MYSTARCOLLECTORCAR SALUTES DETROIT’S DEARLY DEPARTED

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One of the grim by-products of war is the casualties list.

 

The same sad reality applies to an automotive war because they never take prisoners on this battlefield.

 

The car wars used to be fought by the Big Three in North American markets, but now we have a global battle for supremacy in the automotive wars.

 

Some familiar names have died in this war and many car guys mourn their passing, so we at MSCC want to remember the fallen warriors from Detroit.

 

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We salute you, Mercury. You were the middle child in the Ford family-a little more upscale than a Ford-but not quite a Lincoln. You gave Blue Oval buyers a little extra neighborhood status boost when it came to keeping up with the Joneses because the Mercury was an affordable luxury car.

 

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Some Mercury models also had enough muscle to blow right by the Jones family on the road and were wolves in well-dressed sheep’s clothing. The muscled-out Mercs peaked in the 60s and flew under the radar when they hid a monster big block under the hood. These Mercs were tire-smokers with a plush reputation and ambushed many surprised car guys on the street.

 

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We salute you, Pontiac. You gave us style, luxury and legendary muscle over the years. Pontiacs had a little more bling than their Chevy siblings in the post war years, but the 60s were a time of a big attitude change for Ponchos.

 

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The 1964 introduction of the lean and mean GTO meant one thing: Pontiac decided to set the table for the muscle car wars of the late 60s. The first Pontiac on the muscle menu was Goat and the second was Firebird during the fast and furious 60s. 

 

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We salute you, Plymouth. You were born to be a peaceful member of the Mopar family, but things changed considerably when you added Fury to your name in the Fifties. Fury was a handle that suited this new Plymouth’s disposition when it was dressed up in its baddest V-8 form-and it was a name that instantly changed this mild-mannered family car into a street soldier.

 

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Eventually the Plymouth Fury evolved into a full-sized luxury car in 1965 and handed over the Plymouth muscle car crown to its smaller GTX, Road Runner and Barracuda siblings. A 426 Hemi-powered Plymouth ensured this extinct Mopar brand will never be forgotten by any unsuspecting car guy who tried to wrestle an angry elephant on the street or track.

 

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We salute you, Oldsmobile. You were one of the early pioneers in the automotive world. The name is associated with a GM buyer who had more disposable income than a Chevy customer and not quite enough income to buy a Cadillac.

 

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The Oldsmobile garnered a solid reputation as a luxury car and ran with that concept for many decades. Then Olds introduced the 442 in 1964 and all bets were off when it came to this departed brand from the General’s stable.

 

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Olds firmly embraced a rigid muscle car law: there is no replacement for displacement. The Olds 442 peaked in 1970 with a 455 cubic inch beast of an engine under the hood and blew away the idea an Olds was strictly your father’s practical car of choice. Olds was never a huge player in the performance car game, but they left an unforgettable legacy on the street with the 442. 

 

Last but not least, we salute you, DeSoto. You were a chieftain in the Mopar clan from 1928 until 1961, but you saved your coolest years for the last because few cars made a style statement like the finned DeSotos of the late 50s and early 60s.

 

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The DeSoto was a reliable but non-glamorous member of the Chrysler family for most of its post-WWII production years. The car was made famous as a running joke on Happy Days because Howard Cunningham owned a 1948 DeSoto and it was a constant source of embarrassment for his son Richie in the sitcom.

 

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Too bad Howard didn’t own a newer DeSoto because the hemi-powered DeSoto fin cars of the late 50s would have made Richie as cool as the Fonz. But neither fins nor DeSotos were able to survive the early 60s and eventually DeSoto joined the ranks of the dearly departed from Detroit.

 

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Thank you to all of these car brands that drove toward the sunset and straight into our fondest car guy memories. We at MSCC salute you.

 

Jim Sutherland

 

 

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