Monthly Archives: July 2014

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

 

 

 

Caddys chronicled

Eisenhower era cruiser

Eisenhower era cruiser

We witnessed a 1956 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible glide by, unheralded, early in the morning; the experience was nothing short of breathtaking.  It was thrilling when we encountered this symbol of post war optimism and assurance idling, ever so silently, at an intersection, an automotive apparition from a bygone era.

Iceberg tipped

Iceberg tipped

It’s not as flashy as its hugely befinned successors as conservative times called for a modicum of understatement.  The U.S. Secretary of Defense at the time of this car’s manufacturer was Charles E. Wilson, former Chairman of GM, under whose watch this model was developed. After his appointment by President Eisenhower, he remarked, “what was good for our country was good for General Motors and vice versa.”  Corporate logic held sway then as now, it seems.

No thrills Seville

No thrills Seville

Flash forward thirty years to reign of Reagan when this ’86 Seville hit the showroom floor.  It was an anemically powered front wheel car that would have been categorized as compact in the ’50s; it weighed under 3,500 pounds.  Obviously, things were in decline and Cadillac seemed to have lost its luster, not to mention its signature fins.

Styled with by T-square

Styled with by T-square

We found a ’68 Convertible DeVille parked at the curb and think the stacked headlights provide good counterpoint to all those horizontal lines.  This one weighs almost as much as its 1956 antecedent and cost $5700 which translates to a tad under 40,000 2014 dollars.  As these things go, quite a bargain!

Stacked!

Stacked!

We dig this rough ’64 Coupe deVille that seems to be either a work-in-progress or an “as is” daily driver.  We don’t even miss the lost fender skirt.  Well, maybe a little.

Funky but chic

Funky but chic

It's fin-damental!

It’s fin-damental!

This ’63 Sedan deVille has its skirts but seems to be in search of wheel covers.  We just love the fact that it’s still a freeway flyer after 51 years.

Highway star

Highway star

Lastly, we have Feral Cars Field Scout Alex “Bosco” Merlis to thank for this unrestored ’77 Fleetwood Brougham which carried vestigial fins at the dawn of the Carter years. The car was shot in Brookline, MA and wears Connecticut tags indicating it’s capable of being driven more than one hundred miles.  With a 7 liter V8 and fuel consumption rated a tad over 11 mpg, you’d only have to fill it once or twice to make the run.

Spirit of '76

Spirit of ’76

It's a given that a Caddy will impress the ladies

It’s long been a given that a Caddy will impress the ladies but, aparently, not all of them..

The Brougham soldiered on into the early ’90s, continuing as the most traditional (read: big) Caddy in the model range.  We love the emphasis in this commercial from 1986 on enormity, bulk and girth.  That’s Cadillac!  There’s a truly fabulous low mileage (67,000) ’56 Coupe for sale in nearby Biddefore, ME for a paltry $27,500.  This could be your chance to put some Cadillac Style into your life.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Allons enfants de la Patrie le jour de Citroën est arrivé!

The future arrived.. in 1955

The future arrived.. in 1955

We just had to celebrate Bastille Day with a look at some Citroën models that have escaped the guillotine.  Both the luxury DS (pronounced “déesse” = goddess) and the blue collar 2CV (deux chevaux = two horses) were revolutionary in their time and continue to be marvels of out-of-the-box (so far out of the box, there’s no box) automotive thinking. Thanks to Feral Cars Field Scout Peter Litwack for finding this Gallic beauty en bleu in far away Marin County.

Les voyages dans l'espace sur terre

Les voyages dans l’espace sur terre

If the DS looks futuristic now, cast yourself back 59 years to 1955 when it was introduced at the Paris Motor Show.  During the first day it was on display a reported 12,000 orders were taken.  Production of the same epochal car — front wheel drive, hydropneumatic suspension and an interior as futuristic as its exterior — continued for 20 years. The future had, indeed, arrived but American buyers were, for the most part, put off by the car.  Its flying-saucer-on-the ground look was a far cry from the rococo juke box styling of American luxury cars of the time. Its unfettered flanks were disconcerting during an era when gobs of chrome seemed to have been indiscriminately applied to everything on four wheels.  The factory that built these was, by the way, well within the city limits of Paris and it shows.

Rolling palette

Rolling palette, photo by Feral Cars Scout extraordinaire  Amy Treco

The DS was too counterintuitive for Americans.  Our Cadillacs and Lincolns had huge V8 motors displacing upwards of 8 liters while the DS cut through the wind with only a 1.9 liter four banger.  Simply stated: the whole concept was un-American but very French and we’re thrilled whenever we see one, especially these days. Vive la différence!

C'est si simple!

C’est si simple!

We love the unrestored Deux Chevaux, above, that Feral Cars Field Scout George “Grenouille”  Merlis captured on a Paris street recently. With just two cylinders, front wheel drive and seats that are, essentially, hammocks, its simplicity is overwhelming.  Like Volkswagen, the car’s roots were pre-war; it was officially introduced in 1939.  The “unpleasantness” with Germany stopped production almost as it began and the car was not built in quantity until 1948 though it  continued for the next 52 years.  Pas mal du tout!

Très chic

Le hot car de Paris

Over the years, many specialty models were produced such as this two tone late production “Charleston,” meant to conjure up the jazz age.  This would have been a perfect car for Django Reinhardt, n’est-ce pas?

Fourgonnette avec fenêtres

Fourgonnette avec fenêtres

This very original 2 CV Fourgonette (van) was found on the streets of Sonoma by Feral Cars Field Scout Peter Litwack who found the DS at the top of this post. Those flip up front windows render window cranks and, heaven forbid, electric window lifts completely unnecessary — the simpler the better.  The headlights do adjust so a heavy load in the back needn’t make them cast up.  Clever, non?

You can’t buy a Citroën nor, for that matter, any French-built new car in the United States as this is written.  Renault, Peugeot, Panhard and Citroen are gone but the revolutionary Citroën story is one worth telling despite our unfortunate Francophobic tendencies.

For a while, especially in Canada, Citroen was a contender as this ’70s TV spot attests and do note the Quebec tags on this DS as it threads through Montreal.  We’re especially enamored of this music video set to the tune of “Ne Me Laisse Pas L’Aimer” by none other than Brigitte Bardot. It stars a DS cabriolet with special body by Henri Chapron.

That 2CV Charleston you see above is actually now for sale on Ebay Motors.  It’s under $10,000 so jump in and buy it toute de suite!  If something more upscale is what you have in mind, check out this ID 19, also on Ebay.  ID is pronounced “idée” which means idea and we think this is a good one.

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

Centennial celebration for ‘The Dodge Boys’ and us!

The Dodge Rebellion shapes up

The Dodge Rebellion: 100 years and counting

One hundred years ago this month, Horace and John Dodge stopped making parts for Henry Ford as they had done earlier for Ransom E. Olds.  They started building entire cars bearing their name and continued to do so, quite successfully, until they both died in 1920.  Their widows sold the company to Wall Street’s Dillon, Read & Co. which, in turn, sold Dodge to Walter P. Chrysler in 1927.  Dodge has continued as a mainstay of Chrysler’s stable of brands even as Plymouth, DeSoto and Imperial have all come and gone.  Our celebration of Dodge’s centennial coincides with a FeralCars.com milestone.  This is our 100th post since we got up and running ten months ago which equates to 20 minutes in Dodge years.

Coronet doesn't blow

Coronet doesn’t blow

Dodge has been considered Chrysler’s performance division since the mid-1950s and this ’69 Coronet with cast aluminum racing wheels and hood pins underscores that muscle car image.

Colony collapse? What colony collapse?

Colony collapse? What colony collapse?

Dodge’s analog to Plymouth’s cartoon-inspired Road Runner was the Super Bee.  We admit that the tail band and feisty bumble bee graphic on this ’69 Super Bee are goofy but muscle car  aficionados take this kind of stuff very seriously, especially when the Bee is backed by the sting of a 426 cubic inch Hemi V8.

R Crumb, your car is ready!

R Crumb, your car is ready!

Dodge’s post war offerings, essentially carryovers from pre-Pearl Harbor days, were on the dowdy and bulbous side as evidenced by this ’48 sedan, still plying the streets of old Havana.

Dartscape

Dartscape

Dodge’s compact size Dart was introduced in 1963 as a step up from Plymouth’s Valiant, much as Mercury’s Comet was to Ford’s Falcon.  Dodge fielded Lancer, a re-badged Valiant in 1961 and 1962 which didn’t have much of an impact but the stylish-for-its-size Dart that followed was a huge hit.

Lancer on the loose

Lancer on the loose

Over its 14 year run, the Dart became synonymous with durability and reliability, thanks in large part to Chrysler’s unbreakable “Slant 6” motor.  Old Darts were symbolic of the anti-materialist “slacker” sensibility back in the pre-gentrification days that preceded today’s pretentious hipster movement. So resonant is the name that Fiat Chrysler recently revived it for Dodge’s contemporary compact which, truth be told, is based on an Alfa Romeo design.

Highway star

Highway star

We’re thinking that this very presentable 1970 Dart hardtop, photographed at speed on a busy freeway, may very well be piloted by its original owner, irony be damned. We offer a gallery of Darts, shot in the wild, as evidence of the car’s lasting presence. We’re especially taken with the tail-banded Swinger. Yes, that was an actual model designation for most Dart 2-door hardtops and, please, no key party jokes. Thanks to Feral Cars Field Scout “TV” Tom Vickers for the shot of the nice dusty ’63 convertible.

Dented Dart

Dented Dart

Red rocker

Red rocker

Humdinger Swinger

Humdinger Swinger

Drop top Dart

Drop top Dart

Dodge’s Aries was one of the famous Lee Iacocca- championed ‘K Cars,’ introduced in 1981.  With front wheel drive, seating for six and a thrifty 4 cylinder motor, these were a far cry from Dodge’s muscle car days but were extremely popular and profitable. They sold so well that Chrysler was able to pay back its government guaranteed loans in advance of the actual due date. Though on the drawing boards well prior to Iacocca’s tenure, Chairman Lee took much of the credit for their success, as one would expect.

OKcar

Just OK-car

Nice day for a white wagon

Nice day for a white wagon

Almost from the beginning, Dodge offered a line of trucks such as this ’67 step side finished in Creamsicle®-inspired vanilla and orange.  Since 2011, for some unfathomable reason, Chrysler-built trucks are branded RAM, rather than Dodge.  Horace and John would not be pleased.

Ram? Shram!

Ram? Schram!

Dodge was a huge player in the van movement (insert rockin’/knockin’ limerick here) of the ’60s and ’70s. This Family Wagon camper conversion by Travco from ’66 or ’67 features a non-OEM wooden bumper but is otherwise stock, observation deck-style roof and all.

Vantastic!

Vantastic!

Dodge supplanted the Dart with the Aspen (twin of Plymouth’s Volare) which was not a stellar effort.  A later iteration, yclept Diplomat, offered luxury pretentions, including a padded vinyl roof, fender-mounted turn signal indicators and a stand-up hood ornament.  Classy!  This ’78 Diplomat, so impressively preserved, is literally driven by a little old lady.  We’ve included a profile portrait of the Aspen on which it’s based.  Lipstick on a pig, anyone?

Très diplôme

Très diplôme

Aspen zone

Aspen zone

Lastly, we return to Dodge’s performance roots with a Challenger, dating from 1970.  It was Dodge’s (very) late entry into the “pony car” field that was pioneered by Mustang and, soon thereafter, Camaro.  We like everything about this un-restored example — the roof rack, the dent in the door and the dulled paint.  Truly, it’s a fitting final entry in this, Feral Cars’ centennial post.  Happy birthday to us and to Dodge.  As its Fiat overlords might say, cent‘anni!

Mid century muscle

MoPar muscle: never dull

Catch the Dodge Rebellion-themed commercials from ’67 with Dodge’s “it” girl Pamela Austin starring right here. 

While you’re at it, check out this ’67 Dart GT convertible that’s for sale in nearby Riverhead, NY.  It’s never too late to Join the Dodge Rebellion!

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red, white and Buick

Creamy goodness

Creamy goodness

It’s the 4th of July weekend so we felt compelled to focus on a singularly American subject: Buick’s Skylark.  From 1953 until 1998 (with 6 years off during the ’55 – ’60 model years) Buick fielded a car named after, we assume, Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer’s song of that title.  The ’53 and ’54 Skylarks were, in essence, hand-made dream cars, offered to the public at a very high price and commensurately low production.  1,690 Skylarks, all convertibles, were built the first year and just 836 the second.

Buick reassigned its Special model designation to a new small car in 1961 and brought Skylark out of retirement as a slicked up, more fully featured coupe version with a convertible joining the fold the very next year. We love the proportions, the jauntiness and the overall attitude of this ’65 convertible, finished in Bamboo Cream.

On deck..

On deck..

Feral Cars Field Scout Peter “Petey” Andrews captured this slick ’67 Skylark that aped its bigger Buick siblings right down to the mag-type wheels and slinky fender skirts.

Hat 'n' skirts

Hat ‘n’ skirts

The Skylark name took flight in the ’70s on a somewhat bigger “intermediate” size car that had a “greaser” reputation in that muscle car era.  This “tuff,” matte finished ’72 and nail polish red ’73 give testimony to the anti-social stance that was almost un-Buicklike but, somehow, refreshing. You could order one of these with a 455 cubic inch V8 but the Arab oil embargo and ensuing energy crisis made those kinds of fun and games unsustainable in short order.

Brute Buick

Brute Buick

Street seen

Street seen

By the next decade, Skylark had shrunk precipitously and got as far away from the muscle car ethos as you might imagine.  It was now a 4 cylinder front wheel drive runabout but still had some pretense of luxury.  This ’82 coupe should give you some idea of that downmarket transformation.  The richly textured surface rust on the hood would seem to indicate that they weren’t painted with all that many coats.

Sad bird

Sad little bird

Skylark’s last iteration was rather radically styled with a “prow” grill, inspired by the great art deco Buicks of the ’40s.  Our friend Sophie. seen with her ’92, told us she loved the design the minute she saw it in the early ’90s and grabbed this low mileage example as soon as she could.

Sophie's choice

Sophie’s choice

The Skylark story is mostly about coupes and convertibles but, for a time, Buick’s SportWagon was designed a Skylark sub-model.  Feral Cars Field Scout Shanon Fitzpatrick, on location in Zurich, sent in this shot that highlights its Greyhound Scenicruiser-inspired raised roof and glass panels. The view from the back seat was terrific and If ever a station wagon could be sporty, this was it.

Skylark with a view

Skylark with an alpine view

We like this “airplane on the ground” commercial for the ’69 Skylark.  Check it out!
Be a patriot and buy one now.  Lots of them to be found here.

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