Posts Tagged ‘Palm Springs’

The Palm Spring car club, Great Autos of Yesteryear, held its fourth annual Casual Concours this past Saturday October 20, 2012.  Past events were held at the Indian Canyons Golf Club in south Palm Springs; however, this year, it moved to the aptly-named Desert Princess Country Club in Cathedral City.

The sun was shining and a nice breeze cooled down the 90 degree weather.  While light wasn’t optimal for pictures, everyone was snapping away at the gorgeous, graceful dinosaurs, most from the glory days of the Big 3 Detroit automakers. The paint was flawless and the chrome was polished like within an inch of its last layer.

The lovely new Palm Springs Animal Shelter. Like any municipal animal shelter, it needs volunteers and donations (both cash and in-kind) to fulfill its mission.

Proceeds from the show ($10 general admission) went to benefit the Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, which supports the shelter, and are dedicated to building a community for responsible pet stewardship and the humane treatment of animals. The City of Palm Springs built a beautiful new animal shelter and now the City doesn’t have the money to run it properly.  Big surprise, huh? It’s nice to be able to help our furry friends in need.

Below are pictures I took at the event. I arranged them by year, just for simplicity. Enjoy!

1941 Lincoln Continental Convertible. If you look at he grille of this Lincoln, it is the inspiration for the all-new grille and face of Lincoln on the 2013 Lincoln MKZ.

1941 Studebaker Starlite.

1953 Bentley R-Type

This lovely 1955 Buick Roadmaster certainly has presence.

The portholes on each side of this Buick Roadmaster tells us there is a V8 under the hood – four portholes on each side for the eight cylinders. In 1955 this detail really stood out. Today, Buick still uses portholes, but they look fairly lame in plastic chrome and are non-functional.

The rear of the 1955 Buick Roadmaster.

A lemon yellow 1956 Lincoln Premier

I love the interior dash of the 1955 Lincoln Premiere. It was common to match the exterior color inside.

Fins were a distinctive styling cue in the 1950s and early 1960s. 1956 Lincoln Premier.

I think this was the only wagon at the show. This 1957 Ford Del Rio Ranch Wagon was lovingly restored and just fabulous.

As with other cars of the era, the exterior color carried into the interior. 1957 Ford Del Rio Ranch Wagon.

I’m old enough to remember family trips in our station wagon with a cooler and Thermos. The owners of this 1957 Ford Del Rio went all out with the accessories.

This is the first generation of the Chevrolet Impala. This turquoise 1958 Impala Convertible sure makes a statement.

Interior of the 1958 Chevy Impala Convertible. Turquoise everywhere – get out the sunglasses.

This is a model you don’t see often. It’s a 1959 DeSoto Adventura. At this time, DeSoto was part of Chrysler and shared many parts, drivetrains and styling similarities with stablemates Dodge and Plymouth.

Interior of the 1959 DeSoto Adventura.

1959 Plymouth Fury. Christine, anyone?

Interior of the 1959 Plymouth Fury. Love the push button transmission.

Ford didn’t make the Skyliner for very long. This lovely 1959 Ford Skyliner shows how its hard top retracts into the trunk. Fast forward five decades and the retractable hardtop is back again on cars like the BMW 3-Series convertible and the Volkswagen Eos.

This is a 1961 Buick Electra 225. It was really two hundred and twenty five inches long. Try fitting this into a modern garage!

The owner of this 1961 Buick LeSabre Convertible was very proud of his engine bay.

A 1961 Chrysler Imperial LeBaron. It looks very upright and proper, doesn’t it?

This was my favorite car of the show and it didn’t photograph well because of the shadows. It’s a 1961 Chrysler Newport with a cream body and deep burgundy top.

Here’s a side view of the 1961 Chrysler Newport.

The rear of the 1961 Chrysler Newport sports fins AND a spare tire relief. 

Check out this detailed chrome and paint Chrysler badge.

My favorite interior color is red and this 1961 Chrysler Newport interior was very red – everywhere – and the detail of the instruments as well as the other driver controls was just exquisite.

1963 Studebaker Avanti. It was designed in Palm Springs by Raymond Lowe. It still looks futuristic today. Fantastic design.

The interior of the 1963 Studebaker Avanti is light, airy and sporty. High quality materials were used. It was meant to be a halo car for the dying Studebaker brand.

I love this sticker that still exists on the rear window of this Avanti. In those days, air conditioning was a luxury feature. Today, it’s standard.

The rear of the Studebaker Avanti.

This 1965 Buick Wildcat Convertible was just majestic and wide. Great proportions.

The interior of the 1965 Buick Wildcat was very sporty for the day. Great steering wheel.

I particularly liked this 1965 Chevrolet Malibu SS. It’s small by 1965 standards and you rarely see it in black with the white interior. It still wears its original California black plates — always a plus for collectors.

Chevrolet was the entry level brand for GM, and this 1965 Malibu SS is spartan by Buick, Oldsmobile or Cadillac standard, but I think it really works in this car.

There was only one Mustang at the show, but this1965 Ford Mustang GT Fastback in bright orange was nice to see. I’ve always like the fastbacks best, possibly because of their rarity.

I think this is a 1965 Buick Riviera. The first generation (1963-1965) has always been my favorite.

What a fantastic interior on this 1965 Buick Riviera. That wood in the center console was real wood and it was very expensive to build. It still looks sharp.

This 1965 Cadillac Coupe de Ville Convertible has presence. Cadillac was the king of the road in the 1960s.

This 1966 Chrysler New Yorker still wears its original paint and interior.

Interior of the 1966 Chrysler New Yorker.

This 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado has great fastback, futuristic styling. This car was meant for a wealthy executive.

Interior of the 1966 Olds Toronado. Check out that scrolling speedometer and flat floor. The Toronado, like the Cadillac Eldorado of the same era, was a front drive car. Front drive was very rare in the 1960s.

A “humble” 1968 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible. There weren’t a lot of pony or muscle cars at the event.

This 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible outshines the red 1968 Camaro above. The SS Convertible is among the most collectible of the muscle cars of the 1960s.

1969 Pontiac Grand Prix Model J. It has a 400 cubic inch engine with 350 horsepower. You don’t see many cars this color any longer.

This 1970 Mercury Cyclone Spoiler is fairly rare. Yellow must have been a popular color in those years, as yellow cars seemed to be in abundance at the show. This muscle car looks menacing with the gigantic hood scoop.

The interior of this 1970 Mercury Cyclone looks a bit drab, but the Hurst 4-on-the-floor shifter is a signal that it’s ready for a race – but only in a straight line.

The rear of the 1970 Mercury Cyclone Spoiler.

This is a clean example of the landmark BMW 2002 sedan. It became the benchmark for all sports sedans and it is the forerunner of the modern BMW 3-series. This 1972 2002 looked a bit lonely as it was the only BMW and one of only a few imported cars at the show.

I don’t think the later half of the 1970s were great years for GM. But you have to love this very green 1976 Chevrolet Monte Carlo with that lovely white vinyl opera roof.

And if the green exterior of the 1976 Chevy Monte Carlo wasn’t enough, you got to look at a sea of pea green inside too. Wow. Also note the really cheap-looking fake plastic wood inserts. GM wouldn’t have done that even a decade earlier.

I couldn’t resist including a picture of this 1979 Pontiac Trans Am. That’s a decal on the hood, not paint, so most didn’t last well after years of washing, sun, rain and snow.
Smokey and the Bandit anyone?

What may be a future classic is this 1990 Buick Reatta. It was meant to be a personal luxury roadster for an executive. It’s not bad – but check out the picture below of its original sticker.

This is the original window sticker for this 1990 Buick Reatta Convertible. No wonder so few were sold. $36,641 – wow. Over its 4 model year run (1988-1991) only 21,751 units were sold. GM had hoped for 20,000 PER YEAR. The convertible was only sold in 1990 and 1991 and was done by an outside firm (ACS) so the price got jacked up beyond what most people would pay for a Buick.


Buick has been on an evangelical mission to find younger buyers as it’s older ones die off or abandon the brand. The new Lacrosse and Regal are pretty nice entries into the crowded compact/mid-size sedan field — it’s just hard to stand out.

2011 Buick Regal CXL

2011 Buick Regal interior

The upcoming Verano, a rebadged and gussied-up Chevy Cruze, should be interesting too.  However, Buick’s long-tarnished image as a car only for your grandparents presents an almost insurmountable barrier for younger buyers and a difficult challenge for even the most talented marketing team.

2012 Buick Verano

2012 Buick Verano interior

Buick recently dropped its long-time sponsorship of the Pro Golf tournaments (old folks) in favor of the NCAA basketball March Madness hoop-a-thon (young folks).   Buick is also sponsoring “Quest for the Keys” in various cities across the country.  The ultimate prize is a Buick.  It’s a scavenger hunt with clues on Facebook and Twitter – you know, where the young, hip customers lurk.

All the marketing muscle is showing some progress as the average age of a  Buick buyer has dropped from 70+ to 60.  However, this is still too high for GM.

Finding a Buick dealer in metro LA is harder than the Quest for the Keys scavenger hunt.  The Chevy/Buick store at Centinela and Santa Monica Blvd in Santa Monica is now an Infiniti dealer and while Buick’s website still shows them there (or nearby) I drive by it frequently and can’t find the store to save my life.  There are two dealers in the Valley (Woodland Hills and Sherman Oaks); but after that, you have to go to Penske Cadillac Buick GMC South Bay in Torrance.   If you live in Metro LA,  you aren’t going to Torrance to get service and you may not want to drive to the Valley either.

So aside from the challenge of finding a dealer, this New Rule must apply: When you drive into a Buick dealership, the first car you see can’t have a Landau roof, gold package and Vogue tires.

Jessup Auto Plaza (Cadillac, Buick, Chevrolet and GMC) in Cathedral City, California probably has lots of older customers – and that’s a good thing. But this is what you see as you drive onto their lot:

2011 Buick Regal - All dressed up and ready for ??

This Regal was laden with all the relics of times long past.  The “custom top” in canvas just looks wrong.

Vogue tires, chrome wheels... ugh.

Someone spent a lot of time to do this roof. Note the special chrome-like trim that "tricks" you into thinking it's a convertible. How about those two-tone pin stripes?

This custom coach even gets a special grill. It screams bad taste.

Note the "gold package" Buick crest and model designations - a theme carried out anywhere they could stick one. Fake gold veneer everywhere.

I don’t know how much this package cost, but it wasn’t cheap.

I had gone to Jessup to test drive the Chevy Cruze with a friend.  The pimped-out Regal was astonishing, but more treats awaited us on the Chevy side of the dealership.  There was a Malibu and an Impala with this special package of “upgrades.”

The Chevy Malibu, an all-star in the rental fleets, gets the special canvas top, gold applique, Vogue tires and chrome wheels.

Here’s the window sticker of the Malibu:

Let me translate. MSRP of the Malibu - $28,385; Custom top, gold package, Vogue tyres, mesh grill - $4,480; Pin stripes - $249. Total add-ons: $4,729. Wow.

If this package cost this much for the Malibu, it must have been at least that much on the Buick Regal.

But wait, there’s more!  I can’t believe anyone buys a Chevy Impala, the top star of rental fleets. It’s about as boring and anonymous as it gets.  It makes a Toyota Camry look glamorous.  Here is the Impala with the same grotesque package:

My, what a fetching face for this Impala. Not. It's destined for someone's garage.

Rental car no longer. This car says something about its owner: Bad taste.

The Impala's butt - either you're asleep by now or wide-eyed with amazement that these kinds of packages still find an customers.

Bottom line: If Buick wants younger customers, they can’t put these laughable relics on full display in front of the dealership.  Keep them in the back or in a special spot off to the side.  If a customer was wavering on the Buick brand and was concerned about its image as an “old person’s car” then this kind of display will kill the deal and send they to another brand.

Dealers are the all-important point-of-contact with customers.  Buick dealers must sync with regional and national marketing efforts. If they’re not, Buick will fail to find the younger buyers it so desperately covets.