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Cool Cars from the '50s, '60s and '70s

What cool cars did you drive? Camaro, Cadillac or Edsel?

“Baby you can drive my car…”

Remember that line from the Beatles?  Unfortunately, my mom didn’t sing it to me, but I still fantasized about finally getting my driver’s license, and my own set of wheels?  Instant popularity was guaranteed if you had a car.

Mothers would cringe as their teenagers took the roads, hoping the kids would come home safely, and that the family car wouldn’t be lost, maimed, or stolen.

I love those old cars. I think each of them had their own personality.  Look at the grills on some of them, and you can see several distinct personalities.

The surprised face of the Edsel looked like zombies prowling the night had stabbed it.  Many Cadillac cars seemed like they were smiling for a 1950’s Crest test. And the Oldsmobile had a grill that resembled the frowning face of a Grouper.

Remember the roominess of these vehicles and the smell of that Naugahyde? I loved stabbing those shiny buttons that commanded the radio, air conditioning and other functions on the car. Some of the steering wheels had knobs on them to assist in turning, since many cars didn’t have power steering.

These cars were great make-out vehicles, as they didn’t have bucket seats.  If you lived in Studio City, Mulholland Drive got a full workout with these cars and their amorous passengers. The local drive-in was also haven for our raging hormones.

Anyone drive those muscle cars in the ‘70s?  Big, bold and fast, they’d flex their biceps on the street, leaving less athletic cars in their wake. Sometimes we’d cruise Van Nuys Blvd. and see a number of these nimble vehicles. Who drove a Chevy Camaro, Ford Mustang, Pontiac Firebird, or a Dodge Charger?

Our family had a Renault when I attended Walter Reed.  It was a little pill of a car, and a real lemon. I seem to recall my brothers trying to fix it to no avail. Eventually, it probably ended up at that Standard gas station on Laurel Canyon near Carpenter Ave. Elementary School.  The owner, Mr. Fox, took a shine to my mother.  I hope she got some discounted tune-ups thanks to his affections.

My favorite car was our Studebaker, donated to my mom from a family friend because we didn’t have any money.  Although this car looked like it was from 2001-A Space Odyssey, it wasn’t futuristic in its performance. It also had some mechanical challenges, and my mom eventually junked it, unaware that it was soon to be a collector’s item.

I love the design of these old cars.  In fact, I still don’t know why they don’t make chrome bumpers on cars today. It seems every time you look at your bumper, it’s got a new dent or scratch. Those old chrome gems could take a licking and keep on ticking.

What cool cars did you drive and what other makes and models do you remember?

teresa mcgrath January 08, 2013 at 03:49 PM
neat mary...our family had the '53 or so ford sedan, cream/white, just like the hook family across the street...the '60's renault dolphine was so cute, but was a lemon, as mary pointed out...it was rear-ended on the frwy once...the engine was in the back..lots of smoke..how mom fit 7 of us into that little car was a mystery.....the studebakers from the jergens was my fave, along with another car...yellow and white...such fine lines..the '53 olds for 50 bucks was a work in progress, but another fave....mary and i would race it on the dirt alley's near jack in the box in the mid-valley, and it would stall...it also had a running board, metal visor, and charm....a '68 2-door green chevy malibu was full of vigor in later years for mom...mary and i gave it a workout too..our neighbors had all sorts of classic cars...the sats had the bright yellow chevy with the big points above the tail lights...lots of chrome...jim whitney had corvairs despite nader's data of fires in the engine...the hooks later had black vw beetle's....as our family grew older, lynn had an early '60's red vw beetle, jim, an '60's mg...hal had made some money, and bought a red porche...also one of our aunts and uncle made money, and had cadillacs in the '60's/70's with long ornate bodies...cousin bill had a blue ford....love the chrome on all of them..
Mary McGrath January 08, 2013 at 03:52 PM
Teresa, you are my official frontal lobe! Thanks for all the great memories...I can't imagine 8 of us stuffed into any of the cars we had. Maybe mom and dad put a few of us in the trunk.....
teresa mcgrath January 08, 2013 at 04:53 PM
i think that was what they did, and very creative....sure...but not the frontal lobe..the gray matter is switched out with with gray hair....
Jack McGrath January 08, 2013 at 10:04 PM
All the door handles broke off on the inside. The car caught on fire while I was driving. Otherwise a great family car.
teresa mcgrath January 08, 2013 at 10:12 PM
jack the renualt or the olds?
Mike Szymanski January 08, 2013 at 10:26 PM
We loved our midnight blue Chevy Malibu... my dad's vintage VW bug and my uncle's winged silver caddy converitble, which I'm sure I remember standing on a ledge on the outside when he was driving up, but my sister says that's not possible.
Mary McGrath January 08, 2013 at 10:33 PM
We had a Chevy Malibu also....so streamlined! All those old cars were so well-designed...
Lew Wright January 09, 2013 at 06:52 AM
One of the best cars I've ever owned was a '68 Cougar. Had some work done on the engine to add muscle. Big mistake trading it in on a '72 Mustang convertible. Corrected my error in judgement by getting an '80 Camaro Z-28. Sadly that was the last of my muscle cars due to family responsibilities. Those were the days. Thanks for helping me return down memory lane...with the pedal to the metal!
Mary McGrath January 09, 2013 at 04:44 PM
Yeah, didn't own any muscle cars, but they sure looked like fun. Rented a Dodge Charger when we were in the mid-west on vacation in September. Very fun!
Barbara Krause January 09, 2013 at 07:01 PM
Delighted when our parents bought a '63 Mustang converible. Alas, it was soon back to the station wagon because of lack of passenger space and squishing into the cool car.

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