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Sunday, July 25, 2010

1973 Ford Mustang

Captured in chrome, the Mustang expressed the freedom owning a Ford muscle car was intended to bring.

Mustang had morphed from a trim, lithe pony car into a beefy muscle machine for the 1971 selling season. The resulting look made the adrenaline of any red-blooded Canadian surge to dizzying heights. Sales climbed from 5,140 units delivered throughout Canada in 1970 to nearly double that figure as deals were inked for 9,604 fast Fords in the 1971 calendar year.  Things got even more exciting as 10,292 units were sold in 1972. 

With a new body style unveiled only two years ago, there was little to do but sell these hot babies and reap the sweet rewards. Models stood pat for 1973. Just like last year, the consumer could chose among five sweet ‘Stangs. The Hardtop, SportsRoof, Convertible, Grande and the Mach 1 were each individual Mustangs in their own right. No two were meant to be alike. “You’ll see how easy it is to design more luxury, convenience, performance and styling into your Mustang to make it an even greater driving experience. Mustang 1973: still designed to be designed by you.” This season the sales slogan billed Mustang as “The Beautiful Experience." Advertising waxed eloquent for the quintet of Mustangs.  

The ragtop promised “road romance” and bragged that Mustang was the only convertible produced by the Ford Division. This Mustang came with a unique interior that boasted its own deluxe knitted vinyl upholstery, moulded door panels and wood-like inserts splashed throughout the cabin—all designed for “class and flash.”

The 1973 Ford Mustang convertible weighed in at 3,202 pounds and listed for $3,686 f.o.b. Oakville.

The Mustang Sportsroof boasted a “whistling crisp profile.”  The fastback, with its vast expanse of rear glass, resembled its kin with a honeycomb grille and those nifty colour-keyed bumpers made of urethane. All of this sleekness was folded into a package that promised to deliver “control, balance and style.” 

One could get behind the wheel of a 1973 Ford Mustang for as little as $3,135
The sleek hardtop was “popular, practical, roomy and rugged with sport action to spare.”  Here was the Mustang for the purist; the Mustang that offered “the original beautiful driving experience.”  The hardtop promised it had captured the classic styling touches and classic Mustang features “all over again.”  

The 1973 Ford Mustang Mach 1 came with the 302 V-8 as standard equipment. At $3,250, it was the most expensive Mustang in Ford’s stable.

The Mach 1 was “smoothly rambunctious with marvelous road and ride manners.”  The fast Ford boasted special black tape and paint treatment. “The standard NASA-styled hood scoops and colour-keyed dual racing mirrors add sports car flavour for people who love sporty cars.” It came with a Sports Interior option that included a woodtone centre Instrumentation Group made up of a tachometer, a trip odometer, oil pressure, water temperature and an ammeter housed in a special triple pod.

The Grande was Ford's  most formal Mustang filly in 1973.

Finally, there was the elegant Grande. This refined offering was  “a matter of grace, touch and taste.” It promised to be “an exceptional escape from the ordinary: by combining “quiet luxury with a beautiful driving experience.”  

Upscale Lambeth cloth upholstery made the Grande “a carefully dressed sophisticate.”
Standard power under the hood was the same as last year. The modest 250-cubic inch, 1-barrel carb mill moved the Mustang. Once again, the Mach 1 was the lone exception to that rule; the Mighty Mach I started life with the 302 V-8 at no extra cost. The 302 was optional in lesser ‘Stangs and there was a 351 option with 2- or 4-barrel carb setup were also available. In accordance with Ministry of Transport rules, all engines now operated on regular octane gasoline. 

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The horse could be saddled and ridden in any of 26 colours this year. For an even brighter sheen and more glamour than Pamela Anderson, Ivy Glow Metallic, Metallic Blue Glow and Metallic Gold Glow were the hottest colours in the palette--all three were available at extra cost--and strongly emphasized by sales personnel as being the way to go. 

Racy and sleek, the instrument panel of the 1973 Ford Mustang gave an empowering experience to drivers.

There were nearly as many optional accessories for Mustang as there are potholes on the Number One Highway in March. For extra money one could have a centre console, SelectShift Cruise-O-Matic Transmission or a four-speed manual transmission with a Hurst Shifter. The centre console contained an integral electric clock. There was a Convenience Group that included a headlamp reminder buzzer, glove box lock, an automatic seat back release, courtesy lights and a parking brake reminder light. There were lights for the trunk, glove box and under the hood as well as a map light. 

One could order the SelectAire Conditioner, power steering and the five-way adjustable Tilt Steering Wheel. AM Radio, AM/FM Stereo with or without the StereoSonic Tape System. power front disc brakes, power windows, vinyl tops, rear window defroster, body striping, several d├ęcor groups, numerous tire and wheel cover options including Magnum 500 chrome wheels. 

Oakville’s muscle car was alive and well. When the figures were tallied up at year’s end, the Mustang broke records as it racked up 11,175 sales across the country. If the boys in marketing had contacted a psychic they would have been ecstatic to know that sales for Mustang would increase by nearly a third in 1974 but that is a story for another day.

 Copyright James C. Mays 2007. 
All right reserved.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

1955 Chrysler

The 1955 Chrysler New Yorker and Windsor models shared massive “twin-tower” taillights that could be seen for a country kilometre.

Few automobile companies have ever fielded products that were as dramatically different as the entire 1955 Chrysler Corporation’s line. From the lowliest Plymouth to the most majestic Chrysler Custom Imperial, these cars were downright breathtaking. No longer could the Chrysler’s vehicles be thought of as conservative or dowdy in styling. Touted as “The Forward Look” in the States, the term was downplayed considerably here at home. Regardless of the jingles and names, Canadians flocked to dealerships to see all of the glittering jewels in the Chrysler crown on November 22nd, 1955. There were three Chrysler beauties to ogle: the Windsor, the New Yorker and the Custom Imperial.

The low bucks Chrysler Windsor series boasted this tasteful convertible in 1955. It weighed in at a hefty 3,915 pounds and listed for $3,672. Like an ugly windchill factored into the temperature, taxes, dealer preparation charges and delivery were all tacked onto the base price.

After a 40-day layoff at the end of the 1954 model year run that included ten days of holiday time and plant setup, production of the 1955s got under way in Windsor, Ontario on October 11, 1954. A total of 5,175 Chryslers were built during the model year run that ended on August 10. All but the convertibles and station wagons were built in Canada. Prices ranged from $2,150.50 to $2,582.00.

The Chrysler Custom Imperial was not listed as a separate make in Canada as it was in the US. The ultra posh luxury liner was portrayed in the Canadian Chrysler line folder right after the Windsors and New Yorkers. Built in the Jefferson Avenue plant in Detroit, the imported flagship cost a cool $5,123 for the four-door sedan and $5,495 for the Newport two-door hardtop coupe.

The distinctively elegant face of the 1955 Chrysler Custom Imperial impressed all.

The most distinguished Chrysler of all was readily identifiable from its lesser kin. It boasted a large eggcrate grille, parking lights and turn signals wrapped in chrome and partially tunneled into the front bumper. Then there were the love ‘em or hate ‘em gunsight taillights mounted high atop the rear fenders. Chrysler bragged that they were “unique and daringly different.” Fred Hudson, the rookie stylist who dreamt them up, told this author in an interview that he still hates them to this day.

The 1955 Chrysler Imperial Newport hardtop coupe cost $5,495 and weighed in at 4,490 pounds.

Promising that it was “as carefully crafted as a fine watch, as beautifully designed as an expensive gown, the Imperial is a car apart.” The mood of its interiors is one of “richness, comfort and relaxation. The leather, the highly textured fabrics and discrete chrome trim certainly gave it a well-deserved air of refinement. Imperial’s classic proportions and exquisite appointments promised to “proclaim your discriminating taste.”

 In all its glory, the 1955 version of Chrysler’s famed hemi was likened to the custom-built engines in the world’s fastest racing cars.
Standard for the Chrysler Custom Imperial was the 331-cubic inch, 250-horsepower FirePower V-8 engine with its hemispherical combustion chamber. The mill was mated to the two-speed PowerFlite automatic transmission. Power brakes and power steering were included in the base price. Extra cost equipment included the heater, Airtemp air conditioning, electric window lifts, four-way power seats, a signal-seeking radio and white sidewall tires.

 The 1955 Chrysler New Yorker Deluxe Estate Wagon tipped the scales at 4,430 pounds and listed for $4,709.94 for the two-seat version.
Downstream from the Imperial was moored a quartet of Chrysler New Yorker DeLuxe models, comprised of a distinguished and superbly streamlined four-door sedan, a hardtop coupe, an estate wagon and a convertible. The New Yorkers shared the same engine and transmission as the Custom Imperial.
The face of the 1955 Chrysler New Yorker. The Newport hardtop coupe sold for $3,772.
 New Yorkers differed from Imperial by featuring a smaller, split eggcrate grille underscored with a massive chrome bar that held turn signals and parking lights in chrome end pods. New Yorkers carried 33-centimetre (one-foot) tall “twin-tower” taillights that rose upward from the fenders’ crests. The fin-like assemblies were meant to “emphasize the feeling of motion in the car’s design.”

The New Yorker’s interior could be upholstered in a choice of sturdy woolens, patterned nylons or new milled broadcloths, each accented with pliant leathers or vinyls. No matter what fresh and vibrant combination was selected, they all promised to deliver “a symphony of colour, texture and sparkle.”

 Close-up of the 1955 Chrysler instrument panel. Note the gearshift lever’s unusual position.
 To accompany the tasteful new wraparound windshield that gave the driver a commanding view of the road and opened broader vistas for safer driving, stylists added a deeply- recessed, leather crowned instrument panel that curved around into the door panels.

The face of the 1955 Chrysler Windsor. The least expensive Chrysler was the four-door sedan, listing for $2,907.50.

 For folks ready to move up from mid-priced DeSoto to join the prestigious Chrysler family, there was the modestly appointed Windsor DeLuxe. In this entry-priced series one found a four-door sedan, the convertible, the Newport two-door hardtop and the estate wagon. Windsor owners were promised a truly big car, broad and solid, strikingly graceful—all designed to make travelling an adventure.

 Interiors of the modestly appointed 1955 Chrysler Windsors were finished in “miracle” fabrics.

Windsor shared a grille with the New Yorker but the heavy chrome bar beneath the grille was deleted in favour of a simple chrome lip. Round parking lights and turn signals were housed in the fender, directly blow the headlights. Its interior was appointed with “miracle” fabrics. Beneath the hood was the 301-cubic inch Spitfire engine.

Extra cost items for the Windsor included heavy duty springs and shock absorbers,, electric window lifts, Full-Time Coaxial Power Steering, power brakes, Solex glass, the four-way electric seat adjuster, an exterior moulding package, the cowl vent heater, a cigar lighter for the rear compartment of the four-door sedan, four- or six-ply white sidewall tubeless tires, oversized tires, six-ply blackwall tubeless tires or tires with tubes.

The union and Chrysler reopened negotiations on December 1, 1954 after a Concilliation Board recommended that workers not receive a pay hike. The union had asked for a raise, retroactive to June 17. On the 15th, the union countered with a demand for a $50 Christmas bonus.

In mid-1955, a $41 million, 800,000-square foot factory expansion at the Windsor plant was completed. Now, a half mile long, the facility was capable of producing 600 automobiles a day. Final touches on the new $21 million V-8 engine plant were being made and would be put into production for the 1956 models.

Late in the selling season, the Chrysler 300C was unveiled. The fastest production car on earth, it was mightily impressive on road and track.

Chrysler did very well for its 1955 model year. Production rose sharply to 5,175 units compared to only 3,685 units built in 1954. Still, it had a ways to go to catch up to the competition. Workers at GM in Oshawa built 23,762 Buicks and in Oakville, workers at Ford built 8,567 Mercury passenger cars. Definitely up to the challenge, 1956 would be even better for Chrysler Canada and a banner year for the Chrysler Division in particular.

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Copyright James C. Mays 2005
All rights reserved