Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Photos from a 1980 Car Show, Part 4

The dramatic front fender of the 1962 Thunderbird Sports Roadster. This was the 4-seater Tbird convertible, with a fiberglass tonneau cover over the rear seats making it an ersatz 2-seater. The logo underneath the Thunderbird script signals the Sports Roadster, which was available with a triple carburetor V8.

1956 Imperial Southampton 4-door pillarless hardtop, the first year of this body style by Chrysler. It was available from the Plymouth right on up the corporate ladder, including Dodge, Desoto, Chrysler and Imperial. Exner's Classic-era cues on this "Forward Look" Imperial included the separate fin-mounted taillights and large eagle-shaped trunk medallion.

The now-classic Buick Valve-in-Head inline Eight Fireball engine from the 1930s through the early 1950s.

GM's 1959 finned wonders were represented by the low- and top-line models at this show, the Chevy Impala at the left, and the Cadillac Series 62 convertible at the right. Batwing or Rocket Ship—it was your choice to make in '59! Though every full-size GM car, from Chevy and Pontiac through Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac, for the first time in GM history shared front door skins, windshields and a couple of roof stampings, this platform sharing was certainly not evident from the rear on any model.

1958 was the first year for the Chevrolet Impala, a nameplate that would become one of the best-selling cars in all of the history of American cars. This first year edition coupe, a one-year only body design, features the triple taillights-per-side that would become an Impala hallmark, as well as that staple of Fiftie's kitsch, the Continental Kit spare tire carrier. Those of us with eagle eyes will notice the Continental Mark II on the right, an example with air conditioning as evidenced by the scoop just below the rear quarter window and C pillar. 

Also in attendance at this 1980 Connecticut car show, was this 1968 Mustang "California Special" edition 2-door notchback. This was a trim package for the base coupe, and for a limited edition, I've been lucky enough to see several of them through the years. I even used to pass one daily on my walk to work in, you guessed it, California, lol.


  1. How is one supposed to fit a suitcase in the 59 Impala
    with its v shaped fins? lol

  2. it was probably close to 6 feet long back to the space underneath the rear window, lol.



  4. Great photographic eye - as usual!
    Love the shot of the rear fins. I still love the 59 Impalas to this day - the fins were extravagant but so appropriate for that car - maybe it's that Batmobile overtone that I find appealing !

  5. Thanks for #4!

    You've got a lot of my faves here -- certainly the 62 Sports Roadster is the ultimate T-Bird of that generation. I would LOVE to have one of those!!

    And I think you know where I stand on Imperial taillights -- there was one of these Southampton 4-doors in my town in the 60s -- it was charcoal grey and pink and had A/C and shared driveway space with a 65 Crown sedan and a 63 Crown Coupe. Quite the Imperial Family! I'm always torn about choosing between the 55 and 56 Imperials. I think the 56s are more imposing -- details are a bit less elegant the 55s and they seem a lot bigger even though the wheelbase is only 3 inches longer. CA has featured pics of a 55 Imperial Sedan, black with K-H wires and I think it is extremely elegant. And of course, the 55s have the wonderful dash-mounted shift lever. Well, I'd take either!

    The sound of those Buick straight eights (I think they call them nailheads because of the small diameter of their valves) is one of the most evocative sounds in the auto world. I think Warner Brothers, who was a big user of Buicks in the 30s and 40s (that might be a good blog topic!) used the sound of a Buick straight eight as their go-to car sound which sometimes resulted in some pretty hilarious sounds coming from very unlikely cars!

    My neighbors had a 58 Impala convertible -- silver blue with a black top and three-tone interior (a 51 Chevy convertible was the trade-in for it), 6 cylinder with Powerglide, that I liked a great deal. It's so odd that GM was forced by the 57 Chryslers to make the 58 A body a one-year only design for Chevy and Pontiac. How often has that happened? My guess is probably never before and certainly not since.

    Thanks again for Part 4. Will there be a Part 5? (hee-hee)

    Paul, NYC

  6. Yup, I'm scanning several old contact sheets to keep coming up with new "parts." I can probably make it a regular feature until I have new flowers outside to shoot, lol.

    the '55 Imperial used a 3" longer wheelbase than in '56 or did I read that wrong? Weren't they the same body? Even thought the '57s were so ground breaking, and really gorgeous cars that changed Detroit overnight, I find the '55s and '56s equally gorgeous, They're elegant without being trendy, old school but not old fashioned. They're almost the Grace Kelly of cars, tasteful in the extreme, redolent of old money.

  7. I just re-read my post and I think I didn't make that clear -- the 56 had a longer wheelbase, all the length added behind the rear doors. If you see side views, there is a longer area between the rear door and the rear wheel opening on the 56s. To my eye, that makes the proportions just a bit awkward -- not helped by squaring off the fins. The 7-passenger sedan and the limousine used the 149.5 inch wheelbase both years -- I suspect they had prepared many more body shells than they used in 55 so that's why the fins for the 56 lwb cars are add-ons (and look like it!) in the same way they and DeSoto modified the rear fenders of the 56 station wagons. i think Ionia was supplying the wagon bodies for the 55 and 56 DeSoto and Chrysler and they'd obviously made too many, hence the add-on for 56. And I might add that I LOVE those wagons a lot.

  8. thanks, Paul. I love those wagons too! There was that old TV show, Sky King I think, that used one of them. I'm pretty sure Roy Rogers had one too. Plus there was a wealthy old man that lived in my town that was driven around in a dark blue '55 wagon well into the 1980s. My town also had another rich old man that drove around in a '40 Sixty Special until the 1980s!

  9. Yes, indeed, Sky King had Chrysler station wagons. I know Roy and Dale had them in real life -- all he had on TV was Trigger! I think they had them on Ozzie and Harriet as well.

    we had neighbors who had a 56 Chrysler wagon -- traded it on a 64 New Yorker T&C pillarless hardtop wagon. And another neighbor had a grandma, always immaculately dressed with a hat and white gloves who drove a 41 Fleetwood (my favorite of the 38-41 Fleetwoods) until her death in the 70s whereupon it sat under a tarp in the neighbor's driveway and then disappeared. I hope it survives -- it was in showroom condition.

    Paul, NYC

  10. My dad had a beautiful baby blue '59 Mercury Monterey with great wings. And my sister's second car was a '63 Imperial. A smaller size than the previous models. I stole it and drove it one time when she was out of town on vacation. White with a red strip between the chrome on the side. That was probably 1970.

    You're making me s-t-r-e-t-c-h my memory! LOL

  11. And Granny, I remember all too well going to watch the submarine races! LOL

  12. I don't know what that means, but it sounds fun, lol!