Merry Christmas to all at RG! Wait a minute Klockau, you may be thinking, why are you writing a post on a day of rest, relaxation, celebration? Easy, I am typing this at approximately 3:35 PM Saturday, December 22nd. This particular Sedan de Ville is about as holiday-hued as you can get, at least this side of a Continental Mark IV Lipstick Luxury Group or Jeep Grand Cherokee Orvis Edition, anyway. But I digress! So if you are avoiding relatives or hiding out with the last of the Christmas cookies, here’s something to read.
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.
Remember Jason Bagge? Sure you do. He’s the Pacific Northwest’s Brougham Whisperer. He seeks out, buys, refurbishes, and sells on classic 1970s Broughamtastic Broughams to happy new owners. Many of his previous cars have been featured right here on Riverside Green, including his 1976 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight, 1976 Caprice Classic Landau, 1976 Bonneville Brougham, 1972 Bonneville four-door hardtop, and 1973 Imperial LeBaron. Well, folks, he just can’t keep anything, ha ha!
Nope. He finds something cool, fixes it up, sells it on, spies another classic ’70s yacht, and repeats the process. All the aforementioned Detroit land yachts are long gone! If he has a car you like, chances are you can get it-for the right price. And now, ladies and germs, he’s selling a very nice 1978 Mercury Marquis. And it can be yours!
I have always loved the Ford LTD. The top trim full-size Ford. Top of the heap. The most Broughamtastic. But what does LTD stand for? There are many opinions. One favorite is “Luxury Trim Decor.” But no one is certain. Ford never truly defined it. But no matter what one’s opinion is on the lux-Ford acronym, one thing it most certainly meant was luxury.
If I start talking about the LTD’s history, we’ll be here all night. And I want to focus on my favorite, the 1975-78 models, so let’s try to be concise, shall we? The Ford LTD first came on the scene in 1965, as a deluxe trim Galaxie 500, available initially in two- and four-door hardtop versions.
In that same record-sales year for Detroit of 1965, its arch-rival, the Chevrolet Caprice, also appeared, initially as only a four-door hardtop.
Well! I started off this morning planning on writing up a friend’s simply fantastic 1970 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham. But then, I logged onto The American Brougham Society today at lunch and saw that the proprietor of the Broughamiest FB group around had posted pictures of this simply sensational 1978 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham. I love these cars, a lot. Wrote one up on the old site some years back, and fully intend to do a full writeup here on RG eventually. But just look at the color combination! Holy moly! I had to share this immediately! Continue Reading →
In 1978, the Pontiac Grand Prix was downsized, along with its corporate cousins, the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme and the Chevrolet Monte Carlo. And the Buick Regal, of course, which I covered previously here at RG.
Phase II of General Motors’ downsizing had begun. The Colonnade midsizers of 1973-77 were but a memory, and Bill Mitchell’s Sheer Look, pioneered by the 1976 Cadillac Seville, was applied to all A-bodies, including the A-special GP and Monte.
B is for B-Body-in this case, the Caprice Classic. 1977 was a big deal. Downsizing came for all biggie GMs, and the results were most excellent! The downsized 1977 B-bodies took the U.S. market by storm. While all the various corporate variants were well-received, from Impala to LeSabre, there is no doubt the Chevrolet versions were the top sellers.
The 1976 Caprice Classic was the last of the gunboats. It had been around since Autumn 1970, when the smooth, swoopy and gigantic 1971 B-Bodies debuted. All 1976 Caprice Classics sported an attractive new nose with rectangular headlights. But it was just a place holder, despite the great new look. There were some very different big Chevies just around the corner.
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 →
Note: Please welcome Joel Miller to Riverside Green. Another emigre’ from the old site, Joel’s passion is 1970s Detroit rolling stock, particularly the 1977-81 Firebird and full-size 1973 Pontiacs. -TK
The car that first really hooked me was the Mercury Cougar. I was probably four or five when I first spotted a ’69 or ’70 Cougar though the window of my mother’s Mark III Lincoln. Whoa, what’s that? The sequential turn signals were mesmerizing!
At around age six, I finally figured out what I was looking at. From that point on, everything was about the Cougar. My half-brother drove a white ’69 XR7 for a few years, although I don’t ever remember riding in it. I probably stared rust holes in it though!
1977 through 1979 were pretty big years for General Motors. During those three model years, a vast diet was undertaken by the majority of their offerings, so that by decade’s end, most of the familiar gunboats you remembered had a much different, much lighter and much more purposeful look.
It all started with the biggies. The 1977 B-body and C-body full-size cars went from this…
To this. Pretty drastic, wouldn’t you say?
The new cars, while perhaps displaying less Broughamage and curtailing the trend to longer, lower, wider styling, were better handling, better on gas, and in most dimensions had more interior room than the 1976 models. All in all not bad. And the public responded with a healthy appetite for these lean yet satisfying automobiles.