It’s time again for another visit to the Chicago Auto Show, thanks to my friend Jim Smith. You see, he’s been attending the event for fifty years. And took quite a few pictures in that time. Lucky for us! So let’s dive into a world of Broughamage and wood-sided wagons, and see what kind of new rolling stock is on display!
Back in 2013, I saw perhaps the finest Brougham in the wild as I have ever seen (excluding car shows): A 1977 Cutlass Supreme Brougham coupe. It was, quite simply, gorgeous. And I have a history with the Colonnade Cutlasses! That’s right folks, it’s another ’70s Brougham post. Buckle up!
My parents have always liked Volvo cars. They had several of them through the years, and I always associate my childhood with Volvo station wagons. Their very first one was bought in 1976. At the time Mom was driving a ’74 Mercury Capri V6, Dad’s former company car. My parents had been friends with Mike and Cathy Lundahl since high school, and his dad owned the Volvo dealership in Moline at the time. As a result, many Volvos lived in their driveway over the past forty years or so. But the ’73 ES was the first.
It’s time once again to talk up my buddy Jason Bagge’s latest yacht, a handsome black over white 1972 Bonneville! As previously discussed in the posts on his 1976 Olds Ninety-Eight, 1976 Caprice Classic Sport Sedan and 1976 Caprice Classic Landau, he finds the nicest old land yachts. Or rather, they find him! The latest acquisition is my favorite. Let me tell you why.
From 1971 to 1976, General Motors had the market covered when it came to the finest in upper-crust land yachts: Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight, Buick Electra, and the Cadillac Sedan de Ville and Fleetwood. It was the last stand for true full-size luxury. No diets, no exercising, full steam ahead with room, space and wheelbase! And velour. Lots of velour. But times were changing. Fuel economy was slowly but surely becoming more important to buyers, especially after the 1973-74 gas crisis. Could one still get all the Broughamage they wanted, yet with better economy? Have plenty of stretch-out room despite dimensions being trimmed? Indeed, they could!
GM proved it with the downsized 1977 B- and C-body full-sizers. Easier to drive, easier to park, yet with power everything, room, space and the ever so important gadgets, gizmos and nameplate prestige! And if you didn’t want to spring for the high-priced Cadillac version, you could still get nine-tenths of its luxury in an Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency. Continue Reading →
I often ask myself whatever happened to the Lincoln Town Car. It was doing so well before Dearborn got caught up in the SUV craze, followed by the combover, er I mean crossover, craze. It seemed the venerable TC became largely ignored by product planners in the Glass House, before finally disappearing after a small number of 2012 Town Cars were built in mid-2011. Perhaps Panther fans’ love of the 1990-97 model and subsequent watering-down of said top-dog Lincoln had something to do with it. Making essentially identical cars from 2003-2011 certainly didn’t help, but those final boxy 1995-1997 just seemed a little more distinguished. A little more special.
I am well known for my love of Ford Motor Company’s flagship, the Lincoln Continental. Very few people, at least those who appreciate classic cars, would argue that the 1961-69 Continental was anything but a classic design and a true American luxury car, but I also am rather fond of the 1970-73 version. Remember those? They’ve kind of faded from memory over the decades, with the ’60s Continentals on one side and the square-rigged, luxury railroad coaches that were the 1975-79 Continentals.
I certainly remember them. A big part of that is due to an old, forgotten triple black 1971 Lincoln Continental that was sitting in a 1920s-era one-car garage not far from my neighborhood. From the age of approximately five through the end of junior high, my beloved bicycles took me where I wanted to go. Heck, I still have my first bike sitting in my garage!
Say, remember the Mustang? Of course you do. Well…you remember the obvious ones, anyway. Shelby GT350. 1965 2+2 GT. Boss 302. Boss 429. All the usual suspects. But there are a lot of Mustangs out there that have been nearly elbowed off the stage, thanks to Resale Red, American Racing wheel-shod, phony-GT car show and cruise night impostors! In fact, should you mention certain Mustangs to those Foose-footed red Mustang owners, you may cause them to grow pale and run away: Mustang II! Mustang Grandé Mustang Ghia and Mustang L! Mustangs with six-cylinder engines and wheel covers! Augh! To those guys, it’s like throwing cloves of garlic at a vampire! No! No no no! All Mustangs were muscle cars dagnabit! And never mind that his ’67 Hardtop was originally Wimbledon White with dog-dish caps, green interior and six cylinder power! But let me tell you, I love the offbeat Mustangs, which were the majority of Mustangs back in the Sixties and Seventies. And the Broughamiest pony of them all is the subject of today’s post: the Grandé, available from 1969 to 1973.
The Mustang: the Falcon that went to finishing school and came back better than ever, and nearly unrecognizable. Designed from the start to be eminently configurable, it could be equipped as anything from a basic inline-six, zero-option runabout to a thoroughbred V8 sprinter, and the available extras, colors and trim levels only expanded as the decade wore on. The 1967-68s got a bigger engine bay to accommodate big-block power, thanks to Bunkie Knudsen.
Of all the GM wagons made in the final full-size, B-body station wagon years, I think I loved the Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser the most. I mean, first of all, is that a cool name or what? “Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser.” Even if you didn’t even know what kind of a car was, you’d probably agree that is a most excellent name. And these final Olds wagons remained unerringly, unapologetically full sized to the very end in 1992. They even eclipsed their Eighty Eight brethren starting in 1986, establishing them as perhaps the Broughamiest Olds in the lineup.
Yes, the second round of downsizing hit the Oldsmobile full-size line in the mid-’80s. The first round, for those of you just joining us, was in 1977, when the trim, smaller on the outside yet bigger on the inside B-body GM sedans, coupes and wagons appeared on the scene. Round two started in 1985 when the top of the line Ninety-Eight shrunk, along with its corporate cousins, the C-body Buick Electra and Cadillac de Ville/Fleetwood. They were also front wheel drive, and unit-bodied. Not a rare format in 1986, but completely new to the Olds flagship, which had been proudly gigantic and full-framed for decades.
The Eighty Eight got the same treatment in 1986. So now all of the big Oldses were front wheel drive, V6-only and unit-bodied. What was a full-sized car lover to do? Buy the wagon!
A good friend of mine is the “Brougham Whisperer,” Jason Bagge, also known as Mr. Caprice, ha ha! He buys real cars about as often as I buy model cars. Which is to say, a lot. Most of those cars are 1970s land yachts, though not exclusively so. But one of his favorites are the Nimitz-class 1971-1976 Chevrolet Caprice. He’s owned several over the years, but perhaps the coolest one he had is the subject of today’s Klockau Classic. The 1976 Caprice Classic Landau. In triple black, no less!
Living in the Pacific Northwest, he is in a great position to find clean old cars that just need a little love to be really nice. In fact, it’s uncanny. Every time he finds a new car I think, “Holy crap! I haven’t seen one of those since about 1993!” And then he sells it. And then, three months later, he finds ANOTHER one, often times nicer than the last one. The man has a knack for this stuff!