with a FLAIR
|By Bill Sanders|
|In the good old days - before income
tax, when the custom coach builders were at their zenith and 16-inch wheels
were considered small - if you had the money you could get a car that
stood out from the plebian black boxes everyone was driving. If you had
the money the dimensions of luxury and personality you could add to your
car were unlimited. In Hollywood, the city of superfluous wealth Douglas
Fairbanks, Sr. had a National Sextet," Francis X. Bushman made the
Sunset Strip scene in a purple "Marmori 34," Tom Mix drove a
"Duesenberg A," Buster Keaton sprinted about in his "Mercer
Raceabout," Rudolph Valentino had a "Voisin," and Adolph
Menjou a "Stutz Bearcat." A suit cost $15 and you could spend
$30,000 or more on a car. If you had the money you could get luxury plus
the piquancy of a coup de grace that set your car apart. If you had the
Then things changed. In the post World War II days you could get a standard Ford, Chevy or Plymouth and have it customized outside and in. But it was still a Ford, Chevy or Plymouth and the cost of lead and redesigned interiors still kept the custom customers in a distinct minority.
In the 1950s the Thunderbird started out as a two-place pseudo sports car. One day it grew into a four-place luxury car that had the added appeal of being a singularly distinctive car reminiscent of continental GT cars. Like the Hudson Bay Company, the Ford Motor Company had opened up a whole new territory. The country club set was ready for the T-bird and it was a hit from Long Island to La Jolla. The ready-made custom car was at last available, and without the price tag of a DC-8. Body and engine parts were available at every Ford dealer and easily serviceable. The miracle of mass production conquered again.
As affluence grew and the market potential broadened, others followed in the same general category... Riviera, Toronado, Grand Prix, and to a limited degree, Eldorado. Although each car in this class has distinctive ride and comfort qualities, modern technology and production techniques have made them relative. So, in 1969 emphasis has shifted to performance and more gizmos and gadgets. This year sees the introduction of the all new, space-age Grand Prix and the hot Marauder X-100. In 1969 "Luxury With A Flair" means lots of cubic inches and horsepower garnished with the latest convenience items technology can supply.
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