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Yup, it's a reproduction (or "clone", as the mechanic put it) door panel for my '57 DeSoto. They just haven't cut the holes for the window crank, door handle, or armrest yet. I had to go over there today on my lunch break, because he wanted me to look through some carpet samples and pick out one I liked.2 ·
Believe it or not, that was one of my '79 New Yorkers! The snow had gotten that deep, and with the way the wind blew it around, it gave the mound that rounded off look.1 ·
If I was going to take a pick from the '49-54 era, I think I'd prefer Chevy in just about every year...even though the styling may have seemed old-fashioned compared to the Ford. I like the '49-52 the best...the '53 seems to be trying too hard to be a baby Cadillac, although I agree, IMO the '54 looks better.
I thought the Plymouths actually cleaned up pretty nicely for '51-52. The '49-50 seemed old, even for 1949, but the '51 update was pretty nice, I thought. Made them look a bit Chevy-ish. When I was younger, I used to think that the police car they had in "War of the Worlds" was a '49-52 Chevy. It wasn't until years later, and seeing it in higher quality, on a bigger tv, that I realized it was a '51 Plymouth...
Towards the end, I believe that everything Saab was peddling was shared with something else. The 9-2 was a rebadged Impreza. The 9-3, although it wasn't blaringly obvious, was on the same platform as the Malibu, G6, and Aura. The 9-5 and Saturn L-series had some commonality. And the 9-7 was nothing but a rebadged Trailblazer.
Oddly though, I tended to prefer the Saab versions to the other cars they were based on. The styling just seemed more pleasant, somehow. And, the interiors usually seemed to be of a higher caliber.1 ·
The main reason Japanese cars from the 70's and 80's are so highly regarded is that they were relatively simple for the most part. Think about it...even by 1980, the biggest Japanese car was the Cressida. A nice little car, but in domestic terms, it's not even a Granada. And as Japanese cars go, it was an anomaly. Most of their cars were fairly basic...stick shift transmissions, no a/c, and so on. The Japanese came up short in a/c, automatic transmissions, and rust proofing. When the domestics built a rust-prone car it was front-page news...i.e., Vega, 1976 Volare. When the Japanese built a car that DIDN'T rust, it was considered a miracle.
The domestics fared poorly with smaller cars mainly because they had intermediate and full-sized cars down to an art. And they were able to produce them economically, and pass the savings on to the customer. For instance, a 1976 Accord stickered at something like $3995. In the GM ranks, that would get you a Nova Concours V-8 sedan, which was the same price. A V-8 Camaro started at $3927. Even an Impala 4-door sedan started at $4927, and included a standard 350 V-8, automatic, power steering, power brakes. You couldn't even get a fully automatic transmission on an Accord until 1980.
If the Japanese had tried to compete head-to-head with something like, say, a 1980 Caprice, you can rest assured it would have been an utter failure. It would cost about twice as much. Its a/c and automatic transmission would fail in record time. And it would rust so bad that it would make a '57 Plymouth look like the epitome of excellence. KnowWhatIMeanVern?