Doane Yawger: It doesn't add up; four doors equal cool

09/04/2010 2:58 AM

01/18/2012 5:38 AM

Used to be four-door cars weren't cool. They were frumpy, something only your parents would like or drive.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s in the language of car-crazy kids, four-doors simply were square. They were your father's Oldsmobiles.

You wouldn't take a four-door to cruise Main Street or go to the drive-in movie unless it was your only last-ditch option. Four-doors were embarrassing, reserved for Aunt Mabel.

My how times have changed!

Nowadays, four-doors are in the majority and two-door hardtops or sedans are much less common.

What's amazing for this 60-something fuddy-duddy is that four-doors have become stylish, powerful, agile, even sexy today. I would never have believed it growing up but modern four-doors are macho. This gradual evolution is in full bloom now and not likely to change anytime soon.

Sport-utility vehicles and even some pickup trucks also are sporting four doors these days. It's just the way things are.

Come to think about it, while a 1959 Oldsmobile two-door hardtop looks mighty fetching, it was very awkward to get into the back seat. There wasn't nearly as much room back there as the four-door sedan.

In the gradual evolution of things, cars and trucks from decades ago are less plentiful now than they once were. Those vintage vehicles that are still around either are worth a king's ransom or will require a basketful of cash to restore.

The point of all this is that vintage four-doors have become cool, something the 60-somethings or even younger folks wouldn't mind owning now.

What are the neatest four-doors?

My nominees would be the 1961-65 Lincoln Continentals, especially the convertibles with the "suicide doors" that opened up right into the flow of traffic. Also worth mentioning are four-door Edsels, Cadillacs and some Ford and Mercury sedans. The four-door station wagons also have become quite desirable and are showing up more frequently at car shows.

Other personal favorites would include the 1956 Buick Super sedans with their four portholes on the front fenders and the massive "dagmars" protruding from the front bumpers. Our neighbor had a 1955 Oldsmobile sedan that looked more graceful than most and another couple owned a 1956 Mercury four-door in the orange and cream color combination that is still striking today.

Perhaps the frumpiest of the four-doors were the Ramblers but even they are gaining some respect from the car-collecting crowd.

The supply of four-doors may be a bit diminished now because some of them became donors or parts cars to restore a more desirable hardtop. Only a few days ago I saw the rear portion of a 1956 Ford four-door sedan body destined for the crusher, stripped of its parts to rejuvenate a two-door hardtop undergoing restoration.

Four-doors, new or old, certainly have gained respectability, something I would never have believed years ago.

Doane Yawger is a retired Merced Sun-Star editor and reporter who can be reached at

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