My Car Memories and the Arizona Show
It was a beautifully clear day on the way to a vintage auto show with a friend. We passed Red Mountain (no, not Sedona, AZ) on the way to Fort McDowell near Fountain Hills, Arizona. I love American cars, and I have memories of five in particular that were close to my heart. We would see if any of them were at the show. Join me for a photo exploration.
One person’s car is another person’s scenery."
— Jonathan Ive
Admission was free (where do you find that today!), and I already spied several 1960s Chevrolet Impalas from a distance. Hot dig! My last vintage car was a 1964 Chevrolet Impala, 4-door. I painted it turquoise in the late '90s, and when I would park it in the school parking lot where I taught it was referred to by fellow faculty members as the "yaht". It got about 12 miles to the gallon, but it was so much fun to drive. The suspension gave a ride as good as any. It had the original cool pack AC that worked (after I replaced the compressor). My children's friends loved to ride in it because it was so big. Three adults could fit in the trunk.
There were no rear seat belts in the 1964 Impala per usual, and since I had two children and their friends to sometimes drive, I tried to get a pair for the rear. There were none at the junk yards I visited (and they were pricey at the junkies online), so I went to a U-Pull-It and took out a pair of Cadillac seat belts that worked just fine. The kids liked the buckles even more because of the Cadillac emblem!
1949 International Harvester
Moving on, we saw all the cars below. But the next one I really had a place in my heart for was a 1949 International Harvester. Long a standby of farmers, the Harvester came in 42 models from 1947-1949. The wood bed side panels came with the KB5, 142 different wheel bases, and carried a 1/2 ton load and up. They were loved by farmers for their reasonable price and reliability and toughness.
The principal of the school where I first taught in 1977 owned one and had it in pristine condition with all original parts back then. When we would leave school at the same time we had no end of conversations about it. He had been raised on a farm and had repaired them all his life. How he found parts for it was a great adventure tale. I later used the information to find parts for my 1970 Chevy Sport Coupe with a 307 cu in engine. I rode the International a couple times and it was terrific. It is the memories we keep of these autos and trucks that bring back good times. He was one of the best educators you could hope to meet.
Oldsmobile You Say?
We roamed some more. The next car that brought back fond memories was a 1964 Oldsmobile F85. My 1963 had an aluminum block which apparently gave a lot of buyers problems in 1963. I had no problems at all, and it had a lot of power. The car itself was light, so the V8 engine gave it a lot of speed. When I had to leave to go overseas, I sold it to a friend in San Diego, Ca in 1970. Years later he wrote to me and told me he still had it and thanked me again for selling it to him. Cool with a 215 cubic inch v-8.
More Classic Cars
Here is a collage of classic cars of yesteryear. Walk with me through the lot and enjoy some similar memories of bygone days. And if you have the moolah, it might be great to restore one of these babies! So cool!
- 1965 Pony
- 1937 Ford Coupe
- Ford Model A
- 1951 Series 61 Cadillac
- 1947 Cadillac
- 1970 Dodge Super Bee
- Lincoln Versailles 1979
- 1958 Ford Thunderbird
- 1951 Ford Mercury
- 1932 Ford Roadster
- 1970 Toyota Land Cruiser
- 1932 Ford Super Deluxe
The preceding list of cars were lined up and shined for gazing. But the one most common to readers is probably the 1965 Ford Mustang. Ford produced an optional V8 with 271 horsepower, a standard six cylinder with 120 horsepower, an optional V8 with 200 horsepower, and the last half of the year an optional V8 with 225 horsepower. in the first 5 years of production, the Mustang had 12 different engines. Ford was constantly trying to please the baby boomers who were graduating from high school, and their parents who were starting to think a bit sportier. There was also the constant attention to the competition which was mostly Chevrolet with its Camaro.
An interesting aside: the 1964 Mustang was actually a model year 64 1/2, so it was actually a 65 in terms of marketing.
The engines noted above were all caressing one or another of the following models:
- Shelby GT
Two things differentiated the 1937 Ford from pervious models. The '37 had a v-shaped grille, the feature that always gives it away for me. In addition, it had the new 3.6 liter flathead V8. There was also an entry level V8, 2.2 liters. The headlights were faired-in to the front fenders.
Design Comes in Vogue
1928 was the second year of production for the Ford Model A. This model was built with design in mind. Prior to this, the design came about due to its required utility. Shape was designed around parts, space requirement, etc, and not because of aesthetics. This change was something that Henry Ford's son, Edsel, is given credit for. In 1931, a professional designer was actually hired.
When you have a great car, you want people to see the car."
— Andris Nelsons
Gateway Classic Cars, St. Louis Showroom
Some of the Top American Cars Ever Built
Of these, the 1929 Ford Model A, 1932 Ford V8, 1941 Cadillac, 1963 Chevy Impala, and the 1965 Mustang are considered by many to be within the top 100 American cars ever built. They all look great to me!
If I had to predict a future candidate for a classic car, I think I would choose the Jeep Wrangler due to its huge popularity and following. The style is American and it appeals to all age groups. And last but not least, I think that the Hummer, though descending in popularity like a lead balloon, will have a nostalgic resurgence during a future callback to American prowess and, if only temporary, a renewed interest in SUVs.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2014 John R Wilsdon