MyStarCollectorCar Dictionary defines “signature look” as a vintage ride’s factory style that gives the vehicle a unique appearance unlike other vehicles from the same era.

The signature look may be a subtle difference, or it may be a major difference, so our job is to reveal some of the features that are the secrets to the retro rides’ identities.

Jim Sutherland

The first addition to our list is the “waterfall trim” found on Pontiacs from a bygone era, particularly the post-war Ponchos built during the late 1940s and early 1950s, although the waterfall trim can also be found on pre-war Pontiacs.

However, the most important part of the equation is the trim itself because Pontiac’s bling poured down the hood and trunk of these ancient beauties, unlike the lesser Chevy models at the time. The cascading bright work on Pontiacs from a bygone era became known as waterfall trim and helped the Poncho brand identify itself as a step up on a mere Chevy in the GM world.

Another higher end member of the General Motors family offered our second signature look, the hood portholes (“Ventiports”) used on Buick models for several years beginning in 1949. The portholes were placed on both sides of the Buick hoods and offered a stylish way to dispense engine heat for early Ventiport Buicks.

The portholes also allowed Buick to reward customers who paid more for the biggest V-8 engine option and got four portholes on each side of the car’s hood. Cheaper Buick models from the early porthole era had fewer portholes because their frugal owners spent less on their purchases.

The net result was Buick’s caste system, one that emphasized four portholes is much cooler than three portholes. We at MyStarCollectorCar do not disagree with this notion because four portholes were definitely cooler than three on an old Buick.

The third signature look feature on MyStarCollectorCar’s list is the chrome roof trim that extended from one side of the car to the other on Ford’s top-of-the-line 1955-56 Crown Victoria models. There is an old car guy cliché that says: ”Chrome won’t get you home”, but a mid-1950s Ford Crown Victoria looked so cool no owner worried about getting home any time soon, mainly because of the chrome tiara on these queens of the road.

The chrome tiaras joined the 1955-56 Crown Vicky’s B-pillars via their roofs and provided one of the coolest signature styles on our MyStarCollectorCar list.

Another Ford feature that makes the grade is the Continental Kit found on the 1955 (option) and ’56 (factory) T-Bird models, a worthy fourth addition to our MyStarCollectorCar signature look list.

Most car guys already know the Continental Kit was initially used on high end vehicles built during the 1930s when the spare tire container was forever linked with the Lincoln Continental brand. Two decades later, the Continental Kit was secured to the rear end of Thunderbirds and offered extra trunk space, along with a generous dollop of coolness to the two-seater Blue Oval sports cars.

The fifth and final addition to MyStarCollectorCar’s esteemed signature look list is the 1964-66 Plymouth Barracuda, the first pony car (a few weeks before the legendary Mustang) sold in North America. The first-generation Barracuda was steamrolled by the Mustang in overall sales, but it had the most unique rear window in automotive history.

The 1964-66 Plymouth Barracudas’ rear glass was incredibly large and could have sheltered plants as a greenhouse if it was not stuck on the back end of the Mopar pony cars. The result was basically a fastback Valiant with a signature look because of the massive glass rear window on its close Mopar relative, the 1964-66 Plymouth Barracuda models.

The big glass Barracudas are a worthy member of MyStarCollectorCar’s signature look list. People either love ‘em or hate ‘em…we at MyStarCollectorCar just happen to love them. 

Jim Sutherland

BY: Jim Sutherland

Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section.