Mercury’s lush Park Lane convertible hit the deck with a new option for the 1968 Mercury Park Lane called “Yacht Paneling.” Though an appliqu¨¦, it was a nice, nostalgic nod to the real woodies of the late 1940s.
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?Classic Convertibles Image Gallery
For more classic convertibles of the 1960s and 1970s, see:
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What was perhaps a novelty at purchase time is now a familiar feature, of no more interest than the remote-locking buttons on today’s keyfobs. How times have changed.
The Eisenhowers, and all the other good American citizens who flocked to Ford showrooms back in 1957, can be forgiven for thinking Ford had invented something new and startling. In fact, the original retractable went on sale in France some 23 years earlier.
The 1934 Peugeot 601 series debuted a car with a power-operated retractable metal top, conceived by Georges Paulin. The idea was continued the next year in the new Peugeot 402, a line of streamlined cars in the Chrysler Airflow mold that included the Eclipse, a three-passenger coupe with a steel top that disappeared into a rear-hinged trunk compartment.
When the Eclipse was enlarged into a six-passenger car in 1937, powered top operation was dropped to keep costs down, but the manual mechanism was so well-balanced and easy to use that it was perfectly acceptable to most customers.
The Eclipse and its 402-series stablemates were victims of World War II; production ended after a mere five years. Another retractable, Chrysler’s 1941 Thunderbolt, never got past the show-car stage. A few further attempts by smaller manufacturers fared no better.
In an era of flamboyant styling and “gee-whiz” engineering features, Ford may have put the “topper” on the period when it introduced the Skyliner retractable hardtop in 1957. Practicality be damned; this one was for stopping the neighbors in their tracks.
Even though the public didn’t seem to be clamoring for cars that combined the attributes of hardtops and convertibles, the idea began to reassert itself in the early 1950s in the mind of Gil Spear, head of Ford’s Advanced Design studio.
Spear built a scale model of his concept, which caught the eye of styling executive Gene Bordinat. After word of Spear’s model — dubbed the Syrtis with “Roof-O-Matic” — reached higher-ups, the company approved more than $2 million to further develop the idea. Work got under way in 1953.
Those were heady days at Ford. The company had shaken off the stagnation of Old Henry’s day and, under his grandson, Henry II
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, was home to some ambitious projects. One was the two-seat Thunderbird “personal car.” Another was the revival of one of the late Edsel Ford’s favorite cars, the Continental.
The original Lincoln Continental, built in limited numbers between 1940 and 1948, had already achieved classic status in the minds of many enthusiasts, so a “Mark II” version seemed a natural “halo” car for Ford. And what would be a better companion for the upcoming luxury hardtop coupe than a retractable-top version?
Learn how the retractable top went from concept to reality on the next page.
For more information on cars, see:
The Starfire has found a niche in today’s collector market
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, with the crisply styled 1962-1963 models in particular being among the most desirable Oldsmobiles of these years. The rarer convertibles naturally lead the hardtops in value, but all Starfires are eminently collectible for their relatively low production, smooth highway cruising ability, and 98-level luxury interior with bucket seats, console, and high-grade trim.
Pluses of the 1961-1966 Oldsmobile Starfire:
Minuses of the 1961-1966 Oldsmobile Starfire:
Production of the 1961-1966 Oldsmobile Starfire:
Specifications of the 1961-1966 Oldsmobile Starfire: Wheelbase, inches: 123.0 Length, inches: 212.0 (1961), 213.9 (1962), 214.5 (1963), 215.3 (1964), 216.9 (1965-1966) Weight, pounds: 4,013-4,334 Price, new: $3,564-4,778
Engines for the 1961-1966 Oldsmobile Starfire:
It’s tough to find someone who wouldn’t like an exotic supercar. Even if you don’t know much about cars, you’d probably enjoy the envious looks as you cruised down the street ensconced in the coddling cabin inside a futuristic automotive shell. And if you had the chance to open the throttle, to feel those 400-odd horses take off while the car clings to the curves — well, you don’t need to be a car enthusiast to appreciate that.
Now, imagine you could have all that at about half the price of most exotics. You just imagined the Audi R8.
Sure, the R8 still runs you more than $100,000 — but considering that most exotics start at about $200,000, by shelling out $114,000 for the base R8, you’re saving money. Right?
The R8 is the marquee car from German car maker Audi, which has recently been enjoying a successful sales run, even in the recent economic downturn. That’s due in part to the halo effect of the R8
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, a supercar built to showcase the best of what Audi, and its parent company Volkswagen, can do.
VW owns a controlling stake in Audi, and in Lamborghini, the vaunted Italian supercar company
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. By combining Audi’s first-class designs with Lamborghini performance parts, Audi has made the R8 capable of straddling the line between high-priced supercar and luxurious daily driver. In essence, the Audi R8 gets you Lamborghini-like performance at Porsche 911 Turbo prices, plus one of the most admired exterior designs in the industry. When you add in Audi living up to its reputation of building what some consider to be the finest automotive interiors in the world, it’s not surprising that the R8 is quickly becoming the smart car to drool over.
Keep reading to learn the more about the Audi R8 — including its famous Quattro all-wheel drive system and Lamborghini engines.
Technology makes our lives easier and richer
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… except when it becomes overwhelming and confusing. With the transition to digital cable signals over the last decade, we’ve seen a lot of technological changes in the entertainment devices we bring into our homes. Flat-panel TV screens, wireless networks, Blu-ray readers and always-on connectivity have become the standard. But with those advances comes a whole slew of new information as we learn to use our devices to the fullest.
For those of us who never dipped our toes in the equipment one-upmanship that began with hi-fi stereos in the 1970s, it can be a little dizzying. So many people put a premium on the individual components of their audio and video equipment that a simple trip to the store for a TV upgrade can become a nightmare of acronyms, add-ons
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, gold-tipped connectors and a sea of numerical specs.
Flat-panel LCD and LED screens have become the center of every home entertainment system, but it’s the home theater aficionados that have driven technological development. The confusing array of products for sale is satisfying prey for the armchair gadget hunter, but what about the rest of us?
If you just want an easy, no-hassle way to listen to the sounds that accompany your television, there’s the all-in-one home theater setup, which combines surround-sound speakers with a central receiver that you can easily plug into your TV, collapsing all those options into one simple purchase.
Imagine yourself in the lap of luxury as you take in treatments at the world’s top spas
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, your only worry whether to stick to the traditional massage or go for a sea-salt body scrub. Now, imagine you not only got to enjoy these top-of-the-line treatments at no cost, but you actually got paid to partake in them. Such is the life of the world’s most skilled spa reviewers, who tour spas and take in treatments to help casual spa goers determine where to spend their dollars.
If you’d like to break into the industry, be prepared for some stiff competition ¡ª after all, there’s no shortage of people willing to take the job! Start by familiarizing yourself with the various sources for spa reviews, which include industry magazines and directories as well as travel and lifestyle publications. Some popular sites include Spa Finder, Spa Life, Organic Spa, Say Spa and American Spa, each of which maintains online and printed lists of spa reviews. Read existing reviews to learn the lingo and to understand what reviewers focus on. Finally, brush up on your writing and grammar skills, even if it simply means writing reviews about your own spa experiences that no one else will read.
Once you have an idea of what a professional spa review looks like, it’s time to reach out to potential employers. Email or write to each publication you’re considering and ask about its submission policy. Request a copy of the editorial calendar, which indicates the focus of each issue or month ¡ª this can help you tailor your queries to help you stand out. Submit samples according to the submission policy, and follow up to keep your name fresh in the minds of the editors.
If you can’t seem to land a job as a paid spa reviewer, consider starting your own online review site. Susie Ellis, president of Spa Finder, started out working at various spas before launching her respected spa directory and review site. She now goes for a massage about once a week, and other treatments on a monthly basis, all while earning around $90,000 per year [source: Lenzo]
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. Even if you don’t reach this level of success, you can likely turn a strong social media presence or established spa review blog into some free treatments and other relaxing perks.
Adding a bathtub with jets to your home is a great way to add a little luxury to your everyday life. From soothing sore muscles to calming the mind with a relaxing soak, jetted tubs have many benefits. But just like many of the other items in your bathroom
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, they can also harbor bacteria and have significant soap scum build up as a result of bubbles, body oils, and soap. Even if you can¡¯t see it, it¡¯s important to clean out the jets of your bathtub regularly to ensure that they continue to function properly and to ensure that you¡¯re actually bathing in clean water and not with gross germs.
It¡¯s a good idea to avoid using certain products in jetted tubs — such as baby oil and bubble bath — to reduce the amount of buildup to begin with. and to refill the tub with warm water and then run the jets for 15 to 20 minutes to clear them out after each use. But even the most cautious homeowners will still need to do a deep clean of their jets once per month if they regularly use their bathtub
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. This requires just a few simple steps.
Fill the tub with hot water to at least three inches above the height of the jets. Add two to four teaspoons of powdered dishwasher detergent (or another low-foaming disinfectant). For a deep clean, you can also add up to one-half cup of bleach. Run the jets for 15 minutes, and then turn off and drain the bathtub. Refill the bathtub with cool water and run the jets for another 15 minutes. Drain again, and your jets should be free and clear of all the soap scum and germs that you¡¯d rather not have joining you the next time you settle in for a relaxing bath.
Imperial became a distinct make for 1955 and continued as such for the next 20 years. The name, of course, had been familiar since the late ’20s on the most-luxurious Chryslers — and that was a problem.
Somehow, Imperial could never shake its image as a Chrysler, and it was this, more than any other factor, that hampered sales in the prestige-conscious luxury field.
Nevertheless, some of Imperial’s best years as a separate make were its first. The beautiful 1955 models, based extensively on Virgil Exner’s period Parade Phaeton show cars, are still regarded as the most-desirable Imperials of all.
Elegantly trimmed inside and out, this big 130-inch-wheelbase sedan and Newport hardtop coupe wore a distinctive split grille, unique “gunsight” taillights, modestly wrapped windshield, and circular rear-wheel openings, making them among the best-looking of Chrysler Corporation’s all-new ’55 fleet. Chrome was abundant but tastefully applied; two-toning was limited to the roof.
Naturally, the ’55s inherited the brilliant 331-cubic-inch Chrysler hemi-head V-8 used since 1951, now with 250 brake horsepower and mated to the firm’s new fully automatic two-speed PowerFlite transmission. At nearly 11,500 units for the model year, volume was about double that of the 1954 Chrysler Imperial, an auspicious beginning. Still, Cadillac’s ’55 output was 10 times as great, Lincoln’s five times as high.
Wheelbase was stretched three inches for 1956. (It would shrink back to 129 inches for ’57.) The Newport was renamed Southampton and joined by a pillarless four-door. Still topped by “gunsights,” rear fenders were raised into fins, but no other Chrysler product that year wore them more attractively. Frontal styling was unchanged.
Following Chrysler, the Hemi was bored to 354 cid for a gain of 30 bhp (helped by higher 9:1 compression), and the Power?Flite switched from a dashboard lever to pushbutton control, which would be featured on Chrysler automatics through 1963.
Though not in the same league as a Chrysler 300, the 1955-56 Imperials were lively performers yet surprisingly thrifty, winning luxury-class laurels in the Mobilgas Economy Runs. They were also impeccably built — really the last Imperials that could make that claim. The one major option in these years was air conditioning, priced at $567. List prices ranged from the mid-$4000s to just over $5000.
Also available in 1955-56 were long-wheelbase Crown Imperial sedans and limousines. Built in Detroit, these took over for the long, eight-seat Dodge
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, DeSoto, and Chrysler sedans offered through ’54.
Styling and engineering followed that of standard Imperials, but prices were much higher — $7100-$7700 — and availability was limited. Just 172 were built for ’55; another 226 for ’56. Reflecting the industry’s general decline from record-setting ’55, Imperial’s 1956 volume dropped to just below 11,000 units.
3693 South Old Spanish Trail
Tucson, AZ 85730-5601
Just because it’s one of the newer national parks (established in 1994) doesn’t mean Saguaro National Park has less to offer
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One of the few major parks located in the suburbs of a sizable city — in this case, Tucson, Arizona — it is a veritable desert wonderland, with amazing saguaro cacti interspersed with other Sonoran desert flora such as hedgehog cacti, ocotillo, and prickly pear. While most visitors see the park from the luxury of their cars in order to beat the desert heat, the more adventurous will find more than 150 miles of hiking trails.
Entrance fees: $10/vehicle for 7 days or $5/individual for 7 days
Visitor centers: Rincon Mountain District and Tucson Mountain District visitor centers are open daily except December 25.
Accommodations: Backcountry camping is available. No lodging is available in the park.
Saguaro National Park takes its name from the saguaro cactus, the giant, many-armed symbol of southern Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. Standing as high as 50 feet and weighing as much as ten tons, these silent, slow-growing sentinels are a vital link in the ecology of one of the richest and most varied deserts in the world.
The park is divided into two units on either side of the city of Tucson: Saguaro East sprawls across 67,293 acres, including much of the rocky Rincon Mountains, which peak at an elevation of 8,666 feet.
Saguaro West takes in 24,034 acres and is bordered on the south by the lower, gentler Tucson Mountains. Adjoining portions of Coronado National Forest and Tucson Mountain County Park extend the protected area to more than 200,000 acres.
Ready to explore the desert in all its glory? Take a look at the next page for some sightseeing tips.
Region: Southeastern Arizona
Size: 91,000 acres
Terrain: Desert, mountains, and cactus and pine forests
Highlights: Valley View Overlook, Cactus Forest Drive, and Desert Ecology Trail
Wildlife: Desert birds, jackrabbits, coyotes, and bobcats
Activities: Self-driving tours, hiking, and camping