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Strange Cars from the past...



  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    I think the Impala/Caprice must have grown longer with the addition of the 5 mph bumpers in '73 (front) and '74 (rear).

    Speaking of the '74s, I remember catching my first glimpse of the Caprice 2-door on a car carrier at a rest stop on the PA Turnpike around August of '73. That was an ungainly beast compared to the more graceful hardtops of '71-'73!
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,622
    Trucks were headed that way, just look at the pickups in 89 & 90 I think it was. They were really downsizing them. Thankfully, they started to realize that people didn't want tiny pickups.
  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    Since my first car was a '54 Ford, V8 and my High School
    friend got to drive his parents '51 Plymouth my leading edge
    Baby Boom view is just a little older. Now a College friend
    did have a '57 T-Bird, that was almost the coolest thing going
    in '64/65 as things like the Falcon got released.
    Since that time I've come across any number of things on the
    road and off but one of the oddest is the '56 Facel-Vega
    that is sitting in one guy's garage. His dad's daily driver
    from that era and been sitting for 30+ years. The Facel as
    I've found out was the product of a Frenchman trying to get
    France back into the car game after WWII. Partly Italian
    design and fabbed in France the cars came with a mixed drive
    train that included a Chrysler engine and automatic or a
    French designed manual transmission. The later cars had mid
    to big Hemi blocks that are more sought after than this one
    with what I think is a 318 Wedge motor and the euro manual.
    The manual is preferred over the US auto transmission but is
    extremely hard to get parts for.
    I guess what is strange partly depends on when you came across it.
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    I dunno; a 1953 Chevy pickup has about as much power and cargo space as an '83 S-10. Light trucks didn't become what we think of now as "full-size" until the beginning of the 1960s.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    dunno; a 1953 Chevy pickup has about as much power and cargo space as an '83 S-10. Light trucks didn't become what we think of now as "full-size" until the beginning of the 1960s.

    Would a '53 Chevy pickup have been able to hold a 4x8 sheet of plywood between its rear fender wells? That's something that to this day, only a full-sized pickup truck can do. The compacts and so-called midsizers are still unable. Although I did hear that if they would base the Dakota on the Durango platform, instead of its own, more dedicated platform, that it would be able to. But then, if they start giving the midsizers that capability, I guess it starts making the bigger trucks obsolete...unless you really need that extra power, towing capacity, or load capacity (not volume necessarily, but mass).

    As far as interior room goes, I think trucks pretty much hit their peak with the '73 GM trucks. At least, comparing regular-cab models. I remember sitting in an '08 Chevy pickup at the DC auto show, a regular cab model. Other than the more rakish windshield, which gives you a nice, big dashboard top, I really didn't find any more useable interior room compared to my '85 Silverado. Legroom felt about the same. Ditto shoulder room. Storage behind the seat seemed about the same Now the steering wheel was a bit further from my chest, and the truck had real headrests to keep you from smacking the back window in a rear-ender...something I'm intimately familiar with in my '85 Silverado...OUCH!! :sick: Oh, and they've found more nooks and crannies to store small items.

    I was a passenger in a 2004 F350 pickup yesterday and I swear, as big as that thing is, it doesn't seem like there's much more room than my Silverado. I think it does have 3 or 4 more inches of shoulder room, but when you're dealing with that much room, it's almost unneccesary. Now in cars, 4 inches can mean the difference between a compact and a full-size. But going from 64-65 inches to 67-68, I don't think most people will notice. Other dimensions though, particularly legroom, were no better. In fact, this thing seemed to have LESS footwell area because of the way the dashboard and components underneath hung down. The tranny hump seemed bigger too, but that's probably because of it being a heavy-duty truck.

    Regarding the 1988 and later GM trucks, their beds actually were a bit narrower than the '73-87 style, but still big enough for the proverbial 4x8 sheet of plywood. Here's how I found that out. My pickup, back when it was Granddad's, had a camper shell on the back. At some point in the early 90's, after Granddad had passed away, my uncle pulled it off for whatever reason, and it was just sitting in the yard. In the late 90's, in an effort to try cleaning up Grandmom's yard, my Mom and uncle agreed to give it to some family friends. They had a 1988 or later pickup. I remember when we helpd them lift that shell onto the bed of the newer truck, it actually overhanged on either side by at least an inch. I don't know what that guy ultimately did with that shell, but I remember it was quite a balancing act, so I doubt if he kept it long.

    Overall, I think the '88 GM trucks were about the same size as the '73-87 in most key dimensions. But something about their style made them look small. I remember when they first started hitting the streets, I'd mistake them for an early 80's Chevy LUV! The cheaper models with the single headlights did have a similar look.

    I noticed the same thing about the '97 Ford F-150. While it was hardly a small truck, something about its styling looked small. If I saw it out in a parking lot all by itself, with nothing else to reference it against, it looked like a compact truck to me.

    Oh, and if GM and everyone else downsized their trucks to S-10 size, I imagine that today I'd be nursing Granddad's '76 GMC crew cab along, instead of his '85 Silverado. However, my grandparents DID have a couple of small trucks. In the late 70's they bought a '72 LUV from a friend of my Mom's. At that time they had a '72 Impala and their '76 GMC. Grandmom was still working and drove the Impala, and Granddad was retired, and would use the LUV for running errands and such, instead of lugging that 21 foot long pickup around. They ended up giving the LUV to my uncle when he needed a car, and from there it got trashed, and ultimately totaled I think. He could be rough on cars! And judging by his '03 Corolla, still is. :sick: In late 1980, when gas prices were sky high and the stuff was scarce, my grandparents bought an '81 Dodge D-50. They had it less than 2 years. In early 1982 it pulled a sudden acceleration stunt at the gas station, and spooked them both enough that they didn't want it anymore. A neighbor wanted to buy it, and they sold it to him, and as of the early 90's he still had it.

    I think my grandparents viewed little pickups as something to run errands in, short trips, etc. But Granddad was a farmer most of his life, so I think full-sized pickup trucks were in his blood.
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    Would a '53 Chevy pickup have been able to hold a 4x8 sheet of plywood between its rear fender wells?

    Yes, but the longbed wasn't long enough until 1957.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 64,880
    '74 Caprice...

    That was our Driver's ED car.. :surprise:


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  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294 episode of "The Brady Bunch" where the kids were learning to drive in a 1974 Chevrolet Caprice convertible.
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    Jeez. My driver's ed car was a '78 Volare... in 1993. :surprise: :cry: The county finally retired that thing a year or two later and replaced it with a late '80s Dodge Spirit or Shadow (whatever the boring K-car was back then). I think the current car is a Cavalier.
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    Back when I was in high school, the local dealers were still supplying new cars to the schools (I would imagine the automakers were reimbursing the dealers; certainly my school couldn't afford the cost).

    So I got to drive a spanking new '69 Dodge Coronet sedan. In brown IIRC. Big whoop!
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294
    ...but I think my high school's driver's ed car was a beige 1981 Chevrolet Malibu Classic.
  • bhill2bhill2 Posts: 1,784
    When I was in high school in the mid '60s our school decided that it should teach students who were interested how to drive those 'new' 4-on-the-floor transmissions. The local Ford dealer supplied a brand-new Fairlane sport coupe with a 289 and a 4-speed. Sweet Jesus that car was fun to drive. It would have been even more fun if we could have jettisoned the teacher, but he was actually a pretty good guy.

    2009 BMW 335i, 2003 Corvette cnv, 2001 Jaguar XK cnv, 1985 MB 380SE (the best of the lot)

  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    ...was a 1978 Dodge Aspen sedan.

    My father took me out for driving lessons in his 1973 AMC Gremlin.

    The late 1970s were not a good time, automotive wise.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,931
    My drivers ed car was a brand new 1993 Dodge Spirit, it had like 1000 miles on it. My school had another drivers ed car as well, a ca. 1980 Ford Fairmont, power blue, and a rep for stalling. I was very glad I got to drive the new car!
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    ...but I think my high school's driver's ed car was a beige 1981 Chevrolet Malibu Classic

    Lemko, you're not getting your past mixed up with that movie "Moving Violation", are you? :P They used beige '81 Malibu sedans as the driver's ed cars in that movie. As I recall, one of them got stalled out at a railroad crossing on the tracks, with a train coming. The students got it pushed off the tracks just in time, only to roll it out into an intersection where it got smacked by a semi...

    As for me, I took driver's ed in a 1986 Cutlass Ciera sedan. I remember making a comment that they should have given us '72 Impalas so that it wouldn't matter as much when we banged them up. My instructor was not amused. :P
  • texasestexases Posts: 7,773
    Our were '74 era 4-door LeSabres - talk about a boat!
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,931
    Moving Violations...hilarious.

    That movie is now on DVD, under $10. It's a good laugh, with lots of interesting old cars in it.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,931
    That's a drivers ed car from lemko-land.

    Around here there is a drivers school with a fleet of new Jettas, and another with xBs. I think school-sponsored programs are less common than in my day
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    those outsided '71-76 Buicks are my favorites of the big cars from that mastodon era. I think part of it may be that some cheaper cars, like Fords, Mercurys, Chevie Pontiacs, and even those Royal Monacos with the hidden headlights were just too pretentious, pretending to be something they really weren't, while the Buicks just had a clean, smooth, understated look to them, and almost a bit sporty, for such a big car. In contrast, an Oldsmobile was a bit too conservative, while something like a Cadillac, Lincoln, or Chrysler/Imperial was almost too pompous and in-your-face with its opulence and status.

    I guess I like the fact that the Buicks were upscale and luxurious, but didn't scream "LOOK AT ME!".

    As for Driver's Ed, I've heard that they dropped the school sponsored programs around these parts years ago. I think I got through it just in time. I remember our instructor was some over-the-hill bodybuilder/gym teacher who was just starting to get man-boobs, and looked like he had been left out in the sun too long.

    One thing I'll never forget in Driver's Ed, was coming up to the stop sign at the exit to our school's parking lot. It let out onto a fairly major road, and the first thing I said was something I picked up from my mother... "Is it clear yet?". Mom tended to say that if she needed to pull out onto a road where she was at a bad angle, where I as a passenger could see better than she could. He just looked at me, a bit perturbed, and said "You tell me!"
  • texasestexases Posts: 7,773
    Jettas and xBs - quite a change. Our teacher's favorite thing with the Buick was to get us on a narrow, winding 2 lane, just to see how we'd do. His claim to fame, other than being the metal/woodshop teacher, was that he went to high school with Pete Rose, back when that was something to brag about...
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 64,880
    Western Hills High in Cincinnati... Don Zimmer also went there..

    I'm full of useless information.. :surprise:


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  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,330
    Driver Ed. car - a 68 full size Ford.

    I don't remember as much as I might about that car if for no other reason I had been driving for a year already. The only reason I was taking driver ed was to lower the insurance rates. I figured my folks were footing the car and insurance at that point so it was the least that I could do.
    2013 Mazda 5 Grand Touring, 2010 Toyota Prius IV. 2007 Toyota Camry XLE, 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999 Mazda Miata
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294
    I remember looking through my Mom's old high school yearbook and they had a 1962 Chevrolet Impala as a driver's ed car. Imagine if it was an SS with a 409! Anyway, Grandpop taught her to drive on a 1961 Plymouth Valiant. The car in which my Dad taught me to drive was his 1978 Ford Granada coupe with the mighty 250-cid inline six.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,330
    My older brother learned on a 61 Valiant! Wagon.

    I learned on a 67 Pontiac Tempest wagon.
    2013 Mazda 5 Grand Touring, 2010 Toyota Prius IV. 2007 Toyota Camry XLE, 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999 Mazda Miata
  • toomanyfumestoomanyfumes S.E. Wisconsin Posts: 1,004
    Was "Moving Violations" that movie with Bill... No Brian-Doyle...No John Murray in probably his only movie? If that's it I saw it on cable the other night and the kids and I were cracking up.

    I took driver's ed in around 1982. We had all Chevy's. Chevette(yuck), Malibu's, and Caprice Classics. The Caprice's were nice.
    2012 Mustang Premium, 2013 Lincoln MKX Elite, 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,931
    Yep, John Murray - I don't think I have seen him in anything else either. Really, an underrated and pretty harmless movie, with a few really hilarious scenes.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    For some reason, the only name I remember from that movie was Sally Kellerman. She was a "bad guy", either a crooked cop or judge or something like that.

    Oh, and Clara Peller. I loved that scene towards the beginning where her old lady friend who could barely see picked her up from the airport, somehow ends up out on the runway behind a big jet, and starts laying into the horn and hollering about "those damn buses!"

    There was another movie named "Moving Violation", too, that was a more serious movie about a drifter and a waitress who witness the crooked sherriff kill one of his deputies who wanted a bigger part of the graft. The thing was one car chase/smashup after another, and directed by Roger Corman, so it wasn't THAT serious.

    Interestingly, it had some of the same stunts done in Smokey and the Bandit, right down to a copcar running under a tractor trailer and losing its roof, and a '74 or '75 Delta 88 hardtop with an airbag crashing. The scene looked like it was set up specifically TO deploy the airbags, and it worked. In Smokey and the Bandit, they weren't successful. There, they ran a '74 Delta hardtop into a '77 LeMans, and about all it did was turn the LeMans into a pap smear, while the Delta might've gotten a scratch on its bumper! I read that sometime later, that same Delta was used in a crash test video, which DID deploy its airbags.

    I guess a Delta with airbags must've been pretty rare. I thought it was mainly the more expensive cars that used them, like 98's, Electras, and cars further up the totem pole? I wonder if any LeSabres ever got airbags?
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,931
    Yeah she was a crooked judge, in cahoots with a crooked cop (something Keach) who were plotting to auction the driving school students cars and keep the money. The movie also had Nedra Volz (the old lady friend), Jennifer Tilly and the sister from Back to the Future (cast as a hypochondriac who drove a Pinto), among others I can't immediately recall.

    If you recall, the old lady (Volz) drove an immaculate looking '67 Impala 4 door HT, the airport scene is pretty funny - "damn buses, always in the way" as she honks at a jetliner. There's a scene that takes place in an impound lot that is full of weird cars.

    Those airbag cars seem to be kind of haphazard....were they available on all large cars?
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    Here are the '74-'76 GM cars with optional frontal airbags:

    Buick LeSabre, Electra, Riviera
    Olds 88, 98, Toronado
    Cadillac Deville, Fleetwood, Eldorado

    These were dual airbags that were designed to protect all 3 front seat occupants (the passenger airbag was huge). The cars did not have shoulder belts, just lap belts. It was thought at the time that airbags could replace shoulder belts.

    IIRC, about 10K cars were equipped with the option -- not a huge number, and you're probably correct in that the more expensive cars were more likely to have them.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,604
    I was in a junkyard in the late seventies when some guys who were trying to remove something from the dash of a wrecked Buick of that vintage accidently set off the air bag.

    These guys had never heard of airbags, and they ran from the car screaming obcenities and shaking their heads which were full of white powder.

    I thought I knew every filthy word in spanish but I heard some new ones that day!
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