipped it to the GM exhibit at the Detroit Auto Show. In the 1950s they were dubbed “dream cars” when they dazzled the public at the General Motors Motoramas. Now the designation is “concept cars.” Today, every major auto show uses futuristic designs to attract larger attendance. Car companies use these same creations to test public reaction to ideas that have not yet appeared in production. Often these exhibition centrepieces don’t even have an engine or running gear, and sometimes aren’t even made from production auto materials. The AREX shown here is reflective of the best examples in the current crop of concept cars, but it is not a mere dream – it is destined for production. David Stollery, designer of Toyota’s 1968-72 Celica and Supra, as well as the highly acclaimed current Lister Corvette package, penned the AREX as a car for himself, but also to make a statement to the auto industry about his ability to produce leading-edge designs. When Jack Brown, an equally talented engineer who usually hangs his hat at Subaru’s advanced vehicle engineering department, learned of Stollery’s project, he volunteered to assume responsibility for the car’s underpinnings. Gale Banks Engineering built the highly modified LT1 small-block for the prototype, but Stollery and Brown planned to offer that over-kill sort of power as an option. The base LT1 Corvette engine would be standard issue, mated to a ZF five-speed synchro rear transaxle. With a dry weight of less than 2,500 pounds, either engine would likely propel the AREX to 200-plus miles per hour. There were currently two production scenarios, ranging from a limited run of 20 to 25 cars to as many as 300 and the estimated cost was $165,000. Needless to say, these plans came to nothing.

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2002 Ford Thunderbird: After a five-year hiatus, Ford introduced the 2002 Thunderbird. Returning to the original formula for the Thunderbird, the latest version had a two-passenger convertible/removable hardtop configuration like the first-generation Thunderbird and styling strongly recalling the original. The 11th-generation Thunderbird was manufactured at Ford’s Wixom Assembly Plant, sharing the Ford DEW platform with the Lincoln LS, Jaguar S-Type, and Jaguar XF. Though the Thunderbird’s exterior styling was unique relative to the others, the instrument panel, steering wheel, and other trim pieces were borrowed from Lincoln LS. The sole engine of the Thunderbird was a Jaguar-designed AJ-30 3.9 L DOHC V8, a short-stroke (85 mm) variant of the Jaguar AJ-26 4.0 L V8, rated at 252 hp and 267 lb/ft (362 N⋅m) of torque — in combination with Ford’s 5R55N five-speed automatic transmission. The AJ-30 V8 was replaced by the AJ-35 in 2003 and later Thunderbirds, bringing with it variable valve timing and electronic throttle control, as well as 280 hp and 286 lb/ft (388 Nm) of torque. Complementing the extra power and torque provided by the AJ-35 V8, a manual shift feature for the five-speed automatic called SelectShift was available as an option in 2003 and later Thunderbirds. With sales dropping off significantly after its first model year, Ford ended Thunderbird production with the 2005 model year. The last Thunderbird was manufactured on July 1, 2005.

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In fact, the first cars I saw when arriving at the museum were those which had been selected for use as the Driving cars of the day. They were all parked up close to the museum, as my visit was late in the day and presumably any rides they had given had been earlier in the day.

1933 Chrysler Royal: The “Royal” nameplate was added to the 1932 Chrysler Eight Series CP and appeared in 1933 as the Chrysler Royal Series CT and was previously used to describe a top level trim package on sedans. The Royal was originally installed with the Chrysler Straight Eight, and it was the second Chrysler to use a nameplate that didn’t refer to a “Series” designation that referred to a internal body code or the speed it was capable of in past products. The first Chrysler product to do so was the Imperial, which it originally shared a shortened chassis. The Royal was offered as a two-door Business Coupe, Roadster Coupe, Convertible Coupe, a two-door, five-passenger Convertible Sedan and four-door Sedan using a shorter 120 in (3,048 mm) wheelbase from previous years. The longer 128 in (3,251 mm) wheelbase was used for the eight-passenger sedan, while the longer wheelbase was available as a cowl and chassis only for special coachwork choices from private companies, of which 95 were documented to have been built. Prices ranged from US$895 for the business coupe to US$1,085 for the convertible sedan, while the long wheelbase was listed at US$1,125, offering the appearance of the flagship Imperial but at an affordable price. The “Royal” nameplate was used for one year in 1933 when the Airflow replaced the Royal in 1934, then brought back in 1937 when the Airflow sold poorly, and was sold alongside the Airflow which continued to offer the Chrysler Straight Eight. A November 1936 advertisement listed the 1937 Royal as available in ten body types, starting at US$715 with the four door sedan at US$815. The 1937 Royal Series C-16 was installed with the Chrysler Straight Six and took the entry-level position in the Chrysler hierarchy, while being shared with the DeSoto Airstream. In 1939 the Series C-22 Royal introduced the “Royal Windsor” nameplate as a trim package, then in 1941, the “Royal”, “Windsor” and “Highlander” became separate nameplates sharing the same wheelbase but only using the Straight Six, with “Windsor” models offering more standard features and a higher standard interior over the “Royal”. The Royal replaced the Chrysler Six that the company originated with in 1925, and the Royal remained the 6-cylinder entry-level model for Chrysler until it was dropped at the end of 1950 model year, making the Chrysler Windsor the entry-level car for the 1951 model year. Pre-war models were offered in two wheelbase lengths, with coupes and sedans available on the shorter wheelbase, while seven-passenger sedan and limousine were offered on the longer wheelbase. While it was the most affordable Chrysler, it was still a well equipped car with luxurious attention to detail as it was above DeSoto Custom, Dodge Custom and Plymouth De Luxe.

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1939 Cadillac Model 62

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Hudson Commodore: Introduced in December 1947, the Hudson Commodore was one of the first new-design postwar cars made. The 1948 model year inaugurated Hudson’s trademarked “Monobuilt” construction or “step-down” automobile. The new models were designed by Frank Spring. The cars had a light, but a strong semi-unit body with a perimeter frame. Because of the encircling frame, passengers stepped down into the vehicles. Hudson’s step-down design made the body lower than contemporary cars. It offered passengers the safety of being surrounded by the car’s chassis with a lower center of gravity. In addition to the added safety of being surrounded by the car’s chassis, the step-down also allowed Hudson to gain weight savings provided through unibody construction, making for a well-performing automobile. The cars featured slab-sided bodies with fully integrated fenders. Brougham and sedans were of a fastback design while convertibles and coupes were notchbacks. A character line ran from the front to back further lowering the car even more visually, so “the new Hudson looked like a dream car straight from the auto show.” In 1948, Commodores came in one series and were available in either I8 or I6 engines. Interiors were upholstered in broadcloth on sedans, and leather on convertibles. Again, Hudson continued to provide numerous standard features that other manufacturers classified as upcharge options. Commodore Eight production rose to 35,315 units. For the 1949 model year, the Commodore line was enlarged to include more luxurious Custom models. As a marketing promotion, Hudson had plastic specialists use scaled-down blueprints to develop transparent models of the Commodore Eight sedan to demonstrate and promote the design and construction of the cars. There were only nominal trim changes on the exterior of the cars in successive model years. A new Custom Commodore convertible model debuted in mid-April 1950. In 1951, Hudson introduced a new I6 engine and offered General Motors’ Hydra-Matic as an optional transmission. The grille was redesigned from a rather rectangular shape to an oval shape, a design that would carry through to 1953. The grille would be redesigned again in 1954, the last year for the famous aerodynamic Hudson body style which was used from 1948 until 1954. In its final year in 1952, the Commodore was split into the Six Series and Eight Series. The exterior received another trim change, but by the end of 1953, the Step-Down styling was beginning to look outdated. Instead of redesigning the aging Hudson models, company President A. E. Barit pushed ahead with the firm’s plan for the Jet compact. Beginning in 1953, Hudson would field only the Hudson Hornet and Hudson Wasp line, as well as introduce the entirely new Hudson Jet compact car line. Following Hudson’s merger with Nash to form American Motors Corporation (AMC) in 1954, Hudson automobile production was switched to AMC’s facility in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Following slow sales of the 1955 model year, AMC chose to hand over the Hudson styling contract to Richard Arbib, who created a unique look for the Hudson line based on what he termed as “V-Line” styling. The design failed to attract new customers to Hudson, and production fell even further.

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Kaiser Manhattan

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Finally there was another example of the early Ford Mustang.

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I really enjoyed this museum. Whilst not as large as the better known Petersen Collection located a few miles away, there is more than enough here to interest you for a couple of hours. The collection is a lot bigger than the display space, amounting to around 130 vehicles as well as lots of automobilia and with guest cars signed up for shorter-term display, I am advised that you are likely to see a different selection of cars on any visit. That being so, I shall be sure to try to include visits here on subsequent trips to Los Angeles.

More information can be found on the museum’s own website:

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