As with my 2 previous installments of this “American Car” series, I begin with a personal anecdote. It was 1961. I had recently graduated from high school, and had an apartment in Santa Rosa, CA. A friend lived in an adjacent apartment, and one afternoon we took a drive in his 1951 Chevrolet Sedan. This was an old 4-door that he had inherited from his parents, nondescript and gray, with a shabby interior and absolutely no qualities that would turn your head, except for the slight engine knock, which a mechanic would immediately notice. Well, on the way home, the oil pressure started to drop, and the knock in the engine became more noticeable. The stream of smoke that the car always left behind grew more and more alarming. The water temperature started to climb. But did my friend stop at a service station to investigate the problem and add oil and water? Of course not. We were only five miles from home, and he had some oil in the garage. He was sure he could “make it.” Continue reading
Why am I even pursuing these topics? Because it’s part of American culture. It’s part of who we are.
In 1961 I graduated from High School in northern Sonoma County, CA. As my academic record did not indicate that I was likely to succeed in gaining admittance to any institution of higher learning, I decided to go to work in a lumber mill. After I piled up a very few bucks, I thought it was time to take the next logical step in advancing my position in the world: I bought the most outrageous hot-rod I could find. Now, you have to picture this. Start with a 1941 Chevrolet Coupe, like this one:
Now, that’s not much of a hot-rod. First picture it painted bright yellow, and jacked way up in the air (even though those were days when most kids were still lowering their cars). Now, to touch it off, you will need a big Woody Woodpecker smoking a cigar just below the driver side window. One that looks like this: