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