Archive for the ‘Ford’ Category


It’s nearing the end of high season in Palm Springs. Our many Canadian and other cold weather refugee friends are preparing to go back to their thawing northern homes. The temperatures are in the upper 80s and it’s between The Dinah and the White Party.  About 40 miles east, young hipsters and A through D-List Celebrities are dancing, partying and passing out from the heat during the second weekend of the world-famous Coachella Music Festival. So what better time than to showcase antique (read: Classic) automobiles from the glory days of the American auto industry – primarily 1950 – 1972. First Annual Palm Springs Region Antique Automobile Club of America

The setting was Sunrise Park in the heart of Palm Springs on the northeast corner of Ramon Road and Sunrise Way on the lovely lawns between the Palm Springs Library and the Boys and Girls Club.

I’m not sure this event was organized well as there were only a few dozen cars on display. I’d seen many of them before at the annual Casual Concours from the gay car club Great Autos of Yesteryear. This simple Ford Coupe wasn’t in the show – it was parked in library lot.  It certainly qualified as an “antique” (in my mind) more than some of the “classic” cars on display. I loved the license plate from the World’s Fair in California in 1939.

1939 Ford Coupe. Check out the original gold and blue California plate commemorating the 1939 World's Fair!

1939 Ford Coupe. Check out the original gold and blue California plate commemorating the 1939 World’s Fair!

The turquoise and black color scheme of the Studebaker Hawk is wild.

The turquoise and black color scheme of the Studebaker Hawk is wild.

The quilted pattern upholstery inside this Studebaker Hawk was flawless. I don't know if this was an original feature, but it sure looked great.

The quilted pattern upholstery inside this Studebaker Hawk was flawless. I don’t know if this was an original feature, but it sure looked great.

I'd never seen this car before. It's a 1952 Cunningham C-3 Coupe. These cars were hand-made in Florida.

I’d never seen this car before. It’s a 1952 Cunningham C-3 Coupe. These cars were hand-made in Florida.

The fastback style of this 1952 Cunningham Coupe reminds me of the brand new Rolls-Royce Wraith.

The fastback style of this 1952 Cunningham Coupe reminds me of the brand new Rolls-Royce Wraith.

Great badge, huh?

Great badge, huh?

This 1960 Chevrolet Impala Hardtop Coupe was terrific in this fire engine red color.

This 1960 Chevrolet Impala Hardtop Coupe was terrific in this fire engine red color.

You just don't see interiors like this anymore. Everything matches the exterior color. Check out cast steel gauge cluster. You don't want to hit your head on this! Hard to find hounds-tooth fabric in a car anymore.

You just don’t see interiors like this anymore. Everything matches the exterior color. Check out cast steel gauge cluster. You don’t want to hit your head on this! Hard to find hounds-tooth fabric in a car anymore.

No expense was spared for the interior of these Cadillacs.

No expense was spared for the interior of these Cadillacs.

Ah, for the good old Atomic/Jet Age days. I love the Impala logo integrated into a stylized jet.

Ah, for the good old Atomic/Jet Age days. I love the Impala logo integrated into a stylized jet.

A 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Seville was the top-of-the-line for Cadillac. These beasts cost a fortune.

A 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Seville was the top-of-the-line for Cadillac. These beasts cost a fortune.

No expense was spared for the interior of these Cadillacs.

No expense was spared for the interior of these Cadillacs.

This was one of the most beautiful Cadillacs ever produced (IMHO). This is a 1967 Eldorado.

This was one of the most beautiful Cadillacs ever produced (IMHO). This is a 1967 Eldorado.

There are no bad angles for this gigantic front drive car - a rarity in 1967.

There are no bad angles for this gigantic front drive car – a rarity in 1967.

A 1951 Studebaker Commander.

A 1951 Studebaker Commander.

I believe this is a 1958 Chrysler New Yorker. Love the fins.

I believe this is a 1960 Chrysler New Yorker. Love the fins.

The Gen II Corvair was my favorite body style. This 1966 Convertible looks sharp in aqua.

The Gen II Corvair was my favorite body style. This 1966 Convertible looks sharp in aqua.

The Corvair interior was simple but well sorted. The thin steering wheel, horn ring and shifter gave the interior a light, airy feeling.

The Corvair interior was simple but well sorted. The thin steering wheel, horn ring and shifter gave the interior a light, airy feeling.

This Corvair has the turbo flat 6 engine making a powerful 180 hp.

This Corvair has the turbo flat 6 engine making a powerful 180 hp.

Chevy made some amazing muscle cars in the 1960s, This 1967 Chevelle Super Sport had the 396 engine option.

Chevy made some amazing muscle cars in the 1960s, This 1967 Chevelle Super Sport had the 396 engine option.

The interior of the 1967 Chevelle Super Sport.

The interior of the 1967 Chevelle Super Sport.

The hood stretches out for miles on this 1970 Ford Thunderbird. Underneath, it was a Ford LTD.

The hood stretches out for miles on this 1970 Ford Thunderbird. Underneath, it was a Ford LTD.

2014 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Ford Mustang. This lovely 1969 Mustang GT still looks amazing in its blue suit.

2014 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Ford Mustang. This lovely 1969 Mustang GT still looks amazing in its blue suit.

Under the hood is a 351 Cleveland.

Under the hood is a 351 Cleveland.

The aftermarket wood steering wheel looks period-appropriate in the 1969 Mustang GT. Some will lament that it has a 3-speed automatic transmission, but it makes for a great cruiser.

The aftermarket wood steering wheel looks period-appropriate in the 1969 Mustang GT. Some will lament that it has a 3-speed automatic transmission, but it makes for a great cruiser.

 


Just a couple weeks after Buerge Jeep-Chrysler-Dodge-Ram closed forever, the other Buerge enterprise, Buerge Ford at 11800 Santa Monica Blvd in West LA, also shuttered.

The sad sack building and nearly empty parking lot tell a story.

The sad sack building and nearly empty parking lot tell the story.

Unfortunately, it comes as no surprise that both dealerships tanked. The clueless management and hapless sales staff  - hallmarks of the Chrysler store – were only marginally better at the Ford store.

I shopped at Buerge Ford a few times over the years and I always came away with the feeling that the salesman seemed depressed and resigned to losing a sale. The test drive inevitably consisted of a short, four-right-turn-course, with busy Santa Monica Blvd as the “rewarding” home stretch. This kind of useless short route is all too typical of dealer test drive routes in L.A.

The physical facility always looked dated and in need of attention. Whether it was a leaky roof or just the cramped showroom, the whole place should have been torn down and replaced years ago. I assumed that there just wasn’t enough money to do any upgrades.  These days, owning only two small dealerships isn’t enough mass to compete with the large dealer groups that dominate the LA market. The tiny physical footprint occupied by Buerge Ford also made any major expansion a challenge. And any hint of large-scale development is met with opposition from well-financed NIMBY neighborhood groups.

There didn't seem to be any hurry to dismantle the service bays, but all of tools and equipment was being moved out.

There didn’t seem to be any hurry to dismantle the service bays.

The only difference from closing the Chrysler store is a referral to another dealer.  Big banners at Buerge Ford point bewildered customers to Airport Marina Ford at 5880 W. Centinela Ave, not far from LAX.  For many, that’s just too far out of their daily orbit. Santa Monica Ford will likely pick up most of the business.

Buerge Ford Customers are referred to Airport Marina Ford near LAX.

Buerge Ford Customers are referred to Airport Marina Ford near LAX.

Interestingly, a few remaining cars were marked to go to different Ford dealerships. This pathetic-looking Fiesta was marked to go to Santa Monica Ford. I wonder how much longer it sat before it was driven a couple miles west to its new home.

This Fiesta was tagged to go to Santa Monica Ford. The thick layer of dust and wilted paper tag are a clue that the car has been sitting like this for at least a week or two.

This Fiesta was tagged to go to Santa Monica Ford. The thick layer of dust and wilted paper tag are a clue that the car has been sitting like this for at least a week or two.

Both Chrysler (including Jeep, Dodge and Ram Trucks) and Ford have numerous blockbuster models including the Ford F-150 pickup truck and the Jeep Grand Cherokee.  There should be a very strong market in wealthy West LA for both brands.  At least for Ford customers, there are two stores (Santa Monica and Airport Marina) in the same area 310 code.  No such luck yet for us Chrysler Group owners (I own a Dodge Charger).

I found parts of the Buerge Motor Car Company website were still active.  Here’s the Buerge story:

Buerge Ford is one of the longest continually active Ford franchises in California and the United States.

We trace our roots back to 1915 in Westwood.  Buerge Ford has been selling cars and trucks, servicing cars and trucks, and selling parts for cars and trucks for over ninety-three (93) years! On top of that we are on Route 66 – the “mother road” of the West! Located just under a mile from the 405 Freeway at 11800 Santa Monica Boulevard. Buerge Ford and Buerge Chrysler Jeep are family run local businesses that have sold and serviced new Ford, Chrysler, and Jeep cars and trucks for decades. We’ve got grandfathers and grandmothers, fathers and mothers, who bring their children and grandchildren in for their first new car or truck. We have families and friends who have purchased cars here for generations.

We offer superior service and extraordinary deals for all automotive needs and transactions. As an example, Blue Oval is the Ford Motor Company’s exclusive measuring tool to seek out and reward the best of the best – the best Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers in America and California. (Like the J. D. Power Awards). Buerge Ford has been Blue Oval Certified every year this customer satisfaction program has existed.

In the internet age, I’m not sure that being “Blue Oval Certified” means much. I don’t know anyone who has a “personal relationship” with a dealer or car salesperson. You’re more likely to have a business relationship with the service department than sales. For most, going to a car dealer for anything has all the appeal of a stint in a dentist’s chair. The only silver lining for the Buerge family is that the real estate – two full blocks in West LA –  is probably worth a small fortune.

Buerge Ford lasted for 99 years. It’s a shame it didn’t make it to 100 in 2015.