Savannah Postcard (1)

A recent short visit to Savannah, Georgia afforded a chance to peruse the roadside vehicle population of the South.

Savannah, Georgia roadside last Monday morning.

Many people visit Savannah to enjoy its urban milieu: late Georgian and early Victorian architecture situated among lines of old, large trees draped with Spanish moss. I had a look at all that but also hoped to see a reasonable sampling of faces familiar mostly from photographs. I found some surprising juxtapositions and odd vignettes. It’s a place of contrasts. If you walk around you will notice brand new buildings next to long-abandoned lots, office blocks across the road from breeze-block tenements and ancient land yachts next to brand new SUVs.

Mid-80s Buick Electra.

While I biked around, I kept an eye open for interesting vehicles, both old and new. In this postcard I will be looking more at the junkier end of the spectrum. There won’t be many detail photos, and not just because everything is spaced out further in the US. The impression one gets is that caution is required. People around here carry weapons and use them. So, I kept my distance as much as possible and used the zoom function on the camera*.

1998-2002 Mercury Grand Marquis

The Ford Crown Victoria and its Mercury cousin, the (Grand) Marquis have been out of production for about a decade or so. They still remain on the curbside and on the road in large numbers. People seem to value these cars for their durability, robustness and simplicity. And they aren’t all that costly either. This is what the average American car would look like if SUVs had not invaded the market to such a large extent. I had a few trips around the city in a related car, the Lincoln Continental and found much to appreciate. I can see what people like about these cars, particularly the excellent ride quality (well suited to Savannah’s rather dismal concrete road surfaces).

Ford LTD Crown Victoria.  Design and quality.

This older, mid 80s car is the predecessor (above) to the Crown Vic, known as the LTD Crown Victoria. I only saw one of these while wandering about. I will return to look at it in greater detail very soon. The 80s car is decidedly generic whereas the final series looks like its own thing. This might be to do with the way the lamps crept around the corners on the later car; in 1986 those details remained firmly inside the corner defining the end of the car.

The big surprise from my Savannah strolling related to the dearth of 70s cars and the scarcity of 80s vehicles. GM was better represented than Ford. Both had more of a presence than Chrysler. I saw no LH cars, no mid ’90s Sebrings and not one Neon. From GM, Buick offered the most examples and those only far between and few: two generations of Century, two generations of Park Avenue and one or two Le Sabres and some recent crossovers. I will do a Buick postcard in the near future. From Cadillac, I recall seeing just a handful such as a Seville and an Eldorado CTS.

I will return to some of these in later articles.

*There is a reason Curbside Classics has so many profile photos of cars. It’s the safest way to take pictures of other people’s property.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

16 thoughts on “Savannah Postcard (1)”

  1. Good morning, Richard. I’ve never been to Savannah, so it is good to see today’s postcard. I’m quite fond of the Crown Vic and similar cars. They work well in their environment. Looking forward to the more detailed article on the Ltd.

    Like you, I didn’t see that many Cadillacs on my last visit to the US. Florida, in 2019.

    Looking forward to the next postcard.

  2. Good morning Richard. Is it wrong that I’m really rather taken by the LTD Crown Victoria? I think it’s the wheels:

    1. What´s good about it is very generic, isn´t it? One could take those proportions and style it nine different ways (change the front and back and tweek the DLO slightly. A lot of American cars were like that at the time. Chrysler especially majored in the kinds of anonymous cars used in the backgrounds of films.

    2. It’s very close to being the car “a child would draw” of cliché. The only thing that disqualifies it is that the C-pillar is slightly wider at its base than at its top. Despite that I find myself oddly liking it.

      (Of course, that would have been a child forty years ago. If children draw cars at all nowadays, which I’m beginning to doubt, I expect they look much like a VW Tiguan in profile!)

  3. “The big surprise from my Savannah strolling related to the dearth of 70s cars and the scarcity of 80s vehicles.” These vehicles would be between 30 and 50 years old, so they’d be doing well to be still on the road.

    In the ‘80s, I can’t recall having seen any cars from the ‘30s or ‘40s on the road and I would have thought them to be museum pieces had I done so. It just shows how one’s perceptions (and technology) change.

    Re saloons versus SUVs, I get the impression that quite a few new concepts and new cars seem to be saloons, possibly due to increasing Chinese influence in the market. It might also be a case of wishful thinking and selective spotting on my part, though.

    Enjoy your trip, Richard – it looks a fascinating place to visit.

    1. Thanks for that. I am back now. True, the 70s cars are getting on a bit but if you are a regular reader of Curbside Classics one might be forgiven for thinking there are more land yachts around than there are. Also, reliability and longevity in cars took a turn for the better in the 1980s. So, there is a better chance of seeing a 30 year old car now than in the 1980s I would think.

    2. Yes – that’s all true. I’m sure climate helps, too – there must be parts of the States that aren’t too hot / cold / wet, etc.

      It also says something about convergence / normalization of design (if those are the right terms), that a car from the ‘70s isn’t amazingly different from the formats used today – in looks and performance.

      Funny how the Volkswagen Beetle and Citroën 2CV managed to carry on, while the Morris Minor, which was more ‘40s in its design (it at least had integrated front wings), seemed much less adaptable.

  4. The car that really stands out for me in these pictures, and not just because it’s yellow, is that ridiculous Suzuki X-90.

    1. Daniel, when I first saw this picture I also thought it was a bait cleverly placed by Richard. However, I didn’t want to be the first stupid fish to be hooked, so I studiously ignored it.

  5. I lived in Georgia between 1999 and 2006, and during that period, I worked as a delivery driver. My favorite activity to break the boredom of my job was taking pictures of interesting cars. At some point, I had dozens of really cool pictures (in paper, not digital) but unfortunately, I lost them.

    1. That´s a pity, Rubens. There were not a super huge many older cars to see but enough to take about fifty snaps from diffferent angles.

  6. Dear Richard, thank you very much for such postcards where you can see a little bit also of the surroundings.

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