Following World War II most car manufacturers met the growing demand for civilian automobile production by resurrecting their pre-war 1942 designs with a bit of a restyle and a few mechanical upgrades. At Chrysler, their Plymouth line was a solid car that offered buyers real value and the warmed-over models met with buyers approval.
In 1950, Plymouth would undergo a mild styling update that included new peaked rear fenders, added stainless steel trim and a simpler grille. Equipped with a 230 cubic inch L-Head six cylinder engine and 3-speed manual transmission, it was no powerhouse, but fuel economy was decent.
One of the value-leaders in Plymouth's line-up was the P-19 Deluxe 2-door Business Coupe. Riding on a 111-inch wheelbase the coupe was a versatile vehicle. There was room for three passengers on the bench seat and room behind for suitcases or small sample cases. The abbreviated passenger compartment allowed room for a huge rear trunk compartment. It was just the vehicle for a salesman on the road or a light service technician and Plymouth produced 16,861 P-19 coupes in 1950.
For Darrell Bracken of Headingley, his 1950 Plymouth Deluxe Business Coupe has been with him most of his life. In 1975 at the age of 16 Bracken's high school buddy told him of a car for sale in Rosser, Manitoba, just west of Winnipeg, The Plymouth was basically being used on a rural farm as a field car and with a solid body and only some slight floor pan corrosion, Bracken purchased …
In the late 1960s, a simmering cauldron of performance vehicles was available. The youth market was exploding, and all of the manufacturers were promoting their latest idea of a go-fast machine to a generation that embraced speed.
Mid-size muscle car and pony-car advertising was everywhere, and prospective buyers were inundated with performance specifications and optional-equipment lists. American Motors Corp., whose focus had always been to build cars for the average buyer, finally joined the trend in 1968 with the sporty Javelin.
The two-seat AMX performance car followed, with the model designation standing for "American Motors Experimental". It was the first two-seat, American-built, steel-bodied, sports model built since the '55-'57 Ford Thunderbird.
The AMX was the kid brother to the Javelin, built on a 97-inch wheelbase that was 12 inches shorter. But when it came to performance, the lighter AMX was far more nimble than its big brother, with much-improved handling.
The 1968 and '69 models were visually identical but, for 1970, AMC rolled out a moderately face-lifted AMX with some interesting options and performance features. Two inches longer in overall length and about an inch lower in stance, the AMX had a horizontally divided crosshatch-patterned grille, with rally-style park lamps. The re-styled hood had a large and functional Ram-Air induction scoop that funnelled cold air to the engine.
For many, the '70 model encapsulates the best that AMC had to offer in a performance vehicle. And today, and with only 4,116 produced, it's the rarest and most difficult to find.
Gabriel and Linda Dorge's quest for …
By mid-1960, the Ford Motor Company had ceased production of the mid-priced Edsel, downsized the Mercury, brought out a new Lincoln and introduced the new Ford Falcon and Mercury Comet compact line.
Ford's aim was to build cars that fit the times and buyers tastes, and the intermediate Fairlane fit the bill when it arrived in 1962. A familiar name from the '50s, the new model was a great fit between the compact Falcon and full-size Galaxie.
Available with both six-cylinder and V8 power, the Fairlane was lightweight economical to operate for growing North American families. It was also a model on enthusiasts' radar for drag racing -- Ford even produced a limited number of 427 V8-powered Fairlane 500 models in 1964 that went on to win many National Hot Rod Association titles.
To the masses, the Fairlane was only available with the small-block 289-cubic-inch V8 until 1966 when it was redesigned to accept the 390 and 390 high-performance V8 engines. Ford still went on to supply 427 V8-powered Fairlanes to drag-racing teams, and a few savvy buyers could find the right codes on the order sheet to get one for the street as well.
Today, the mid-size 390 V8 Fairlane is quite collectable. While finding a 427 V8-equipped example would be like winning the lottery, building a clone or tribute car is a viable option to finding these rarities.
A few years ago, Scott Payton of Winnipeg had his eye on a '67 Fairlane in Minnesota. Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, the car was a …
By the early 1950s, the automotive sales race was screaming along at a fever pitch.
Both Ford and Chevrolet had over-produced and forced dealers to take additional inventory. That left some relations strained, but the consumer came out the winner, often buying at cost.
Banner sales at Ford and Chevrolet left Chyrsler and its divisions in a sales slump. At Plymouth, the mildly face-lifted 1952 models were basically carry-overs from 1953, but there were a few mechanical upgrades that included a new 110-horsepower six-cylinder engine and PowerFlite two-speed automatic transmission.
The low-price Plaza Suburban two-door wagon actually posted sales of 35,937 units, surpassing the higher-priced Belvedere by nearly 27,000 units. At $2,044 it was affordable, and its economical performance -- even with a utilitarian style and bare-bones amenities -- gave young families just what they needed.
A Plymouth Plaza wagon wasn't even on Paul Roy's radar until a trip to Lockport, MB in 2010 turned up a 1954-vintage 331-cubic-inch Fire-Power Hemi V8 from a Chrysler New Yorker sedan.
"The sight of that motor sitting on the garage floor sparked my interest," said Roy, who had previously restored vintage wooden boats and a couple of Chevy pick-ups.
Roy began looking for a likely candidate to receive the vintage Hemi V8 and, a few months later, found a 1954 Plymouth Plaza Suburban station wagon for sale in Winkler. The two-door Plaza wagon had a few great things going for it -- it had minimal rust issues and was the same year of manufacture as the Hemi engine. It …
Where do you find a classic or collectable automobile for sale? Thanks to the Internet, today you can surf the planet from your home. Also, just about everyone knows someone who knows someone that knows about some vehicle sitting in a field just out of town. The problem is, unless you know how to tow it home, strip it down, weld, patch, paint and undertake the rest of the full restoration deal, you have only found a lengthy project that will cost tens of thousand dollars to complete. If you're not restoration savvy and want something you can drive today, the only way to do that is to buy a vehicle that is already restored.
One often overlooked route is to talk to the many local car dealers in and around Winnipeg. At first it may seem strange, but the dealers may have or possibly know where a few of these vehicles are and they can help put you in the driver's seat. They are, after all, in the business of selling cars.
While checking out the new for 2014 Mitsubishi Endeavour at Waverley Mitsubishi a couple of weeks back I found a 1971 Ford Mustang Mach I parked prominently in their showroom.
President and general manger at Waverley, Rino Attardo, walked me through the story of how the restored Mach I was a commissioned project but the deal hadn't worked out as planned, so the car was traded in on another vehicle at Waverley Mitsubishi. Given Attardo's eye for a great …
The new, mid-50s Mercury was a styling sensation, and the 1956 model continued to be a winner in both sales and performance. Offered in three lines -- Custom, Monterey or top-of-the-line Montclair -- it fit almost everyone's mid-sized price range.
In an effort to get even more buyers into a Mercury, a mid-year model surfaced as the Mercury Medalist. The Medalist was a stripped-down version that had less stainless-steel trim and came without bumperettes, shaving the price by about $100. It brought Mercury better than 46,000 additional customers in 1956.
Today, the Mercury is a highly popular car to be lowered and customized. And at the Fabulous 50's Ford Club of Manitoba's 19th Annual Flashback Weekend show, held a few weeks ago at Garden City Shopping Centre, a prime example of an old-school custom Mercury hit the lot when Dave Wasylyshen from Claresholm, Alta., made his second trek to Winnipeg with his '56 Mercury Medalist Phaeton hardtop.
A unique model, the Phaeton had several styling cues not found on the other models. A dropped door belt moulding, stylized rear door, blade-shaped end-plate and longer side glass gave the car a lowered roofline and longer overall look.
Wasylyshen spotted the car, built in 2008 by Bob Drapeau of Post Falls, Idaho, at a show in Spokane, Wash., and he and Drapeau became good friends.
"I had always wanted a Merc like that, but didn't think I could ever afford one until Bob offered it for sale in 2012 at a good price," Wasylyshen said.
The car is …
She's real fine my 409, my 4...0...9.
The line comes from the Beach Boys song 409, released in '62 and letting everyone know about Chevy's newest high-performance powerplant.
Introduced in October 1957 as a 348-cubic-inch engine intended for Chevy trucks, it had the low-end torque needed for pulling heavy loads. But by the late '50s General Motors realized the additional cubic inches and torque from the 348 was also needed to pull the weight of the ever-growing full-size Chevrolet.
The 348 responded well to increases in compression and carburetion to the point that it kept Chevrolet competitive in the market. But in late 1961 an increase in bore and stroke to yield 409 cubic inches really got the ball rolling. Again, increases in compression and a move to dual four-barrel carburetors yielded 425 horsepower at 6,000 r.p.m., making the Chevy a viable street machine and successful weekend racer.
By 1964 there was a new player in town called the mid-sized LeMans GTO, which had less weight and almost as much performance potential. The full-sized cars were losing some of their performance image. But, hook a full-size Impala Super Sport up with the 425 horsepower 409 V8 and fading quietly into the woodwork wasn't an option.
There were 8,684 Chevrolets built in 1964 with the 409 V8, so finding one today can be a bit of a challenge. But since less than 10 per cent of them found their way into the Impala Super Sport convertible, finding a needle in a haystack starts to look like …
The Ford Motor Company introduced the new Ford Thunderbird to the public at the Detroit Auto Show on Feb. 20, 1954.
Development on the car started after the Ford Division's General Manager, Lewis Crusoe, returned from the Paris Motor Show in 1951. Ford wanted a sporty car and hired Franklin Q. Hershey to head the division's styling section. After young designer William P. "Bill" Boyer was hired, the project gathered steam.
The car was originally set to compete with the MG-TD roadster at $2,500 and the Jaguar XK-120 in the $4,000 range, starting at around the $3,000 mark.
Market research had shown most sports-car buyers loved the snappy acceleration and handling, along with the status their cars generated, but most didn't take part in any form of competition driving. The research also showed owners would move up to a more comfortable car with options to make it more driveable in everyday situations. So Ford geared the Thunderbird more along the lines of a personal car offering the sports-car feel, with reasonable driver and passenger comfort.
The two-seat baby Thunderbirds captured the excitement of the 1950s, and the 1957 model was not only the most refined, but also the last of the breed as Ford moved to a four-passenger configuration in 1958.
The '57 Thunderbird acquired by John and Suzanne Courcelles in 2010 was a great find.
"My six cousins have old cars, and that got me thinking at the time about getting one for ourselves," John said. "So I began looking at a '55 Chevy, until …
When we think of car clubs today, we think of well-orchestrated parking-lot shows featuring bright and shiny cars and awards along with T-shirt sales and prize draws.
Look back 50 years to the 1960s, and things were very different. Car clubs were more in tune with owners who were working on their vehicles. Getting the cars built and on the road was one of the main reasons for a car club, and the slant was on creating a street rod, custom or drag car. Based on the same values as clubs from the late 1940s and '50s, car clubs offered not only camaraderie among members, but also expertise on how to properly build a car.
In Winnipeg, the Timers Rod & Custom Club was formed around 1962 with a dozen members. The club was founded with the idea of getting together and building cars under one roof, sharing information and tools and putting safe and well-built vehicles on the road and track. The club also had a policy of no street-racing -- if you got a ticket on the road, your behaviour was frowned upon and taken as a blight against the club as well as the individual.
The rules were simple: Show up for the weekly Sunday-afternoon meetings and pay your two dollars in dues. Meetings were held at a clubhouse called the old barn, located at Route 90 and Inkster Boulevard. If you wanted to rent a stall to work on your car there, you paid a six-dollar monthly rental that …
The first-generation Firebird was officially released in February, 1967 as Pontiac's answer to the Ford Mustang and newly introduced Mercury Cougar.
The Firebird, along with the Chevrolet Camaro, would be completely restyled in 1970, offering more room and better handling. In 1979, it received a mild restyle that featured blacked-out taillamps and tunneled quad rectangular headlamps.
Still based on the same platform that appeared in 1970 and with its horsepower steadily in decline, TV series like The Rockford Files and movies like Smokey And The Bandit continued to pump up the Firebird's performance persona.
That hot-car image meant a lot to Pontiac, but it was a struggle to keep it alive in an age of strangling emissions regulations and corporate average fuel-economy standards. The Firebird was in need of some genuine performance perks.
For 1980, appearance changes were minimal, but Pontiac pushed the envelope on engine choices. The Oldsmobile 403-cubic-inch V8 offered in the Trans Am was replaced by the Chevrolet 305-cubic-inch 4-barrel V8 or 301 4-barrel engine. Other models were available with a base 3.8-litre V6 or optional 4.3-litre V8.
In the Trans Am and Formula models, a further option was the 4.9L (301-cu.-in.) 4-barrel Turbo V8. Rated at 210 horsepower at 4,000 rpm and delivering 345 lbs./ft. of torque at 2,000 rpm, it provided an additional 55 horsepower and 110 lbs./ft. of torque over the non-turbo 4.9-litre. The Turbo not only added power equivalent to the larger V8s, but with lower emissions and the promise of improved fuel economy.
Another item carried over from …