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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

1931 Ford Model A

The 1931 Ford Tudor Sedan weighed in at 1 116 kilos (2,462 pounds) and rode a 2 616-millimetre (103-inch) wheelbase. It promised to give “unusual riding comfort.”

After months of open speculation by the press as to what the Model T’s replacement might be, Ford’s long awaited Model A was finally unveiled throughout the Dominion on December 2, 1927. Eager to be part of automotive history, tens of thousands of Canadians lined up in the cold and snow at dealerships to be among the first to catch a glimpse of Henry’s latest creation.
1928 Ford Model A Tudor Sedan. 

This Ford carried beautiful lines and was as modern as a Marcel hair wave, to boot. It boasted such up-to-date technology as Houdaille shock absorbers. Rustless steel was used for the radiator shell, headlamps and exterior trim. Electric windshield wipers, a Bendix starter, four-wheel mechanical brakes, safety glass in the windshield (an industry first) and even bumpers were thrown in to the base price.

Under the hood loafed a 3.3-litre (205-cubic inch), four-cylinder engine that generated 40 horsepower. Its pistons were made of aluminum. The planetary transmission used in the Model T was replaced with a conventional three-speed manual shifter. The peppy little car could hit 40 kilometres (25 miles) per hour in eight seconds. No slouch on the roads, the Model A was capable of zipping along the nation’s highways and byways at speeds of up to 105 kilometres (65 miles) per hour.

Built in Ford City, Ontario, the Mayor of nearby Windsor, was a big Ford booster. His Worship, Cecil Jackson, bought the first Ford sold in the Border Cities. He told the press proudly, “I’ve been driving a Ford ever since they started manufacturing them.” The Windsor Police Department took delivery of a hefty order, too.

Sales were brisk. The total of Model A Fords sold throughout the Dominion during 1928 reached 32,960 units. Added to that total was sales of another 230 passenger cars imported from the United States. 

The 1929 Ford Town Car was seen in the most fashionable residential districts of Canada.

In 1929 that sales figure reached 41,399 units. Then the stock market crashed. Sales for 1930 reflected the downward turn in the economy as domestic sales dipped to 36,306 units delivered.

Though there was very little change from last year, for 1931 there were no fewer than 13 models to choose from. The sales theme was “Value Far Above the Price.” The Roadster was described as being “smart” and “alert” and “as capable as it looks. It sold for the rock bottom price of $515. There was a Tudor Sedan, Fordor Sedan, a Coupe, a Sport Coupe, and a Phaeton. New this year was a Convertible Cabriolet. Models could be had in base form or for a few extra bucks one could upgrade to the Deluxe trim version of some models that appeared mid-season to help sagging sales.

Arriving midseason, the 1931 Ford Town Sedan was a luxurious value at $750. Bodies were by custom coach houses Murray or Briggs.

The stylish Town Sedan arrived partway through the selling season. It had bodies built by Murray or Briggs, both well-known custom coach houses. The luxurious automobile was carefully depicted in lush, upper class settings to appeal to consumers who wanted something a little better than basic transportation. Upholstered in Mohair or Bedford Cord or optional cost genuine shark-grain leather, it offered a folding armrest in the centre of the back seat as well as rear side arm rests. The window mouldings were finished in wood. The Town Sedan was easy to spot; it sported the latest styling rage, a raked windshield. It was the most expensive Ford offered that year with a list price of $750.

The 1931 Ford Phaeton was another example of superior Ford value with low, fleet lines. The ragtop tipped the scales at 1 003 kilos (2,212 pounds).

The watchword to the consumer was the improved economy one could obtain by buying a Ford. Salesmen were taught to emphasize the low purchase price, the low cost of operation and the minimal upkeep. The simplicity of the design, the high quality of the materials used and the accuracy in manufacturing and assembly were all strong selling points. These cars were fairly trouble free according to owner surveys and that certainly helped to sway consumers to part with their dollars in the dark days of 1931.

Unsolicited testimonials didn’t hurt, either. One satisfied customer wrote, “I purchased a Model A Ford Coupe on May 8, 1928, and at this writing have run it 75,888 miles (122 129 kilometres). After I had driven 44,400 miles (70811 kilometres), I spent $45 in repairs and at 61,000 miles (98 169 kilometres) had an additional amount of work done costing $25. I have never had the brakes relined. My tire mileage has averaged more than 18,000 miles (28,968 kilometres).” His words were high praise, indeed. Oh, the Ford fan who wrote the letter was a travelling salesman.

On March 24, 1931 workers at Plant Two finished the one-millionth vehicle to be built since the factory in Ford City began assembling its own engines back in 1913. It was a momentous occasion. Wallace R. Campbell, President of Ford Canada, and G. E. Dickert, Vice-President and mechanical chief of the plant were on hand for the event.

All the hoop-la didn’t do much for sales. It turned out to be a tough year for Ford. Handwritten records on green graph paper show that a total of Ford 15,565 passenger cars were sold throughout the Dominion. That figure was down by more than half from the 36,301 units sold in 1930. The same firm hand details that 5,030 domestically built trucks and 33 Step ‘N Drive vans imported from the US were sold, as well. Tractor sales plunged from 1,013 units sold in 1930 to only 126 as the Depression hit farmers extremely hard. 

As the Great Depression deepened, sales of Lincolns across Canada dropped to only 20 deliveries in 1930. 

Sales of Lincolns reached 16 units, down by only four units as 20 were delivered in1930. Another 9,206 Ford passenger cars were exported to other parts of the British Empire, including115 Fords shipped to the Dominion of Newfoundland.

In 1930 the British Empire was home to more than 500,000,000 people, one-fourth of the world's population.

The net loss reported to stockholders was $1,384,757.29. That final figure included $939,186.53 absorbed by Ford Canada’s wholly-owned subsidiary in Australia when the economy collapsed down under and Canberra froze the movement of money out of the country.

New for 1931 was the Ford Convertible Cabriolet. It was equipped with a rumble seat at no extra cost.

Still, the folks who held stock in the Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited could smile just a wee bit as they received dividends of $1.20 a share and an extra 30-cent bonus. The company was still sitting on plenty of cash reserves even though there was no light at the end of the tunnel to signify the end of the sales slump, at least not yet. It’s a good thing that the boys in Windsor didn’t have access to a crystal ball. Domestic sales would slide even further downhill in 1932 and 1933.

Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!

Copyright James C. Mays 2005
All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

1966 Pontiac

The 1966 Pontiac Grand Parisienne Sport Sedan weighed in at 1 791 kilos (3,950 pounds) and listed for $3,789 f.o.b. Oshawa, Ontario  before taxes.

Canadians had made Pontiac the number one darling of the driveway since 1962 as its full-sized offerings outsold stable mate Chevrolet. Even though the two vehicles shared the same chassis and drivetrain, Pontiac was perceived as the value-laden buy. The 1965 model year sales was particularly good, it saw the freshly designed, full-sized Pontiac pull ahead of Chev by more than 9,000 units.

For the 1966 selling season, Pontiac was back with slightly revamped offerings. This year consumers could buy the Grand Parisienne, Parisienne, Laurentian and Strato-Chief models as well as quartet of Safari wagons. A handful of Tempest and LeMans models were imported from the US. To round out the dealers’ offerings there were Beaumonts, Acadians and Envoys, the first two homegrown and the latter  a badge-engineered Vauxhall imported from General Motors' subsidiary in the UK.
1966 Pontiac Grand Parisienne Sport Coupe.

            A new Grand Parisienne topped the line and was offered as a Sport Coupe or a Sport Sedan, both hardtops. Billed as bringing excitement to the luxury-performance segment of the market, they promised to be an “excitingly swift means of going places.” These B-pillarless beauties were kissed with the 4.6-litre (283-cubic inch), two-barrel Strato-Flash V-8, generating a very respectable 195 horsepower.

The pair was dressed to the nines with a distinctive grille and rear deck of its own, along with unique roofline styling. It was further distinguished from lesser Pontiacs with sleek rear fender skirts and its own wheel covers. Inside, passengers were spoiled with Strato-bucket seats in the Sport Coupe and a full-width Strato-bench seat in the Sedan. Seats were upholstered in a luxurious Palais Cloth and vinyl in two-tone combos that included Black, Turquoise, Red, Gunmetal, Plum or Parchment. 

 Instrument panel of the 1966 Pontiac was easy on the eyes. A trio of gauges was canted toward the driver.

A woodgrain appliqué dressed up the instrument panel and the centre console. The Grand Parisienne was decked out with thoughtful additions including a passenger assist bar, padding on the instrument panel and sun visors. The model was given two-speed electric windshield wipers, a left-hand outside rearview mirror, backup lamps and seatbelts all around.

1966 Pontiac Parisienne convertible and four-door Safari wagon.

            The Parisienne family consisted of five models. Though it might not be king of the hill anymore, it was still a very popular seller. Advertising called Parisienne “the magnificent one.” Here, one found the convertible, a Sport Coupe and Sport Sedan, a four-door sedan and a four-door, Safari wagon available in two- or three-seat configurations.
The base mill in the 1966 Pontiac was the 4-litre Astro-Six 250. Like Rambler engines, it boasted a longer life because of its seven main bearings.

The base power plant was the Astro-Six, 155-horsepower six-cylinder engine but one could order any one of a string of Strato-Flash V-8 engines with 275, 325, 390 or 425 horses at the ready. All delivered power through a fully synchromesh three-speed standard transmission. Optional shifting included a new four-speed synchromesh standard or Powerglide. For the 325 and the 390 engines, Hydra-Matic might tempt “the performance buff who prefers an automatic transmission.”
Those who ordered the 1966 Grand Parisienne were treated to the Strato-Flash 283 engine as standard equipment. It promised to deliver good gas mileage and good getaway on highways, too.

            Parisiennes were delivered with their own unique trim and badges, dressy chrome around the wheel wells and on the body. Interiors were colour-keyed Prestige cloth and vinyl. Choices were Dark Blue, Medium Fawn, Black, Dark Turquoise and Plum in the Sport Sedan and Sport Coupe. The convertible's interior was upholstered in all vinyl interiors: Dark Blue, Medium Fawn, Black, Dark Turquoise or Plum. 
1966 Pontiac Laurentian two-door sedan.

Nice touches included Deep-Twist carpeting, an electric clock, padding for the instrument panel and sun visors and seat belts as standard equipment. One could add extra pizzazz by ordering a Sport Option package for the convertible or the Sport Coupe. Included in this deal were the Strato bucket seats, all-vinyl trim, a centre console, glamour wheel covers and special Custom Sport badges.

The 1966 Pontiac Laurentian four-door sedan sold for $3,1115 and the two-seat Laurentian Safari wagon carried a list price of $3,525.

            Laurentian was more modestly appointed though it promised to bring “beauty, luxury and bold performance in the year’s biggest value package.”  One could have a two-door or four-door sedan, a four-door, two-seat or three-seat Safari wagon. Interiors were finished in colour-coordinated Rochelle cloth and vinyl as well as carpeting in Medium Turquoise, Medium Fawn, Medium Blue or Medium Red. Seat belts came in corresponding colours.

   The lowest priced Pontiacs for 1966 were the Strato-Chiefs. The two-door sedan could be had for $2,931 and the Safari wagon for only $3,405.

            “The low price Pontiac with the dollar saving knack” was found with the purchase of a Strato-Chief, of which there were three: a two-door sedan, a four-door sedan and a two-seat Safari wagon. Interiors were finished in Ranier cloth in a choice of Medium Fawn, Medium Blue or Medium Red. Even at this low price, a heater and defroster unit was included in the base price as were carpeted floor mats.
1966 Pontiac Laurentian Safari.

            Wagons came in all trim levels but each was 5 539.7 millimetres (218.1 inches) long and boasted a vast  2.66 cubic metres (94.1 cubic feet) of “load-toting capacity.” Pontiac sales staff pitched the big land yachts as dual-duty carry-alls. Seats were all vinyl in Safari wagons.

            Magic Mirror exterior finishes were offered in colours including Provincial White, Regal Red, Cypress Green, Marina Blue Metallic, Cameo Beige, Aztec Bronze Metallic, Lemonwood yellow, Sandalwood Tan Metallic, Mist Blue, Madiera Maroon, Royal Mist, Artesian Turquoise Metallic and Tuxedo Black.

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            There were plenty of options for dressing up one’s Pontiac including power steering, power brakes, power windows, the Flexomatic six-way front seat, many heavy-duty items, whitewall tires, a tachometer, a seven-position tilt steering wheel, Positraction rear axle, an AM-FM All-Transistor push-button radio, Four Seasons Climate-Control Air Conditioning Unit for V-8 models, Shade-Lite tinted glass, bucket seats and a centre console. Police departments and taxi operators could order special packages for their needs.

            Pontiac finished the calendar year with 82,825 sales. That put it in second place behind full-sized Chev sales, whose figures added up to 88,338 units. Either way the boys in Oshawa could break out the bubbly, GM was going great guns.

Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!

Copyright James C. Mays 2005
All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

1961 Vauxhall

The 1961 Vauxhall Velox was popular with Canadians. Weighing in at 1 296 kilos (2,858 pounds), GM's six-cylinder econo-champ sold for $2,517, f.o.b. Oshawa.

Since 1948 Vauxhall had been GM Canada’s captive import, sourced from the United Kingdom. The British-built passenger car took on the task of satisfying consumers in the domestic market who wanted a car European in look and more economical to operate than the large, North-American automobiles. Like Wolfe the dauntless hero, Vauxhall had planted firm Brittania’s flag on Canada’s fair domain, carving out a very nice niche for itself. Consumers bought them because they had confidence in the seemingly endless resources of General Motors of Canada, Limited.

The 1961 Vauxhall Cresta was the most expensive car from GM’s British subsidiary. It sold for $2,603 f.o.b. Oshawa.
For the 1961 selling season, Vauxhall fielded a trio of models across the Dominion through GM’s Pontiac-Buick dealers. The upscale Cresta shared its body with the Velox. The two vehicles blanketed the luxury and economy six-cylinder segments of the compact market in Canada. The smaller, four-cylinder Vauxhall Victor did battle with other imports on behalf of GM Canada. All were clad in unitized construction, like Rambler.

1961 Vauxhall Victor.

Cresta had been Vauxhall’s flagship since the Wyvern name had been retired at the end of the 1956 selling season. The 1961 Cresta and Velox had shared the same body shell since 1957. Now in its fifth and final year on this body style, consumers were familiar with its lines. The original styling, inspired by Vauxhall designer David Jones, was classic in nature and each year’s tiny updates were progressively attractive. This year, the wrap-around rear window was particularly noteworthy.

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Advertising bragged, “Vauxhall Velox and Cresta open up a new world of luxury driving! From handsome new radiator grille to new wraparound rear window—a distinctive new silhouette appears on the Canadian road. Fashionable smooth-line roof adds to the clean, classic simplicity of these new models, new side trim and fresh, fashionable two-tone colours to satisfy the most discriminating taste.”

“There are important changes inside the car, too:--new thermostatically controlled heater and defroster; upholstery in distinctive new colours; greater seating comfort and more leg room for passengers.”

Cresta was said to “combine the mechanical excellence of the Velox with a distinguished line of luxury features. These special refinements and extra comforts will bring you pleasure and value far beyond their modest cost.”
 The luxurious Cresta came with five fancy two-tone exterior paint jobs in addition to the eight colours also found on Velox. The combinations were Maroon over Silver Grey, Coronado Yellow over Regency Cream, Kewanee Green over Silver Grey, Royal Blue over Silver Grey and Black over Silvery Grey.

 Cresta was further distinguished from Velox with tarnish-proof stainless steel trim on the door pillars and side windows. Other niceties included an automatic windshield washer, padded sun visors, white wall tires, a full-circle horn ring, door-mounted courtesy switches that operated the ceiling light, an electric clock and cigarette lighter, pile carpeting throughout, Nylon-Elastofab upholstery with or without genuine leather trim, special door trim, a private key lock for the glove box, an interior light for the luggage compartment, gold-tone Cresta name plates and stainless steel, full-width wheel discs.
Trunk space in the 1961 senior Vauxhalls was enormous. Yes, those are fins—British style.

A Vauxhall Cresta four-door sedan started at $2,683 f.o.b. Oshawa. The nimble British car fit neatly into GM Canada’s overall compact lineup. That year the Buick Special listed for $3,411, the Oldsmobile F-85 carried a price tag of $3,144 and the Pontiac Tempest could be had for $2,858. Cresta cost only a few dollars more than the stripped Chevrolet Corvair four-door sedan at $2,448.

Chrysler Canada dealers offered its "designed in Paris" captive import Simca Vedette for $2,650.

The Cresta stacked up well against the competition. A Valiant De-Luxe sedan four-door sedan listed for $2,770 and a Studebaker Lark V-8 Regal could be had for $2,687.

More economy minded than the Cresta was the value-laden Velox. “The eager Velox is powered to match its distinguished appearance. Whether it’s needling through city traffic or cruising on the open road, the husky six-cylinder engine responds willingly, smoothly. And thanks to Velox high gear flexibility—you save on gas, too.”
The 1961 Vauxhall Velox carried less chrome and brightwork than Cresta.

The less flashy stable mate sold for $2,517. Blackwall tires, less trim and fewer standard features made it attractive as a six-cylinder value purchase for many. Velox was available in eight solid colours:  Maroon, Silver Grey, Royal Blue, Banff Blue, Kewanee Green, Regency Cream, Coronado Yellow and Black. Interior fabric choices could be had in five colours--if Vynide was chosen--or a trio of hues in the less expensive Rayon-Tygan fabric.
 The 1961 Vauxhall Cresta and Velox shared a 2.3-litre six-cylinder engine.

Both Cresta and Velox shared the 2.3-litre (138 cubic-inch), 82-horsepower, six-cylinder engine. The mill had proven itself well since its 1952 introduction. A three-speed, manual synchromesh transmission was standard equipment.

Vauxhall delivered the goods for GM Canada in 1961. From St. John’s to Victoria, Canadians purchased 3,017 Cresta and Velox models that year. The smaller and popular Victor added another 11,328 units to the bottom line. Vauxhall was the Number Two best-selling import in the country.

Only West Germany’s Volkswagen sold more cars than Vauxhall in Canada in the import category.

Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!

Copyright James C. Mays 2007
All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

1954 Nash

The luxurious 1954 Nash Ambassador Country Club hardtop promised “all the fun of a convertible in a weather-snug cabin.”

 Nash Motors of Canada, Limited was organized in 1939 as the sales and service arm of Nash-Kelvinator. The new Canadian headquarters was located in Windsor, Ontario, just a stone's throw away from the company's world headquarters in Motor City but on the south side of the Detroit River. Prior to 1939, regional distributors had handled importation and sales throughout the Dominion.
1946 Nash Ambassador Suburban featured generous wood trim.

After World War Two, Ottawa announced it would shut out automobile manufacturers who didn’t assemble cars in this country. Nash, understanding the importance of doing business in Canada and the British Empire, invested $1.4 million in 1946 on a mothballed Ford plant in Toronto. Located at the corner of The Danforth and Victoria Park Road, the property was situated at the extreme eastern end of the city, at the end of the Luttrell Loop tramline. Beyond the factory's windows, there were only fields and farms.

1950 Nash Canadian Statesman

            Unstable international currency fluctuations prevented Nash from opening up shop until April of 1950. When the plant did open there was plenty of hoop-la; the Canadian Statesman was the first model built. A total of 1,150 units rolled merrily out the factory doors during the very short model year. 

The 1951 Nash cars began to scoot off the lines in September of 1950 and the company was most pleased with the total of 3,808 units built during that model year. Nash marked its Golden Jubilee in 1952 but the domestic production story gave no reason to celebrate. The conflict in Korea and a prolonged steel strike held production of the divine fiftieth-anniversary cars to a disappointing 1,612 units for the model year.

1952 marked Nash Motors' Golden Anniversary.

            In June of 1952, company officials announced that the trendy Nash Canadian Rambler compact would be added to the 1953 production schedule. Once again, startup was delayed because of the police action in Korea. It was only in December that cars started to trickle down the assembly lines.

1953 Nash Rambler was pleasantly restyled.
The first Nash Canadian Rambler was completed on March 10, 1953. The stylish, upscale compact sold for $2,460. With war behind them and materiel restrictions relaxed, a total of 3,038 Nash cars was chalked up for the 1953 model year. Of that number--863--or nearly one fourth of the vehicles assembled were the compact Canadian Ramblers. A survey revealed that the Nash Rambler was most often the second car in a majority of consumers' stable--the other ride being the prestigious Cadillac. Workers turned out a total of 3,778 Nash cars for the calendar year.

            Production of the 1954 models got underway on October 2, 1953. Mercifully, the conflict in Korea had ended in a United Nations-brokered truce but materiel--particularly steel--was still in frustratingly short supply. Labour unrest was another problem. Completed cars sat waiting for parts as simple as door handles. Once again the line's launch was delayed. This time, there wasn’t a sufficient supply of automobiles to ship to dealers until December.

The 1954 Nash Rambler Club Sedan could be ordered with air conditioning.

Frantic dealers, desperate to stay solvent, finally introduced the 1954 Nash line on December 4. As promised, the two-door Nash Canadian Rambler Club Sedan had been added to the lineup.  Parliament unexpectedly tightened credit regulations to curb inflation. Unfortunately, the correction translated into an overabundance of unsaleable cars. The Nash plant was closed on December 9 in an attempt to correct  the inventory imbalance. The doors stayed closed for forty-one long days.

Instrument panel stressed beauty and safety, two longtime hallmarks of Nash.

        It was virtually impossible to sell cars in the inhospitable credit climate but dealers for every manufacturer bravely  flogged cars  a best  they could while execs lobbied in Ottawa to change the rules before the auto industry was destroyed.

Nash advertising billed its product line as “the cars with a ‘double life time’ and ‘Your safest investment today…your soundest re-sale value tomorrow.’” The snazzy Pinin Farina styling and comfort were highlighted in Canadian advertising while technical and engineering features such as the advanced unit-body construction were minimized, although Nash did brag that Airflyte Construction had proved its superiority in 45 billion miles (72,420,480,000 kilometres) of road testing by owners in the past thirteen years.

            Salesmen were instructed to tell customers that Nash was the way to “enjoy a whole new way of life on wheels.” Interiors were not merely designed, they were now appointed by no less of a goddess than THE Madame Hélène Rothier, famed Parisian interior decorator. 

The vast, foam-cushioned Airliner seats turned the car's interior into “your own private sleeping car” and driving amounted to “easy-chair motoring.” If that wasn't strong enough to get the message across,  a “luxurious limousine ride” was promised.  Nash could proudly boast the largest windshield and rear window in the industry.  The cavernous trunk could "hold an outboard motor" and when it didn’t, it promised to “swallow up” huge amounts of luggage.
The 1954 Nash Ambassador Custom offered thrift in a full-sized car. 

            The Ambassador Custom was modestly appointed, yet it came with the continental tire mount as standard equipment along with an electric clock, a map light, turn signals, chrome wheel covers and a safety-inspired vinyl-covered rubber crash pad crowned the instrument panel. The luxurious, top-of-the-line Nash Custom Country Club hardtop featured a “specially tailored interior” but one could upgrade that to a most opulent cabin upholstered in genuine leather and fine needlepoint . The 130-horsepower,  six-cylinder Super Jetfire engine was standard equipment.

The LeMans Dual Jetfire engine was highly respected on European race tracks.

            Nash owners could decorate their already luxurious Ambassadors with the mighty, race-proven 170-horsepower LeMans Dual Jetfire engine, power steering, power brakes, electric Power-Life windows, the Weather Eye Conditioned Air System, the Airline reclining seats and Twin Travel Beds, the Dual-Range Hydra-Matic transmission or Automatic Overdrive, the Duo-Coustic radio that offered concert-quality listening clarity, white sidewall tires, seductive retro-look wire wheel covers, Solex tinted glass and  a stunning chrome hood ornament designed by George Petty. Mattresses and slip-on insect screens were available at a “small extra cost.” Air conditioning became a new option in the spring of '54.

Thrifty owners saved Metric tonnes of money when travelling as seats lay flat to become Twin Travel Beds in roadside Nash Hiltons.

            The lesser-priced domestically-built Canadian Statesman four-door sedan and its imported Statesman two-door sibling were a wee but more modest with their 110-horsepower Dual Powerflyte engine. Custom models were nearly as well equipped as the Ambassadors, right down to the elegant Continental tire mount. The options list was almost as long as that of Ambassador, too.

1954 Nash Rambler four-door sedan. It tipped the scales at 1 195 kilos (2,630 pounds). 

            More big news in the Rambler family was the promise of  assembly of the four-door sedan on the stretched 2 743-millimetre (108-inch) wheelbase. The Canadian Rambler Custom Sedan was equipped with the famed Weather Eye heater, a radio, a custom steering wheel, turn signals, electric clock and full wheel covers, all calculated into the base price. The Rambler was powered with the tried-and-true Flying Scot, 90-horsepower engine, first introduced in 1941. The less expensive Super models still came with a heater and radio as standard equipment. The options list was as long as the bigger Nash cars. Airliner seats that turned into beds were an extra-cost option on Ramblers.

The Nash Rambler instrument panel was classy and functional.
The factory finally re-opened on February 8th and all 334 employees returned to work. Sales were stimulated Canada-wide as the Nash shaved anywhere from $34 to $235 off the prices of all Ramblers and Statesman models on February 10th. The plant hummed happily until March 11th when a ferocious blizzard shut down all of southern Ontario. The long-awaited  four-door Rambler sedan was added to the mix the day after the storm. It was sold as the Nash Canadian Rambler Super.

1954 Nash Metropolitan bowed to the Canadian public on March 19th.

The sensational subcompact Metropolitan, imported from the UK, bowed on March 19th, brought unprecedented foot traffic into Nash dealerships. The initial order for the Canadian market was only 172 of the little cuties. Dealers promptly sold out of Mets. They were back ordered until a second, eagerly awaited shipment finally arrived on June 21st.  The bite-sized Metropolitan was as cute as it was tiny. The captive import came dressed to the nines with leather-trimmed, smartly-styled nylon upholstery, a radio, heater and turn signals as standard equipment. With its 42-horsepower, four-cylinder engine, it promised to deliver up to 72 kilometres (45 miles) to 4.5-litres (one Imperial gallon) of gasoline. 
The 1954 Nash-Healey coupe was designed by Pinin Farina.

If Nash wasn’t generating enough excitement with its innovative product line, the company merged with Hudson on May 1, bringing 251 Hudson dealers into the new combined family. American Motors Canada Limited was the largest merger the business world had ever seen. Hudson promptly shut down its operations in Tilbury, Ontario in August and moved into the Nash plant during the Civic Holiday weekend. A new national sales office opened on The Queensway in Toronto.

On June 21st, output in the Nash plant was cut from twelve to six cars a day in a bid to keep employees working. Holiday time and annual model year changeover closed the plant on July 26th. It did not open again until December and then, only 64 of the 1955 models were built before year’s end. 

Surprisingly, the 1954 Nash cars enjoyed their highest market penetration in New Brunswick. Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. Always marching to the beat of a different drummer, folks in the Atlantic Provinces were far and away the most fertile ground for Nash products.

Domestic production for Nash in 1954 consisted of 1,400 Statesman four-door sedans, 326 Canadian Rambler Club (two-door) sedans and 395 Rambler four-door sedans. The model year ended on August 6, 1954--finishing with a disappointing 2,321 units.

Canadian Automotive Trade reported sales of 2,383 Nash cars during the calendar year. New car registrations showed 2,370 new Nash passenger cars were plated during the calendar year. That figure did not include sales or registrations of Nash cars to federal, provincial or municipal governments, however.

Nash might be at the bottom of the domestic assembly barrel but not for long. The only way was up and Nash was about to make the most phenomenal rise ever witnessed in domestic automotive history.

Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!

Copyright James C. Mays 2007
All rights reserved.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

1965 Dodge

 The Dodge Monaco hardtop's base price was $$3,446 and $3,588 when equipped with the optional 5.2-litre (318-cubic inch) V-8 engine. A total of 2,068 of the posh Dodge flagships were built during the 1965 model year.

Long popular with Canadians, Dodge entered its 51st year with a fresh-from-the-ground-up model line. The Windsor-based Dodge Division of Chrysler Canada fielded thirteen full-sized beauties, in four series for 1965, every one of them just itching to knock the socks off the competition.

An open letter to prospective purchasers promised that the newest Dodge was “a lot more car for your money.” The folks in marketing weren’t kidding. “Dodge has a longer wheelbase then ever before.” Now, it was stretched to unprecedented 3 073 millimetres (121 inches) in length. Inviting people to come and look, the letter read, “It has a wider tread between the rear and front wheels: over five feet (1 524 millimetres). It has hundreds of extra pounds of solid strength. Dodge is big.” In an era when compact cars were king Dodge boldly proclaimed, “thrift comes in a big new size.”

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The envelope was a massive, squarish unitized body punctuated with deep full-length creases at mid-body and the upper door line. The overall look was lean and uncluttered. Quad headlights were imbedded horizontally in an attractive ribbed pattern grille that took on a barbell look. Trapezoidal taillights were the end song of a long, rectangular rear deck cove, called the “Delta.”  Bumpers, fore and aft, were appropriately angular.

 Dodge power ranged from the miserly 145-horsepower Slant-Six engine all the way up to the vast and fast Maximum Performance V-8 with 325 thundering horses.

Every car in the Dodge line carried the economical Slant-Six engine as standard equipment. This year, the mill was rated at 145 horsepower @ 4000 RPM. The extra-cost 5.2-litre (318-cubic inch) V-8 with its dual carbs was rated at 230 horsepower @ 4400 RPM. Also available was the Dodge High Performance V-8 with 325 horses and a four-barrel carb set up. Finally, there was the Maximum Performance 6.7-litre (413-cubic inch) V-8 with a 360 horsepower rating @ 4800 RPM. These engines were all mated to a three-speed Easy-Shift manual transmission, though a four-speed manual shift was also available to harness all that power when either of the two larger V-8 mills was ordered. For the shiftless, there was the optional Torqueflite automatic transmission, floor or column mounted.
 The 1965 Dodge Polara 880 Convertible weighed in at 1 5680 kilos (3,705 pounds) and carried a list price of $3,585. Workers in Windsor produced 8,116 cars in the 880 series during the model year.

Leading the Dodge pack for 1965 was the magnificent new Monaco. Appealing to the “man who likes the pride that goes with owning a rare car,” a convertible and a hardtop were the exclusive offerings. Dubbed the “rare pare,” Monaco was Dodge at its “most luxurious” and “its breathtaking best.” While the thrifty slant-six mill was standard equipment one was encouraged to upgrade to “318 cubic inches (5.2 litres) of V-8 silk.” The big engine was fast enough that, “You can turn fence posts into a white blur with a nudge of the accelerator.”  “His” and “hers” bucket seats, finished in glove-soft, grained vinyl and a smart centre console were part of the elegant Monaco package, too.
The centre console offered with the Monaco included an electric clock. The three-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission is featured here.

There was initial confusion about how to pronounce the word Monaco. Was the accent to go on the first or second syllable? An informative press release was issued that that putting the accent on the first syllable was the preferred way to pronounce the name. Regardless, Monaco was hyped as being ‘red hot.” Advertising purred, “Turn it on. Let her out—and it goes by anything on the road.”  The wordsmiths waxed on. “You move. You feel the ‘G’s’ pressing you into the seat. You reach 60 mph (100 kph), and a mere seven seconds have passed.”
The cavernous 1965 Dodge Polara 440 wagon boasted  3.2  square metres (10.5 square feet) more cargo space than last year. The price was $3,555 for the six-passenger version and $3,680 for the nine-passenger model, when equipped with the Slant-Six engine.

There was no confusion about how to Pronounce Polara. The Polara 880 family was made up of a two- and four-door hardtop, a convertible and a four-door sedan. Nicely priced, the 880s were trimmed inside with any one of four pastel nylon and rich vinyl interiors that co-ordinated with colour keyed deep pile carpeting. Outside, the body was given upper frame and centre pillar mouldings on the sedan; plenty of brightwork on the body and a textured appliqué was applied to the rear deck cove between the tail lamps.

Taking up just as much parking space but more modestly priced was the Polara 440 series. A two-door hardtop and a four-door sedan were joined by six- and nine-passenger station wagons. Even at this low price six passengers got the Dodge Velvet Ride; those on board were cradled in a carpeted and custom styled cabin so large that nary a gown was crinkled nor a collar crimped.

The 330 four-door sedan was the least expensive full-sized Dodge offered in the 1965 lineup with a starting price of $2,887.
Billed as the “next best thing to money in your pocket,” the lowest priced Dodge 330 didn’t even get the Polara name. It was offered as a four-door sedan, a six-passenger and nine-passenger wagon. Gone were the carpets, replaced with rubber matting. The upholstery was a highly durable Jacquard fabric with silver metallic threads offered in one of three colours. Rear arm rests disappeared but there were still two sun visors and dual horns. The practical 300 was positioned in the price range of many of the “jazzed up compacts” but staked its reputation on being bigger, roomier and more powerful.
The instrument panel gave the driver a warm, wonderful welcome with dials and controls front and centre for easy operation. New Glare-free night illumination eliminated the “hunt-and-peck distress” of nighttime driving.

Taylor Field in Regina was just about the right size for holding all the possible options available for this year’s Dodge. A few of the add-ons included the Adjustable Tilt-Type Steering Wheel, the Three-Spoke Steering Wheel (standard on Monaco), a black or white vinyl roof for the Monaco and Polara 880 hardtops, Auto-Pilot, bucket seats, power steering, power brakes, padded dash, front and rear bumper guards, tinted windshield, variable speed windshield wipers and washers, rear window defogger for sedans and coupes, numerous mirrors, radios with or without push buttons in AM or AM-FM and stereo form, an electric clock for the more modestly priced models, the Sure-Grip differential, trunk and glove box lights, backup lights, a parking brake indicator lamp, spinners to dress up the wheel covers and many more comfort and appearance options that the Dodge dealer would be only too pleased to add for one’s driving pleasure.
 Even the lowly Dodge 300 was nicely finished with embossing on the vinyl upholstery. Seat belts were optional equipment in 1965. Production of the 330 series reached 10,306 units during the model year.

It would be an excellent year for the Dodge Division. Production rose significantly to 36,237 units for the model year. Part of that increase was due to the new AutoPact agreement that permitted trans-shipment of vehicles without duty or tax between Canada and the United States. AutoPact or not, the domestic sales story was a happy one. Dodge jumped from seventh position in the sales race to pass Volkswagen, knock Rambler out of the fifth spot and raise the Dodge banner.

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Copyright James C. Mays 2005
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