Auto columnist for The Herald-Palladium


Ford Motor Co., to compete more successfully with GM in the 1950s, introduced the ultra luxurious Continental Mark II to great acclaim. But with a price tag of $10,000, it met with little success. Nevertheless the effort resulted in a beautiful, nearly hand-built luxury coupe that appealed to Dar, and to folks who would otherwise have bought a Rolls Royce. Only 3,014 were sold in two years of production.

On March 28 on these pages, I picked several cars built in reasonably high numbers from the latter half of the 20th century that I consider to be perfectly styled automobiles. My picks included the 1961 Jaguar XK-E, the 1961 Lincoln Continental, 1963 Pontiac Grand Prix and the 1960 Chevy Corvair. In today’s column I share a few more examples of automobiles that somehow managed to survive the wrath of corporate bean-counters and higher up executives who have good taste only in their mouths. Somehow these cars managed to arrive at dealership lots with exquisite looks and they met all the bona fides needed to become design classics in my estimation. I also remind readers that these cars are nearly perfect in my estimation. I would make very few or no changes to improve them.

Let’s go in chronological order. Maybe it’s because my Grandpa Barber and my brother Frank both owned one and it was the year that I recall having become an automotive nutcase while still in country school, but I’m a huge fan of the 1955 Chevrolet. It was all-new, from its innovative small block V-8 under the hood to its svelte and lovely sheet metal. From its Ferrari-inspired crosshatch rectangular grille to its new wrap-around windshield, everything about GM’s entry level car shouted new and “buy me!” Grandpa Barber and brother Frank both opted for the mid-level Two Ten post sedans, but a lot of people went with the top level BelAir and ordered either the hardtop or the convertible with that “Hot One” new V-8 engine. While the BelAir has all the chrome trim and bling, I actually love the lowly One Fifty best. It’s super clean and smoothly styled body is entirely free of chrome with the exception of its bumpers, grille, hood ornament and the headlight/parking/taillight trim pieces. It’s divine.

Dar Davis founded the Lake Bluff Concours and chaired the event for many years. He has been writing this column since 1999. He can be reached at