Dead Brands

1964 Rambler Classic 550

I just realized that even though this blog is called “Roadside Rambler,” we had not, until now, featured an actual Rambler in any of our posts. So, to assuage any concerns of false advertising, the oversight has been remedied in the form of this car.

This particular Rambler is a base-model 550, equipped with AMC’s 232 cubic inch straight-six engine, the second year for an engine that lasted until 1979. Its parent family of engines is one of the more well-regarded designs in motoring history: introduced in 1964 in the Rambler American, it continued on until 2006 and included one of the most iconic American motors of all-time, the Jeep 4.0L straight-six. This particular example is finished in the lovely shade of Woodside Green.

But one of the most interesting parts of this car is its scandal-ridden salmon license plate. The situation went like this: Oregonians who spent an extra $30 (initially, plus every two years to renew the plate) were assured that this money was being used to fund salmon conservancy efforts: a worthy cause. However, in a shocking example of a severe public funds misappropriation, half of the money raised was actually being funneled to the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, paying for, among other things, staff salaries and a website improvement project. The total misallocated funds ranged into the millions of dollars, prompting an understandable scandal and a hasty vote by the Oregon legislature to fix the issue.

Lesson learned: always double-check where your money is actually going.

Portland, OR

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

1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Convertible

1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertible
1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertible 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertible 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertible

1972 was the last year for the classic second-generation Cutlass, and the last year of the Cutlass convertible until it was revived in 1990. Despite this, it was the best-selling convertible in America, with 11,571 sold out of 298,881 Cutlass Supremes total that year.

Cheviot Hills, CA

Photos by The Professor

1987 Merkur XR4Ti

1987 Merkur XR4Ti 1987 Merkur XR4Ti 1987 Merkur XR4Ti 1987 Merkur XR4Ti

Part of a failed venture by Ford to introduce some of its European-market Fords to the United States, Merkurs were targeted towards European luxury buyers. The brand lasted just five years and shifted fewer than 70,000 units, consigning it to the depths of the automotive doldrums. The clumsily-named XR4Ti was an attempt to market the award-winning European Ford Sierra XR4i to American buyers. However, the unfamiliar brand name and inflated price (over $36,000 adjusted to 2014 dollars) caused the car to be a massive flop, with just over 42,000 sold in five years. It’s quite rare to spot one on the road, and even rarer that someone notices its rarity, as its rather anonymous 80’s styling is easily forgettable.

Interlochen, MI

Photos by James Kennerly

1954 Packard Patrician

1954 Packard Patrician 1954 Packard Patrician 1954 Packard Patrician 1954 Packard Patrician 1954 Packard Patrician 1954 Packard Patrician 1954 Packard Patrician

The last real flagship of the famed Packard line, the 1954 model was the last to boast Packard’s straight eight engine before  a new V8 was introduced with the 1955 restyle. Just 2,760 found buyers in 1954, showcasing the decline of the Packard marque, which would disappear after 1958.

El Segundo, CA

Photos by The Professor

 

 

1959 Messerschmitt KR200 Kabrio

1959 Messerschmitt KR200 Cabrio 1959 Messerschmitt KR200 Cabrio 1959 Messerschmitt KR200 Cabrio 1959 Messerschmitt KR200 Cabrio 1959 Messerschmitt KR200 Cabrio 1959 Messerschmitt KR200 Cabrio

Made by the company far more famous for producing fighter jets for the German Luftwaffe during World War II, the KR200 “bubble car” was originally conceived as a result of temporary sanctions against aircraft manufacturing in the Messerschmitt factories. When the sanctions were lifted in 1956, the rights to the car were sold to a man named Fritz Fend, who established a company called Fahrzeug-und Maschinenbau GmbH Regensburg (FMR); hence the “FMR” logo on the hood of this microcar.

It produced all of 9.9 horsepower and was shorter than the wheelbase of a new Chevrolet Impala. The last picture shows a stark juxtaposition between the hulking Bronco and the diminutive Messerschmitt–it looks like a diecast model. Definitely a model for those with a secure self-image as their head sticks out a few feet above the top of the car.

Pacific Palisades, CA

Photos by The Professor

1973 Jensen-Healey

1972 Jensen-Healey 1972 Jensen-Healey 1972 Jensen-Healey 1972 Jensen-Healey 1972 Jensen-Healey 1972 Jensen-Healey

A car that was a mess of different parts from different manufacturers: Lotus engine, Vauxhall suspension, Chrysler transmission…none of it worked very well. Most of these rusted out a long time ago; this one seems to have lived its whole life in Southern California and has fared considerably better.

This car, which marked the end for two fine British marques, was not so fine itself (I suppose that’s why it marked the end, then).

Santa Monica, CA

Photos by The Professor

1968 Plymouth Barracuda

1967 Plymouth Barracuda 1967 Plymouth Barracuda 1967 Plymouth Barracuda 1967 Plymouth Barracuda 1967 Plymouth Barracuda 1967 Plymouth Barracuda

Not the early ’70s Barracuda that’s most familiar to people, and not the original ’64-’66 model either. This is the 2nd-generation Barracuda, made from ’67-’69. The 1st-gen was heavily based on the popular Plymouth Valiant, even using many common parts. However, while the 2nd-gen was still based on the Valiant, it was completely redesigned with a specific model range. The 3rd and final generation was a completely separate model.

To debunk a common assumption–the Mustang did not come before the Barracuda (the ‘Cuda came about two weeks earlier).

Mar Vista, CA

Photos by The Professor

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