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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • GEORGE WASHINGTON CROSSING THE PIES

Downsized: 1977

Downsized: 1977

New Chevrolet meets Old Cadillac circa 1977 in Medford, Mass., on the corner of Mystic Avenue and Harvard Street at a service station whose name escapes me. Not the best time for American cars! View full size.

This was the one

I have been watching this site now for about a month and am fascinated with it. After seeing this photo I had to sign up for a login. Rizzman, your photos of New England might as well been projections of my own memories. I went to school in Warwick RI and spent a lot of time in the greater Boston area with friends on the weekends. Seeing this photo reminds me of the 1985 Buick LeSabre coupe i was driving at the time. It looked identical to the '77 Caprice Aerocoupe in this picture. It also got the same gas mileage too! Seeing this image really reminded me of all those good times growing up in New England. Thanks again!

Taxi

I drove a lot of third-generation Caprices and sixth-generation Impalas as taxis during the eighties (never could tell the difference between 'em). They easily outdrove and outclassed all the beater Fords and Chryslers: peppier, smoother ride, and most important of all, you could pull a U-turn within four lanes, a huge advantage for a cabby on an average downtown street. I worked at a nasty multi-car garage in Toronto and drove a different taxi every night. When I came to work, all I really wanted was one of those Chevies.

History Lover is Right

That '67 DeVille *does* look quite rough for its age. I've had a '65 forever, never babying it. It doesn't fit in the garage so a herd of Jaguars live there. So the Cadillac has sat outside for all its 46 years. In spite of that, I've none of the rust visible on the one in our photo. And I've never hit or been hit (in any car), so my doors still match the body color. These old mid-60s Cadillacs were built to last forever. If they don't they were abused and neglected. (That said, this example, while ugly, may well still be providing reliable service.)

35 years gone by

The station is still there, selling "7"? gasoline. Curiously there seems to be a payphone remaining where the booth once stood. The house on the right in the photo, remains.

Cost

Not only did GM downsize their cars that year they also cut the profit margins to the dealers from 22% to 15%. This resulted in a lot of problems for both regular customers and dealers who were used to getting and giving anywhere from 18 to 20% discounts. GM also advertised at the same time that they had no price increases when in reality they raised the price by 7% to the dealer. This allowed the manufacturer to look good to the public and made the dealers to look like liars. We had a joke about manufactures representatives at that time. It was how can you tell if a rep is lying. His lips are moving.

I think that was a 1968 land yacht

My father had a '68 Cadillac at the time I started driving. It was massive, and it was a beige shade that had you refraining from the use of "pink", but just barely. I believe it was a 492 cubic inch V-8 which ran on leaded premium and returned upwards of 9 MPG. What a beast!

[Taillight housing shows it to be a 1967. - tterrace]

10 years old

If I'm not mistaken, the Caddy looks like a 1967 Sedan de Ville. Looks a little rough for its age.

In with the New...

I wish I could put my finger on what makes this series of pictures so fascinating, but whatever it is--keep 'em coming! They are terrific.

I owned an '81 Caprice, but mine was a 4-door. Good thing gas was still relatively cheap back then. Even with a V-6, it was a guzzler!

I wonder how many kids today have never even seen a phone booth.

Keep 'Em Coming, Rizzman

I love seeing your photos. So much to see here. The North American Van Lines and 7Up trailers. Can't make up my mind which Chevy steals the show though.

1977 Chevrolet

Whoo - I never liked those cars, but the later years of the same body style (can you imagine the same basic body style lasting about 13-14 years today?) were vastly improved with the automatic transmission with overdrive. They were very solid cars and you still see them on the road fairly often. Interestingly enough, the 1977 GM intermediate cars (Malibu, etc.) were just as large as the full size cars for that one year (the intermediates were redesigned in 1978).

Fantastic

A beautiful photo. Just had to remark on it as this so captures the times in more ways than one. What a shot.

The lights are on, but nobody's home

I'm curious as to why the lights are on inside the phone booth. I thought they only came on when someone went inside and completely shut the door.

[The Bell System Airlight booths, introduced 1954, were illuminated 24/7. - tterrace]

I didn't realize that, and have never personally seen one that's lit all the time. Thanks for the update! I also love those print ads for them. I wonder though, if little Fido opted to leave a "present" just outside the door for the next caller. - Uncle George

Beginning of the end

While the '77 GM full-size models represented a sea change from the behemoths of '76, it was a major step in killing whatever brand identity remained across the makes. This was the year they started putting Chevy engines in Oldses, Buick engines in Pontiacs--ironically only Chevy continued on using its very own small block V-8s and sixes. This body was recycled endlessly until about 1991 until it became useful only as a taxi or police car. If the end of the 70's was bad, the 80's would only get worse with endless reorganizations and no real direction for the company.

A move in the right direction

I was in my 20's at the time and HATED that New Chevrolet. In retrospect, this was the best thing to happen to American cars. In a year or so I would get a 1978 model.

Apply Yourself

First off - another rizzman night-shot with those Adams tones and depth -- the ordinary is made evocative, and I just drool over the way you have managed and realized this series of photos. Kudos!

Secondarily - looks like there was a bit of a QC problem with whoever produced and applied the Chevy ad: the sections of the paper don't seem to quite match up.

Wonder if anyone noticed? Other than the paper-hangers, that is.

Whatta great photo!

More Noir

It looks like a crime is about to go down, the lit Phone Booth only enhances that effect.

 
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