OLD CARS LOOKED BETTER
1958 Chevrolet Impala
TODAY'S CARS MAY RUN BETTER, BUT....
I have no doubt today’s cars are far better than the ones we had in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Back then you were lucky to get more than 100,000 miles out of a car. Today it is not uncommon to get twice that, even three times that. Nowadays, people trade up because they want something new and different, not because their cars won’t run anymore. And in those days we used to change the oil every 1,000 miles. Tires and batteries didn’t last long either.
We didn’t even have air conditioning, let alone sun roofs that opened with the touch of a button, power seats, power windows, power rear view mirrors and more.
But maybe its just because I’m old, but to me the old cars were far more stylish. Today’s cars all look alike - just boxes on wheels. I can’t tell one from another unless I can get close enough to read the logo. And the most popular vehicles are SUVs. They look like trucks because that is basically what they are. People spend a fortune for a Cadillac Escalade, for example, when a customized old Ford or Chevvie pickup looks better.
In the old days, cars were works of art. Sculptures on wheels. It used to delight me that designers could come up with so many styles, all different, the only thing in common being they were set on a platform and four wheels.
In my day, you could tell every car apart in a glance. A Studebaker looked nothing like a big wide Hudson. A Ford didn’t look like a Chevrolet. A Cadillac El Dorado was much different than a Lincoln Continental - but they both looked great. And styles changed every year. Everyone waited to see what the new year models would look like. Sometimes dealers would cover the new cars in their showrooms and then have a dramatic “unveiling”.
Interesting styles and design approaches go all the way back to the earliest days of the automobile. In a big auto collection like Harrah’s in Reno, Nevada you can see the evolution - when cars went from wooden wheels to steel ones, from running boards to no running boards, from fenders to enclosed wheel covers, when rumble seats were in vogue, and so on.
But for real classics I like to go to a museum like the Northcutt collection in Sylmar, California and look at their old Dusenbergs, Packards, Auburns, Cords, and many more. Those were true classics, so pleasing to gaze at.
There were wonderful cars in my time. One of my favorites was the 1955 or 1956 Oldsmobile Rocket 88, but General Motors had a lot of great looking cars in their lines in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Those were the days when hardtops were in. And two tone paint with matching upholstery, and white wall tires. Ford had their two seat Thuderbird from 1955 till they screwed it up in 1958 or’59. And, of course, the first Corvette was, and remains, a classic. I must admit, Corvette is about the only model that remained sharp looking to this day.
So, why can’t manufacturers keep all the technological advances and at the same time build cars that looked as good as those old ones?
If you like nostalgia, and humor, and espcially if you like motorcycles, you may enjoy my book, OVER THE HANDLEBARS. It is a collection of 24 short stories and articles, most of which were first published in motorcycle magasinze in the 1960s. It is available from Amazon.com. I also have written two other books about motorcycling availalbe from Amazon.com. You can read all 3 of them on your computer for just $2.99 each. Go to motorcyclenostalgia.com.
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