Earlier this week it was a ’78 Regency, today it’s a rare surviving Escort, espied on Dallas-Fort Worth Marketplace. What can you say about the Escort? It replaced the old Pinto, was front-wheel drive, they sold a ton of them, and like their contemporary brethren, the Chevette and Colt, probably eight survive to the present day. This is one of them.
The Granada, like many ’70s cars that once were everywhere and now are rarely seen, gets its share of hatred, fear and loathing from some quarters. But I’ve always had a soft spot for them. Why? Well, as a kid growing up in the 80s, there were still tons of them around, with approximately 50% rusty, 40% decent and 10% mint, little old lady driven time capsules. But they are few and far between these days, because like most popular cars, most were purchased and unceremoniously traded in 2-3 years later, or driven into the ground and junked. Oh, and they liked to rust.
Around 1995-97, our neighbor down the street, Jim Carlson, got a very well kept base 77 Granada coupe as a daily driver. They also had a then-new Town & Country minivan, but that was the ‘good car’ and Jim’s new acquisition was basically a work car. I remember he took me around the block in it, and it had a blue vinyl bench seat and pretty much zero options. Later, when he got rid of it, he gave me the mint condition owners’ manual and certicard; I still have it somewhere. As I recall, he replaced it with a nonmetallic tan 1977 Caprice Classic sedan that was slightly rough but nice, and had functional A/C, a big plus.
I’ve always had a thing for the midsize ’70s Ford wagons: Gran Torino, Montego, LTD II and Cougar. The most likely reason is one of the first Matchbox cars I ever got was a metallic lime green ’77 Mercury Cougar Villager wagon, with opening tailgate.
It, along with my Pocket Cars Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham and Lincoln Mark IV, were almost always with me – in the car, outside, at the dinner table, etc. They are rough now, but all of them did survive my childhood.
This morning this ’76 Gran Torino Squire popped up on Marketplace, via the Finding Future Classic Cars fb group, and I had to check it out. You just don’t see these. Production was nothing compared to the LTD and LTD Country Squire wagons in the mid-’70s, likely due to the Torinos simply not having the interior room you’d expect for their size.
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.
Last Sunday I drove over to Dahl Ford in Davenport. One of the owner’s collector cars, a 1959 Fairlane 500 Galaxie Town Sedan, was being sold off to make room for-you guessed it-more vintage cars.
I found the unmistakable pink and black ’59 immediately! More on that car later, by the way, don’t worry.
But as is my wont, I wandered around the dealership for a while after, to see if there was anything else interesting. And in so doing, saw my first 2020 Explorer.
While Ford of England first marketed a Capri model in the early ’60s, the Consul Classic Capri, the first one offered in the United States appeared in 1970 and was sold by Lincoln-Mercury dealers. Often called a ‘Mercury Capri’, it really wasn’t. It was just the Capri, as borne out in all advertising and brochures. Sporty, affordable little imported coupes were hitting their stride in the early ’70s, and Ford wanted in on it.
By the time the Capri came to the US market, insurance premiums were beginning to have an effect on sales of cars like the Mustang, Javelin, Barracuda and others. In short order, your choices for coupes were down to two basic types: a big, landau roofed cruiser like the Monte Carlo or Grand Prix, or a small, sporty coupe such as the Capri, Opel Manta or Toyota Celica.
The 1965 Ford was a big change from the 1960-64s, with pretty much everything new except for engines and transmissions. And this same basic chassis, despite major stylistic changes in 1969, 1971 and 1975, essentially carried on until the fall of 1978 when the Panther-chassis LTD and Marquis appeared.
Quite a run! And while Ford couldn’t quite beat GM in the sales race when it came to full-size, bread and butter cars, they still put out some attractive machines.
The Thunderbird has always been something special. And while some are more interesting, cool looking or collectible than others, they always were a cut above basic transportation. Not the usual Falcon, Torino, Fairmont or mini-me LTD.
When the aerodynamically styled 1983 Thunderbird appeared in Autumn ’82, it was a revelation. With rare exception, most 1982 domestic rolling stock were rectangular, with additional chrome edging along the 90 degree angles the higher the trim level you purchased.
This was certainly true for the 1980-82 T-Bird, which could almost have been the box the ’83 came in.
A turbocharged four-cylinder was likely the biggest surprise to traditional Thunderbird buyers. A four-cylinder engine in a Thunderbird? It was a shock to T-Bird customers used to wafting along in cool, air-conditioned V8 comfort and silence in their ’60s and ’70s Nimitz-class Flair Birds and Glamour Birds. But the Turbo Coupe was the new top of the line ‘Bird.
Today, most family haulers are silver silvermist or beige beigemist crossovers. But 45 plus years ago, things were different.
Yes, in 1971 Ford was Wagon King. Sure, GM sold tons of wagons too, but despite their being all new, not everyone was sure about GM’s new disappearing tailgate, where it retracted behind the rear bumper instead of folding down. Though GM still trounced FoMoCo in overall production.
Most of the time, I’m interested in either Volvos, 1970s-era Broughams and modern Lincolns and Cadillacs. This is of course reflected here on this fine site. However, I do try from time to time to expand my horizons. Like last year, when I test drove a new 2018 Subaru Outback Limited, in between reviews for a 2015 Lincoln MKZ 2.0H and 2018 Lincoln Continental.
For instance, recently I decided to try out the all-new Ford Ranger. I thought it would be a good topic for a road test, as a lot of folks have been interested in the return of the smaller Ford pickup, ever since the original was discontinued after the 2011 model year.