Birth Year V: The Murkins, Part 2

This week as promised, we’ll look at the smaller U.S. car companies and their 1954 offerings:

DeSoto Firedome

DeSoto Powermaster

Hudson Hornet

Kaiser Special

Nash Metropolitan

Packard Caribbean

Studebaker Commander

I know the “Studdy” has many fans, but it’s only the best of a very bad bunch.  By popular demand, here’s the 1954 Corvette:

Thanks, but if we’re going to do 1954 sports cars, I’ll still take the Mercedes 300SL, thank you:

Which brings to the end of the 1954 Birth Year series.  Thank you all for playing along.

…and even though I don’t do Hallmark holidays, here’s one for all us dads, today:

And for the record, here’s Your Humble Narrator and the Son& Heir, each pic taken at age 23:

Didn’t even bounce.

Birth Year IV: The Murkins, Part One

I never saw any of these cars while growing up in South Africa, and I might as well be talking Sanskrit as about them and their characteristics — nor am I that keen to learn much about them either — so I’m counting on my GearHead Readers to step up to the plate and add their thoughts in Comments.  All I can say is that as far as I’m concerned, pretty much all of these behemoths are as ugly as a boil on  a pretty girl’s face.  And just remember:  it’s not a complete catalogue, just a list of cars that came onto the market in 1954, and that caught my eye for one reason or another.

Cadillac Eldorado

Chrysler New Yorker

Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight

Ford Crestliner

Pontiac Star Chief

Chevrolet Bel-Air

Plymouth Belvedere

Lincoln Capri

Mercury Monterey

Ye gods.  And I thought that modern car design was Clone Central.  If someone were to tell me that I had  to pick one of the above for a daily drive, I think I’d go with a Colt 1911 Single Bullet model.

Next week we’ll be looking at the products of the smaller car manufacturers of the time (none of which have survived till today).  Maybe there’ll be some design differences there… but somehow, I’m not optimistic.

I think I’ll just revive my artistic aesthetic with a look at the Mercedes 220A of the period:

Ahhh… that’s better.

Birth Year III: Euro-Saloon Cars

In my yoot, I never saw many of the 1954-model European cars featured below, which may have been a Good Thing.  Let me start off with the ones I did  see on the streets of Johannesburg:

Mercedes 300 S

Citroen Traction Avant 15

Renault 4CV

And the reason I saw the Renault at all may have been that it was assembled in Britishland from French parts, and imported into South Africa.  The following, however, could have been seen on the roads of Euroland back in the late 1950s and early 1960s:

Peugeot 203 

Renault Fregate

Simca Grand (“large”, not “grand”)

…as opposed to the small  Simca DV:

Lancia B20 GT

Hotchkiss Gregoire

…although fewer than 300 of these monsters were ever made, so you might NOT have seen one.

Even Alfa Romeo got into the “touring” groove:

1954 Alfa Romeo 1900C SS Touring

Of all the above, only the Alfa (because Alfa), Lancia (because Lancia) and Mercedes 300 (because engineering) would have my vote in the “old cars Kim would want to own because birth year”.

There was one more, though, that would definitely make the list because it had the first V8 engine ever mounted in a German car:

BMW 502

Except that I’d have preferred the rag-top model:

BMW 502 Baur Cabriolet

Oooooh, yummy.  Kim likes.

Next week, we’ll be looking at the 1954 Murkin cars.  Try to contain yourselves.

Birth Year II — The British Saloons

Last week we looked at the sports cars that were buzzing around the city streets and country roads during 1954.  Now we’ll be featuring the saloon cars of that era. First, let’s look at some British cars that take my fancy for various reasons (it’s not  a comprehensive list):

Bentley Continental R Fastback

Rolls Royce Silver Dawn

Alvis TC 21/100

Daimler Conquest Series II

Sunbeam Talbot 90

Jensen 541S

But those are luxury  cars.  The commoners (hoi polloi) drove cars that were far more modest and prosaic:

Rover P4-110

Wolseley 4/44

Austin A40 Cambridge

Hillman Minx Mk VII

And if you were the lowest of the polloi, you drove things like this:

Morris Minor Series II (my Mum had one)

Austin A30

Other than the Bentley or the Jensen, I wouldn’t be caught dead in any of them.  That said, my grandfather drove an Austin A40 (in the early 1960s), my Mum drove a Morris Minor, and my buddy’s mother used to drive us to primary school in an Austin A30…

One of the downsides of being a British colony in the 1950s.

Next week, the Europeans.

Birth Year

I was born in 1954, a rather unremarkable year wherein not much momentous happened other than the aforementioned (yeah, I know, “Enough of the damn solipsism, Kim” ).

I wish I could say that some great cars were also  born in 1954, but it seems like all the cool ones came either before (Mercedes Gullwing, 1952) or afterwards (Ferrari 250). So I can’t even say that.  Nevertheless, let’s take a stroll down Memory Lane and look at some spectacular sports cars which were around during that year.  In no specific order:

Aston Martin DB2-4 Spider (Bertone)

Bristol Model 403

…and its “near-twin”, the BMW 502 convertible

Daimler Conquest Drophead

Alfa Romeo 1900 Sport Spider

Fiat 8V Vignale

Ferrari 375 Mille Miglia

Jaguar XK120 Roadster

Austin Healey 100-4

Then there was the Mercedes 300SL Gullwing

But my favorite of all of them?

Lancia B24 Aurelia Spider (which, by the way, had the first-ever production V6 engine) and which was  introduced in 1954.  Here’s Jay Leno’s take on the later 1958 model.

Maybe I’m just prejudiced… but are these sports cars not stunningly beautiful?  Next week we’ll look at some passenger cars of the era — which were definitely not  the equal of the sports cars.

Update:  My  eyes aren’t what they used to be, either:  here’s the Morgan +4:

25 Best Bargains

Via Insty, I stumbled across this list:

If you can afford the running costs or get a great warranty, these cars will be nicer than anything new at the same price. Here are some great used luxury cars to buy.

Go ahead and look at what’s on offer.  Then come back for the challenge, which is:

Pick your top 3 (assuming that all the cars are well-maintained inside, and that they’ll run for at least 40,000 miles before something breaks).

Unlike my normal practice, I’m going to pick my own top 3 up front.

#1:  Aston Martin DB7 Vantage

…because Aston Martin, and that exquisite V12, better than anything outside a Ferrari or Bentley.

#2:  Jaguar XK

…and NOT the XKR, which is horribly vulgar.  Honestly, the “ordinary” supercharged 4.2-liter V8 should be enough for anyone.

#3:  Jeep Grand Wagoneer

Of all the twenty-five cars on the list, it’s the one that gets a visceral reaction from me.  I want to drive it on a crappy dirt road in Colorado, guns in the back and elk/bear hunting on the brain…

Your top 3 in Comments.