Last post on May 18, 2013 at 2:25 PM
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Dec 07, 2012 (9:56 am)
There were some interesting styling changes from 64 to 65 but not much in the way of technology---in 1955 we had new V8s engines that would become legendary, we had dramatic styling, 12 volt electrics, the death knell for flatheads, the death knell for the Independents, wild color schemes---it was an entire package of change. Sure you had the new Mustang in 1965, but it was on a platform as old as the hills.
65 was an important year to notice but it was nothing like 1955 in terms of utter contrast of product line. Things like disc brakes, supercharging, turbocharging, fuel injection, seat belts---these were all 50s or early 60s phenomena.
Biggest technical advance for 1965? Probably the 8-track tape player
#27110 of 29581 Re: . [Mr_Shiftright]
Dec 07, 2012 (10:14 am)
But as you know, Shifty, it's all about what you can see!
In the annals of automotive history, the two cars I think changed more, looks and packaging-wise, than any other vehicle, from one year to the next?
1952 to 1953 Studebaker
1964 GM full-size cars to 1965 GM full-size cars
I'd probably have to include 1973 to 1974 AMC Matador Coupe in there too.
#27111 of 29581 Re: . [Mr_Shiftright]
Dec 07, 2012 (10:40 am)
The transition from 1954 to 1955 was the dawn of the modern automobile as we know it today. There will never be another one-year "jolt" like that one IMO.
I completely agree with Mr. Shiftright on this one because so many of the car companies did new things this year, especially GM & Chrysler. Ford introduced the Thunderbird and the Crown Victoria with the chrome strip across the roof, which Studebaker copied and put on its mid-year President Speedster. My uncle had a new black Crown Victoria with glass pack mufflers. It looked great and made a neat growl when he started it up. I heard a similar sound from hot rods before, but never from a new car that came that way from the dealer.
The cars that were not different looked different - including Studebaker (which made changes for more power and a Chevrolet inspired paint scheme in the middle of the model year) and Packard. I thought the Packard had a new body for 1955, it looked so different from the 1954 models. 1955 was a year to remember for many reasons.
Dec 07, 2012 (10:43 am)
Sure okay but cosmetics wear thin pretty quickly. There's no difference in how a '52 or '53 Studebaker drives--same old technology from 1935, or 1925 in the case of the engine. The '53 looks like something it definitely is not--a sports car....but pretty, yeah sure. Kudos for that.
However, when someone drove a 1955 car vs. a 1954---holy crap! Power! Handling! (sorta) New gadgets to play with! AND....it starts on cold mornings!
Must have felt like heaven on earth......finally shaking off the dreary post-war years of drab colors, rationing, and bad memories.
Oh, and we didn't even mention how the '55 Chevy spelled the death of the home-built hot rod, and the flathead V-8.
#27113 of 29581 Re: . [Mr_Shiftright]
Dec 07, 2012 (11:22 am)
For once I was in complete agreement with you. My last post said that Studebaker looked different - its big body change came in 1953 not 1955, but it did look different. That said, the Studebaker 259 cu.in. V-8 with the 4 barrel carb & dual exhausts gave a lot more power than the 232 V-8 of 1954 and I will match the instrument panel of the Speedster against any other car including the T-Bird or the Corvette. The brakes were much better too with cooling fins on larger drums to dissapate heat and reduce fade.
Here is a good review of the 1955 model year which is specifically about the Ford Crown Victoria but says many things about that model year as follows.
Nineteen fifty-five was a great year to be shopping for your first new car. Chevy finally had a V-8 and looked as cool as Kim Novak in a stretch-nylon swimsuit. And Plymouth was hotter than the Cuban Mambo, strutting the first year of Virgil Exner's "Forward Look" styling and boasting a V-8 of its own. Ford, whose overhead-valve V-8 was now in its second year, ported many advanced styling themes, with a deliberately strong association to the new Thunderbird.
It was the year of wraparound windshields, tubeless tires, flying saucer wheel discs, and more options, vivid colors, and flashy two-tones than a month of Canadian sunsets. Little wonder that Ford's smart new Crown Victoria was to become a classic symbol of the times, if not one of the year's hottest sellers. Road tester Tom McCahill, writing in Mechanix Illustrated, called it "loaded with more saleable angles than a shipload of Marilyn Monroes."
With the high-performance race already in high gear, the sales contest between the "Big Two" was off and running in 1954. It was murder on the dealers, and left the independents with no choice but to merge or become history. But overall, 1955 was a banner year for the industry, with production just a hair under eight million units.
Dec 07, 2012 (11:36 am)
The cars that were not different looked different
I was shocked when I discovered that the '55-56 Ford was not all-new, but rather a heavy revision of the '52-54 style. I'd guess the same would hold true for the '55-56 Mercury as well.
Lincoln didn't change much for '55, and it was obvious it was just a warmed over '52-54 model. The '56-57 sure seemed radically different though. I wonder if they were all-new, or if they took a cue from the '55 Ford/Mercury, and just heavily revised the old design?
I once heard that the 1955 Mopar lineup was actually just a heavy revision of the 1949-54 design, but I doubt if there's any truth to that. I guess it's possible though, that they simply put an all-new body on the old frame?
For also managed to stretch their basic 1957 design through 1964, although you wouldn't realize it just looking at the cars. The '59 bore little resemblance to the '57-58, and the '60-64 looked like a whole new car. But, they used the old '57 frame, and one area it's really apparent is in the trunk area over and around the rear axle. And, while the overall height of the cars got lower, the frames themselves did not. As a result, the '60-64 Fords had some incredibly shallow trunks.
I think '57 and '65 were about on par with 1955, when you figure how many models were redesigned. In fact, there may have been even more all-new for '57, when you figure that for '55 the Ford lineup really wasn't new except for the T-bird, while Buick, Olds, and Cadillac were actually all-new for 1954. So that really just left Chevy, Pontiac and the Chrysler lineup. Meanwhile, for '57 we got an all-new Chrysler lineup, all-new Olds/Buick/Cadillac, all-new Ford and Mercury, with only Chevy/Pontiac, Lincoln, and the T-bird being carryover.
But, while there might have been more all-new for '57, I still think that overall, the leap from 1954-55 was greater than the leap from '56-57. Or '64-65.
There have been a few significant leaps since then, such as the 1977 GM B/C Body versus the '76, the 1980 Citation versus the 1979 Nova, '86 Taurus versus the Fox-based LTD, etc. But those leaps were mainly limited to just one platform...never again has the whole industry leaped ahead in one year, as they did back in '55, 57, and '65.
#27115 of 29581 Re: . [Mr_Shiftright]
Dec 07, 2012 (11:42 am)
Shifty, remember that Studebaker beat Chevy, Pontiac, Ford, and Packard by years, with an OHV V8. Not exactly 1925 stuff.
Dec 07, 2012 (11:48 am)
You left out Oldsmobile and Cadillac and Chrysler, so if Studebaker wants to chant 'we're # 4!", well...go for it.
What was special about the '55 Chevy V8 was that it was a short-stroke, high compression, lightweight engine, not a wheezy over-square. The Chevy small block was a remarkable achievement, not just an ohv V-8.
#27117 of 29581 Re: . [Mr_Shiftright]
Dec 07, 2012 (12:03 pm)
I ask with a straight face, "What independent beat them?" That is a major piece of engineering. Stude was considered among the low-price makers at the time the OHV V8 was introduced, in '51. Did Chev, Ford, Nash, Plymouth have one? Nope.
Four years before Packard and Chevrolet and Pontiac. For an independent, that is something to be proud of. I believe most would agree. It was a very sturdy engine with the ability to eke very high performance out of it. Take a look at the "Stude Tomato" and "Plain Brown Wrapper" videos on You Tube, from the 'Pure Stock Muscle Car Drags' for evidence.
Not to take away from a '55 Chevy V8. I'm often tired of 'me, too!!' cars, but the '55 Chevy blows a hole in that. I could enjoy owning one. Not a '57, though.
#27118 of 29581 Re: . [Mr_Shiftright]
Dec 07, 2012 (12:05 pm)
Yeah, the Chevy smallblock of 1955 definitely brought the "power to the people". IIRC, the Ford and Plymouth V-8's actually put out more hp, but they didn't have the low reciprocating mass of the Chevy V-8, so they couldn't rev as freely.
I also remember seeing some old road test, from a few years earlier, when Ford had the V-8 bragging rights. Yet, the Chevy with the 6-cyl put out a bit more hp, and accelerated a bit faster! But, that was stock. I'd imagine the old Ford Flathead V-8 lent itself to hotrodding a bit better than the old Chevy Stovebolt/Blue Flame.