Sunday, January 22, 2012

Arriving In Style

The View From the Hood

When I was a kid, nearly every Sunday night included dinner at my grandmothers. After the dishes were cleared, washed and put away I staked out a chunk of the shag carpet in front of her huge RCA console TV. The television was built of real wood. In those days a television was as much a piece of furniture as a china cabinet.

Assuming the vertical hold was working, and the bunny ears were aimed just so, that beast would deliver an hour of The Wonderful World of Disney followed by Bonanza or Gunsmoke. 

I would be transfixed whenever Walt Disney described some amazing new attraction being built at his magic kingdom in Anaheim. Then, as I got older, he'd showcase the amazing "world" his imagineers were dreaming up in central Florida. Yeah, I'm old.

Whatever we watched, somewhere between Walt and our weekly fix about the "Old West" Dinah Shore would belt out "Seeeeee The USA In Your Chevrolet!" 

Travel, in those days, whether camping, visiting relatives, or going to Disneyland, always involved driving. It was too expensive to fly.

I can remember driving for hours in the back of my dad's 2-door 1960 Impala. I loved that car. It had a real back seat, one that three adults could share without having thighs in a vice. It also extended well beyond the curvature of the back window so when I leaned back I could gaze straight up at the sky. During the day I'd trace the long airplane contrails slicing desert skies. At night I'd soak up the swirls of stars in a jet black sky.

We didn't measure status by personal computers, Dr. Dre headsets, or smart phones. Cars were our primary family status symbols. A Buick was a step up from a Chevrolet. A Mercury was a step up from a Ford. Besides our homes, the family car was our most important possession. Thunderbirds, Corvettes, Imperials, Cadillacs and Lincoln's were the cars rich people drove.

Cars held the key to our freedom. They were trimmed in acres of chrome. They rolled on fat whitewall tires and culminated in increasingly huge tailfins. Inside, they had big bench seats or sculpted buckets (without headrests), the dashboard might be steel or upholstered, but never plastic. We monitored our speed, fuel consumption, and radiator temperature with big gauges set in chrome instrument clusters.

And on their hoods, or "bonnet" if you're an Anglophile, was a hood ornament.

Now a January tradition for Roadboy is a day spent at one of Arizona's big collector car auctions where I join thousands of others in admiration of what cars used to be.

And, this year, I decided to focus on the amazing sculptures that used to grace their hoods.

Here are some for you to enjoy! If you want more detail just click 'em!


I realize that technologically today's cars are much better than the cars of my childhood. They are safer, cleaner, and more efficient. They drive much more precisely, are quiet, and feature symphony hall quality sound systems.

But today's plastic cars are boring. Most look pretty much the same. It is hard to feel any real passion for them.

We reserve passion for cars that touch our souls. Cars like this 1947 Bentley Mark VI....

What will today's and tomorrow's generations eventually gather to admire? Will it be examples of old computers? Old Playtstation's? Nintendo's?


Roadboy's Travels © 2012 


Anonymous said...

What a trip down memory lane ... many hood ornaments I don't even remember ... Hope you had a great time @ the show! cll

Roadboy said...

It was bigger than ever! When things are all settled down (next year?) come on up and join us!