Old postcards Part 2: Travelalls, Datsuns, and Saabs

Old Postcards Part 1 covered postcards of the two New York World’s Fairs. These three postcards below found in my dad’s collection are a potpourri: two are from Cape Cod MA, one of the places my father liked to visit when he traveled (which was infrequent), and the third is an advert for the Datsun 210. I can hear the youngin’s from here: “What’s a Datsun?”

 

“BEACH BUGGIES TOURING THE SAND DUNES ALONG RACE POINT, PROVINCETOWN, CAPE COD, MASS.”

So reads the back of this postcard. Beach buggies? The ‘buggy’ in question is an International Harvester Travelall, a forerunner to today’s ubiquitous SUV. Looking at that soft sand, I’m not sure I’d trust ANY 4WD vehicle to return to pavement, but obviously, the folks who ran these tours found these trucks to be up to the job. Carrying capacity was another advantage. Presuming the vehicle had 3 rows of bench seats, it could likely accommodate a driver plus 8 passengers, adding to the tour company’s revenue per outing.

Relying as I do on Wikipedia, it appears that the pictured Travelall is a model year 1968, the last year for this body style. That conclusion is based on the rear quarter panel trim, which seems to have been a 1968-only treatment. In 1969, the Travelall was redesigned and bore an appearance very similar to the smaller IH Scout.

 

“PROVINCETOWN MUSEUM WITH PILGRIM MONUMENT IN BACKGROUND, PROVINCETOWN, CAPE COD, MASS.”

 

I can’t say that I recognize either the museum or the monument, but I do recognize all the cars in the parking lot. Was GM having a convention that weekend? Did the Saab owner know that someday the brand would be owned by GM? I kid. Among the GM cars are two ’61 Chevrolets, a ’62 Chevrolet, ’55 and ’62 Pontiacs, and behind the ’62 Chevy, perhaps an early ‘60s Ford Falcon.

At first I had a difficult time determining if the Saab was a late-50s 93, or an early-60s 96, as their front ends are nearly identical. However, the 93s had ‘suicide’ doors while the 96’s doors were hinged conventionally, as appears here. The front grille was substantially redesigned in 1965, putting the postcard car into the 1960-1964 model year range. So except for the ’55 Pontiac, all the cars pictured here are of very similar vintage.

 

“DATSUN 210: Five models to pick from, with one kind of gas mileage…. It’s economy that makes you feel rich.”

The Datsun 210 had a short run in the U.S.: the model was sold here only from 1979 through 1982. There were indeed 5 body styles: a two-door sedan, four-door sedan, five-door wagon, three-door hatchback coupe, and a special 210MPG two-door sedan.

The U.S. was hit with its 2nd gas crisis of the decade in 1979, so Datsun’s timing was, shall we say, fortunate. The wording on the postcard talks about little other than fuel economy, because that’s what Americans were shopping. The 210MPG model, with a reduced horsepower 1.4L engine and a five-speed manual gearbox, was rated at 47 mpg on the highway. Perhaps most surprising to me is that this vehicle, like almost all Asian imports at this time, was still RWD.

Datsun was still a few years away from switching over its brand name to Nissan, but do note the corporate Nissan symbol in the bottom left-hand corner.

My dad bought a new Datsun 200SX in the early ‘80s, so no doubt he picked up this free postcard at that time. Was he considering the flashy 210 three-door hatchback coupe in the photo? Didn’t the image of the young man serenading his date with a flute influence his decision?

 

All images are from my personal collection of postcards.

 

 

11 thoughts on “Old postcards Part 2: Travelalls, Datsuns, and Saabs

  1. That was back before we realized the fragility of the dunes. The other advantage of the IH Travelall was that if it did get stuck, there was enough people power on board to get out and push it.
    Nice photo of the monument. The last time I saw it was about 4 years ago when I went out on a fishing trip out of Truro.
    The B210, in addition to being a stylish ride for the fluting Lothario, was a major force in the SCCA small sedan classes back in the day.
    1976 Datsun B210

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  2. Hi Bob, thanks as always for the comments. I was hoping that you’d be able to add the New Englander’s slant to anything related to those Cape Cod photos. Interesting about the dunes; I take it you’re implying that motor vehicles are no longer traipsing around in the sand….

    That’s not P.L. Newman behind the wheel of that Datsun, is it?

    Best, Richard

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    • They still allow vehicular access, actually more than I thought, but I believe it is much more circumscribed than it was back then. There apparently is some camping allowed in one area as well as shore access for surf casters and there still is one authorized tour business operating.
      https://www.nps.gov/caco/planyourvisit/cape-cod-national-seashore-oversand-beach-driving.htm
      https://www.artsdunetours.com/

      No, that was a random B210 photo I found on google. Newman started in one of Bob Sharp’s Datsun 510s. At an SCCA race at Lime Rock the B Sedan class they ran in was grouped with the D Production class which my TVR was in. About 2/3 of the way through the 30 minute race, Sharp and Newman blasted past to lap me while I followed them as well as I could. After the race, my “crew” noted that my lap times had dropped significantly right about that point in the race and asked me what had happened. I thought I knew the lines around there pretty well but those two guys showed me the fast way.

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  3. The Saab is a 96 from 1961 or 1962. As you noted, the 93s had ”suicide doors”. In 1963 the Saab logo was integrated in the grille.

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    • Hej Per, thanks! It’s nice to hear from an expert on Swedish cars like yourself. Your finding means that the 3 cars in that row are all within one model year of each other, quite a coincidence I would think.
      Best, Richard

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      • I am not really an expert on Swedish cars. Citroën is my favorite car. I never owned a Volvo until I bought my XC90 a year ago. But I did drive Saabs back in the 70s. I had the very last 2-stroke Saab, a Saab 96 with three carbs. I didn’t have it for long, because not only was the fuel more expesive than regular gas, it also garbled down a lot of it. Otherwise it was a fun car. Until I dropped the key in the snow and had to drill out the ignition lock. I also owned a 95 station wagon with a the Ford V4. The most fun Saabs I owned were 1: an ex-police car that I bought in -74. It was before the Turbos, but the police obviously had some more horsepower in their cars than ordinary citizens. And 2: the 9-3 convertible I bought over here on New Years Eve 2010 and gave away last year, when the repairs got too expensive.

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      • Hey Per, well, yes, you’re certainly more “expert” than 99% of Americans, 98% of whom likely never heard of Saab! The police car story sounds particularly interesting. Thanks for sharing!
        Best, Richard

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    • I owned one, I think it was a year earlier. It had a rough 3 cylinder engine – a two-stroke for that matter. Front windows were on a weird pivot in the corner of the A-pillars, kind of like a beetle wing, so they never quite disappeared when wound down.

      Three point safety belts. The Swedes were so far ahead in some ways.

      Full service gas stations back then were de rigeur, and there were major difficulties convincing young grease monkeys to pour a quart of motor oil (from a cardboard “can”) into the gas tank. It smoked terribly even when it was running well. I don’t remember the “performance” specifications, but I do remember thinking I’m glad it has three-point belts when pulling into traffic. “LILISO” could have drag raced it and won, even giving me three lengths.

      It was an amazingly rust-free car. Not sure if it was well maintained (the interior was tatters) or it employed magic Vikingstahl. I thought it was pretty sexy, too – if I recall I paid about $200 for it in [barely] running condition. Not a Sonnet by any means (what I *really* wanted), but people always inquired about it:

      “What in heck is that?”

      “It’s a Saab 96. It has a three cylinder two-stroke.”

      “I’m sorry, what??”

      One day it started and went KA-pooooof in my driveway in a cloud of choking blue smoke. It never started again. I have no idea if it needed rings, reed valves, or Surströmming. I was far too young, and all my mechanical ability was still a distant dream.

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