Saturday, September 29, 2012

The 1963 Studebaker Lark Daytona

After years of bumbling, Studebaker -- by then the oldest surviving American marque -- was sinking fast by 1963, and not even sporty cars like the 1963 Studebaker Lark Daytona convertible could save it.

The 1963 Studebaker Lark Daytona didn't change much from its earlier models.

Studebaker was fighting for its life by 1963, but the end was already in sight. Even that year's daring new Avanti sports coupe couldn't save the venerable South Bend company after too many years of misguided management. Though the pert, cleverly conceived 1959 Lark compact provided a hopeful sales upturn, Studebaker began sliding again with the advent of Big Three compacts for 1960. A squarish '61 facelift didn't help. Nor did a more extensive Lark restyle for '62, bolstered by new bucket-seat Daytonas, including a $2679 convertible.

The 1963 Studebaker Lark Daytona had a low-power 169-cubic-inch six as standard.

Prices were little changed for '63. So were the cars, which was the basic problem. Even the sporty Daytonas had an ancient low-power 169-cubic-inch six as standard, though Studebaker's trusty 259 V-8 was available with 180 or 195 horses, and there were 289s with 210, 225, and 240 bhp, the last achieved with "R1" supercharging.

But all this was just gilding on an elderly lily. Three years later, Studebaker finally faced reality and left the car business to the Big Three -- and a growing pool of imports.

Source: Internet

The 1954 Packard Caribbean

When the once-mighty Packard released its 1953 Packard Caribbean, sporty cars weren't attracting many sales in the '50s. However, they sure attracted buyer attention that helped move less interesting stuff. The brainchild of new company president James Nance, the flashy, top-line 1953 Packard Caribbean convertible was part of his effort to restore Packard's pure-luxury image and thus boost sales after years of decline from an over-reliance on medium-price cars.

The 1954 Packard Caribbean was designed for an elite audience, which crippled its sales.

The Caribbean borrowed visual cues from the earlier two-seat Pan American show car, but was a full six-passenger model derived from Packard's standard convertible. That meant the same 122-inch wheelbase as Clippers and lesser Packards, so the Caribbean wasn't as impressive as it could have been, though its 327-cubic-inch straight-eight engine was shared with the longer "senior" models. Designers ladled on fully radiused wheel cutouts, air-scoop hood, jaunty "continental" spare tire, wire wheels, even tiny bright tailfins.

Still, the basic design was two years old, while the price was a towering $5210 -- $1000 more than a ragtop Cadillac 62. That was supposed to give the Caribbean an air of exclusivity, and it did. Only 750 buyers stepped up.

The 1954 Packard Caribbean had plenty of luxury features, with a luxury price tag.

For 1954 the Caribbean added flat-top rear wheel arches (for a longer look) and standard two-tone paint, radio, heater, power seats, and power windows. What's more, its engine was pushed to 359 cid and 212 horsepower -- America's most potent postwar straight eight -- while price was optimistically pushed to $6100. "There is no more glamorous car than the new Packard Caribbean," brochures exclaimed. "The swank continental look will turn all eyes." But the '54 found only 400 buyers as total Packard sales dropped some two-thirds. And even worse was yet to come.

Source: Internet

1957 Oldsmobile Super 88

Oldsmobiles weren't raced much by 1957 and didn't need to be, having become consistently good-selling medium-priced cars known for innovation, as with the 1957 Oldsmobile Super 88. Even so, one Lee Petty and his son Richard drove Olds convertibles on the sands of Daytona and hardtops at other stock-car venues. And if a little heavy in street form, a '57 Olds could still be quite rapid with a new performance option called J-2.

The 1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 didn't look new, but performance was top-notch.

Available for any model at just $83, the J-2 included a trio of two-barrel carburetors, plus higher compression and low-restriction air cleaner to take the 371-cubic-inch "Rocket" V-8 from 277 stock horsepower to 300 -- good for 0-60 mph in under 8 seconds. There was also a racing setup with radical camshaft and heavy-duty internals, but at $385, it was seldom ordered.

The J-2 added spice to an Olds lineup that didn't look new but was. Basic appearance and even wheelbases stayed the course of 1954-56, but bodies were two inches lower and longer, so styling was a bit more rakish. Olds turned 60 in '57 and celebrated by adding models, including a convertible to the base Golden Rocket 88 series to join a Super 88 and Starfire 98. The last sold best despite costing the most ($4217), attracting 8278 orders. Next came the Super ($3447) with 7128 sales, followed by the 88 ($3182) with 6423.

The 1957 Oldsmobile Super 88's styling was quite dated, and wouldn't soon improve.

Any '57 Olds made a fine road car, though switching from 15- to 14-inch tires -- an industry trend that year -- was more for appearance than handling. Yet even a ragtop looked good only until a '57 Chrysler pulled alongside. Olds styling had become dated, and it would only get worse before it got better.

Source: Internet

1951 Rambler Custom Landau

If you remember the old Superman TV series, you may recall Lois Lane driving a Nash Rambler similar to this 1951 Rambler Custom Landau. It was an apt choice for the Daily Planet reporter: easy to park, thrifty with gas and, in 1951, quite affordable at $1933. And that was for the grandly named Custom Landau convertible, distinguished by a cloth roof that furled like the door on a roll-top desk.

The 1951 Rambler Custom Landau also offered the popular hardtop coupe.

The Rambler also looked tubby in the way of period big Nashes, but it was America's first successful compact. Nash president George Mason loved small cars, and he made sure buyers liked Ramblers by insisting on big-Nash features like rattle-free (if rust-prone) unitized construction, Weather Eye heater, and a dull but proven 172-cubic-inch L-head six with 82 horsepower. Early Ramblers even had the same skirted front wheels as big Nashes, which only made for super-size U-turns for Lois when chasing bad guys on the crowded streets of Metropolis.

The 1951 Rambler Custom Landau's engine was nothing fancy, but it got the job done.

Though two-door wagons were the most popular early Ramblers, Mason was quick to add a trendy hardtop coupe for '51. That would have suited Lois too. But then, she couldn't have lowered its top to catch Superman's eye from on high.

The 1951 Rambler Custom Landau was the perfect choice for a style-minded go-getter on a budget.

Source: Internet

Sunday, September 23, 2012

1955 Pontiac Star Chief 2DR HT

Source: Internet