By on May 30, 2010

Despite the fact that the Greatest Generation keeps me cornered at my info desk for 45 minutes while telling me filthy dirty jokes, I know if not for everyone’s grandpa I’d probably be heil-ing allegiance to the flag of the Rising Sun or some German/Japanese combo thereof. I can’t imagine any 18-year-old boy I’ve ever known doing anything nearly as heartbreakingly heroic as some of the things these men and women did, although I know plenty have since and plenty, sadly, will in the future.

There are many legacies left to us by these old cranky dudes who fought so I could have the freedom to say whatever I want in my blog, but I think one of the strongest culturally is the love of the automobile. They are the ones who spent that post-war disposable income on those big, beautiful machines that became instant status symbols by their sheer power and heft. They are the ones that started the grand American tradition of the summer road trip and backseat shenanigans, and without them we’d probably never have those little shaky-shaky hula girl dash ornaments.

Basically, without them cars probably wouldn’t be nearly as much fun. In honor of Memorial Day, here are some of the cars that helped those kids coming home from the Pacific and Europe remember what it was like to live again.

Buick Special

Buick’s entry-level full-size vehicle. Despite having two doors, which most parents would eschew today, the Special was touted as the perfect family car because of its big back seat.

Cadillac Coupe de Ville

Before Viagra, there was Cadillac. Every man born before the Depression has a major hard-on for this car. It is their generation’s status symbol. Me, I’ll take that gorgeous Harry Winston necklace. I miss the merlettes in the emblem, don’t you?

Chevrolet Fleetmaster Sport Sedan

Imagine this bad boy in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb?

1947 Ford

This ad just cracked me up… “No other has 100 h.p.!” How quaint.

1946 Oldsmobile

The ad copy here is very telling of the point at which the industry stood: “Look to Olds for all that’s new!” The post-war world was new and these soldiers were coming home to start new careers and new families while enjoying a new prosperity that most of them had never before experienced.

Happy Memorial Day to all those who defend us every day. If things had gone differently a couple of generations ago, we’d all be driving Volkswagens and Toyotas. Come to think of it …

The Booth Babe is an anonymous auto show model who dishes about what really goes on behind the scenes. Read her blog at http://doyoucomewiththecar.blogspot.com. And if you treat her nicely, read her each Sunday at Thetruthaboutcars.com

Picture courtesy
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21 Comments on “The Booth Babe Chronicles: Life, Liberty And The Pursuit Of Horsepower...”


  • avatar
    adongood

    A nice look back at those post-war “tanks”.
    No way VW or Toyota could build an auto as great as these.
    Reason enough for the good ole’ USA to win the Big One.

  • avatar
    educatordan

    Sigh…… “tanks” for the memories.

    Forget all this other “retro” automotive stuff (PT Cruiser, HHR, New Beetle) retro-mobile one of those cars, Detroit!

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      Funny / Ironic..

      How each AND EVERY retro car.. has failed.

      New Beetle couldnt be updated with decent mechanicals.

      The PT Loser.. Christ.
      When I HEARD that that car is coming out with a 2ltr 4 and a solid beam.. I knew it would be a failure. 10yrs on.. same damn car.

      The HHR.. was an accident.. by the same guy who drew up the Pt Loser.
      Its a gutless domestic pos.. with no chance in ever having a second chance at life… on top of its 2.4 Eco-tec motor.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Not every retro car has failed. The MINI and the Jeep Wrangler have done well. Depending on your definition, there are a number other cars as well. The new beetle is being updated and will be back.

    • 0 avatar
      MrWhopee

      I agree! These cars are about the right shape and height for today’s crossover, (taller than a sedan, not as tall as an SUV).Let’s have a crossover shaped like these! I’m thinking something like the GM Lambdas, Ford Flex would be perfect as a base.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Dealers were getting full sticker + on PT Cruisers for over a year after their release. Hardly a failure. Of course, after that Chrysler let them stagnate.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    As a soldier (actually a National Guardsman with a 4th deployment coming up) I thank TTAC for this post. I’d ask that everyone here to remember not only the fallen, but the fact that those fallen statisticly made a lot more enemies die for their cause/country than we’ve had to die for ours. That’s an efficiency we can all appreciate!

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks for your service.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      As a card carrying coward, I am also in awe of those, like yourself, whose sacrifices allow me to wallow in the luxuries I have or speak the trash I do.

      Not many things can shut me up.
      But the stories of those like yourself, my uncles and neighbor warriors…all mesmerize me.
      I cannot get enough of these moments.

      People ask my why I do not read or watch fiction or fantasy.
      Because NOTHING can be made up to equal the feats of REAL men and women.
      They leave my empty.

      Nothing.

      Thanks.

  • avatar
    sitting@home

    Sincerest thanks and memories to all those willing and able to defend our freedom. Both grandfathers were involved in WW2 and a great-grandfather fell in WW1.

    Unfortunately victory is often followed by complacency. Those post-war dinosaurs were just one oil crisis away from extinction, only able to compete in a time and place where gasoline costs less than drinking water. The ascendancy of VW and Toyota can probably be traced directly to their home countries’ despondency following the war, when “good enough” wasn’t, and advances in engineering were needed to counteract a lack of resources.

  • avatar
    dastanley

    As a USMC veteran of the Gulf War, it’s interesting and nostalgic to think back and re-live Saudi Arabia and Kuwait 19-20 years or so, but not much fun at the time. I especially want to thank our Vietnam vets who were shortchanged on gratitude as compared to the WWII, Korea, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan vets. Thank you all veterans for fighting for our country and especially thank you Vietnam vets!

  • avatar
    kurkosdr

    Of course, the article doesn’t say the most important thing: That all this love for the automobile, “automotive freedom” and cross country trips were sponsored by the oil companies, just to take the electric car of the way.

    With this kind of attitude being forced into the minds of the public, along with the ability to spend on a car evolving into a status symbol, and the post-war optimism all around, getting people into the concept of electric cars and battery swaping stations was impossible.

    That’s why wars happen and will keep happening. Because some really smart people chip in before, during and AFTER them.

  • avatar

    Uh… we had swappable batteries back in 45′? Do tell.

    Oil companies don’t need wars to sell more oil and keep people out of electric cars… they simply have to keep selling cheap oil.

    Every time gas prices go back down, people lose interest in economical cars, hybrids and electrics. Unless and until electrics can compete with cheap gasoline/diesel vehicles in terms of overall ownership costs, everyone who isn’t a wealthy first-world individual with a large disposable income will keep buying regular dino-fuelled cars.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    A few respectful disagreements with this article.

    Before I get going, let me preface this by saying I’m a veteran with 12 years of service.

    Despite the fact that the Greatest Generation keeps me cornered at my info desk for 45 minutes while telling me filthy dirty jokes, I know if not for everyone’s grandpa I’d probably be heil-ing allegiance to the flag of the Rising Sun or some German/Japanese combo thereof.

    Well, probably not. The ability of the Germans and Japanese to bring war to the US was pretty limited -OK, the Japanese did do some damage at PH, but not nearly what they had planned, and we’d have been on alert from that moment on. I’m not saying the US should not have fought in WWII, but I will say that if we’d sat it out, very likely we’d all be speaking English and looking at a flag with stars and bars.

    IOWs we didn’t even come close to being conquered by a foreign power.

    There are many legacies left to us by these old cranky dudes who fought so I could have the freedom to say whatever I want in my blog, …

    As a veteran, I get really tired of hearing (reading) inaccuracies like this. It’s tossed off with little thought and because people are afraid of being labeled unpatriotic they let it go without examination. The truth is, no soldier (sailor, airman, marine, or coastie) ever fought for your right to free speech. The right to say what you want in your blog comes to you from the Constitution, not the defense establishment.

    Finally, about the cars. The Caddy was still priced for exclusivity and remained but a dream for all but a few in the immediate post-war era. The Buick special was more popularly priced but still a bit high for a guy trying to figure out how to buy one of those new tract houses in the suburbs, and feed a stay at home wife and 3 kids. The Chevy and Ford you show us were absolutely typical of what returning veterans had to drive, but they are yesteryear’s equivalent of today’s Fusion or ‘Bu, competent cars by the standards of their time, but quite uninteresting. I doubt many in the Greatest Generation want to take credit for the ’47 Ford.

    A lot of returning Vets were involved in hot-rodding and that’s where they may have made their real contribution to America’s automotive scene.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    I, along with people from former USSR, celebrate Victory Day and our WWII vets on May 9. It’s the day when fascist Germany capitulated. On May 9th of this year we celebrated 65th anniversary of victory. I have watched Victory Day parade on Red Square in Moscow and it was the first time ever that allies of former Soviet Union could march there, among them were Americans representing soldiers and officers who opened the second front and met with Soviet Army at Elba.

    And I want to thank Americans for their help in achieving that victory and for providing Lend-Lease program.

    Happy Memorial Day!

  • avatar
    ern35

    —and let’s not forget to remember that generation as part of a resurgent post-war industrial boom that through union membership produced the great middle class that gave us the cars, homes, appliances, and travel—a lifestyle under siege since globalization and outsourcing—an ideology now under suspicion.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      No, that’s not true.
      In fact it’s an over simplification of a very complicated society.
      The middle class began BEFORE unions.
      In fact unions played only a part, and sometimes violent and crime controled role.
      In fact unions have played a very large role in forcing industries to outsource.
      Its nice to see things in your simplified way, but it is nowhere near the fact.

    • 0 avatar
      newcarscostalot

      Companies without unions outsource all the time. When short term profit is the motivation, outsourcing is the solution.

  • avatar
    dhanson865

    I haven’t had time to read this one yet but I did see Iron Man 2 and considering your “doyoucomewiththecar blogspot” address I thought of “the booth babe” when watching the movie.


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