We left off the story of the 409 in late 1962 with the arrival of B/FX class racers being produced at the year’s end, with hotter cammed engines, with new cylinder heads. For the 1963 model year, Chevrolet did a mild facelift of their family-sized hauler with new grille, tail ends, different bumpers and trim. The sports roof or “bubble top” as it was colloquially named was dropped for 1963. The SS package returned of course, as a big seller. New for 1963 were a couple of race engine developments; one was stillborn after the Daytona debut and the other was of limited race professional use only for NHRA. Both were 427s, but completely different engines in design and intent. The Daytona mystery motor was actually an early version of what turned out to be the 396 block with porcupine heads. Only five cars got the Mark II 427 and support from Chevrolet was cut off in February. Junior Johnson loved the power of the car, but once he ran through his stash of parts and had his shop make replacements, he was done. Johnson joined Mercury for 1964.
(Wherein we look at some lesser known movies and TV shows that featured classic vehicles)
THE LONG, LONG TRAILER
If you’re a fan of the old “I Love Lucy” TV show, vintage travel trailers and old Mercs (that’s Mercs as in Mercurys not Mertz as in Fred, the Ricardo’s neighbour on the TV show) you’ll get a kick out of this flick with the red-headed chick. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz basically repeat their TV characters in this film with a few changes. On TV they were called Lucy and Ricky; here they’re called Tacy and Nicky (must have taken hours to think up those names for the film ). On TV they were a married couple with Ricky a band leader (Babaluuu) and Lucy a house wife; here he’s traded in his baton for a slide rule and he’s a civil engineer (seriously?) and she’s his new bride. She talks him into buying an enormous 36 foot long travel trailer for them to honeymoon, live and travel in, while he goes to his various work locations. Numerous funny mishaps occur, things get wrecked, arguments ensue, make-ups follow . . . just like their TV show!
The minivan packs the greatest passenger/cargo space into the shortest possible vehicle. Although a few others such as some British manufacturers built minivans, it was Volkswagen that popularized it in the early 1950s. And while Chrysler brought it into the North American mainstream in the 1980s, a couple of Americans had tried the idea back in the 1930s.
Buckminster Fuller, brilliant designer of the geodesic dome (dubbed the Bucky Ball), created a motor vehicle he called the Dymaxion introduced in 1933. Shaped like a fat cigar on wheels, the Dymaxion looked something like a short airplane without wings. It had two regular sized wheels just ahead of the lateral centreline and driver and front passengers rode ahead of the front axle.
Richard Brimblecombe of Drayton, Ontario, was born in 1945 and learned how to drive a tractor on the family farm. He drove his dad’s 1950 Pontiac to pass his driver’s test in 1961.
But he was already car-crazy. He bought his first car at age 15, a black 1937 Dodge 4 door sedan at an auction, cleaned it up, and drove it around the farm till he got his license. Then the fun began because it was really cool being the only kid with a car! His friends piled in, chipped in two dollars for gas, and they drove everywhere.
When Dad traded in his 1950 Pontiac for a 1958 Pontiac, Richard traded his 4-H calf for the 1950 Pontiac.
Back in 1952 Studebaker was a contender in the highly competitive truck market.
Studebaker had built its first electric commercial vehicles before switching to gas in 1913, but soon after abandoned the truck market altogether.
Then, in 1927, new buses and 1 to 3-ton (907-2,722 kg) trucks were gradually introduced and evolved. In the last half of the 1930s some very stylish “Coupe Express” pickup trucks were marketed.
During the war Studebaker built 6×4 and 6×6 Hercules-powered 2-1/2-ton military trucks.
The pre-war M-Types continued in production for 1946 and were joined by the Studebaker 102 hp, L-head, 6-cylinder, gas-powered 2R line in 1949. A total of 67,000 Studebaker trucks were delivered in the last three years of the decade.
During the early 1980s, Oldsmobile juggled some nameplates around, solving old problems and creating new ones. Their redesigned intermediate Cutlass from 1978 fared well during the downsized era. Fears of the buyer rejecting a smaller Cutlass proved to be unfounded. In Europe, there was no such stigma attached to a car just on size alone. GM’s designers liked European cars for their outre ideas and there was a brief European influence on 1970s A bodies.
“I will build a car for the great multitude.” This was a quote from a man many believe to be an autocrat, but also a remarkable renegade who revolutionized, not just the automotive industry, but the world of manufacturing with the advent of the assembly-line process thanks to his Model T. The man was Henry Ford and, amongst his admirers was an individual, almost 20 years later, followed Ford’s infectious words by commissioning “the people’s car” that became the VW Beetle. That man was Adolf Hitler who adorned a life-size image of Ford on his office wall.
The Model T was a practical car. As Ford illuminated, “You can have the car in any colour as long as it is black.” What is more impressive is his understanding of human behaviour – views that would not be out of place today. He believed that if he had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses. This resonates with people’s immutable and unshakable babble regarding our digital age, where speed and convenience are the only essential needs. Speaking of speed, the Model T moved at a rate of mammal evolution. Still, it was faster than the horse and buggy.
If I asked the readers of Old Autos to draw a picture of an automobile enthusiast, I am sure the variation of pictures would be almost endless. Their only common trait would be an interest in all things automotive related. They would range from female to male, young to elderly, short to tall, still employed to retired, professionals to trades people and all people in many different levels of society and jobs.
In the last year I had the pleasure of starting to communicate with a long time subscriber by the name of Tom Harmes, from Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia. Tom contacted me through Old Autos to discuss his collection of mainly 1958 vehicles and in a short time we became “Pen Pals” through email communications. I have no idea what the electronics generation would call a pen pal in today’s world.
As a baby boomer, I was in my early teens when both of my “much” older brothers started buying cars.
One went with British sports cars, the first being an early 1960s Austin Healey, (Frog-Eyed if British, Bug-Eyed if North American), Sprite.
In the early days of the automobile, hundreds of people laboured in their shops and sheds, trying to come up with the perfect design to replace the horse. Most of them are long-forgotten, but Ron Foss of Burlington, Ont. is working to ensure that one is them is remembered.