Last post on Feb 21, 2008 at 6:31 AM
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Chevrolet, Ford, Coupe, Convertible, Sedan
#601 of 650 All 3 all new...
Nov 20, 2002 (10:38 am)
If I had to guess re. another year where each of the big 3 were all new, I'd pick 1969. They may not have been redesigned chassis-wise, but certainly cosmetically, with the pontoon fenders and new dash/interior on the Chevy; a new body and the fabulous "sweep-away" dash on the Ford; and the fuselage body on the Mopar. I loved the Mopar fuselage years even though the public didn't really accept them very well. I thought they were great-looking.
#602 of 650 I always tended to lump...
Nov 20, 2002 (11:55 am)
...the '65-70 GM big cars as the same style, even though they received significant changes in '67 and '69. I dunno though, maybe they were more "all new" than I gave them credit for!
One thing I found out though, when I needed new ball joints for my '67 Catalina, was that only the '67-68 Pontiacs were swap-able. The '66 ball joint was different, and so was the '69. And it wasn't compatible with a same-year Chevy, Olds, or Buick.
As for the fuselage Mopars, I think my favorite is the '69 Dodges, ironically because they hide the fatness of the fuselage style and somehow look trimmer. The models with the hidden headlights were pretty cool, too.
Nov 20, 2002 (7:58 pm)
The design of the 1969 Ford control panel struck me as one of those ideas that worked better in theory than in practice - just like the oval center control panel of the 1996-99 Taurus.
As for the fuselage Mopars - the 1969 Dodges were the best looking of the bunch, followed by the Chrysler 300 with the hidden headlights. The Plymouth Sport Fury hardtop and convertible were pretty good looking, as well. Unfortunately, in 1970 the Dodge adopted a bumper-grille that did nothing for its looks, while the Plymouth was facelifted for a more "important" look. It just ended up looking fatter.
The failure of the 1969 C-bodies to sell in the expected numbers was a big setback for Chrysler. The corporation started sliding downhill, reversing the gains it made during the late 1960s.
In my neighborhood is a 1968 Plymouth Fury VIP hardtop sedan that serves as a daily driver. It sure is boxy! At least Plymouth put those boxy contours to good use by making the car very roomy inside.
#604 of 650 Ford panel trivia '69-70
Nov 21, 2002 (8:41 pm)
I liked the looks of the panel and it certainly offered more room than just about anything, but if I remember right, the radio controls were on the driver's left and high, impossible for a passenger to reach. Can't remember where the HVAC controls were, but if they were on the driver's right, the passenger would need to lean back and over to see to adjust them.
Of course, the passenger could be sprawled out all over the front of the car, legs crossed, not a care in the world. The car offered so much room in the front.
Nov 24, 2002 (5:17 am)
Interesting... just caught an old "Car & Track " episode on Speed Channel from 1969 where they tested the '69 Impala, a Custom Coupe. They were pretty easy on it but still had some complaints. They said that the 396-2 barrel engine would have had trouble punching thru a wet kleenex. 0-60 took over 13 seconds. And they complained about the soft suspension. The handling shots on the test track showed unbelieveable understeer and the outside front tire was rolled over right to the rim. I remember dad's '69 as being way too soft so this was probably accurate. Their braking test from 60 mph resulted in the car swapping ends too! Still, in the end they liked the car but seeing this film from 30-odd years ago it makes you remember what boats fullsize cars were back then.
Nov 24, 2002 (7:40 am)
The level of incompetence of large American cars in braking and suspension back then is pretty shocking, especially when you consider that we certainly had the know how to do better, or we could have bought the talent from Europe. I mean, Ford did exactly that to race at LeMans.
#607 of 650 That's pretty shocking...
Nov 24, 2002 (9:48 am)
...that the Chevy did that badly. Back then though, automakers were terribly inconsistent. One car could roll off the asembly line the epitome of perfection, where the very next could be a nightmare. For instance, my '67 Catalina isn't THAT different from a '69 Impala, and I've never had any complaints about its handling. Any problems that it does have are more a result of the tires (215/75/R-14) than any fault of the car itself. I've had to nail the brakes a few times, from high speed, and never had the car swap ends. I even had one rear wheel that tended to lock up prematurely, but it wasn't that much of a problem.
What the hell was wrong with the car that it took 13 seconds to do 0-60? A heavier '72 Impala, with a 165 hp 350-2bbl, could do 0-60 in about 12-12.5 seconds, and that was with much more conservative Consumer Reports testing it!
I also had a '69 Bonneville, and while it had its problems, handling, acceleration, and braking were not among them. Its 400-4bbl would move it from 0-60 in about 9 seconds, I guess. It handled pretty well for a car shod with 75-series tires (225/75/R-15). Braking wasn't bad either...it had disk up front, drum in the rear. Basically the typical full-size RWD car as it existed up until around the mid 90's, just in a more swingin' 60's body shell.
Nov 24, 2002 (11:08 am)
Yeah, they complained constantly about the lack of power from the 396, which shocked me. Maybe the 2-barrel versions (which I didn't even know they made) were just too choked off, or maybe it had a very low-numerically ratio rear end.
We forget how easy it is to lose control in a full-lockup panic stop if you don't have ABS. I've swapped ends twice in my life and all it takes is for one wheel to lock up before the others.
As for the handling, I think Chevy went to full-soft settings in '69 based on my dad's car and now seeing this one. If you ordered the F-41 suspension it was much more capable.
Nov 24, 2002 (11:44 am)
Chevy softened the ride in '57 and stayed with it for years. But the Impala I rented recently had a borderline harsh ride, much like the Sable I drove two years ago. I can't believe Ma and Pa Consumer go for that. Maybe that's why Buicks sell well.
Nov 24, 2002 (12:45 pm)
60s---too much power for too little tires is one big issue. Ever see a slow motion shot of what happens to those old fashioned tires when you apply power. Pretty scary!