Thursday, December 13, 2018

1971 Dodge Challengers - one spotted in the wild!

There are some popular collector cars from the 60s and 70s that you see all the time on the street. Ford Mustangs and most Chevy models for example. Then are some you never see. Recently I saw this unrestored Dodge Challenger in rush hour traffic in Seattle. I couldn't tell you the last time I saw one anywhere but at a car show. I think most of them were driven into the ground when new, and the their build quality wasn't great in the first place. So most survivors are fully restored, like the car pictured below.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner hardtop convertible

The Ford Motor Company struggled in the early postwar years, but by the mid-1950s it was conducting business in a way that might politely be described as "overconfident".

Now this might be hard to believe, but in the 1955 Ford was still a privately-held firm, with the Ford family itself owning 25.5%. Ford also owned its own iron mines and steel plants and made every part in house, with the exception of tires. Ford went public in early 1956, and the success of its initial public offering, which raised $660 million (about $6.5 billion in today's dollars), seems to have gone to its head. Specifically:

* In the fall of 1957, Ford launched the Edsel program, often considered the biggest product launch failure of all time. By the late-1959 cancellation of the project, Ford had lost $350 million. And one wonders how they managed to lose that much, given that:
(1) Ford promised that the Edsel would be a whole new kind of car, when really it was just a Ford or Mercury with a new skin.
(2) Ford did no studies on whether the Edsel could be profitable.
(3) Ford never test-marketed the vehicle and proceeded under the assumption that buyers would like it when it hit the showroom (they didn't).
(4) Incredibly, Ford didn't dedicate any assembly lines to the early Edsels, so they were built on the same lines as Fords and Mercurys, causing confusion as workers attempted to switch back and forth being parts bins and assembly routines, resulting in cars of poor quality.

* In 1956 Ford created a Continental division to sell its new super-premium Continental Mark II, a car which cost $10,000, or close to $100,000 today. One has to wonder what the point was, given that even at that price, Ford lost $1,000 on every Continental Mark II.

* Last but not least, we have the car pictured. The 1957 model was one of the most successful Ford products of all time, outselling Chevrolet and making Ford the number one seller for the first time in many years. But take a look at the Skyliner hardtop convertible, another short-lived project into which Ford sank a lot of money. From Wikipedia:

"The Skyliner top has seven reversible electric motors, four lift jacks, a series of relays, ten limit switches, ten solenoids, four locking mechanisms for the roof and two locking mechanisms for the trunk lid, and a total of 610 ft (185.9 m) of wiring."

Potential buyers asked the obvious questions: What happens when one of those electric motors rusts? Or one of the ten solenoids wears out? How long can this car last? And Ford had anticipated these questions. So guess what? They completely over-engineered the whole system so as to guarantee long-term reliability resulting in, again, a car on which Ford lost money on every copy.

Monday, December 3, 2018

1932 Ford Deluxe Model B pickup truck

I've seen this truck on the street and from the sound of its engine, it's definitely all original. That's all the more remarkable given that the 1932 Ford is the most popular vehicle of all time for building hot rods.