Category Archives: Ford

Found! Flip top Ford from ’58

A better idea whose time came and went

A better idea whose time came and went

It’s funny, this business of scouting for FeralCars.com. Sometimes you start thinking that an early ’90s Camry station wagon might be an interesting subject and then — WHAM! – – you’re driving along Sunset Blvd. and there it is: a 1958 Ford Skyliner! You pull over into the first parking space you can find and run back to that big ol’ Ford.

Hey, it's gotta go somewhere.

Hey, it’s gotta go somewhere.

But maybe your mind is playing tricks with you?  Could it really be a super rare Skyliner, Ford’s pioneering effort to effort to build a convertible with a retractable folding steel roof? These were only built for a run of three model years — ’57, ’58 and ’59 — after which Ford threw in the towel.  These cost a significant percentage more than Ford’s far less oddly proportioned Sunliner canvas topped convertible.  Concerns about the top mechanism’s reliability — incorporating seven electric motors, eight circuit breakers, 10 switches, 10 relays and over 600 feet of wire — limited its sales appeal and sales were not as expected for the Skyliner which didn’t reappear when Ford debuted an all-new body in 1960. The market Ford thought was there wasn’t but the idea was later applied to Lincoln Continental convertibles whose soft top was stowed under the rear deck lid making for a smooth silhouette as those watching the Presidential motorcade through Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963 can attest.

Unlimited headroom potential

Unlimited headroom potential

Upon cursory inspection it’s confirmed that is, indeed, a Skyliner with the roof fixed in the “closed” position and highlighting the strange rear deck, stretched and boxed to open and swallow up the steel top.  And it’s a ’58, the second year model when the heretofore conservatively styled Ford line gave way to space race-inspired madness. Fins? Sure, we got ’em?  Quad headlights, “frenched” into the fenders atop which are decorative “gun sights”?  Sure thing! A faux air intake in the middle of the hood?  Check! Quad tail lights?  Uh-uh.  Wrap around windshield with “dogleg” knee basher? Right there!  Oops, almost left out the gleaming gold anodized rear fender insets that adds some metallic flair to the blue and white two-tone treatment.

This particular survivor is in delightfully un-restored conditon.  There’s rust through under the headlights and the chrome is pitted, providing a nice contrast to the pristine “trailer queens” that one usually encounters at car shows where owners tend to augment their display with all manner of ’50s kitchy accoutrements including poodle-skirted models and fuzzy dice.

Here's the scoop.  No, really, here is the scoop.

Here’s the scoop. No, really, here is the scoop.

The retractable hardtop convertible idea languished for almost 40 years when it was revived by Mercedes Benz for its compact SLK roadster in 1996 SLK.   Other manufacturers jumped on the folding steel roof bandwagon thereafter: Volvo, Ferrari, VW, Lexus, Infiniti, BMW, Mazda and even Chrysler with the woeful Sebring that also suffered with the same EPS (Embarrassing Proportion Syndrome) as those Skyliners.  And, talk about filling a need that didn’t exist, Chevy equipped the SSR retro hot rod truck thingie with one, too.  Ford never again embraced the idea even when top folding technology had been perfected and became somewhat commonplace in the industry.  The brain trust in Dearborn seems to have never fully recovered from the lack of public acceptance its corporate forefathers suffered  during the last years of the Eisenhower administration.

Top of the (Sky) line

Top of the (Sky) line

When the Skyliner was introduced for the ’57 model year, Ford hired Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz to star in  this commercial to ‘splain the concept of a retractable hardtop to the American public but no sign of Fred and Ethel.  By ’58, Ford had added a new, larger four passenger Thunderbird to its line up including a convertible version that had the same top stowing technology as the Skyliner, albeit the top that was stowed was canvas rather than steel.  We found a commercial from the era that highlighted both the T-bird and Skyliner as well as Ford’s conventional Sunliner, touted as “America’s lowest priced convertible.”

While you could reasonably expect price for Skyliners to have gone, ahem, through the roof, we found this really nice ’58 in nearby Worcester, MA for a shade under $30K.  Not cheap, to be sure, but a chance to own a massive hunk of mid-century technology that addressed a need that was never really there.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page

 

 

Battle of the “X”s

E marks the spot

E marks the spot

Pardon our gushing but it’s not everyday one sees a Jaguar E-Type series 1 (1961 – 1968) roadster casually parked in a 30-minute green zone, top down, one window rolled up and the other down.  It’s an XKE to most of us but the official designation is E-Type.  Whatever you choose to call it, it’s one of the most groundbreaking automotive designs of the last fifty years of the 20th century, as indicated by this early promotional film.

McSwell

McSwell

Yes, it’s an English car, built in Coventry, deep in the heart of the West Midlands, so here’s where the reliability jokes go including the one about the electrical system being made by Joseph Lucas  a/k/a “Prince of Darkness.”  We don’t really care because this thing is just so thrilling to behold standing still and we’re not even taking into account the fact that, when it works, it’s capable of nearly 150 mph.

Coventry cool

Coventry cool

It’s more than a car, it’s a symbol of an era, as conjured up in the Austin Powers (“Oh beee-have and get into my Shaguar”) series and in numerous pop songs including Jan & Dean’s “Deadman’s Curve”

I was cruisin’ in my Stingray late one night
When an XKE pulled up on the right
He rolled down the window of his shiny new Jag
And challenged me then and there to a drag
..and “Our Car Club” by The Beach Boys
I’ve been cruisin’ round the town, now
With the guys for quite a while
Oh, we been thinkin’ ’bout starting up a club
That shows some class and style
And we’ll get the finest cars
We got a Deuce Coupe
A Stingray, a rail job and an XKE
We’ll start a car club

Let’s not forget The E-Types, a rock band from Steinbeck country — Salinas, CA —  who made some noise in the wake of the British Invasion.  Here they are on the Santa Cruz boardwalk performing their almost hit, “I Can’t Do It,” in fine fashion.  There’s also a modern era Swedish Eurodance artist who calls himself ‘E-Type’ (real name: Bo Martin Erik Eriksson). We’re talking long-lasting brand equity with that sobriquet.

The "X "stands for 'Xcess;' the "L" for 'Lookahere!'

The “X “stands for ‘Xcess;’ the “L” for ‘Lookahere!’

Almost concurrent with our Jaguar discovery was an encounter with a very different kind of car from the same time period: a 1964 Ford Galaxie 500XL convertible finished in Wimbeldon White and (very) red vinyl interior. The zaftig Ford, powered by a 390 cubic inch V8 (vs. E-Type’s 3.8 liter/232 cubic inch straight 6), makes no pretense of being a sports car, despite the bucket seats and floor mounted (automatic) gear selector.  The big Ford weighed 3800 pounds, the Jaguar is 1,000 pounds lighter.

Big ass Ford

Big ass Ford

Still, we think that Galaxie is pretty cool, with its giant tailights, grinning grill, quad headlights and gratuitous chrome and concomitant colorful emblems.  Our Jag doesn’t have anything of the sort yet it really can’t be called a subtle design; its silhouette is downright phallic and that, perhaps, makes more of a statement than gobs of chrome and badging slapped on.

Immediate seating

Immediate seating

The E-Type wears but one marker indicating the manufacturer.  “Jaguar” on its hind quarters is the only type in evidence and there’s the cat emblem in the middle of that gaping maw of a non-grill.  “E-Type,” (or XKE) isn’t inscribed anywhere on the car — no wonder there’s ongoing confusion about the proper designation.  The Ford, on the other hand, is a rolling billboard. There’s no doubt as to what it is: a big ol’ brassy car with lots of heft, swagger and bright ‘n’ shiny stuff.

Here's kitty, kitty

Here kitty, kitty

What kind of Ford did you say this was?

What kind of Ford did you say this was?

While these two are a study in mid-century contrasts we like them both a whole lot.  We’re quite smitten with the Jaguar; it’s sophisticated and sleek yet vexingly temperamental. The Ford is broad, bawdy and brash — and will start up more often then not.  What’s not to love about that?

Click here to see the notorious suicide attempt by Mad Men‘s Lane Pryce, played by Jared Harris, whose plot to do himself in was thwarted by an uncooperative E-Type. Talk about stereotyping!  Jay Leno has one that he claims works well as you can see here.

And while you’re at it, see if you don’t agree that the man who drives a Galaxie 500XL “has got what it takes, a real flair for elegance, confidence and sophistication personified” in this copy- heavy Canadian commercial. 

We found a clean ’64 Galaxie 500 XL convertible, equipped with a 390 cubic inch V8 just like ours, in nearby Beaverton, OR for a mere $16,000.  Seems like a bargain and you can bet it’ll start when you really, really want it to.   If your preference is to roll the dice and spend a wad of dough, we’d suggest this ’64 XKE that’s on offer in swanky Beverly Hills for $98,500.  It could save your life should you ever want to end it.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

 

What’s the word? THUNDERBIRD!

 

Mid Century X Wing Fighter

Mid-century X-34 Landspeeder

Star Wars fans: is this the reincarnation of the X-34 Landspeeder or what?  OK, maybe this wasn’t the inspiration for George Lucas’s take on how ground transportation looked during the glory days of the Rebel Alliance but a ’64 Thunderbird convertible equipped with a back seat cover nacelle and wire wheels was, in its time, sci-fi you could drive.   The idea to re-convert the T-bird into the two-seater it had been when launched in 1955 was carried out on ’62 and ’63 Thunderbird Sports Roadster.  The option was not all that popular, no huge surprise in the wake of Thunderbird sales having rocketed skyward after the original two-seater was replaced in the big, four-place “Square Bird” in ’58. It featured a distinctive formal angular roof line which became a Thunderbird hallmark until the “jelly bean” shaped generation that came along in 1983.

Guanobird

Guano ‘bird

The intergalactic glory of that ’64 is in sharp contrast to this sorrowful ’80 ‘bird that does little to disguise its very pedestrian Ford Fairlane underpinnings. “Real” Thunderbird people didn’t accept it as such despite all manner of zooty advertising and gratuitous badging.

Don't believe everything you read

Don’t believe everything you read

"The heartbreak of psoriasis.."

“The heartbreak of psoriasis..”

The C-pillars were ultra-thick, in the absence of any rear side windows, on this ’66 coupe, captured by Feral Cars Field Scout Rip Masters.  It’s comforting to recall that fender skirts made a comeback at that time

Colonialist

Colonialist

We encountered a flaming version of the same car.  Classy, no?

Cue: "Back in Black"

Big Red One

Real T-bird elegance and grandeur is reflected in this sweet ’67 Thunderbird Landau Coupe.  The vinyl roof and decorative “S” bar adorning the C-pillar gave notice that the sporty pretense of the original ‘birds had truly flown the coop.

Swank tank

Swank tank

These things have presence with a capital “P” and were also offered with four doors, the rear two of which opened out, “suicide” stye.  Check out this one that was captured in the wilds of the Highland Park barrio in Dallas by Feral Cars Field Scout John McCollough.  Please note what else is sharing a driveway with this rare non-vinyl topped four door, reputed to have been owned by alarmist radio newsman Red Alert. A Pucci-esque mod-style 1968 commercial heralds the new choices in Thunderbird body styles, though it neglects to mention that  a convertible was no longer one of them.

Suicide watch

Suicide watch

The “S” bar connotes old world elegance and serves to break up the blank mass of the thick pillar aft of the back windows just as the “porthole” cutouts had in the ’56 and ’57 hardtops.

"Exclusive"

“Exclusive”

Freak beak

Freak beak

You really can’t get much more formal than this ’68 Landau “triple black” four-door sedan.  Its massive front grill and covered headlights conjure up the look of the top end of an electric razor to some but don’t try shaving with one of these babies.

Fordoor

Fordoor

Spacial profiling

Spacial profiling

Read it and beep

Read it and beep

One of the most iconic eras of the big ‘birds ran from ’61 – 63; these “bullet ‘birds,” so designated because of the shape of their pointed front fenders, were extremely popular during the Kennedy era.  Talk about a time of hope: you could buy your very own ground-to-ground air missile from your neighborhood Ford dealer!

Cue: "Back In Black"

Cue: “Back In Black”

Dirty 'bird

Dirty ‘bird

We captured a massive ’70 Thunderbird “sport-back” rumbling through town.  Some have criticized its neo-Pontiac styling but we thinks it’s an awesome sight, especially “in flight.”

Gone 'bird

Gone ‘bird

Not quite as impressive is this ovoid mid-’90s Thunderbird LX equipped with a rear spoiler that does could double as a handrail for vertigo sufferers.  Meh.

Bland 'bird

Bland ‘bird

We close our paean to a car that seemed to be dealing with a succession of identity crises with another look a that ’64 that dropped in from Star Wars and the one that started the whole ‘bird craze:  a very rough, but original, ’55 shot by Feral Cars Scout Andy Schwartz in bucolic Tannersville, NY.

Low down 'bird

Low down ‘bird

The original is still the greatest

“The original is still the greatest…”

And that dear readers is proof that “the ‘bird is the word.”

Someone had to have the last 'bird

Someone had to have the last ‘bird

This ’64 Thunderbird convertible is for sale and we think it’s a great despite the fact that its back seat is visible.  We think it’s just the thing to transport the wisest man in the universe and a “humanoid protocol droid” which we like to think of as a nattering robot.  Set to the tune of Weird Al’s “Too White and Nerdy” is this video clip of a home-built X-34 Landspeeder replica.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

Falcon Rancheros of the world, Unite!

Business in the back, party in the front

Business in the back, party in the front

The inspiration for feralcars.com came after noting  just how many Ford Falcons have survived over the past six decades.   “Feral Falcons” posts on Facebook morphed into this site so our roots, it could be said, lie with Ford’s compact car. Many of those still-flying Falcons are Rancheros, the trucklette created by transforming the station wagon variant into a small pickup.

Haulin' little birdie

Haulin’ little birdie

The Rancheros car/truck concept debuted in 1957 and continued through ’59, based on full-size Fords and those, in turn, inspired Chevy’s El Camino. The Falcon-based Ranchero, however,  truly ignited the mini truck revolution in which Toyota and Datsun would soon play their part.

Dio's machina

Deus ex machina

We thought we’d celebrate Labor Day by offering a gallery of Falcon Rancheros, all caught in the wild.  While many are still hard at work, hauling whatever piles of detritus one may choose to toss in the load bed, we’re giving them the day off in recognition of their travails for the last 50+ years.

Distressed express

Distressed express

Ranchero was an integral part of the Falcon line through 1965 and a disproportionate number are still in service. We’re partial to the raw, un-restored, examples found in a condition  that seems to underscore plebian roots.   Let’s salute them on this day of the worker!

Ruffled feathers

Ruffled feathers

Falcon ranger

Snappy kestrel

After 1965 Ranchero was based on the larger Fairlane platform and, ultimately, forswore its working class origin, transforming into a muscle car that happened to have a load bed.  Fairlane yielded to Torino and this less-than-demure ’72 Ranchero GT with a bitchin’ hood scoop is a prime example of that  change in attitude.

Ranchero aggresso

Aggro Ranchero

Here’s a Starsky & Hutch era ’78 Ranchero that shares its platform with the LTD II/Thunderbird of the time. Aside from the fact that it’s a Ford built car based truck, its arriviste affect really has very little in common with that of the humble Falcon Ranchero that we celebrate today.

Blowed up real good

Snooty social striver

The basic Falcon Ranchero concept was revived by Volkwagen in the late ’70s with the Rabbit Pickup, built in Westmoreland, PA over a four year production run.  We encountered this diesel powered 1980 example in rural Kelseyville CA the other day and its owner reports that he’s had 22 of these over the course of time.  The motor on this one has been swapped out for a relatively recent TDi diesel and yields mpg in the mid 40s.  How’s that for addressing the concerns of the working person?

Bauer = Ranchero auf Deutsche

Arbeit macht frei?

 If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com.  Include your name, location of the car and some thoughts about the vehicle and we’ll look into getting it posted

 

 

Uneasy lies the head that wears the Crown Victoria

Just about perVic

Just about perVic

We take some things for granted like, say, the Ford Crown Victoria. The same basic car, known variously as the LTD, Crown Victoria LTD and Crown Victoria had been produced from 1979 until 2012 so they go largely unnoticed when encountered.  Until now.  The fact is these holdovers from the times of body-on-frame construction and rear wheel drive are beginning to get scarce.  Because they were, typically, subjected to extremely rough service as taxis, police cars and as the preferred car for Florida retirees in search of an early bird special, finding one in pristine condition is highly unlikely but we sighted this ’88 model year Crown Vic in almost showroom condition.

Six golf bags or four bodies: your choice

Six golf bags or four bodies: your choice

Most of the ones we’ve seen are blue, such as this early ’80’s sedan which carried both LTD and Crown Victoria badging.  The LTD name was soon, thereafter, applied to a smaller Ford as part of the company’s ongoing consumer confusion program so Crown Victoria (with or without the “eleganza” roof treatment) became the name for the surviving full size Ford.

Still Vickking

Still Vickking

More Ford blues sighted here.  The one below was shot by Feral Cars Field Scout Carolyn Williams who was at a loss to explain how this car ended up in the parking space reserved for clean air vehicles.  The sun seems to have done quite a number of the rear deck so maybe that’s some kind of solar collector?  Just a theory.

..and just who are we kidding?

..and just who are we kidding?

When you think “Crown Victoria” and/or “LTD Crown Victoria” you immediately conjure up a four door sedan but these behemoths were available as station wagons and two-door (tudor in Ford’s wacky vernacular) versions.

Termite free

Termite free

The Country Squire wagon features seating for 8 and huge swaths of brown contact paper on the sides and rear. The coupe version includes the same roof band and padded vinyl half roof as the sedan but the back seat is a whole lot more difficult to access.  This is a relatively early model so please note the front vent windows, a nice touch for smokers and other emissions producers.

Tudor manor

Tudor manor

We would be remiss if we didn’t make mention of the origin of the Crown Victoria nomenclature. That dates back to the 1955 – 56 model years when someone had the bright idea to “crown” the car with a stainless steel band that ran up the B-pillars and across the roof.  These resourceful Havana residents were seen in the midst of a major restoration project on their ’56 Crown Vic which made it to Cuba three years before Batista split for exile.

OG Crown Vic

OG Crown Vic

Want to get a whole lot of car for not so much money?  We suggest you bid on this ’86 Country Squire which we predict will find a new home for less than $3000.  Get out there and redeem some bottles and it will, surely, be yours.

Set the way back machine for 1984 and enjoy this Crown Victoria commercial you might have seen on Falcon Crest.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com.  Include your name, location of the car and some thoughts about the vehicle and we’ll look into getting it posted