Saturday, December 30, 2017

1972 AMC Javelin - Cool Kids

Let's face it, AMC's were always misfits. The bumbling dork in the back of class who was a spastic at sports, was socially awkward, couldn't fend for themself if their life depended on it and the worst was they weren't even very bright. But the 1971-1974 AMC Javelin was that woe-begotten sop's inexplicably cool sibling who somehow, someway, was able to figure most things out and was asked from time to time to sit at the "cool kid" table at lunch. They may even have gotten a wink or two from a cheerleader.
Note, we didn't say the Javelin's predecessor, the two passenger, hack sawed off 1968-1970 Hornet  Javelin got any gazes from senior class celebrities despite significant success in Trans-Am racing. Nope, at that cool kids lunch table of yore, the only thing that mattered was if you were cool; you ran the risk of being ostracized if you could actually do anything better than anyone else. That all changed for 1971 when the homely little Javelin got several injections of collagen and steroids and looked like it could do what it had been able to do before but sadly couldn't any more. Being cool never meant you actually were.
Welcome to the "cool kids" table, kid where you'll quickly find out that we really can't do anything but "be cool". And now that you're actually "cool looking" and can't perform like you used to because all that flashy new sheet metal is heavy and your engines have been emasculated just like ours have been you'll fit right in. You'll also find out that we're no better than you and suffer from all the insecurity and doubts that you do. Disillusioned much?
The Javelin was AMC's attempt to change it's prosaic, practical, boring and dowdy image and appeal to coming of age baby boomers who gravitated towards sporty "pony cars" like the Ford Mustang. The original two passenger Javelin didn't break any ground technologically and highly modified Javelins achieved considerable success in Trans-Am racing. Mattered little, though. Sales were middling at best and the whole notion of "win on Sunday, win on Monday" notion was a half assed in the first place. That may have been true for us car wonks but for the rest of the world? Who cared? Anyway, in a narrow market already dominated by Ford, GM and to some degree Chrysler, there was little room for another pony car  and from AMC of all places. Updated for 1971 with the bulging sheet metal and a vestigial rear seat like our Big Red '72  here, Javelin became more conventional in appearance and function and "fit in" better but it still sold just as poorly.
AMC manufactured the Javelin through the 1974 model year and they went back to their literal roots replacing it with a car atypical of what they'd long been famous for, the Pacer.  Sorry, you can take the pocket protector out of the man but you can't take the man out of the pocket protector. Perhaps the Javelin was uncool all along - just like all the cool kids were.

Friday, December 29, 2017

1964 Chevrolet Impala - Swagger

Like many, we're not fans of the current Chevrolet Impala because we find it, appliance like and frankly, ugly. We'll stop short though of saying that it's not worthy of the vaunted "Impala" nameplate because put up against any Impala that's come before it, it'll suck its doors off. However, for us at least, automobiles are more than highly efficient rolling dishwashers; they're tangible, physical, emotionally expressive extensions of either who we are or what we want the world to see us as. At the end of the day, though, cars are conveyances but as they've become increasingly perfect in their function, most today lack the purity of spirit that they once had - especially cars at he lower end of the price spectrum. Today, let's look at this 1964 Chevrolet Impala SS, in our humble opinion, the last Chevrolet Impala that embodied everything that pundits believe "Impala" stood for and that threw caution, common sense and practicality to the wind.

Before Ralph Nadar, before the IIHS, before the EPA, OPEC and insurance surcharges, styling was just about the only thing The Big Three were concerned about. Speaking of which, the reason why General Motors dominated the market like they did years ago was because, in general, their designs were better looking than anything from Ford or Chrysler. AMC had the 1971-1974 Javelin but aside from that they had nothing. Ford and Chrysler would, on occasion, have a desirable design or two, but by and large, GM's designs were far superior. Might sound like pure opinion, which in part it is, but based on sales, it's true. For certain, it wasn't because a Chevrolet Impala was a better car than a Ford Galaxie or Plymouth Fury but it was, again, as subjective as it may be, better looking. And while our '64 here pales in comparison to our beloved '61 bubble top, it's far and away more appealing to us than whatever derivatively styled bomb Ford or Chrysler was shilling at the time.
GM's big cars though were far from perfect. The 1961 Chevrolet's rode on top of General Motor's infamous X-frame that allowed designers to place the body of the car lower than ever on the frame. In an age of "longer, lower, wider", nothing bespoke of that quite like a GM "X"; many of the 1957-1964 X-frame GM cars are some of the most desirable of post War GM designs. Problem was, there were no frame rails outboard of the center of the frame. Despite the X frame being noticeably stiffer against twisting than any other contemporary frame, due to the center spine acting as a torque box, there was little to protect passengers from side impacts. As much as we hate to be construed as any harbinger of practicality but at the end of the day even the best looking of cars needs to be as safe as it can be. They also were never known as being the sveltest of handling vehicles either.
GM's design swagger carried over to the interior as well. The handsome, almost contemporary looking vinyl clad buckets and console available only on Impala's in "SS" guise. Chevrolet brochures bragged about how clearly laid out the instrument panel was adding that everything was in "easy reach". Seat belts, which automobile manufacturers were required to make at least available on automobiles starting in 1964, were standard on SS models, optional on other Impala models. By January 1, 1968 all vehicles sold in the United States were required to have seat belts for all sitting positions. Getting people to use them, of course, was something else entirely.
Begs the question then as to when did automobiles first start to become appliance like? We could argue that they've always been that to a certain degree given what they are, ultimately. However,  American cars in particular really didn't start to become the perfect but soulless appliances they are today until the late 1970's. What with increasingly stringent governmental regulations, downsizing and competition from perfectly engineered albeit appliance like cars and trucks from Japan, what they've become today was inevitable. We just wish somebody would combine the design ethos of the old days with the engineering nof today's cars.

2006 Chevrolet Tahoe Hood Latch - Mechanics Don't Make House Calls

I flooded our snow blower the other morning so as I waited for it "unflood", I wanted to do some poking around under the hood of our Tahoe to see if I could figure out what's what with our EGR system that's causing the check engine line to be on. When I pulled the lever to open the hood it wouldn't open at first. I pulled the lever harder and eventually it popped open but then it wouldn't latch closed. Blame this artic cold front that is pummeling a large part of the country, rust, age or what have you, but the bottom line is the latch was stuck in the open position and we had a vehicle that was dangerous to drive. Faced with only two options, mechanics, like doctors, don't make house calls, I could either call AAA for a tow and pay the subsequent gouging to have a shop fix it or, figure out how to fix yet another problem with one of our old vehicles myself. Not much to think about there.

Researching while panicking and swearing compound swear words to myself not being one of my super powers, I got to work as soon as my panic died down. I found that while there is some information on the Internet regarding replacing hood latches and even how to videos on what to do if your hood release breaks with your hood down, there's little information out there on what to do specifically for a 2006 Tahoe with a hood latch stuck open. I found this very helpful video about replacing a hood latch on a similar Chevrolet Silverado but it didn't have any information on how to diagnose what the problem was in the first place. As always with everything, determining what's wrong is the hardest part.

My greatest concern was that I stretched out the hood latch cable; what fun that would be to replace but how would I know if I did or not? Armed with a phlegmatic can of old WD-40, a hammer and a flat blade or "regular" screw driver, I sprayed and prayed as I hammered and pryed away at the darn thing. Nothing doing. Would not budge. Let's start over by starting with another latch.

I called the junkyard I use for parts but they had nothing. Advance Auto Parts would have nothing in until next week and at $79, Autozone would have something in the next day for $72, my online parts place had it for $32 but I'd have to wait 3-5 days or pay almost as much as the part costs to have it overnighted. Meanwhile the Chevy dealer in town would have one the next morning for $68. Not bad and how often is the dealership less expensive and more convenient than the local auto parts stores or Internet outlets? Not often and don't count on it happening again. Best was that when I went to the dealership to get the part they told me since I was a GM card holder that I had a $100 credit with them. I paid for the latch and also bought a really cool Chevy hoodie. Merry Christmas to me.

Putting the latch on was easier than I expected. Twenty, maybe thirty minutes into the project and I had the new latch ready to go. Closed the hood down onto the new latch and it locked down nice and tight. On first test of the new latch the hood popped open but wouldn't you know it, it was stuck in the open position. Turns out it was the cable all along. So, the one time I start with the easier fix, it was the tougher fix that needs to be done.

Always. Something.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

2006 Chevrolet Tahoe ABS Hubs-Torque Wrench Throwing Mad

I had suspected all along that it was the ABS hubs that were causing the strange, intermittent "whiiir" like sound from in front of the driver's side dash on our 2006 Chevrolet Tahoe but I didn't know for sure. The fact that it didn't happen all the time, there was no signal or warning on the dash save for a "TRACTION ACTIVE" message that would some times, but not always, scroll on the bottom of the dash when it occurred, a dearth of information on the Internet about such things and diagnostic fees ranging from $100 to $150 at various shops in our area had us living with the problem since it really wasn't interfering with the way our Tahoe drove. Unlike on my 2002 Monte Carlo that had an "ABS" warning light telling me something was wrong, I had no way to really know what was making the sound.

Eventually, though, the sound got so bad that it was occurring just about every time we moved away from a stop. What's more, sometimes at intersections the brakes would be stuck on and we couldn't move. By chance, one day I hit the traction control button on the dash board turning the system off and it stopped not only the brakes from locking up but it got rid of the "whiiir" sound. Having changed the passenger side ABS hub on my Monte Carlo a while back, I knew that unplugging the system was quite simple so I did that as well on the driver's side ABS hub on the Tahoe and that too got rid of the sound and the locking brakes. I did the driver's side since the sound was coming from the driver's side. Just like turning the system off, though, that also meant the ABS and traction control system was turned off. The good news, though, was that I had pinpointed the problem to a problem with the ABS and traction control systems. Incidentally they're both different uses of the same system. After deducing that it was the ABS hubs I then proceeded to make a series of frustrating, time consuming mistakes.

First mistake I made was instead of replacing the wiring harness from the ABS pump to the driver's side ABS hub, like I had done with great success on my Monte Carlo a while back, I replaced the entire hub. Much to my chagrin the "whiiir" was still there.

Next mistake I made was that the next time the Tahoe needed an oil change I sprang for a diagnostic. An expense but at least a "pro" could tell me what was going on. Much to my surprise they said it was a bad driver's side ABS hub. Really? Wow. Ok, so I replaced the hub with a new one and I also replaced the wiring harness on the driver's side just to be sure. Keep in mind that it takes me more than two hours, gathering tools to putting them away, to do this swap. Time. Suck.

There were no words to tell you how upset I was when the "whiiir" sound and locking brakes were back and as bad as ever. What compounded my frustration was that the chain shop told me it was the driver's side hub that was bad. The hell, right?
It took me several weeks to cool off and muster the energy and resolve to replace the driver's side hub again but also the passenger side hub and pig tail. Again, at least two hours a side. I did the driver's side first, not sure why, and, god damn it to hell, the "whiiir" sound was still there. Torque wrench throwing pissed off mad, I then did the passenger side hub and pig tail have got to be fucking kidding me, there was no more "whiiir" sound. And the locking up brakes were gone as well. Hallelujah.

Thing that probably upset me the most, aside from the fact that I now believe it was just a bad harness on the passenger side, was that the shop told me that it was a bad driver's side hub. It would easy to come to that conclusion on a test drive because the "whiiir" sound came from the driver's side but the fact is, that "whiiir" sound was the ABS pump itself going off after getting an erroneous signal to do so. The ABS pump is, yes, you guessed it, in front of the driver's side dash. Did they even put our Tahoe on their vaunted "scan tool"? I have to think they did not. They just heard the "whiiir" and came to the same conclusion that I did. Thanks, guys.

The bottom line is, and I've made this mistake before, try the easy, easier or simpler fixes first when working on a car or truck. Had I replaced the passenger side wiring harness or pigtail, chances are I would have saved my sell hours of back breaking work not to mention not have spent as much money as I did. Good news is our Tahoe has two brand new front ABS hubs and wiring harnesses. With regards to that shop, well, they're the same people who gouged me for diagnostics recently on the Monte so this is another reason not to go there any more.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

1970 Plymouth Barracuda - Yeah. That's a Chicken.

We've seen some pretty remarkable things over the last year and half or so but this broken hulk for sale on Craigslist out on "The Thumb" with an asking price of $13,900 might just take the cake. That said, this is a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda, without doubt one of the coolest cars ever made and just might top our list of cars we'd want in our "Jay Leno" garage. Despite the fact they ride and handle like horse drawn carriages. Fast horse drawn carriages but horse drawn carriages nonetheless.

The value of "pony" and "muscle" cars have skyrocketed over the last twenty years but it's hard to fathom why and how "rolling chassis" like our 'Cuda here can command such exorbitant asking prices too. Then again, you can't fault someone for thinking they're sitting on a gold mine but with an asking price that high it would seem what they'd come down to would still be too high. Yes. The floor under the driver's seat is all rotted out. 

The reason for the sky's the limit asking prices for cars like this is simple; these cars were the "dream cars" of "Baby Boomers" who were just coming of age in the early 1970's. Despite being their "dream cars" they never sold very well back then. The market for these cars, which wasn't that big to begin with was flooded too; Dodge even sold a version of this car clogging the market even more. These cars also got dinged for being too big and heavy and contemporary road test comparisons had them finishing behind the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird. Therefore, their relative scarcity, desirability and a robust economy has driven their value over the moon. Even the value, apparently, of basket cases like this.
With millenials, particularly the younger ones in general, not giving a damn about cars, it will be interesting to see if these cars can continue to appreciate or even maintain their value. Seeing how allergic they are to driving vehicles that don't have Bluetooth, I can't imagine they'd take too kindly to something like this in even good shape. Again, even in brand new condition, the cheapest of cross overs these days rides, handles and sometimes accelerates better than these cars. The ad claims the 383 V-8 and 727 transmission come with the car. No idea why they're out of the car so you're going to have to figure out how to get everything home. Or to the shop. Look, no power brakes and what would appear to be no air conditioning either. Bluetooth?  
We figure you could easily drop forty grand or more on restoring this thing and sorry, friend, that's just not time and money well spent. Not with a number of these out there in fantastic shape that you could just write a check for and have had someone else already have done the work and paid the price. And, yeah. That's a chicken.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

1998 Oldsmobile Aurora - Time To Update Our Facebook Status

We're amazed by people who are so addicted to the endorphin rush that comes from social media engagement that they can't help themselves but push out minute details about everything in their lives. Good, bad and in particular, the tragic. Doesn't matter what it is, like a junkie, they need their fix. Grandma, Aunt what's-her-name or the family dog's body is still warm and they're posting emotionally drenched, tear jerking posts about the gates of heaven opening and how he, she or they have slipped the surly bonds of earth. We feel somewhat obliged to engage so we hit the sad face emoji and move on muttering under our breath, "the hell is wrong with these people"? Seriously, you have to wonder that if something so devastating happened in their life, god forbid, that made them thumb sucking, bottle of Jack in hand fetal, would they be updating their Facebook status? We think not and that's why we believe those kinds of post are nothing more than attention grabs as bad as any showing off that people do on social media.
Recently, we had the fiendish idea to poke fun at those people by posting on Facebook about how our car had just come back from the shop with a "terminal diagnosis". You know the kind of repair estimate that's so out of this world expensive that it doesn't make sense to fix the car. Well, the good news was the repair for the problem we thought would make our car a goner was covered under warranty. That left us searching for a car that was terminal so we could further contemplate making that Facebook post. Took us a while to find something appropriate but we finally came across this 1998 Oldsmobile Aurora that has a dubious over heating problem.

Prior to a major redesign for the year 2000, Cadillac Northstar V-8's were notorious for blowing head gaskets and we have to believe "the baby Northstar" version that powered 1995-1999 Oldsmobile Aurora's blew them out as well. If it was just a thermostat or water pump that was causing this car to over heat we'd think the owner would spring to get it fixed or fix it themselves; after all this is an Oldsmobile Aurora. Replacing the head gaskets or swapping the engine being above and beyond the ability of most driveway mechanics, chances are the owner is trying to squeeze a couple of bucks out of the car to off set what they've probably already sunk into it. If this were our car we'd update our Facebook status with...

We might go on to say that we're going to fill it up with the "good gas" one more time. Not unlike folks who let their dog eat Big Mac's on the way to the vet for the last time.

We've always loved the original Aurora, GM totally botched the update for 2000, and that's telling since this a four door, '90's vintage sedan. We love them so much we wonder if we could possibly save this one from the shredder. The owner is asking only $550 for it, that tells us the car is totally screwed, which means they'll probably take $300 if not $250. However, these cars are difficult to work on because not GM never made a lot of them; good luck find a junker for a swap. A new engine for this car, again, if you can find a new one. will run you a mint. Swapping in a front wheel drive LS V8 (LS4) is possible, at least in theory, but there are no kits available for that swap and unless you can fabricate a subframe, there's probably no way that would work. Then there's the issue of rewiring the PCM so everything works. Best to go with a 3800 V-6 swap. That is totally possible given that this car's stable mate was the 3800 V-6 powered 1995-1999 Buick Riviera.
Still, that's a ton of time sucking work and if you're not inclined to do it, good luck finding a shop that would do a custom swap like that. This isn't a '68 Oldsmobile where you could plop just about anything you want into it and bolt up the bell housing with an adaptor plate. Those were the days, weren't they? So, something tells us we're going to have update our Facebook status...

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

1973 Ford Gran Torino - Couch on Fire

Save for Lincoln's 1970-1973 Continental Town Coupe, there isn't a Ford from the '70's we'd take over GM's crummiest ride from the same era. Alright, maybe a 1970 Ford Mustang but in our book that was a '60's design. We like the Continental Mark V and we'd take most Chrysler's too but anyways, much in the same way you can't help but look at a fat man in red tux, cars from the 1970's, regardless of what they are, grab our attention and take us back...back...back. So our brown on brown on brown 1973 Ford Gran Torino here gets points for no other reason than it's old and in apparently very good shape.

Ford's 1972-1976 "Gran Torino", not to be confused with a Ford's fabulous 1968-1971 Fairlane Torino, certainly had its flaws. Like most American cars of the time, it was inordinately large for no other reason than to be large and suffered from the lashes of burgeoning governmental regulations and an insolent insurance business. Thelatter taxing the daylights out of anything from anywhere that could be construed as a "performance car", the former requiring heretofore safety and tailpipe emissions regulations that strangled performance and fuel economy.

Starting in the late sixties but especially in the early seventies, Ford, in particular but GM and Chrysler were guilty of not responding either, dumped on consumers a series of forgettable, sloppily assembled, poor performing gas guzzlers the likes of which had never been sold before in this country. The big losers where American car buyers who really had no alternatives.  That was until the OPEC embargo of November 1973 changed everything forever and eventually, for "good".

Yes, these are the cars we grew up and while we're not proud of them, we find ourselves being overly understanding and apologetic (to a point) with regards to them. Like the way we cover for family members whom are less than perfect human beings. Hey, remember the time mom fell asleep with a lit cigarette in her and set the couch on fire? Sorry, we digress. Some memories, like big loathsome brutes like this Ford Gran Torino, are a part of us and we can't do anything about it.

Monday, December 18, 2017

1968 Dodge Charger - Most Original Parts Already Replaced

There's a running joke amongst GM and Ford fans that Chrysler's "MOPAR" acronym, which is short for "Motor Parts", actually stands for "Most Original Parts Already Replaced". Pretty funny. However, in the case of this  rattle can 1968 Dodge Charger for sale up here in Cleveland, Ohio with an eye watering asking price of $15,000, it's true. The engine, transmission and interior have all been replaced.

For reasons that are but a mystery except to those who value such things, buyers of classic cars prefer to buy cars that are "numbers matching", where a car has the same engine and transmission it was originally manufactured with. The term "numbers matching" stems from the serial codes on the engine and transmission matching the serial code on the car itself. On the market, a numbers matching car is worth more than a car that's had its engine or transmission replaced. Even if the replacement is debateably an improvement over what the car came with originally, the car is valued less. This car came from the factory with a high performance 383 cubic inch, 4 barrel V-8. Argue all you want that the 440 was a better engine than the 383. Most MOPAR fans would beg to differ.
There are exception to the rule of numbers matching, of course. For example, where a car has been fully restored or "retro-modded", the notion of "number matching" matters less if it at all; particularly with regards to "retro-modding". Retro-modding, or "retro-modification", a practice that was verboten years ago, is the practice of taking an old car and fitting it with modern running gear while keeping the car looking as close to "factory" as possible. In the case of our '68 here with a 1970 engine, it's more like the modification was "period correct" as opposed to a retro-mod. It also begs the question, "what happened to the original engine"?
With regards to the interior, the ad claims it's from a 1970 Charger as well although it doesn't say if it was from the same car the engine came from. With regards to "numbers matching", we've never seen the term applied to anything other than the power train so it makes us wonder why that really matters at all. We see here that these front buckets look as though they've recently been reupholstered and done so professionally. That's worth at least something. The back seat looks as fresh. Note the crack in the top of the dash near the glove box. That'll be a pretty penny to replace.
The story of the Dodge Charger is a star crossed one. Dodge dealerships dismayed that they didn't have something to sell in the burgeoning new "pony car" segment that began in 1964 lobbied Chrysler for a sporty car for their showrooms as well. However, rather than selling a rebadged Plymouth Barracuda, Dodge was given a fastback coupe version of their stalwart "mid size" Coronet sedan. Sales, to put it mildly, were middling. They improved somewhat following a redesign for 1968 but the market for large, sporty, two door cars has never been strong. Another redesign for 1971 did little to improve things. Dodge rebadged a Chrysler Cordoba clone as a Charger for 1975 finally putting the nameplate to pasture half way through the 1978 model year. A front wheel drive K car derivative appeared from 1981-1987. Ironically, harkening back to the days of Daimler-Chrysler, the best selling Charger of all time has been the most recent Charger, a four door sedan based loosely on the Mercedes Benz W220 platform, which debuted in 2006.

Like other "MOPAR's" of similar vintage that sold just as poorly when new, the popularity of these Chargers has soared over the last thirty years. What were once pariahs of insurance companies and gas pumps have appreciated in value to the point of being, frankly, absurd. Case in point, our backyard rattle can sprayed, non numbers matching 1968 Charger here with an asking price of $15,000.
No doubt the owner is basing his asking price on's value of $14,900 for 1968-1970 Chargers in "fair" condition. "Fair" being the lowest rating that Haggerty has for classic cars; from a value stand point anything that they would evaluate any lower not being money well spent. We can't believe a professional appraiser would say that this car is in "fair" condition. There's an ass for every seat but some cars are harder to sell than others.

We'd be hard pressed to believe that our '68 here will sell for anywhere near the asking price if the owner is truly motivated to move it like they say they are. While these are the most desirable of the first three generations of Chargers, we wouldn't spend that kind of money on this car. Even at half the asking price we'd have a hard time with it. A third of the asking price seems more appropriate. Even then, at that price, you're still getting a 1968 Charger with most original parts already replaced.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

1977 Lincoln Continental Town Coupe - The End of the Hardtop

It's hard to believe that our creme colored 1977 Town Coupe subject on the left and our 1972 Town Coupe on the right are for all intents and purposes the same car. Over all, Ford changed little mechanically over the five short model years separating the two but the '72 has a much more desirable stance and presence. It looks like what it's supposed to be, an executive's automobile. The '77 looks more like some fun crushing frow-frow at the church picnic than something a well compensated "suit" would want to own. Despite its hysterically bad burnt orange paint job we think the '72 sinister cool in a Sinatra swagger kind of way. We generally don't like vinyl tops either but at least on the '72 it works to break up the orangeness. We like. A lot. The '77? Well...

There's something off. And there's a lot more to do with that than just the god awful government mandated "5 mph Safety Bumpers" bolted on fore and aft and this dreadful color scheme. The problem with this car is that it's all about the end of a most splendid styling trend that began back about 100 years ago but really began to flourish after World War II. We're talking about the unfortunate mid 1970's demise of the hard top. 

When we refer to a "hard top", we're referring to any automobile that doesn't have a center "B pillar". The lack of a "B pillar" allowed designers to emulate automobiles with convertible tops. Designers also added vinyl coverings to hardtops to further accent the convertible look. We've never agreed  vinyl tops helped make a hard top look even more like a convertible but we do appreciate that some automobiles from years ago looked rather handsome with them. Like our "sky blue hell" 1970 Continental Town Coupe here. Just as with our burnt orange '72 above, this car is hideously, dare we say fiendishly cool despite that cow pusher front end. That's just gawd awful. Thank you for the picture, Old Car Brochures

Hard tops went the way of streamlining because back in the 1970's the government began imposing all sorts of regulations on automobile manufacturers. They cracked down on emissions, fuel economy and safety. With regards to safety, there was looming legislation, that never came to fruition, that the government was going to impose roll over safety standards for all new cars sold in this country. Believing and or fearing that, The Big Three discontinued convertible production after 1976 and with their belief that their hard tops couldn't withstand a roll over without collapsing on themselves, the pillar less hardtop started disappearing in 1974 on GM cars and Fords starting in 1975. Curiously, Chrysler kept right on building them through 1978. 

Lincoln, however, took things a step or two further when they added a pillar to the center of their Continental Town Coupe. They also eliminated the interesting "shoulders" from beneath the C pillar area. This Town Coupe is a 1974. 

That, as much as the adding the center pillar, having as much to do with turning what had been an interesting design into something that could be best described as being "dowdy". Our 1977 here, as subjective as this may be, lacking the elan of hard tops. Again, these 1970 vintage Continental Coupes were never gracefully handsome designs but at least they were "cool". Well, they were cool up until 1975. 

In fairness, it's the rarest of exceptions where an automobile design gets better looking as designers attempt to freshen or update it. Our Town Coupe here clearly is not that exception. Cadillac's design fared much better when they added center pillars to their Coupe deVille but even those cars pale in comparison, subjective as that is, to their hard top predecessors. Ironically, the pillars had no adverse effect on sales of these "pillared" Continental Town Coupes. Our opinion be darned.