These days the big kids on the block are giant pickup trucks and luxury model sport utility vehicles. A bygone era in Detroit featured giant cars with giant engines and painfully small mpg ratings.
The movement toward big and beautiful really caught fire in the late 50s when the Big Three fought a size-really-matters battle with their high end luxury models.
Purists would argue that high end pre-war cars were pioneers in the giant automobile craze, and they would be right. But the big car era became pretty main-stream until the 1973 oil embargo swung the size-matters pendulum the other way.
Even then, the big car managed to limp into the eighties as a regular production vehicle for the large and tall customer, or the senior who had yet to discover bungalow-sized diesel-pusher motorhomes.
But the experience behind the wheel of an old-school land yacht should be mandatory for every car guy-young and old. If these babies were good enough for the underworld broken noses chasing Jimmy Rockford around the greater LA region, then they are good enough for the average Joe in today’s collector car world.
The biggest drawback for today’s younger drivers is the sheer size of the beasts. They like a car that can dance through traffic while they text, watch a movie, check out the latest tattoo creeping closer to their face, and listen to an MP3 file. They are unfamiliar with the idea of a wallowing ride and 8 tracks that work at least 65 percent of the time. And massive weight coupled with drum brakes that made drivers pay strict attention to the road.
The big boys were really made for the open road where living room comfortable seats made the front seat seem like a plush couch with a windshield and steering wheel in front of it.
It made for a great driving experience – one that should be shared by every driver at some point in life. Just make sure to tee up a Doobie Brothers 8 track with ‘Rockin down the Highway’ on it for the journey. Then it will make complete sense.
For more of Jim Sutherland’s work go to mystarcollectorcar.com