Los Angeles

1961 Ford Ranchero

One of the most tragic byproducts of the evolution in car design has been the elimination of two-tone paintwork from the automotive color palette. Not that this Ranchero is the poster child of two-tone application: cream and light brown render perhaps too much of a resemblance to an oversized vanilla fudge sundae, but still: a massive improvement over a hypothetical solely-cream-colored Ranchero, which would just look like a slab of vanilla popsicle.

Just as two flavors are always better than one; so too are two car colors. Also, California should totally bring black the blue plates from the ’70s and early ’80s like this Ranchero has: they’re much more visually interesting than the drab blue-lettering-on-white-background plate that they haven’t changed since about 1993.

Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA

Photos by The Professor

 

1984 Volkswagen Jetta

After a brief new-car interlude, we return to our specialty with this Jetta: cars that most people wouldn’t look twice at but ones that are rapidly disappearing from the US’s roads. This is an ’84, the last year of the first-generation Jetta: one of 36,636 sold that year and one of 110,281 first-generation models sold on our shores over five model years. For comparison, the modern-day Jetta has eclipsed that number every year since 2010.

With 110,000 Jettas sold you’d think they would still be relatively common, at least until you realize Chevrolet sold 811,540 Citations in one model year and there are approximately 3 left in the country. Most of these cars have long since been disposed of, and this is one of the very few still left.

Mar Vista, Los Angeles, CA

Photos by The Professor

1987 Peugeot 505 Liberté

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The Liberté trim level was for 1987 only, supposedly commemorating the 100th anniversary of France gifting the Statue of Liberty to the United States. For unknown reasons, 505 Libertés had a different engine than the rest of the US-spec 505 line, with an ancient and wheezy 2.0L 4 that was soon to be discontinued. Oddly, the car also came without power rear windows – again, nobody really knows why.

Cheviot Hills, CA

Photos by The Professor

1970 Buick Electra 225

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New for the 1970 Electra model was a 455 cubic inch V8 pumping out 370 horsepower, making it the most powerful Electra ever. The newly redesigned 1971 models would keep the same engine, but, due to a lower compression ratio, see their output drop to 315 horses.

1970 was also the last year of the Electra “Coke bottle” design first introduced in 1965; the ’71 models would ditch the sleek lines for more slab-sided styling.

The Electra name soldiered on until 1990, by which time the name was but a shadow of its former glory, saddled with a 3.8L (232 cubic inch) V6 and a FWD chassis.

Los Angeles, CA

Photos by The Professor

1973 De Tomaso Pantera

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Designed by Tom Tjaarda, the Pantera featured exotic Italian styling coupled with a 5.8L Ford V8 engine. Ford imported around 5,500 Panteras between 1971 and 1975, selling them through their Lincoln-Mercury dealers. Early Panteras were notorious for their unreliability; Elvis Presley once shot a gun at his when it would not start.

Though Ford ceased importing Panteras after 1975, they were imported via the grey market through the 1980s. A total of 7,260 were sold between 1971 and 1992.

Pacific Palisades, CA

Photos by The Professor

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