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Dave@Moon

Wow!

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My uncle recently passed away, and is about to be interned in Arlington Cemetary. As a result I find myself planning a trip for my family with no notice to see Washington, DC.

In researching online what is available for viewing currently (things have changed dramatically access wise since 9/11) I discovered a new exhibition that just opened on 11/22/03 at the Smithsonian: America on the Move, Exploring the Role of Transportation in American History. If the exhibition is half as good as the web sight presentation linked above it'll be worth the trip alone. (Be prepared to spend a lot of time exploring this web site! smile.gif ) As you would expect, it appears that the automobile dominates the exhibit.

I haven't seen any coverage of this in the hobby press, but it looks like something that shouldn't be missed! Has anybody heard or seen anything of this exhibit? cool.gif

head_mid_15.jpg

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dave,

that's quite a find! I might be in D.C. next month..

Would have not know about it.

I vist Arlington Cementery on every trip to pay respect to a KIA friend from the first Sadam Capper in 1991.

You use to be able to drive your own car in the cementery, not sure what's the deal now.

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Dave, the photo you posted reveals a great deal about the changing automotive landscape of the last forty years. I'm guessing that the photo dates from 1960, given the '60 Plymouth Wagon in the front row and the Plymouth Valiant seen farther back, as well as a couple of '60 Chevrolets noted in the second and third rows.

First observation: Plymouth was a significant force in the marketplace (number 3 in sales during the late 1950's), and I see at least four examples of the marque among the models that can be identified in the photo. For a brand that has now slipped into oblivion, it made a great showing back in 1960. When was the last time anyone saw a 1960 Plymouth? I always thought it was a great facelift of the '57-'59 body, and still remember fondly the series of tiny 1960 Plymouths that were buried inside my cereal boxes as a kid.

Second Observation: Wow -- a Renault Dauphine! This is a great example of one of the small European cars that prompted the Big 3 to introduce the Corvair, Falcon and Valiant. I still remember the lavender one that frequented my neighborhood forty years ago. Renault was never a huge success in the States, and has been absent from our marketplace for the last twenty or so years. Was the Dauphine a decent car, or were its owners plagued by poor performance and miserable reliability? Any Dauphine fans out there?

Third Observation: Apart from one commercial-type truck, everything we see is a passenger car. There are no pickups, SUV's, cross-overs, etc. -- just rows of beautiful passenger cars.

Fourth Observation: No Japanese cars in sight. The drivers of those Plymouths, Fords, and Chevrolets would have laughed at the prospect that Americans would be driving vehicles built in Japan. I'm sure that the '57 Oldsmobile driver even glanced at the French-built Dauphine with great disdain.

Fifth Observation: The cars are all recent models. The oldest vehicle observed is what appears to be a '55 or '56 Plymouth behind the Dauphine. Americans traded their cars frequently, and most of the cars are '58 - '60 models. The '59 Pontiac behind the '57 Olds appears to have sustained some front-end damage. Too bad -- '59 Pontiacs are among the most beautiful cars of the era.

Thanks for the link. I particularly enjoyed the segment on Sandy Blvd. in Portland, Oregon in 1949. Yes, Wallace Buick was one of three major Buick dealerships in the Portland area, and Buicks were exceedingly popular. On trips to the "city", we would often stop at Wallace Buick to check out the vast selection of new Buicks, although we were usually faithful to buy from the small, hometown dealership.

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A buddy had a Dauphine in High School in the 60's. We used to double date in it. I remember it as being a not so bad little car..but maybe that was because before he bought the Dauphine he had an English Ford...or maybe my memory is skewed bacause of the fun I had in the thing with the principal's daughter....ahhhh...memories. Her name was Pugsley...the Renault, not the principal's daughter.

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Brian:

My college roommate in the late 1970's was a Mopar muscle car head. I papered my side of the room with magazine photo's of old cars I liked.

One day, while I was posting a front view picture of a 1960 Fury he asked me (very seriously): <span style="font-weight: bold"> [color:\\"red\\"]

"What did it hit?"</span> grin.gif

One other point you might have made is that there is very little in the way of luxury/high end cars. even the (3 year old) Oldsmobile is a low-end <span style="font-style: italic">88</span> model. Also, did you note the prophetic new Valiant peeking through from the back?

The photo (for the link impaired) is of Chicago rush hour traffic.

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Dave, good point about the preponderance of cars from the "low-priced three". Even the '59 Ford and '60 Chevies appear to be entry level models of their respective brands. I'm guessing that's a Thunderbird convertible ("Squarebird" style) behind the '60 Plymouth wagon, and the convertible is followed by a big-series '58 Buick.

It's also worth noting that at least half the cars have no whitewall tires. Of course, most restorers now consider these to be an obligatory accessory, but I think it's fun to see cars of the era as we often saw them "way back when" -- blackwall tires and all.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">One day, while I was posting a front view picture of a 1960 Fury he asked me (very seriously):

"What did it hit?"

</div></div>

If this was your roommate's response to the '60 Plymouth, one can only guess what he might have said about the 1961 models! But, since you were papering your walls only with your favorites, I suspect that the 1961 model failed to make the cut for your collection. (Would the '61 Plymouth make the cut in anybody's collection?)

In college during the 1970's, I papered my wall with pictures from Motor Trend's restrospective of the '53 Buick Skylark. My roommate papered his side with photos of the new BMW 3.0CS. Interestingly, we concluded that our automotive tastes were strangely parallel and definitely out of the mainstream.

Yes, I noted the Valiant, and I still think these were interesting cars. The styling is unusual, but pleasant. The proliferation of new models in various sizes was about to begin!

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if you notice, who ever put the web pages together really liked the 1950 buick.

The 1950 buick was the first redesign after the war, and the 41d model held the third highest model run until 1973.

(so they say)

This grill over the bumper was the most "american arragant" style, and "they" deamed it the "down year" of buick styling. I like it for it's art deco styling. The dealers really hated all those diffrent sized teeth, which all had diffrent part numbers. 1951 put the grill back inside the bumper.

those bastard!

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Dave,

We sure have. Chesapeake Region was invited to provide several antique cars for the press conference that opened the show. We motored behind Ken Burns and Dr. Kesling who drove from the Ritz Carlton Hotel to the Museum for the conference. Also got to participate in a reception and dinner sponsored by General Motors and preview the exhibit that evening. We also saw excerpts from the PBS program "Horatio's Drive" that featured Horatio Nelson Jackson's record breaking transcontinental drive in a 1903 Winton. Dayton Duncan who collaborated with Ken Burns on this project rode in a CRAACA vehicle! You can find coverage of this event on our Chesapeake Region website "www.aaca.org/chesapeake". Enjoy!

jnp

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Dave,

Thanks for the link. I didn't have time to view the entire site. What I did view was worth the time and effort. I will return to the site in the near future.

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"(Would the '61 Plymouth make the cut in anybody's collection?)"

Well, one DID make the cut in my collection, and not just the picture... smirk.gif

When I was just out of college (c.1990), the local laundramat that I patronized also had a small used-car lot attached. After I had been going there for a few weeks, a minty-green 1961 Plymouth Belvedere sedan appeared on the lot.

Against my "better financial judgement", I talked to the salesman, took the car for a test drive, and wound-up buying it. blush.gifT

The car was a bone stock, orignal 32,000 mile car, with 318 "A-motor", push-button Torqueflite (what else?), manual steering and manual brakes. The body and interior were very clean and good, except for some rust under the headlight pods (bad design...they all rusted there); chrome was excellent.

From the driver's side door pillar (covered from top to bottom with service station stickers), it appears the car was driven about 1,000 miels a year, or less, and probably stayed in a garage when not being driven (interior was not faded or cracked)

While Virgil Exner's aesthetic taste (?) is probably most-questioned when discussing this particular model, it is certainly unique, and I always did like "something different". crazy.gif

The interior was great...green & white, and the dash board had a horizontal "bar-graph" speedometer "floating" above the dash on two standards, which were topped by visored pods which made the whole affair look like a rear view of the starship Enterprise (from the orignal TV series) ! The "pods" contained the turn signal and ammeter on the left side, and the turn signal indicator and idiot light for the oil on the right side.

There was a tube-type factory AM radio (still working). The car even had its original green pebble-rubber floor mats, in great shape!

I drove the car for about five years until "reverse" went-out in the tranny, and I couldn't find anyone to work on it; so I sadly had to make the decision to part with it... frown.gif

Yeah, I guess it was(is) ugly, by most standards, but gosh it was "neat ugly"! cool.gif

Turned lots of heads (don't know about stomachs), andI got lots of "Car 54" comments from older folks! laugh.gif

It's on my list of "cars I'll have (again) some day", although maybe the next '61 will be a Fury HT or Covertible...

For the record, I here that some other "now-landmark" cars were considered "radical" or "ugly" when new, such as the "buck-tooth" '50 Buick (and de Sotos), the Bullet-nosed (and subsequent) Studes, the bathtub Packards & Nashes, etc.

I think the absence of "older cars" in that photo is a demographic thing, pertaining to urban environments...if you went out to the edges of Chicago or the side streets, you'd have found more older-model cars. A family friend (from Baltimore) got a teaching position at Northwestern University in Chicago in the '60s, and is still there...he took his "new" 1961 Chevy out there with him, and still had it in the mid-'80s, even though the floorboards and "eyebrows" had rusted-out by the mid '70s....he did not view it as a collector car; more like a "fond companion". He was driving it until it was finally consigned to the junkyard in the late '80s....

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Frank, thanks for the recollections of the '61 Plymouth. Yes, the styling was unusual to say the least, and I'm pleased to hear that someone has some appreciation for this model. The car's uniqueness and present rarity would certainly make it an interesting piece. Please let us know if you ever run across one.

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Dave, I was there the 3 rd day it was open, just before Thanksgiving. I thought that the it was a good display and worth the time we spent checking it out. I did find one error by the Model T display, it was a collection of early maker logo emblems that was to represent the number of cars built and the number of makers in the early days. In the display, it had an emblem for a Texas car club mixed in with the manufacturers logos. The displays were very well thought out.

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You have to remember that a lot of things happened in 100+ years and it can not be covered in such a limited space. Many of the displays gave a narritive of the vehicle and where and how it was used. I think the exhibit gives a good overview to the uninformed public.

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Thanks for the information Sal. I wasn't expecting the Petersen museum to be there, but I was happy to find something to look at while my wife goggles at the first ladies' inaugural gowns. <span style="font-style: italic">(Said arrangements have already been made!)</span> smirk.gif

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