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Your favorite and least favorite facelifts.


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I've found the thread on families of cars interesting but since it seems to be getting contentious I thought I would veer off on a different track in a new thread.

We know that during the fifties and sixties most companies operated on a 3-year pattern with updates or facelifts in the off years. Which ones do you think worked the best and which ones did you not like?

Chrysler made minor changes for 1950, mostly cleaning up the grilles and rearends and it was an improvement. Ford made minor changes in 1950 that made a better looking car; Chevy made minor changes that had little effect on the car overall but their facelifts in 1951 and 1952 worked for me. Mercury's 1951 was a good improvement as was the '53 Ford. '54 and '56 Mercurys were good efforts. Some of the best facelifts ever were the '56 Ford and the '56 Buick. The '57 Pontiac was a great facelift. Some that failed completely in my eyes were the '56-58 Studebakers, the '59 Edsel, and the worst of all time, the '60 Buick. It had to be a sin to do to the '59 Buick what they did in 1960.

Okay, now you know how I feel, what's see what you think.

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We have a 1963-1/2 Ford Falcon Sprint convertible. Both Bill and I like the rounded look of the '60 to '63 Falcons. The facelift in '63-1/2 with the Sprint chrome package and more powerful engine was a good one, at least for what we like. :cool: We aren't that fond of the facelift done in '64-'65 where they turned the rounded look into sharp angles and made the cars into more of a wedge.

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Getting a little more specific, the "facelifted" dash of the '57 Chevrolet bothers me more than the revisions to the exterior...

The '55 & '56 Chevies had such an elegant dash; why GM had to abandon it and go to that horrid, lumpy, "pod-festival" is beyond my ken...

Complete cars: I think the 1956 versions of the Chrysler & De Soto are very handsome revisions, if conservative ones.

Don't know if it was a "facelift" or a clean-sheet design, but the 1960 Ford full-size has got to be one of the homeliest things on four wheels, unlike the '59 or '61.

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It had to be a sin to do to the '59 Buick what they did in 1960.

I disagree. I think the 1960 was refined over the '59, same with Cadillac.

I didn't like the face lift on the 58 Dodges over the '57. '58's were over done, but yet liked the job they did with the '59's.

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We have a 1963-1/2 Ford Falcon Sprint convertible. Both Bill and I like the rounded look of the '60 to '63 Falcons. The facelift in '63-1/2 with the Sprint chrome package and more powerful engine was a good one, at least for what we like. :cool: We aren't that fond of the facelift done in '64-'65 where they turned the rounded look into sharp angles and made the cars into more of a wedge.

Susan, I agree with you on the Falcons. The 63 1/2 was the prettiest of all.

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I'm with Susan. The best looking Falcons were '63 and older. The Chrysler and DeSoto in '56 was a good one but Chrysler and DeSoto's best efforts were the '57-60 300 Letter Cars and the Adventurers. I thought '58 was Ford's poorest effort of the decade but the '60 convertible and the '63 Galaxie 500XL are two of my favorite cars. I also liked the '59 Pontiac but I love the '60 model. I think it is the best looking car GM built that year.

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Personally I'm partial to the 61 cadillac revamp. Quad fins and long straight lines, make it look like its hurtling through space standing still. By 63 the quad fins were gone.

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I guess there is no accounting for taste. To me the 1960 is one of the best looking Pontiacs ever made while the 1959 is one of the worst. The 60 is a sleek well integrated design that flows. The 59 seems to be fighting itself especially the tailfins.

Likewise the 1960 Ford is much better looking than the 59 which was a facelifted 57, or the 1961 that was facelifted to look like a 1957. Some experts at the time felt the 60 Ford didn't sell because it was too sophisticated for a low price car.

Call me nuts but the 1960 Ford station wagon is especially sleek, one of the best looking station wagons ever made.

Possibly the worst looking redesign ever was the 1948-1950 Packard "pregnant elephant" facelift of the 1941-47 Clipper.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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Another remarkable facelift was the 1963 - 64 Chryslers which were based on the tailfinned 1960 design. I don't think any other car changed its character so much in a facelift.

The 63 Chrysler is a sophisticated design that is unjustly overlooked on lists of the best styling jobs of all time. In fact BMW's top luxury models of the 1990s look like copies of a 30 year old Chrysler.

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Favorite: 1990-1991 Lesabre smoother rear and better grille, Chrysler Imperial 1958, with larger fins, etc.

Least favorite: Postwar refits of ancient models, I do however like the grilles on the postwar lincolns (not saying that because I own one, but, I have always liked them)

1967-1968 Mustangs look terrible, with those horrible rear ends

late 70's vettes looked horrible too with the bubble windows

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I agree with the 60 Buick and Caddy being polished from some awkwardness in the 59's. The headlight change on the Buick in particular. The 63 Chrysler isn't a facelift, it's an all new design.

how about 55 Packard as a successful one and 53 Studebaker Starlight turning into a 58 "Packard" Hawk as a bad one.

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Well, I think 59 Pontiac's are pretty fine Rusty. I also think 60 Pontiac is fine too, however Pontiac styling seemed to think the 59's were on the mark and because of that with the exception of the sixty Pontiac, every Pontiac built after 60 had a split grille styling from the 59. Of all the 59 GM product, Pontiac's fins were the most conservative of the five divisions and IMO came off the best. Buick sales went into a tail spin for years because of their front to rear upswing front to rear body crease and canted headlamps. Buick tried to correct it somewhat in the 60 model. The car that really gets me is the 66 Olds Toronado...a total stunner... Olds should have left that car alone, but instead turned it into a barge with those bumpers especially from 1968. Sometimes new isn't always better. 1949-50 Chevy/Pontiac/Olds got the same treatment the Toronado got so that by 1952 the purity of the design was changed just to be different. Same with ( one of this GM mans favorite cars ) the 57 Ford to the 58. Man, one of the best shapes ruined. The 57 Fairlane......500! is so sharp. So sharp that Ford outsold everyones beloved-everyone wants one 1957 Chevy.

A interesting one is the square T-bird, The 59 looks better than the 58 or 60. The 59 has the grille that customizers were using in the era.

I think speaking in general terms the first out of the gate were better because they were more pure to the concept.

Don

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I agree with Linc400 that the 1955-56 Packard was one of the BEST facelifts, but do not agree that the 1960 Pontiac was a bad one, I am partial to the 1960 as are many Pontiac people.

I also agree the 1957 Pontiac is one of the best. I think the 1960 Chevy was much improved over the bat wing 1959, and while I do not dislike 1960 Buick & Olds I do not think they are exactly beautiful.

For the worst, I think the 1961 Plymouth is bizarre and ugly and Dodges are not much better. Then the new 1962s were almost equally ugly, but their facelift into becoming relabeled as intermediates for 1964-67 may be one of the most successful of all. But maybe just because the originals were so bad. Todd C

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The ones that got me were the 1966 big Chevy vs the 65, and the 1970 vs the 69. The 66 looked like it had run into a wall and flattened its nose, and the 1970 looked like it couldn't decide if it wanted to be a Chevy or an early 60s Cadillac. The 65, 67, 68 and 69 "do it" for me as far as Chevys go though.

Most anything with 1st generation Federal bumpers was not an improvement.

Am I the only one who noticed that from 1976-80, all the "personal luxury" cars from all manufacturers looked essentially alike, with their pseudo-Classic grilles and stacked rectangular headlights? As in a Monte Carlo was an Elite was a Cordoba. They ALL looked alike.

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The ones that got me were the 1966 big Chevy vs the 65, and the 1970 vs the 69. The 66 looked like it had run into a wall and flattened its nose, and the 1970 looked like it couldn't decide if it wanted to be a Chevy or an early 60s Cadillac. The 65, 67, 68 and 69 "do it" for me as far as Chevys go though. D.

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Different strokes I guess. I like the 66, 71-74, and your right rocketraider, they do look like Cadillac! and not a problem! D.

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Most anything with 1st generation Federal bumpers was not an improvement.

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1974+Corvette pulled that off, so did Cadillac and the large Buick, I love those Electra 225 hardtop sedans of 76 with the wildcat mags. The Coupe de Ville downsized series too. There is good out there you just have to look a little harder. D.

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Am I the only one who noticed that from 1976-80, all the "personal luxury" cars from all manufacturers looked essentially alike, with their pseudo-Classic grilles and stacked rectangular headlights? As in a Monte Carlo was an Elite was a Cordoba. They ALL looked alike.

Cadillac Seville 75-79, and Eldorado 1979- early 80's.... If I only had more room!

Don

Edited by helfen (see edit history)
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the 60 cadillac made the 59 design more beautiful, as did the 60 pontiac to the 59 pontiac, the 60 buick failed the beautiful 59 buick, and the 61 buick failed even more so. cadillac failed all the eldorados that came after the 67 to 70 body style, and those first generation of front wheel drive toronados and eldorados should have had a retractable hardtop option. as did pontiac and chevy failed to give buyers a 69 to 72 grand prix or monte carlo convertables. the packard hawk really failed the studebaker hawks. where the 56 pontiac failed the 55 pontiacs, the 57 pontiacs more than made up for it. the 53-54 pontiacs were a wonderful facelift of the 49 to 52 pontiacs, charles coker, 1953 pontiac tech advisor.

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As for the intermediate Plymouths/Dodges any thing would have been better than the mistakes of 1962/63. In regard to the Corvettes, all other Corvettes are better looking than those of 1968-82. As for GM, 1960 Buicks and Oldsmobile were pitiful excuses for a car. The '57-58 Packards including the Packard Hawks were a disgrace to the Packard Motorcar Company.

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As for the intermediate Plymouths/Dodges any thing would have been better than the mistakes of 1962/63. In regard to the Corvettes, all other Corvettes are better looking than those of 1968-82. As for GM, 1960 Buicks and Oldsmobile were pitiful excuses for a car. The '57-58 Packards including the Packard Hawks were a disgrace to the Packard Motorcar Company.

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I think you meant 1960-62 Chrysler product. The new bodies come in 63. Even so the Plymouth and Dodge for 63 have some weird looking ft ends. The 64 Plymouth Belvedere finally gets it right- a nice front end too. Belvedere has another great two years 66-67 and another 68-70. The big Fury dosen't make it from 65-70. Of the 65-67 big Fords, the 66 is best with 67 a big 2nd.

Sorry Susan, I like all Falcons until Ford styling ruined it forever with the new body in 1966.

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The original post was about 3 year cycles. I prefer the 49 Ford and Mercury over the 50 and 51 models, perhaps because I am a 49 model. I like the 67 Ford and Mercury more than the 65 and 66's, perhaps because I'm a 67 graduate. As far as the 64-5 Falcon I think the styling theme was actually patterned from the bird and was done very well.

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Seems like some people are confusing facelifts with all new designs.

And I agree. 1958 catfish snout Packards are much worse than their Studebaker stablemates. Especially the Hawk.

1980 full size Cadillac, Olds, Pontiac, Chevy and Buick LeSabre were much less boxy and better looking than the 77-79's. The Electra was the only one that looked good in 78-79. Still didn't like the tailights on the 77. And the 1989 DeVille was a big improvement over 1985.

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Am I the only one who noticed that from 1976-80, all the "personal luxury" cars from all manufacturers looked essentially alike, with their pseudo-Classic grilles and stacked rectangular headlights? As in a Monte Carlo was an Elite was a Cordoba. They ALL looked alike.

Glenn, you are not the only one to notice. The front end of the Cordoba/big Monte Carlo was a particularly noticeable copycat (or should I be nice and say "influence"). The front end of the 1977 LTD II copied this look too but in a lower cost car.

Dandy Dave is correct in how an ugly car can grow on you over time. This is why I held my tongue on the 1957-58 "Packards," all which have been derided since the beginning, but which I can now see would have a certain kitchy appeal, especially as a luxury wagon. Likewise the 1955 Hudson "Hash", hated by Hudson people but which I am finding more interesting. Seems like maybe a cool Nash to me now! Todd

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Ever notice how even an ugly car will sometimes grow on you over time? Like an old stray dog, or cat, that has been beat up and came wandering in the yard. Dandy Dave!

Yeah, I 've noticed that...

When I was in my youth, I really did not care for any of the Kaiser -Frazer cars- they were either plain and ugly ('48-'50), or just "weird" ('51-'54) but they have grown on me...

As for the '61 Plymouth, I can't say it was "good looking", certainly not as easily likeable as the 1960, but I loved my mint-green '61 Belvedere 4dr, and wish I still had it... it was weird-neat...

Here's one that arcs from sucessful to not-so-attractive:

'50-55 Rambler >> '58-'60 American >> '61-'63 American

These three iterations are all built on the same "platform" as the original "Little Nash-Rambler" of 1950, with mostly the same drivetrain components.

The '58-'60 facelift is handsome, if conservative; but frankly, I'm not quite so keen on the second facelift ('61-'63 ) that has become known as the "Bread-Box" Rambler... which I think looks better on the inside - nice dash.

I dearly love my '61 American Custom Convertible, but more for sentimental reasons than aesthetic ones...

Go figure...;)

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Seems like some people are confusing facelifts with all new designs.

1980 full size Cadillac, Olds, Pontiac, Chevy and Buick LeSabre were much less boxy and better looking than the 77-79's. The Electra was the only one that looked good in 78-79. Still didn't like the tailights on the 77. And the 1989 DeVille was a big improvement over 1985.

I have to agree that I was one of them confusing things. As for 70's GM products, I think they handled the round to square headlight transition VERY well in the 76 to 77 Firebird, but not so much with the 75 to 76 Chevelle or Monte Carlo. The dual squares looked great with the waterfall grilles of the Olds Cutlass as well.

I kind of disagree with you saying the 80s were ALL better than the 77-79s. I thought the 2 door Impala/Caprice with its wrap around backlight was quite fetching.

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My favorite facelift , and one that will live forever in automotive design, has to be the "Coke Bottle" transition from the 67 to 68 Dodge Charger! My least favorite is the 69 Ford Torino Fastback transformed into the plug ugly 70 Torino. What they did to the instrument panel alone they should have been shot for!

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Seems like some people are confusing facelifts with all new designs.

1980 full size Cadillac, Olds, Pontiac, Chevy and Buick LeSabre were much less boxy and better looking than the 77-79's. The Electra was the only one that looked good in 78-79. Still didn't like the tailights on the 77. And the 1989 DeVille was a big improvement over 1985.

LINC400, The 1977 large Cadillac like a Coupe de Ville has the same body to 1984. The Fleetwood body goes from 1977 to 1990.

Don

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Hi Don, you are correct of course that the shell was the same, but they did indeed have a facelift in 1980. At a passing glance the changes were pretty subtle as the major design cues were still there, but the design was a little leaner. I guess I would say the nose looked a little lower, the deck a little higher, and the roof and doors a little trimmer. But you have to be looking closely to notice, Todd C

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Am I the only one who noticed that from 1976-80, all the "personal luxury" cars from all manufacturers looked essentially alike, with their pseudo-Classic grilles and stacked rectangular headlights? As in a Monte Carlo was an Elite was a Cordoba. They ALL looked alike.

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OK, so a 1975-79 Seville looks like a 79 Eldorado? A 79 Pontiac Grand Prix looks like a 79 T-Bird or 79 Dodge Charger?? These are all "personal luxury cars" that look alike?? Please look them up and see the difference. I'm not saying the Pontiac G/P dosen't share the same basic platform as the MonteCarlo, all the car makers share platforms. Example; 1955 Chieftain 860 Catalina has the same basic body as a 55 Bel Air, or a 1940 Pontiac series 26 shares it's body with Chevy and a 1940 Pontiac series 29 shares it's body with Cadillac/Buick/Olds. Look at one of my favorite Chevys the 1941, which by Mr. Earl's direction is known as the baby Buick. It is a baby 1940 Buick.

Glenn, most of the cars of the 40's look the same to the person on the street today, but if I put a 79 Seville next to a 79-T-Bird your looking at a big difference.

D.

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Hi Don, you are correct of course that the shell was the same, but they did indeed have a facelift in 1980. At a passing glance the changes were pretty subtle as the major design cues were still there, but the design was a little leaner. I guess I would say the nose looked a little lower, the deck a little higher, and the roof and doors a little trimmer. But you have to be looking closely to notice, Todd C

Hi Todd, Well yes you are correct by saying I was correct. My neighbor had a beautiful 78 Coupe de Ville and got into a bad ft end collision...We put a 83 front end on it. Only a Cadillac guy would know the grille and a few incidentals were different. But they are only incidentals, the basic car was the same. Fenders and hood a perfect match to the doors.

D.

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LINC400, The 1977 large Cadillac like a Coupe de Ville has the same body to 1984. The Fleetwood body goes from 1977 to 1990.

Don

The 1977 body was facelifted in 1980. It continued as the DeVille and Fleetwood through 1984. Then it continued as the Fleetwood Brougham until 1992 with minor facelift in 1990. The Fleetwood name was dropped in 1988, and it was just the Brougham after that.

The 1985 FWD DeVille (all new) also had a Fleetwood version. My father had one. That was facelifted in 1989.

I'm surprised that an '83 front fit on a 1978. I would have thought the lines on the doors and hood would not have lined up. The change was actually pretty significant IMO. Even the roofline was changed. And nothing from the rear would fit.

I agree the 2 door 1977-79 full size Chevy had a cool back window, but the rest of it and the 4 door were still too boxy.

Edited by LINC400 (see edit history)
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