The 1960 model year saw a trio of brand-new compact Detroit cars ( the Corvair, Valiant and Falcon) appear to do battle with increasingly popular small imports. Sales were strong, and the Detroit Big Three plus the Kenosha One got busy preparing midsize cars to slide between the compacts and the full- sizers. Ford's entry was the Fairlane, which debuted as a 1962 model. Here's one of those first-generation Fairlanes, found in a self-service boneyard just south of Denver, Colorado.
Chrysler began building cars on the midsize B-Body platform for the 1962 model year, and production continued all the way through the final B-based Cordobas and Magnums in 1979. Today's Junkyard Find is one of the earliest Dodge B-Bodies: a 1963 Polara spotted in a Silicon Valley self-service yard last fall.
It's still no sweat to find Malaise Era Cadillacs in the big California self-service car graveyards these days, but the sleek and powerful Cads of the mid-to-late-1960s don't show up in such places so often. That makes this 1967 Cadillac Calais Coupe, found in a yard just up I-880 from the Tesla Factory last month, a very special Junkyard Find.
It’s time for more Abandoned History, where the topic is Edsel and the year is 1960. It was to be the final outing of the Ranger, and the last year of Edsel as an entity. The Ranger had an interesting journey over its short three-year tenure and served as Edsel’s entry-level car in 1958, its mid-level sedan in 1959, and finally as its only sedan offering for 1960. Each of those years saw different styling appear on the Ranger, as Ford tried desperately to save the Edsel brand after its disastrous debut outing in 1958. Even though the Ranger was new in 1958 and heavily revised in 1959, it was all-new in 1960.
When it came time to replace the dated (but very popular) Austin 1100 and 1300 models, British Leyland had many different and conflicting missions in mind. It wanted to turn the Austin brand into an outlet for new, adventurous cars while simultaneously using as many off-the-shelf BL parts as possible. The company also requested a sleek and forward-looking design in the angular early Seventies tradition, but then insisted on making it rounded because of its recent metalwork research for an ill-fated Mini replacement.
We return to our Edsel coverage today during the second model year of the company’s entry-level car, the Ranger. When it debuted amongst the six other Edsel models in 1958 it was the cheapest and the least ornamented of them all. However, it was still more expensive than the nicer Fairlane 500 upon which it was based, and indeed priced similarly to a more upscale Mercury, the Medalist.
Today we embark on the story of the small British car made famous long after its demise by a certain BBC car program. It was ugly, poorly made, and had a nasty reputation while it was still on sale. We're speaking of course about the Austin Allegro. Prepare yourself for the forward-looking new car from British Leyland.
The new Continental Mark III coupe was a smash hit at its debut in 1969. The Thunderbird-based design proved a cost-saving device for the Lincoln-Mercury Division and put the company’s revenue in the black for the first time in a while. After an exceptionally long model year in 1969, regulatory forces, trim edits, and cost-saving measures took place for the model’s second year in 1970. We covered the exterior changes last time, and today slide into bucket seats in our polyester suits.
It was a long, uphill battle to get the Espada into production. Seemingly no designer would deliver on Ferruccio Lamborghini’s desire for a four-seat grand touring coupe. While style was fine, outlandish design was unacceptable. Yet designers disappointed him on the Islero (which was supposed to be a real four-seater) and fought him on what became the Espada.
Marcelo Gandini at Bertone was forced to redesign the Espada more than once to comply with Lamborghini’s wishes, even though its Jaguar Pirana looks stayed intact. Gullwing doors were a favorite feature of Gandini’s, but Ferruccio declared they were ridiculous and impractical for such a car. And while the styling was being settled, there was quite a bit of new engineering taking place for the Espada, too.
Much to the delight of accountants at Ford’s headquarters in Dearborn, the new Thunderbird-based 1969 Lincoln Continental Mark III was an immediate sales success. It was a case of the right product (a personal luxury coupe) at the right time. The Mark III went head-to-head with its rival and closest competition, the Cadillac Eldorado.
And though the Eldorado nameplate had a long history and was better established than the Mark, Lincoln’s offering topped the Cadillac in sales in its first year. Part of that was down to an exceptionally long first model year that padded the figures, but credit also went to the excitement generated by the Mark. Mark III was all new in 1968 (for the ‘69 model year), while the front-drive E-body Eldorado had been on sale since 1967. Though a few updates happened within its debut model year (that ran from March 1968 to December 1969), product vice president Lee Iacocca knew his pet project needed additional updates to keep consumer interest going.
In 1968, Lamborghini launched two new front-engine grand touring coupes at the same time. It was only the second time the company introduced two new models in the same model year. The two cars in question were the restrained and conservative Islero 2+2, and the larger more in-your-face Espada. While we covered Islero’s rapid demise previously in this series, the four-seat Espada had a much more successful life.
It was the realization of a large four-seat coupe from company founder Ferruccio Lamborghini, who’d wished for a car of said type since the company’s inception. The short-lived Islero turned into a last-of-moment for Lamborghini, as its sales flop proved the company with the raging bull logo was better served by more exciting, outlandish designs.
We covered Espada's styling in our previous entry. Penned by Marcelo Gandini at Bertone, the Espada was nearly a Xerox copy of the Jaguar Pirana concept, at 125 percent magnification. But its large size and generous interior space for four caused some new challenges for Lamborghini’s engineers; the road to the production Espada was not a smooth one.
We return to our Abandoned History coverage of Daewoo Motors in the early part of the Sixties. Korea was a newly independent nation still in the process of building its economy after many decades of Japanese occupation. The new Korean government seemingly relied on two tenets in its earliest years: Centralized control and openness to bribes.
Both those factors were at play when the government handed the production of all passenger cars to a single company, Saenara Motors. Via a huge loan and technical assistance from Nissan, Saenara built Korea’s first car, the Saenara (Datsun) Bluebird via knock-down kits assembled in South Korea. But once the government noticed there was too much capital flowing out of the country, they banned Saenara from buying more kits from Japan. The scraps of bankrupt Saenara were picked up by another company, Shinjin.
Ford updated its full-sized cars for 1969, stretching the wheelbase a couple of inches and adding a completely new snout. Production of this generation of big Fords continued through 1978, with well over a half-million sold just for 1969, so these cars were everywhere on American roads well into the 1990s. Here's one of the sportiest models you could buy in that first year, found in a Colorado self-service car graveyard last month.
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