Jock Fearer and the Birth of Chrysler’s High Impact Color Program

James Kraus

Tonka Toy dump truck in Omaha Orange.

In the Spring of 1969, as Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In was dominating the pop charts, Chrysler began officially offering a trio of bright, saturated High Impact Colors. Although designed for their performance lineup of Barracudas, Chargers, Coronets, GTXs and Road Runners, the vivid colours were actually available across the board on all Chryslers, Dodges and Plymouths.

The origin of High Impact Colors goes back to 1968 and a Los Angeles Chrysler-Plymouth Regional Sales Manager by the name of Jock Fearer.

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1969 and the Psychedelic Artwork of Paul Williams; when Plymouth Told It Like It Was

James Kraus

1969 Plymouth Cuda 340 Fastback.

1969. The turbulent coda of the nineteen-sixties. The Année Érotique.

Apollo 11 landed men on the moon, 400,000 attended the Woodstock Music & Art Fair and the world witnessed the maiden flights of the Concorde and Hugh Hefner’s DC-9 Big Bunny.  Continue reading

The Colourful World of Mid-Century Motive Power

James Kraus

1964 Buick Riviera with optional 425 (7.0 litre) twin-carb Super Wildcat Nailhead V8 in aqua with black air cleaner accented in red. “465” was the torque output in ft/lbs.

Recently, Corvette fans have been excited by the appearance of red-painted valve covers on the new C8 Sting Ray; the first dash of colour in the Corvette engine compartment since the red plastic beauty covers of the 2013 C6 Z06. Unfortunately, GM chose a rather Ferrari-esque red rather than the traditional red-orange used on Chevrolet V8s since 1955 including such renowned versions as the fuel-injected 327, the 409, 396 and 427. Continue reading

American Muscle? Step Up To 1960s American Glamour.

James Kraus

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Don Draper in his Starlight Silver 1965 Cadillac Coupe de Ville.

One of the few value segments of the vintage car market is what Auto Universum calls American Glamour. A lack of enthusiasm for refinement and elegance has kept prices subdued, a welcome state of affairs waiting to be exploited by those who with a taste for the good life.  Continue reading

1960-1964 Super Stock Drag Racing in Vintage Colour

James Kraus

1963 Plymouth Belvedere. Image: George Klass Collection

As colour film ages, a phenomena known as curve crossover frequently occurs as fidelity of the three colour dyes age at different rates. This often results in an evocatively ethereal colour palette. Such is the case with these photos from the heyday of Stock Car drag racing in the U.S.

In the 1950s when 1/4-mile drag racing was gaining legitimacy, there was little interest in racing the family sedan. No official records were kept, nor was elapsed time recorded; the winner was the car with the highest trap speed.  Continue reading

The 1960s New Look

James Kraus

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The New Look: 1960 Chevrolet Impala

In the early decades of motordom, front grills stood tall and proud, reflecting the proportions of early radiators. Headlamps, originally housed in separate housings, began being integrated into the cars design in the late 1930s. Nevertheless, grills and headlamps remained separate elements with the exception of Peugeot, which placed the headlamps near the centre of the car, behind the grill.  Continue reading

The Swinging Sixties: A Rainbow of Wheels and Technicolor Tyres

James Kraus

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1967 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396 with Marina Blue metallic body-colour wheels and F70-14 special nylon Red Stripe Firestone Super Sports Wide Oval tyres.

The majority of today’s cars today come equipped with black tyres surrounding wheels (or wheel covers) of silver, grey or black. This was not always the case; brightly coloured wheels were a common automotive styling fillip beginning with the 1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen.   Continue reading

1960s: The Ascent of Black

James Kraus

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1965 Chevrolet Impala with black Super Sport rear deco trim

The latter half of the 1950s was a jubilant, optimistic era when life was comfortable and the future looked bright. In Britain, post-war food rationing was lifted, France was in the midst of Les Trente Glorieuses and Germany was celebrating Wirtschaftswunder. In the U.S., Wall Street, Madison Avenue, Abstract Expressionism, Modernist architecture and Cool Jazz made New York the global focal point of both art and commerce.   Continue reading

Incandescent Ground-Pounding Rubber-Burning Muscle Cars of the 1960s

James Kraus

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1964 Pontiac GTO

I get pushed out of shape and it’s hard to steer when I get rubber in all four gears  –  The Beach Boys, 1963

When these lyrics were written in the spring of ‘63 such accelerative prowess would indeed require, as the song expressed, a homebuilt hot rod. Or a daunting expenditure on the likes of the storied 409 Impala or 406 Galaxie. Or an even taller stack of bones for a Corvette, Cobra or E-Type. The thought of anything even more costly would blow a young man’s mind. But in the fall of that year a new player appeared to rewrite the rules …   Continue reading

Clear Tail Lamps: The Height of Automotive Fashion… Fifty Years Ago

James Kraus

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1965 Cadillac Calais

Clear tail lights are quite popular today and appear on several new models as standard or optional equipment from the Toyota Prius to the Porsche 911 and Aston Martin Vantage. Many people mistakenly believe they were introduced in 1998 with the debut of the Toyota Altezza (Lexus IS) although the Toyota actually only had conventional tail lamps covered by clear acrylic; the design did not conceal the underlying red filter lenses. Clear tail lamps, like so many automotive technologies, actually first surfaced in the 1960s. Many of them were more sophisticated than some recent examples.   Continue reading

The Golden Years

by James Kraus

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1960 Ford Starliner. A touch of gold lends a lustrous sparkle of Jet Age swank

Since the dawn of the first horseless carriages, automobiles have been accented by shimmering metallic highlights. The earliest period of motoring is in fact popularly known as the Brass Era due to early radiators, acetylene headlamps and other accoutrements being constructed of brass, or protected by brass plating to resist high temperatures and corrosion. Brass was largely superseded by polished nickel plating in the early 1920s, producing a more durable surface and increased tarnish resistance. Finally, nickel was replaced by chromium which offered the advantages of being nearly tarnish and maintenance free.  Continue reading

Advent of the Downforce-Inducing Aerodynamic Appendage

by James Kraus

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Ferrari 250 GTO

While aerodynamic efficiency was occasionally a consideration in the design of road cars as early as the 1920s, it was only from a perspective of achieving reduced air resistance. Interest in generating aerodynamic downforce did not manifest itself until the 1960s. Not surprisingly, experimentation and development first occurred in the competition arena.  Continue reading

A Toast to the 50th Anniversary of 1963

by James Kraus

Salon International de l'Auto, Geneva Switzerland, March 1963

Salon International de l’Auto, Geneva Switzerland, March 1963

1963 saw the Jet Age in full swing as the first Learjet took to the skies and a number of automobiles were launched that would become icons of the 1960s; one of which is still with us today.  Continue reading

The Allure of Period Colours

by James Kraus

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Lord Brett Sinclair’s Bahama Yellow Aston Martin DBS in The Persuaders!, 1971

Ancient wisdom once held that in the vintage car market, red, white and black were the best colours for resale. However, as Bob Dylan once declared; The times they are a-changin’.

Early Porsche 911 collectors for example often seek out and pay a premium for the colours that made those cars unique to their time period: Signal Orange, Viper Green, Aubergine, Tangerine; even the more esoteric shades of Olive and Golden Green. Continue reading