1974 Dale: Dollar For Dollar, The Best Car Never Built!

Note: Another post by Tony LaHood. Enjoy. -TK

Sherman, set the way-back machine to 1974—to the wonderful days of seat belt-ignition interlocks, presidential resignations, 55 mph speed limits, and soaring fuel prices.

The OPEC oil embargo in 1973 had a long-term impact on the everyday lives of everyday Americans in a way few other events have. With the specter of gasoline selling for–God forbid–$1.00 per gallon, Americans’ interest in small, economical cars surged, and many Honda and Toyota dealers displayed their characteristic altruism by dressing up new Civics, Coronas and Starlets in $1,000 mud flaps and $2,500 pinstripes in response.

The time was ripe for a new means of personal transport that was cheap to buy, cheap to drive, and cheap to maintain. This is the story of a vehicle that was none of these things, because it existed only in the mind of its creator.

Geraldine Elizabeth Carmichael was 37 years old in 1974. A self-described “Indiana farm girl with five children and widow of a NASA engineer”, she formed the Twentieth Century Motor Car Corporation that year, in Encino, CA, and publicly announced its first product, the Dale.

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Airstream – Durant. Chrysler. Ford. Byum?

February is a magical time in Palm Springs. Glorious weather, the McCormick vintage and collector car auction, and Modernism Week. For those of you unfamiliar with the last, Modernism Week is a ten-day celebration of all things retro and mid-century, part of which is the Vintage Travel Trailer Show. Which brings us to the subject of this article: the estimable Wally Byam, founder of Airstream.

While the first three names up there in the title are familiar to most automotive enthusiasts and historians, it’s less likely they’ve heard of Wally Byam; however, his contributions to a specific facet of highway travel are as significant as his beloved Grand Canyon is vast.

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1958-61 Facel Vega Excellence: Classy, Lush And Over The Top!

Facel Vega Excellence

While Facel Vega—which aside from half its name has no connection to that other Vega, s’il vous plait—had produced automobiles since 1955, the company itself dates back two decades, when M. Jean Daninos, late of Citroën and the military aircraft concern Bronzavia, founded Métallon, a fabricator of kitchen cabinets and sinks and, in 1939, established Forges et Atéliers de Construction d’Eure-et-Loire, (FACEL). The two firms combined and made aircraft engine components during World War II.

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Travels With Dad And Brigitte

Klockau’s Note: Another excellent writeup by my West Coast buddy, Tony LaHood! Leave some nice comments and maybe he’ll write some new stuff for us! Tony’s note: In October 2012, I sold my 1989 MBZ 300 SE after 16 years of ownership. As a tribute to a car that meant so much to me over the years, her story is repeated here today.

There’s something I must make clear to you before proceeding with this story: I am an idiot in any situation involving a woman. One-hundred percent of the time, I will follow a great pair of legs into hell (or a Mercedes dealership, as the case may be) with both eyes open. With that understood, let’s continue.

I would never have considered buying a Mercedes at all were it not for Lori, a freelance graphic artist at our ad agency and a dead ringer for Xena, Warrior Princess. Lori drove a buttercup-yellow 240D and loved all things Mercedes. To my astonishment, she agreed to accompany me to our agency Christmas party, after which we started dating.

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1958 Edsel Bermuda: Lost In The Triangle

Note: Today’s post is by none other than Tony LaHood, who, like me, wrote for a certain site that shall not be named, and exited stage left after having one too many irritating interactions with Captain Cranky Pants. So he has graciously given me the green light to re-publish his stuff right here on Riverside Green. Let’s all give him a hand. -TK

The same word can conjure up different images for different people. Take ‘Bermuda’, for example. A sun worshiper immediately thinks of pink-sand beaches and tropical paradise. To clothiers and white-belt wearing geezers, Bermuda means a pair of shorts. Farmers have visions of big Bermuda onions. And for Car Guys like us, the name recalls the one-year-only, top-of-the-line station wagon from that most unfortunate of of nameplates, Edsel.

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A Short Note On The New Continental

Note: Today’s guest post is by Barry Wolk, a friend of mine and Lincoln owner. His Mark II convertible is well-known in collector circles, and appeared on Hemmings Classic Car several years ago. There has been a lot of flack on the 2017-present Lincoln Continental, and social media and third-rate blogging sites are awash in fear and loathing on a car they’d never buy in the first place. Why so many spleens are vented on something they hate rather than things they enjoy is beyond me, but such is the state of many corners of society today. This is Barry’s response. -TK

Mark II

While the new Continental was still in clay form I was asked if the Lincoln Division studio could borrow my Mark II for the winter for inspiration, for an upcoming car that had no name at that time. It didn’t have door handles yet, so I asked if it would have rear-hinged doors. I was told that their surveys of potential buyers found this less than important.

I also asked David Woodhouse why the LCOC or any Lincoln club members weren’t asked to participate in focus groups for the new car and he sat me down and explained that people that buy old Lincolns rarely, if ever, buy new ones, making their opinion about new cars irrelevant.

As a business model making cars for the used car market makes zero sense. Still doesn’t.

I asked him about the shared platform and he educated me as to how many shared platforms we have in our lives. TVs, washers and dryers, cars and houses all have shared platforms. The difference between luxury items and base items is what added to the base, not the base itself.

I asked why it wasn’t rear-wheel drive and he responded that AWD is better, and it’s true in every circumstance, whether you believe it or not.

If Ford isn’t building a car that suits your needs or desires, please buy what you want, but quit grousing about cars you’ll never buy new. That’s the true definition of an anachronism.

Steam and coal aren’t coming back, either.

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1997 Lincoln Town Car Signature Series: Family Car, Found!

Note: You may remember my friend Anthony Gucciardo’s immaculate, showroom condition 1997 Town Car. He still has it, but has since not only located the 1997 Town Car his mother bought new, but purchased it and had it restored. How many of us have wished we could have our first car back, or one of the family cars you remember from your youth? Well, Anthony did it! Enjoy. -TK

A few years back, I wrote a story for Curbside Classic about my fondness for the 1995-1997 Lincoln Town Car. It was re-published here at Riverside Green back in June 2017. You might have to read the article to totally understand where I’m coming from.

https://jackbaruth.com/?p=6765

In that article, I talked about my love for the Lincoln Town Car and that up to this day, the love affair continues. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to have had several high-end luxury cars and they’ve all been great. The technology has come a long way since the late 1990s, yet I still get a kick out of a large luxury sedan equipped with self leveling air suspension and thin white wall tires. Nothing rides like a Lincoln Town Car, especially at highway speeds. The wind noise coming from the windshield and sunroof gives the car true Lincoln character. It was obviously a design flaw but as we say in real estate, charm and character is what makes things sell.

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1984 Cadillac Seville Elegante: Best Of All, It’s A Cadillac

Note: Today’s post is by my friend Jayson Coombes. You may remember him from the excellent photos he provided for several of my Cadillac posts earlier this year, including the 1958 Fleetwood Sixty Special, 1957 Coupe de Ville and 1977 Seville. Those cars were at the Cadillac LaSalle Club Grand National meet in San Marcos, Texas, and Jayson drove the subject of this article, a 1984 Seville Elegante, all the way there and back, with nary an issue. Here’s its story. -TK

Seville

I’ve had the Seville Elegante for a little over 5 years.  I’m the third owner and it was sold new in June, 1984 at Frank Kent Cadillac in Fort Worth, Texas.  Still has the original dealer emblem on the trunk.  It has every option offered for a Seville in 1984, except for the Touring Suspension.

Seville

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1978 Pontiac Grand Safari: Maximum Massey

Note: Today’s post is by a friend of mine, Mike Massey. As a fellow member of The American Brougham Society on Facebook, he shares my love of full-sized, woodgrained station wagons, and owns a Roadmaster Estate Wagon, among other vintage GM rolling stock, today. I’ve always loved the 1977-79 B-body Pontiacs since my dad had a brown 1979 Bonneville sedan. That car was the subject of my first-ever car memory. Anyway, here’s the story of Mike’s dad’s special-ordered ’78 Grand Safari! -TK

OK I get lots of questions on comments about this car, so HERE is the long “novel” of our ’78 Pontiac Grand Safari, which we owned from 1978-1986, and how we came about owning it.

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