Maybe not to us. But can you imagine trying to explain to someone
from the 30s and 40s why you would take a few thousand dollars and 4-5
years of your life and RESTORE a model T? What made that a
"classic"? The fact that it was cheap, had no accessories, came in
one color, leaked when it rained, and had no heater for the winter?
Not to mention that it is a common practice to compare a design
triumph of a certain vintage with todays' utility designs. No one
seems to remember how lackluster the offerings were from most car
makers from the late 30s to the later fifties. To me, those were not
good cars, and they were some of the first to start showing the
quality strains of huge mass production.
I think sometimes we are all getting old too fast. I admit, I cannot
tell one car from another anymore. But I will tell you this, the
young guys I am around sure can. My eyes don't see the distinctions,
but theirs sure do. And they know which ones are cool and which ones
aren't. I really can't tell much difference from my point of view.
I am thinking... if they had just seen a '67 GTO hard top with a deep
pacific blue metallic paint job with white letter tires and Craiger
mags and all her chrome ablaze... they would know what a REAL car
design triumph looked like.
Sadly, did I get a lesson. I had a classic muscle car calendar a few
years ago that had a '69 "Cuda (alright now, everyone hum the tune
from Mannix), of course a "goat", a tricked '69 Mustang fastback, a
Camaro or two, and a Shelby Mustang. Not one of those cars hit the
mark with the under 35 set. To ME those were the classic American
designs. To them, they were cool looking old cars.
I certainly agree with that the market drives the design.
I think that Detroit is in such a mess right now that if you told them
that your sure fire bet was to build ice cream trucks, you would hear
the tinkle of little bells rights away.
I must have screwed up. I bought a '68 340S 'Cuda the eyar before I
turned 30. Car went like stink, but was otherwise a fairly typical of
the era Mopar pice of crap.
As to comparing general use cars to yesterday's special cars, I
strongly suggest you take a look at Cars & parts or similar magazines.
I've got an article due out in the June C&p, on a '49 Studebaker four
door. Admittedly, the piece I have in the March Corvette Enthusiast is
on a '60 'Vette, but my January article in C&p was on a '40 Ford pick-
up restoration. I think that one set the owenr back something close to
50K, and a whole bunch of years.
Somewhere in the pile, they've got a piece I did on a '31 Ford A four
door phaeton, a fairly common car at the time.
Sorry, but the interest is not only in distinctive true classic old
cars. In fact, I'd love to have my first new car back: '57 Chev
convertible, Duntov 283 V8 (dual 4s, hot cam, compression ratio that
probably wouldn't run on today's pump gas--it was, I think 10.5 to 1).
Another POS as far as quality went--threw the fan belt every time I
stood on it, and backing off right away almost always snapped the
rotor--but today, it would sell for 100K in good shape and God knows
what in top notch shape. Hell, you can get $18,000 for an AMX these
days, if it is in top shape. Hard to believe.
I meant my comment to point out that there is a lot of mediocrity in
design no matter what decade you look to. Maybe a lot of good work as
well, but every generation seems to have their favorites.
I remember when Mopar was really making a wide range of muscle cars,
and I thought some of them were great. The original Charger
fastbacks, their cousins "The Super Bee" and all those that were late
60s. There was a show on called "Nash Bridges" that was almost worth
watching so you could see his gorgeous 'Cuda drop top from that time.
I would submit to you that the '49 is a really cool car,
but you pointed out what exactly what I said with this Ace
I'll say it's a classic, no doubt.
But there was also the 1960 Fords, Chyslers, and a lot of other
Chevies of that time that toiled away in mediocrity. They far
outweighed that gem. In my mind I am seeing our family 1960 Ford
stationwagon, and my first truck, a 1959 for one ton.
At this time I would like to alert the audience that not only is Mr.
Self a noted writer on the ways of woodworking machinery, but he is
also a hugely talented photographer of autos.
I say this with respect Charlie. Your opinion doesn't mean that much
because I think with your skills as a photographer (especially in your
setups) you could make a "K" car look good.
Seriously, for anyone following this thread go look at Charlie's
site. There are indeed some true classics there. Hope you don't mind
Charlie. I found your site a few years ago when you were underground
and not writing much. Imagine how surprised I was to find cars and
not tablesaws there!
I can never figure that out. One of my buddies has the 10,000 channel
package on his satellite, and we watched some "distinctive car
auction" one rainy day. I never, ever got the prices right. Cars I
thought would sell for a ton of dough went cheap. Cars I thought
(like the AMX!) were total crap sold very well.
I'm usually pretty close in my ballpark estimates. Things like the AMX
trip me up though. Who knows? A 100,000 dollar Pacer? Half a million
for a Yugo? hehehehehe//ohkay.. maybe not. (unless there are
Scarlett's boob prints on the windshield.)
One of the guys who runs Akeda has a Pacer he bought fairly recently,
he says in great shape, and I believe him. The price was nowhere near
$10,000 never mind 100K. If he weren't so far away, I might try to do
a deal, but driving to British Columbia for a Pacer....
I couldn't disagree more. A very heavy car, weak engine, and horrid
styling. The 'Vette thing didn't stir me till the 427 Sting Ray (split
window) of 65-6.
Then they dropped that nose, and blech again.
There were so much more interesting things going on at the time, like
the Cobras (AC style) and a lot of cool Italian stuff..and of course
Hell, back then, I'd even have chosen a 3000 Healy over a Vette, even
though the Vette would have whooped my ass.
I saw an AMX last summer in of all places Fermont, Quebec.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/39383723@N00/2278466802 /. Guy had driven
off before I got to the parking lot to talk to him and get a better
angle on it though.
If you liked Nash Bridges for the car, (incidentally in one ep there
were _two_ of them, a matched set, or else one and trick photography),
you might want to check out "Fastlane" if it's ever reshown--the pilot
had an honest to Henry GT-40 (well, it was an exceedingly well done
replica, not even Hollywood can pry one of _those_ loose from the
owner). And it also has an exceedingly decorative Tiffani Thiessen.
Had "interesting" cars from the 60s on.
Last June I went to a local (sort of) road racing track for its 50th
anniversary. One of the display cars was a GT40 that had been driven
to several wins. There was also a Maserati that someone said the owner
had paid 6 million bucks for not long before. You guys want to see an
interesting track, check out Virginia International Raceway
(www.virclub.com). The new owners have done a job and a half of
restoring it to the form Paul Newman is said to have loved not long
after it opened.
Well, actually, that AMX with the 390 was a decent muscle car. I think
we need to recall that probably 90%+ of the designs from ANY maker are
dullards, aimed at people who want transport, not excitement. They are
rather like point and shoot cameras: the makers sell many millions of
those things for every million DSLRs they sell, yet if you go to a
photo web site (try the forums at www.dpreview.com) you'll find all
sorts of argument over why a DSLR is, or isn't, better than a P&S.
Today's cars are better, no doubt about it, but, and this is my main
point, they do lack visual interest. Cars are now generic. Hell, so
are pick-ups. The Dodge design of '94 has been emulated by every
single pick-up manufacturer going, and the front end was even stuck on
GM's Yukons, Tahoes and other gas gulpers. It's on the Escalade, too,
in fact, but they squared up the corners a bit.
On Tue, 19 Feb 2008 09:15:46 -0800 (PST), " firstname.lastname@example.org"
With no empirical evidence to back it up, in my heart I believe that
not to be true. I think the market is much like an election--picking
the "best" of a bad lot.
We laugh now at the finned Chryslers of the late '50s, forgetting that
we laughed at them then, too. At least I did. But, you know what?
Chrysler stayed in business (I've always wondered how). I suspect
there must have been a lot of Chrysler-loyal buyers who figured better
a bad looking Mopar than a less bad looking Ford, GM, or AMC.
I think auto design is no more scientific (that is, calculated to
generate sales) than any other self absorbed artistic output.
Designers' idea to add a little chrome from one model year to the next
to "make it sell better" is akin to Christopher Walken asserting that,
"we need more cow bell."
You came to mind last evening when I was watching the PBS special "At Close
Range", about a guy named Satore who photographs for Natl'l Geographic.
_Excellent_ documentary/human interest. Catch it if you can because I'm
betting you would enjoy it
Who said a thing about impact protection, and 200 pound fenders? As
for aerodynamics, nonsense. Aerodynamics comes into play with any
importance at just about the same speed those stupid airfoils do. And
there isn't a damned thing keeping manufacturers from building
classically attractive vehicles, with topnotch impact protection and
today's lighter (sometimes) materials, but their own sense of follow-
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