Once Upon A Time…
Happy Birthday David Boyer!
The entire world wishes you a Happy Birthday!!
Once upon a time…life in America was simple – this was before computers, texting on cellphones, automation running rampant, and various other forms of modern technology. Life in America in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s emphasized the family. With the luggage in the trunk and the kids in the back seat…off we’d go for a weekend excursion. The automobile played an important role in the American lifestyle. Detroit, Michigan was known as “The Motor City Capital of the World.” Automobile manufacturing was America’s foremost institution.
Plymouth, Mercury, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and the likes were alive and cruising along the highways and byways. America had automobiles of all sizes available to suit almost every taste…from a basic family sedan or wagon to the most elegant coachbuilt limousine. These cars ranged in size from a city-block long and half a city-block wide…to something even larger. There was no such thing as an economy car here…but then, who cared when a gallon of gasoline was far less than a buck! Welcome to Fantasy Island –
We would switch on the TV (no remote, we did it manually) to watch Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Spencer Tracy, Barbara Stanwyck, Dorothy Dandridge, Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Paul Newman, Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, and Clark Gable.
The ladies were elegant… such as Lena Horne. The gentlemen were impeccable…like Patrick MacNee. The 1960s presented us with femme fatales such as Anne Francis and Diana Rigg. Those were the proverbial good old days. It was Ward & June Cleaver that exemplified the idealized suburban life.
Ward & June Cleaver
Emma Peel (left) Honey West (right)
This elusive trip down memory lane doesn’t include computers, cell phones, iPods, Compact Disc Players, Flat screen TVs, X-boxes, or digital clocks. Color TV was just coming into the American homes. Every home didn’t have air conditioning. Kids were kids…and played outside until the street lights came on.
Families were close-knit. The father was the head of the household and the kids obeyed their elders. Mom was the glue that held the family together with her love and harmony. America watched Ozzie & Harriet Nelson raise their family on TV from 1952 until 1966. The automobile was always in the picture…America moved about freely. More and more miles were put on the family car year to year.
The Nelson family, Ozzie & Harriet with David & Ricky
In the garage was a Pontiac, Chevrolet, or Buick…maybe a Plymouth. Ford…Chrysler…and General Motors built automotive legends. Cadillac was the indomitable “Standard of the World.” The Lincoln Continental and Chrysler Imperial were the alternative luxury car choices. America had an automobile for every taste and every wallet. These were REAL cars, unlike today’s make-believe cars which are plastic, aerodynamic, death-traps.
Take the Sensational Sixties for example…a new build home cost around $12,700…we paid $.04 for 1st class postage stamps…and a dozen eggs were $.57. The median household income was $5,600. The cost of admission to the Six Flags Amusement Park was $2.75. We would pull into a full-service gas station; and for $.31 per gallon we would get an attendant who’d pump the gas, check the air in the tires, AND wash the windshield! Hurt feelings are the only thing you’d get for $.31 at a gas station today.
There were “gas-wars” where gas stations would actually lower the prices to beat the competitors…today; the competitors are merely beaten. Fast food restaurants were coming into existence. Those of you old enough can remember the “BBF.” Their slogan was: “Come to the home of the whirling satellite for the world’s biggest and best $.15 hamburger –“ Hurt feelings are all you’d get at today’s fast food restaurants for $.15 –
1949 Kaiser Virginian
1950 Studebaker Starlight
1953 Studebaker Commander
1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88
In the 1950s through the 1960s, the average cost of a new car was around $3,000. The basic family car would fall into this range. The Oldsmobile Rocket 88, Chevrolet Impala, Ford Fairlane 500, and the Plymouth Belvedere were the top-selling cars in this price range. There were basic grocery-getters that doubled as track-stars such as the Dodge 330 with a “Max-Wedge” under the hood. Studebaker, DeSoto, Edsel, and Rambler fell into the mid-range price category; and didn’t quite make it as far as their showroom appeal was concerned. The Edsel had strange styling cues that resembled a possum sucking persimmons.
1953 Kaiser Dragon
1956 DeSoto Fireflite convertible
1958 Plymouth Fury
1960 Desoto Adventurer
Cars like the Rambler, Studebaker, and Kaiser were ok as far as taxi cabs and police cars were concerned; but their bland, generic, and nondescript styling limited their popularity. DeSoto and Plymouth were attractive in the 1950s but the charisma fizzled out in the 1960s…their design was stodgy, and old-fashioned.
They looked as though Depends undergarments, Poly grip, Metamucil, and walkers were standard features along with a “save $50” coupon to the mortuary of your choice in the glove box. Packard was a celebrated luxury car in the 1940s & 1950s; but their slab-sided, clumsy, awkward look led to their demise. You could have put wheels on “Orca the killer whale” and Voilà – the Packard Clipper was designed!
1954 Packard Clipper
It does resemble a possum sucking persimmons!!!
1958 Edsel Corsair
1963 Rambler Ambassador
1953 Chevrolet Corvette
Chevrolet has always had an offering that was right for its day. It still remains one of America’s favorite automobile brands. Remember the ad campaign: “Baseball…hot dogs…apple pie…and Chevrolet?” The 1957 Chevy Bel Air is one of America’s hottest classic cars. Both Bel Air and Impala made the brand a star.
The Chevy Corvair was outlawed thanks to Ralph Nader due to safety concerns. Chevrolet introduced the Corvette in 1953; it became one of the world’s most popular sports cars. Chevrolet built convertibles, coupes, sedans, and station wagons for every wallet. From economy to high performance, Chevy offers a car to fit the need.
1957 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible
1964 Chevrolet Impala SS
This one’s for you Ralph Nader!
1950 Pontiac Star Chief Custom Catalina
1959 Pontiac Bonneville
Pontiac was one of General Motors money makers. This brand boasted high performance. They invented the sport “Wide-tracking” for the 1959 model year. It was the widest automobile in the industry…even wider than a Cadillac! “Pontiaction” and “Tri-power” blew the doors off the competition. It was the Pontiac Bonneville that reigned supreme from 1957 through 1969. The Bonneville was a unique automobile that combined luxury and high performance with a big-body look. Pontiac offered the Catalina, Star Chief, and the Bonneville for those who sought full-size performance.
Harley Earl’s 1959 Pontiac Catalina “Pink Lady”
1969 Pontiac GTO
The LeMans GTO (Gran Turismo Omologato) became one of Pontiac’s hottest mid-sized performance cars. The Grand Prix was high performance with the emphasis on luxury and was built on the Catalina platform. Pontiac offered the GTO, GTO Judge, LeMans…and the Bonneville with Tri-power as their high performance stars. Pontiac died because they couldn’t make fake cars! Just like Oldsmobile….they couldn’t make fake cars either. The Rocket Olds was all about performance. The Olds 442…the Hurst Olds, or just a plain Cutlass…all kicked-butt!! Olds was famous for the Rocket V8 engine!
1964 Pontiac Grand Prix
1953 Oldsmobile Fiesta 98 convertible
1955 Oldsmobile Super 88
1966 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Holiday sedan
Oldsmobile was the oldest American automaker at the time. The Rocket Olds V8 engine put it in a class all by itself. The mid-priced Olds 88 was extremely popular and was available in many different trim levels. The Series 98 was their luxury offering. The Olds 88 and 98 were test cars for Cadillac. Before GM would introduce new features and accessories for the Cadillac brand, they were first introduced on the Oldsmobile brand, if it was a success, it was available on Cadillac.
1970 Oldsmobile 442
1957 Ford Thunderbird
Ford introduced the Thunderbird in the mid-1950s. It began as a two-seat luxury tourer. Then a few years later a back seat was added. Ford added two doors in 1967. By the 1976 model year, Ford had created a bloated monstrosity!
The once highly acclaimed fit & finish had vanished…it was then known as “Ford’s Luxury Lemon!” Rust ate the T-Birds from the 1970s…relentlessly! They tried to revamp the Thunderbird for the 21st century but the damage had been done…
1966 Ford Thunderbird
1976 Ford Thunderbird
2001 Ford Thunderbird
1965 Ford Mustang fastback
2013 Ford Mustang Roush Edition
The Ford Mustang remained true to form. It remains popular among high performance enthusiasts all over the world. Ford learned not to mess with the Mustang…when they built the Mustang II in the late 1970s. Those horrid little puddle jumpers barely made it off the assembly line…and got NO miles to the gallon because they were always either on the back of a tow truck or already in a service bay.
The wretched 1978 Ford Mustang II (BOO-HISSS)
2014 Mustang GT
1969 Mercury Cougar Eliminator
Mercury killed the Cougar in a similar series of design failures. It began as a popular mid-size high performance coupe. The Cougar also blew up to monstrous proportions. The designers added two doors…and just kept adding to it until no one…not even the designers drove them anymore.
It completely lost its identity when the designers got the bright idea to make a family sedan out of it. They may as well have made it into a hearse. Mercury has always been an interesting hodge-podge of leftover Ford parts. It’s like taking a meal you have been eating for a month…adding a little of this…a lot of that, recolor and change the texture, you tell yourself it is something else…but your taste buds are going….”no-way!”
1954 Mercury Sun Valley
1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser
1959 Mercury Park Lane
1970 Mercury Marquis Brougham sedan
The Mercury Marquis was known as “The poor man’s Lincoln” and was absolutely stunning when it debuted in the late 1960s. The big “M” lost its identity when the brand offered it in different trim levels…blowing it up to gargantuan proportions. Ford could never leave a good thing alone.
The public lost interest in the Mercury brand because they forgot what one looked like…so did the designers. It was axed in 2011 after an agonizingly slow, grisly, torture. It should have been euthanized last century. The Mercury brand had been around for 72 years and was merely taking up space in the dealer’s inventory…the last ones are really nice cars, it’s a shame Ford didn’t know how to market them –
1955 Ford Fairlane Crown Victoria
1959 Ford Galaxy
1959 Ford Fairlane Skyliner
Ford was impressive with its wide range of models to choose from. It was a full-size economy car priced in the mid-range where the working people could afford them. They came in convertible, coupe, sedan, and hardtop sedan versions. There was a Ford for every wallet.
In the 1950s, the Fairlane 500 was their bread and butter car. Then the Galaxy 500 took over. The Ford Sky Liner was one of the first retractable hardtops. With all its gadgetry, it was the fascination of the automotive industry. The Ford LTD was the working person’s luxury car. It was totally impressive for a car in its price range.
Ford seemed to always get lost with downsizing and restyling. They only knew one dimension: HUGE. The Fairlane 500, Galaxy 500, LTD, and Crown Victoria were really hot models when they were introduced…but they aged horridly. If I were to ask you “What does Ford make currently” Could you answer? Neither can their designers. The only thing that comes immediately to mind is the Mustang…
1957 Lincoln Premier
1961 Lincoln Continental
The Lincoln Continental was really impressive after Elwood Engel gave it an identity for the 1961 model year. It was tough competition for Cadillac and the Imperial by Chrysler. This exclusive land yacht reeked eminence and was immediately identified in any gathering of fine automobiles. It was one of the first automobiles to be stretched into a limousine.
Lehmann-Peterson built luxury stretch limousines of distinction and their work remains highly collectible among classic automobiles. Lincoln was the only automaker to offer a four-door convertible in the 1960s. The elegant forward-opening rear coach doors gave the Continental an exclusive touch making it unique in the luxury car segment.
1968 Lehmann-Peterson stretch limousine
Lincoln really, truly, suffered. After they axed the Town Car, coachbuilders no longer had a platform to fashion limousines and hearses. They lost quite a bit of their following building those “MK” things.
Hopefully, the new Continental will restore their credibility in the luxury car arena. It seems that Lincoln and Cadillac are having a contest to see how many customers they could lose by making austere, nondescript luxury cars. They are running neck to neck building cars the public can forget. Do you remember what they offer? Neither can their designers –
1958 Cadillac Fleetwood Series Sixty-Special
Cadillac splendor was never more magnificent than in the 1950s through the 1960s. They had class, style, panache. From the avant-garde convertibles to the eloquence of the Fleetwood hand-crafted sedans, the undisputed “Standard of the World” ruled the luxury car segment. The Cadillac motorcar was the most desired dream car in the entire world.
The elegant Eldorado was the Flagship and was available in three distinctive models. The eminent Fleetwood coachbuilt sedans were built at a highly restricted pace to retain their exclusivity. America’s favorite luxury car was the impressive DeVille series; they were available as a luxury convertible, a hardtop coupe and sedan, and a pillared four-door sedan. The brand was at an all-time high.
1959 Cadillac Series Sixty-Two “Flat Top” sedan
It’s shocking to see what was once considered the “Standard of the World” reduced to kitsch. Their present three-letter naming convention should include names such as: “EEK,” “OMG,” and “YUK.” Could someone remind them they are a luxury brand and to stop riding the coat tails of BMW and Mercedes-Benz?
Back in the good old days Cadillac built a total of eleven models in three series. Since the contemporary offerings are make-believe…when we drive them are we supposed to pretend we are in a real Cadillac? It’s a shame that all good things must come to an end. I hope they wake up before it’s too late –
1961 Imperial LeBaron by Chrysler
Chrysler has a long and successful tenure. Throughout the 1950s Chrysler Letter Series 300 models scorched the tracks at Daytona. MOPAR was flying high in the performance arena. They were unstoppable. And…as far as luxury was concerned…enter the eminent Imperial by Chrysler.
It was a stand-alone make in the 1950s. Virgil Exner gave it his exclusive “Forward Look.” The Imperial had stiff competition from Cadillac and Lincoln. Imperials were stately, eminent, and eloquent in their demeanor. With the formidable Hemi-Head V8 under the hood, the Imperial was considered “The Banker’s Hotrod.”
1957 Chrysler 300C The Beautiful Brute
2016 Chrysler 300
Chrysler had a stable full of luxury cars. Virgil Exner’s “One Hundred Million Dollar Look” catapulted the brand to stardom in 1955. The New Yorker and the Newport were full-size luxury cars with performance in mind. Every car produced by Chrysler in the 1950s was all about high performance. The DeSoto was to Chrysler as Mercury was to Ford. It was a hodge-podge of Chrysler/Plymouth/Dodge parts. Virgil Exner’s design expertise is evident. The “Flite-Swept” styling made the DeSoto elegant from bumper to bumper.
The Plymouth and Dodge Divisions cranked out high performance vehicles that also scorched the tracks. MOPAR was one of the most formidable automakers in existence. With a Hemi, or even a Max-Wedge under the hood any Chrysler product was a high performance behemoth. The 1958 Plymouth Fury played the role of “Christine” in the Stephen King novel of the same name. The Dodge brand survived for the 21st century with cars like the Viper and the Challenger. The Challenger’s retro look is vicious. The contemporary Chrysler 300 has an available Hemi V8 that cranks 410 horses without effort…in the true MOPAR tradition –
1960 Dodge Pioneer
1960 Plymouth Fury convertible
1960 Imperial Crown convertible by Chrysler
1959 Buick Invicta convertible
1968 Buick Electra 255 Custom
1968 Buick Electra 225 Custom Limited hardtop sedan
The automobile has gone through a startling metamorphosis. Convertibles, hardtop coupe and sedan models disappeared along with the family station wagon. The full-size cars have been replaced with SUV’s and minivans. I refer to the good old days as the “Ward & June Cleaver/Ozzie & Harriet Nelson Era.”
This was a time when family life was more important than anything else…families were close knit…a dollar was worth 100 pennies…and Americans had morals and scruples that included love and respect for each other. The automobile augmented our lifestyle, when gas was cheap…we would travel from coast to coast. Detroit, Michigan was known as “The Motor City Capital of the World.” They built automotive legends that will live on in history. Gone are the shiny, big, gas-guzzling land yachts we loved so well…it’s a different world –
Enjoy your special day David
I want you and Janet to dance!
…and you thought you were gonna keep your big day a secret! People all over the world are partying with you and Janet! God Bless you both! I know it was hard for Janet to keep this surprise a secret! I want everyone reading this to wish David Boyer a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU…HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU…HAPPY BRITHDAY DEAR DAVID BOYER…HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!!! THE ENTIRE WORLD LOVES YOU!!! ENJOY YOUR DAY!!!!!
Enjoy your day David!
Buick, Cadillac, Cadillac Historical, Chrysler, Classic American Marques, Editorials, Imperial, Oldsmobile
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DADDY!!! WE LOVE YOU!!!