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Help me identify these cars!
January 13, 2011 12:51 AM   Subscribe

What are the makes/models/years of the cars in this photo?

Having grown up in New York City, and thus relatively sheltered from automobile culture, I have absolute no car sense. I'm working on an art/performance project that involves some research into the film from which the above-linked panorama is stitched. I assume there isn't enough info in the picture to be able to identify the car in the back, but any information you might be able to give on either car would be much appreciated.

In looking back over the image, I noticed that there's a weird glitch in how the photo was stitched together. On the white car in front, the locking mechanism on the trunk is, in fact, centered over the logo below it - not slightly offset, as it is in the panorama. You can look at this photo (a frame from the film) as reference.
posted by TheRoach to Media & Arts (13 answers total)
 
That's a Chrysler logo on the back of the station wagon.
posted by amyms at 1:41 AM on January 13, 2011


The wagon is a 1967 Pontiac. Not sure which model, it appears to be upper-crust with the extra trim, so is probably not a Catalina. I think other choices were Bonneville, Safari (unlikely, wood grain was standard), GTO, Executive (?) and if was Canadian-built perhaps a Grand Parisienne.
posted by maxwelton at 2:19 AM on January 13, 2011


The wagon is a 1967 Pontiac.

No wonder I couldn't match the tail lights to any Chryslers! (besides, I had a d'oh moment when I realized the logo in the pic looks like a new Chrysler logo, not one that would have been correct for the pic's time period).

Anyway, the tail lights on the pic look like they match the Catalina (here's another example). The thing that gives me pause is that the car in the pic looks like a 2-door (unless it's an optical illusion from the way the pic was pieced together) and there were no 2-door Catalinas, although there were other makes of 2-door wagons, as impractical as that sounds.

OP, do you have any information on the provenance of the pic?
posted by amyms at 3:09 AM on January 13, 2011


the car in the pic looks like a 2-door (unless it's an optical illusion from the way the pic was pieced together)

If you take another look you'll notice the two chrome spots that are the door handles - the rear door handles were mounted higher up than the front. I'd say we're looking at a 4-door.
posted by davey_darling at 5:24 AM on January 13, 2011


The red car sort of looks like an early Galaxie with the round (maybe) taillights.
posted by Big_B at 2:32 PM on January 13, 2011


amyms, I'm guessing it's not a Catalina as the extra chrome on the OP's car suggests a different "model" Pontiac (they were all the same car, with different engines, chrome trim and other amenities). I cannot find a photo of what the trim on the Executive looks like, but that would be my best guess.
posted by maxwelton at 3:46 PM on January 13, 2011


I would agree with maxwelton that the white car is a 1967 Bonneville station wagon (in the second photo, you can see the model name).

The red car I have no idea.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:33 PM on January 13, 2011


Thanks for all the feedback so far - super helpful. Unfortunately, I don't really have much more information on the provenance of the pics - they're frames from an 8mm home movie I bought at a flea market. I made a totally from-the-gut guess that the film is from the early-to-mid 1960s, and the year of the Pontiac makes it sound like I wasn't too far off. As you can see here, the door handles/side are pretty accurately represented in the panorama - from what I can see looking closely, I'm inclined to agree that it's 4-door.

Just out of curiosity, since it's not a world I know well, what were the details on the car that enable it to be placed, unequivocally, as a 1967 model?
posted by TheRoach at 4:47 PM on January 13, 2011


Here's an example of the 1967 Bonneville wagon (thumbs up to maxwelton and Sidhedevil).

Just out of curiosity, since it's not a world I know well, what were the details on the car that enable it to be placed, unequivocally, as a 1967 model?

I can't speak for maxwelton (he's the one who first pegged it as a 1967) but if you look at Pontiac wagons from other years, the tail lights are different (examples: 1966 Catalina, 1968 Bonneville). The only model year that matches the tail lights in the pic is 1967.
posted by amyms at 9:00 PM on January 13, 2011


Yeah, it was the tailights. American cars aren't really my specialty but twin vertical lights on the back of a wagon are pretty unusual.

My process went like this (using google images):

--> Hm. 1960s American wagon. Unusual tail lights.
--> Late 60's, I'm guessing.
--> Not Ford or Mopar, that pretty much leaves GM.
--> Hm, body style matches '68 Chevrolet, specifically even height of glass top along car sides and the trim around the rear window and how the rear door is opened and where the handle is.
--> Those tail lights, though. Not Chevy. And Chevys all have different badging.
--> Different GM product? Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick, Cadillac (nah)?
--> None of the '68s match. When was the body style introduced?
--> Repeat from '65 through to '67, each brand.
--> '67 Pontiac. Aha!

I could not read Bonneville, and it's damned hard to find rear shots of old wagons, they haven't survived in great numbers, hence my inability to pin it down, given the time I had available.
posted by maxwelton at 9:47 PM on January 13, 2011


It also helped that my very first gut reaction was "Pontiac" for reasons I can't explain. Also, I had eliminated Chevys, and Olds was in its "Vista Cruiser" era by the mid-late 60s; by the time I was doing the by-year-and-brand search I really was down to whether it was a Pontiac or a Buick, and knew it was unlikely to be a Buick.

Nice thing about your request was that I knew it could be solved before I started, given what could be seen, and I'm glad Sidhedevil was able to pick out "Bonn" and amyms confirmed it with the brochure for a 100% positive ID.

(Requests for IDs on non-Ford 1920s cars where all you can see is a wheel and a bit of the hood are essentially impossible most of the time, and that's kind of sad.)
posted by maxwelton at 9:59 PM on January 13, 2011


Hurray for the hive-mind! Thanks so much, all. Very helpful.
posted by TheRoach at 2:15 AM on January 14, 2011


Big_B: "The red car sort of looks like an early Galaxie with the round (maybe) taillights."

That's definitely a Ford, and I, too, am going with a Galaxie, but my guess would be that it's a 1967 with the vertical rectangular taillights, one to each side.

Could be the round ones like you say, though. Tough to tell what the rear fender line really looks like in that image.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 12:07 PM on January 15, 2011


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