My pal up in Spokane, Jason Bagge, he of the ’76 Caprice Landaus, caramel colored ’76 Bonneville Brougham and 454-powered ’74 Monte Carlo, is letting one of his cars go-to make more room for more, of course.
Here I am once again, late afternoon giving way to early evening, sitting out on the deck, a couple of cocktails in. And gawking at giant, thirsty, impractical yet satisfying ’70s cabin cruisers.
Despite the flak they’ve gotten from some quarters, the 1970-81 Camaros are getting some respect lately. For years they were sneered at by some bloggers, mostly by insufferable types who drool over a 1975 Honda Civic CVCC-one of the three that hasn’t dissolved into rusty Doritos, anyway.
I have written up several Lincoln Continental Mark IVs here over the years. So another one won’t hurt. Ha ha! I’ve always loved the Mark series, due in no small part to my grandfather owning a Mark III, Mark IV and Mark V over the years. But I have an extra fondness for the Designer Series Marks of 1976. It was a brilliant marketing idea by Ford Motor Company, and various designer Lincolns appeared way, way, wayyyy to the final one, the 2003 Town Car Cartier. In 2004, Ford decided they didn’t want to pay to use the upper-crust name on their top of the line Town Car, and the ’04 model was unceremoniously dubbed the Ultimate instead.
Every decade seemingly has its own personal fad. Most recently (and seemingly entering its second decade in the ’20s) it was the combover. Oops, I mean crossover, heh. Before that it was the SUV and before that it was the minivan. But the gotta have it vehicle type in the 1970s was most definitely the personal luxury car.
To wit: A two door coupe or two door hardtop with a long hood, short deck, gigantic doors, and likely sporting a stand-up hood ornament, opera windows, opera lamps, a landau top and wire wheel covers.
This type of very American Motor Vehicle got started in the late 50s with the four-seat 1958 to 1960 Ford Thunderbird. It was followed in roughly chronological order by the 1961 Oldsmobile Starfire, 1962 Pontiac Grand Prix, pricier and more exclusive 1963 Buick Riviera, 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado (with front-wheel drive, wowie zowie!), the 1967 Cadillac Eldorado and the 1969 Lincoln Continental Mark III.
You all well know my fondness for those velour-clad, opera-lamped, gas-guzzling and totally impractical, totally awesome ’70s Detroit cruisers. So it will surprise exactly no one that I went gaga upon seeing this light metallic blue Olds coupe this beautiful, sunny Thursday afternoon, whilst sitting on my deck and working on gin and tonic #2.
Yes, ’76 was last call for the unapologetically huge big GM C-bodies: Cadillac de Ville, Buick Electra and the majestic Olds Ninety-Eight.
One of the things that has gotten me excited the past few years is how many of the current diecast model companies have been releasing makes and models I never, ever expected to be produced in scale. Cars from the ’70s and ’80s that weren’t Camaros, Mustangs and Corvettes. Cars I remember from my childhood and various and sundry ’80s TV shows watched in my formative years.
Case in point. Greenlight has recently released the Colonnade Pontiac LeMans wagon in several different versions. They’ve even released a wagon version of Buford T. Justice’s Montague County, TX LeMans. Yes, really, I saw one at Hobby Lobby last week.
Well, you know the drill. I love these 1971-1976 Cadillacs, particularly Fleetwood Broughams, Fleeetwood d’Elegances, and Fleetwood Talismans. Sure you do. I’ve written up no less than three of them, here, here and here. So I’ll dispense with the background information and history on these.
Today, the most popular new cars tend towards silver silvermist combover anonymity. Because, as you know, it is much better to have a car that does 17 things crappily rather than one that does one thing very well. But I digress. Things change. It’s a given, especially in the fickle car market. But approximately 45 years ago, the top selling cars in the land of the free were actually attractive. Due to having several in my family when I was a kid, I especially long for the 1976-77 Cutlass Supreme; in all likelihood, so do a number of people, as they set sales records in the ’70s and early ’80s. Luckily, I spotted a primo example at the Oldsmobile Nationals in Brookfield, Wisconsin back in 2015.
We’ve all heard the Colonnade story: In 1973, GM unveiled the new A-bodies. They were new and modern, but were festooned with the first 5-mph safety bumpers. And in certain quarters, draw a serious amount of ire from Monday morning quarterbacks. But at any rate, sporty muscle coupes were on the way out, with the world of Brougham taking over. The Cutlass coupes, in various S, Salon and Supreme forms, did quite well.
But in my opinion, they hit their stride in 1976, when an attractive new face and sheetmetal greeted visitors to Olds showrooms. The smooth sides (sedans and wagons retained the 73-75 fender blisters), quad rectangular lights and waterfall grille all looked great. It was a clean, attractive restyle, what one would call a near-luxury car today. For the up-and-coming young professional to announce his moving up in the world.
NOTE: Today’s guest post is by Mark Davidson, another ex-Cantankerous Coot commenter whom has migrated over to RG. He is a fellow Broughamophile and some of his other cars include an ’88 Olds Custom Cruiser and a 1959 Super 88. Please give him a warm welcome! -TK
So good evening. Would you like for me to tell you a story over cocktails?
I’ll start out with this. The next block over from the Avenue of the misfit toys where I live, a friend of mine sold a house and behind that house was a ’65 turquoise color Corvair, a ’65 Mercury Monterey breezeway, a Mercedes of sorts and a ’76 Chevrolet Caprice Estate Wagon.
I knew him when he had that wagon on the road and it was gorgeous. As a matter of fact, I would drive by his house in my 1988 Oldsmobile, which I just bought back last September, and do a side-by-side comparison in the middle of the street. I was so envious of Woodie’s wagon.