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60s-70s big Chevrolets vs. big Fords

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,566
    Probably people are comparing it to the 95-96 Impala SS which is sort of a cult car right now.

    Old Impalas were big heavy cars but you could get them with the 409 and 4-speed. Not superfast by today's standards but for a locomotive sized car it was pretty quick in its day. Otherwise they had the standard V8s engines of the time and more than adequate power at freeway speeds. They' d run out of breath and into aerodynamics issues if they tried to go too fast however, as you might expect from most 60s cars.

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  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Your standard issue Impala small block wasn't that quick, especially as they got heavier in the late '60s, but they were smooth and quiet. Especially compared to smaller cars of that era, which were usually penalty boxes.

    I learned to drive on a '66 283 with Powerglide and while it wasn't quick it had good throttle response and did well on the freeway. And if you floored it it make great noises--I distinctly remember the first time I did that.

    Later I had a '67 Impala with 327/275 PG and even that wasn't that quick although it had better passing power and again, it was smooth and quiet.

    On the other hand I had a '61 Bel Air 283 wagon with stick and even with lots of miles it got up and went pretty well, so the few extra hundred pounds that big Chevies put on later (and a two-speed automatic) took their toll.

    That '61 283 helped me see how the lighter '57 Power Pack could be a seriously quick car.
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    ...GM's decision to once again sell an Impala SS just might be due to the introduction of the Marauder? It's so like GM to create a market, finely hone their well-liked product, then dump it. Oh yeah, then stick the name on a dissimilar product some years later, only to sully the name of the original product forever.
  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    "It may be better to compare 1970s Japanese cars with their true domestic competitors - the AMC Gremlin, Ford Pinto and Chevy Vega. "

    Point taken, but did the Japanese make anything during that era to compare with a Caprice or LTD? In fact, have the ever? I'm not sure the Avalon even counts as a full size car. I'd consider it more on the upper end of the midsize category.

    As far as all the ABS plastic covering engines Shifty mentioned, I hate all that junk. What's the purpose of the hood? Cover the engine. So why put a hood underneath the hood? That's the most pointless piece of plastic ever stuck under the engine. Just something else to rip off before you can get to the spark plugs. Think of how much money the automakers could save over the entire production run by not having that. You actually think anyone will say: "Well, Brand X has more features, but it doesn't have an engine cover. Brand Y has an engine cover, so I'm going to buy brand Y even though it costs $3000 more and doesn't have as many options." And to think, in 30 years some sucker is going to be paying $500 for one of those things so his '98 Corvette will be "concourse correct." The first car I buy with one of those plastic engine covers, the cover won;t be leaving the dealership with the rest of the car. End of rant.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,566
    I like the plastic. If I take it off I get frightened by what I see in there.

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  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    They still have engines under the hood?
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    re98ad: "Point taken, but did the Japanese make anything during that era to compare with a Caprice or LTD? In fact, have the ever?"

    You're correct - the Japanese didn't make anything that could really compete with the American full-sizers of the 1960s and 1970s. But most of those cars died off, and the only ones left - the Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis/Marauder and Town Car - are a sideshow. In the 1960s and 1970s, they were the main event. The Japanese don't compete in this segment because they realize it's pointless to spend a lot of money to compete for a share of a small - and largely static - market. Even GM and Chrysler have abandoned this market to Ford.
  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    Well, now, I wouldn't exactly call them a sideshow. A Crown Victoria is a lot of car for the money, and very practical. If it weren't for the "old man" image associated with the car, I think more people would buy them. Anyway, full-sized V-8 family sedans were the rule and not the exception in the 60's and 70's like you said, but isn't that the time period this topic is covering? You compare full size cars from that era to anything Japanese, and you see the Japanses never even tried the big, RWD V-8 sedan, so if the question comes up "LTD or Import?" you have to make an apples-to-oranges comparison. The Japanese never made a competitor for the LTD. Also, there are rumors out of Detroit that GM and Chrysler are going to be getting back in the RWD game in the next few years, and police and taxi companies have never liked anything but full sized RWD cars, and that segment, while sparsely populated at the moment, is far from dead.
  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    from the 50s and 60s with V8s and rear wheel drive. Check the market over there for American cars from the 50s and 60s-it's surprising. Wonder why? Well, for one thing there aren't ANY japanese cars that old that haven't completely rusted out by now. When was the last time you saw an interesting or restored 25 year old Japanese car on the road? The Japanese cars began to copy the "longer lower wider" and "planned obsolescensce" styling gimmicks from the American cars beginning with the Toyota Coronas in the mid sixties. So, there WAS a certain aspiration to copy big American cars, at least in styling, all the way. [Until they got weird with the "atomic cockroach" look of the Datsun F10 and B210-when was the last time you saw one of THOSE?]And they DID get bigger-just look at the difference between an early Civic or Accord and one now. Trouble was, with the quality of materials they used in the 60s and 70s [which this topic covers] bigger only meant more to rust, and...to crush.
    Funny they never came out with a "Rodan SS" or "Godzilla XE"-might have been a hoot.
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    re98ad: By "sideshow" I meant how many sales the Crown Victoria garners. Full-size, body-on-frame rear-wheel-drive cars are a niche market. The heart of the passenger car market is the Accord/Camry/Taurus/Impala/Passat segment, followed by the subcompacts - Civic/Corolla/Focus/Cavalier.

    As for comparing Japanese cars to American cars in the 1960s and 1970s, I think we agree - the Japanese never competed with full-size American cars. The problem is that the old full-size market gradually dwindled to the point where the only entries are the Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis/Marauder and Town Car. The Japanese, meanwhile, steadily upgraded their cars to the point that offerings from Toyota and Honda set the standard in the biggest segments of today's passenger car market.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,566
    I think the scarcity of old cars in Japan is because they don't allow junk on the roads like we do.

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  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    I don't think sales have shifted from full sized cars to midsize cars as much as they have from full size cars to minivans and SUV's. People still want size, and as full size cars got "downsized" in the late '70's, it wasn't too many years until the Caravan hit the scene, and after that, it was all downhill for the family car. True, a lot of buyers have shifted from Crown Vics to Camrys, but I'd say a good many more have opted for a Caravan or Explorer instead. Todays Lincoln Navigator, for example, is a huge, chrome laden behemoth made for the purpose of transporting passengers in comfort, the heck with fuel economy and common sense. Sorta like '59 Caddilac Sedan Deville in its time. Automotive tastes haven't changed as much in the last 50 years as we sometimes think.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Amen brother.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,566
    The pendulum swings this way and that doesn't it?

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  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    What really gets me is that the people who drive Suburbans and Expeditions, at least in my area, think of themselves as real sophisticates. They wouldn't be caught dead driving a '60s land yacht. But they're driving the modern equivilent.

    And don't give me that "active lifestyle" self-glorifying nonsense. A FWD mini-van would work just as well for carrying the kids and stuff.

    Okay I feel better now.
  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    I often wonder what would happen to large SUV sales if they would bring back a full size station wagon like the Ford LTDs and Chevy Caprices. I think the automakers just found a way to switch all the big car buyers [and they are out there] to SUVS-a cheaper to build, higher profit, lower tech version of the land yachts they used to drive. Heck-buying a truck is the only way to get a real, chrome bumper anymore. Not that I would ever buy an Expedition or anything like that. I just think people have switched away from large, rearwheel drive cars to large, rearwheel drive SUVS, because the big three and their ad men have sold the new "image"-you know, the Eddie Bauer thing-to all those yuppie types to drive while they talk on their cellphones on the way to the club. Anyway, my two bits.
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    ...the little ones are hot, the crossovers are hot. I can't see an American, RWD, V8 wagon selling much at this point. I'm betting lots of people end up back with a 'regular' car after their first SUV experience. It's amazing how much fun almost any car can seem after you've driven a slow-steering, slow-braking, bad handling, gas guzzling SUV for a while.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,566
    I could see big sport wagons, say like a Ford or Chevy version of the Audi 5000 quattro turbo wagon (still a much sought after car).

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  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Right now we seem to need the rugged look. It makes people feel safe. I'm amazed when surveys say Americans think life is getting scarier when the FBI's statistics say that crime is down. These people should try a month in Kossovo. It's not like your Expedition is going to protect you from a terrorist attack. Maybe we're just getting more insecure.
  • ab348ab348 Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, CanadaPosts: 1,793
    The funny thing is you could take the chassis from, say, a GMC Envoy, put a dropped floorpan and traditional station wagon body on it, and hey presto, you have a carlike station wagon instead of a SUV. Wonder if it would sell...

    2011 Buick Regal Turbo, 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass S Holiday Coupe

  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I think the problem with that is that the SUV chassis and running gear are far more rugged than the average consumer needs. Even the small SUVs weigh close to 4000 lbs. and up. It's the "active lifestyle" look and I guess the perceived security that sell them and wagons just don't have those things going for them.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,906
    ...considering the typical downsized full-size Ford or GM wagon, such as an Impala, LTD, Custom Cruiser, etc, only weighed around 4,000 lb, yet came standard with a V-8 and usually air conditioning. Nowadays that 4,000 lb SUV is going to be some tiny little thing. To get the hauling/towing capacity of one of those old late '70's wagons, you'd probably have to move up to something into the 5,000 lb range!
  • ab348ab348 Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, CanadaPosts: 1,793
    I never liked the GM "Orca" fullsizers from '91 to '96, but with the passage of time the wagon versions are starting to look better to me. There are a couple of last-gen Roadmaster wagons here that don't have woodgrain that I wouldn't mind getting. I see them running around the neighborhood and think they'd be a good choice for me. Too bad they are no more, even though they are a bit porky. I still think the best example of wagon design was the '68-'72 Olds Vista Cruiser, which is a car I would really like to have if a good one could be found.

    2011 Buick Regal Turbo, 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass S Holiday Coupe

  • tomcat630tomcat630 Posts: 854
    My favorite cars were full size Chevies all through the 60's. I was 3 (1964) when I could pick them out, my dad says.

    The 70's Chevys had nicer interiors to me compared to the Boroque Ford LTD's. I liked the vinyl grippy steering wheels vs the skinny plastic Ford's.

    The 77+ Caprices were the best design of all, engineering wise. They had more road worthy handling and with a 350-4, Car and Driver pulled a 9.5s 0-60. Back in 77, anything under 10 sec was a rocket!

    The Fords that I liked though, were the 65-66 and the 71-72. The early 70's Fords look so good compared to the 73-78 tuna boats. Also, in 'White Lightning', Burt Reynolds drove a 71 Ford Custom 500. I think that is one other reason I like them, they had a bit of a sport sedan look.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    The '91-'96 GM B-bodies, especially the wagon versions, will become timeless classic designs in 25 years, in my opinion. The styling really isn't all that bad. Heck, nobody ever steals these cars because of that!
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    Somehow I have trouble thinking of the word "classic" in conjunction with a 1990s Buick Roadmaster or Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham. They were hardly a high point for their respective divisions. As for the Caprice, it proves that the "bathtub" school of design doesn't work any better on a modern car than it did on a late 1940s Packard.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,906
    ...20 years from now, on the show field at Carlisle, a lone Caprice or Roadmaster wagon, sitting away from all the other cars, still running because its owner liked it enough to hang onto it for that long. Kinda like that '75 Custom Cruiser we saw there, Grbeck!

    Prized collectible, no. But something that a few people may want to hold onto because it brings back fond memories, or it's represents the end of a bygone era. I'm sure that in the late '70's, when big cars started to get downsized, those final, huge wagons were looked on by some as the end of an era, just as the final Caprice/Roadmaster wagons tend to be, today.
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    Andre, no doubt there will be a few of the final GM full-size wagons at car shows 20 years from now. On the other hand, the old Custom Cruisers of the 1970s (and their major competitors) were considerably more popular than the 1990s full-size wagons.

    The Custom Cruiser, along with the Chrysler Town & Country, Buick Estate Wagon and Mercury Colony Park, were considered upmarket vehicles for suburbanites in the 1970s...almost like the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Acura MDX and Lexus RX 300 are now.
  • jerrym3jerrym3 Posts: 202
    Anybody remember the late 50's when the station wagons were very stylish cars?

    Chevie Nomads (plus a Pontiac knockoff), Olds Fiesta and Buick (four door wagons, no center post); Mercury (two door and foor door wagons without center posts)
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