“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?