Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from October, 2015

Scene 1, Type 2

SO TAKEN was I with the Sport Suburban of the previous post, I didn't realize until checking my photos that I had also captured a first-generation Volkswagen Type 2 van, or bus.    When I was young, the Type 2 (the Beetle was VW's Type 1 model, of course) was a regular sight. As a cargo hauler that could double as the family car, it offered compelling value to those willing to accept acceleration as slow as a Bavarian boat ride and the general stigma of owning an odd foreign bus-truck thing.
   I remember my father muttering when we would be caught in a line of cars behind one clattering up a hill. It's a wonder that the signs for the passing lanes finally introduced on the Trans-Canada Highway didn't bear an icon of a Volkswagen bus.
The Type 2 came in numerous versions including a pickup, a rusty example of which ran into the back of our 1963 Mercury Meteor at a stop sign. My mother was at the wheel, learning to drive, with my father next to her. I was in the back se…

More smart than sporty, but it IS a Suburban

HERE'S ANOTHER confuser from Chrysler.
   First, the Sport Suburban script on the side of this station wagon could surprise anyone who associates the Suburban name only with Chevrolet trucks. In fact, "suburban" began as a generic description for light commercial vehicles with extra seats and a closed cargo area, and has been applied to models from Studebaker, Nash, DeSoto, Plymouth, Dodge and GMC as well as Chevy (where it's been in continuous use since 1935).
   The Sport part is harder to explain. The Sport Suburban was Plymouth's top-line wagon in 1956, with a newly available 277-cubic-inch V-8 but no particular performance-oriented equipment that I know of, unless you count the "Sportspun Tweed" upholstery with metallic threads.
Though nicely proportioned, it looked less sporty, in fact, than Plymouth's lower-level Custom and Deluxe Suburban two-door wagons.   The final puzzle is the Dodge nose on what is otherwise a Plymouth. Chrysler buffs, h…

Not so fearsome fins

FINS – THEKIND that are attached to sharks – have been sighted in nervous-making numbers this year in places like California, Australia and South Africa.    Fins – the kind that are attached to cars – are always seen in quantity in Cuba, where they induce a much more positive reaction, at least among visitors (the locals just yawn).
   The impressive examples shown here were observed on a 1957 sedan of the exportus plodgis strain, meaning it's a Plymouth-Dodge amalgam built by Chrysler for non-U.S. markets.
   Inspired by the Jet Age, the automotive tailfin craze peaked with the enormous rear protrusions of the 1959 Cadillac (non loquuntur dorsum). But if General Motors won the battle in height, Chrysler led in variety, with designs like the emphatic pillars above, the delicate "floating taillights" of the 1955 Imperial (luxuria rex) and any number of intricate offerings in between.
   Look long enough in Cuba, and you should come across every style of tailfin. And yes, t…