By on June 25, 2016

BMW 600

One of these things is really not like the other.

While perusing an archive of historic Texas highway photos the other day (hey, when you’re single…), something popped up that I felt needed to be shared. In a 1962 image of Houston’s Southwest Freeway (US 59 South), standing out like a three-bean salad at a rib cook-off, was a wonderful automotive oddity.

When we pan out, you’ll see what this daring (and economical) driver had to deal with during his daily commute.

BMW 600

Amid a sea of Big Three iron, this man cooled his heels in a BMW 600, the largest of the postwar “bubble cars” that emerged from a recovering Europe. Tiny, underpowered and unsafe, these wheeled eggs were often the only motorized (and enclosed) transportation a European could afford to buy.

The BMW 600 was essentially a stretched version of the Isetta — easily the most recognizable of the bubble cars, and the object of much taunting by owners of conventional vehicle. Produced in four countries by four different automakers, the Isetta didn’t have a backseat, and couldn’t keep up with freeway traffic in the Land of the Free.

Enter the 600, which borrowed the Isetta’s front door and front suspension, but rode atop a longer frame, with a ballsier rear-mounted engine. That’s right, the 600’s 582 cubic centimeter flat-twin engine cranked out a pavement-rumbling 19.5 horsepower. Top speed? About 62 miles per hour.

As we can see here, the 600 wasn’t as spartan as the Isetta. Just look at the fabric sunroof this motorist is using to off-gas his body’s moisture (and who knows what else). And check out those…bumpers.

Unlike this motorist, sales weren’t scorching hot, and production ended in 1959 after a two-year model run. The 600 was the kick BMW needed to get its act together and market world-class sport sedans, not cheap economy cars.

It’s hard to imagine what compelled this Texan to enter the V8-powered, drum-braked gauntlet with a three- to five-year-old German bubble car. Look around him — you can’t tell me there wasn’t a used Ford, Chevrolet or Plymouth in his price range. Who knows, maybe he was from Austin.

The world loves a nonconformist.

[Image: Houston Chronicle Archives, via www.texasfreeway.com]

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91 Comments on “This Man Was the Biggest Nonconformist In Texas...”


  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Interesting, Thanks for posting this.
    :-)

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    There was a Chevrolet dealer here in West-Central Ohio who’d give you an Isetta free if you bought a brand new Impala in, IIRC, 1959 or ’60. Maybe the same deal down in Texas around the same time.

  • avatar
    James2

    Yeah, but can it fit in an elevator…

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    That’s such a wonderful photo! If he was used to be jammed on his commute, the 600 was probably the next best thing to a bike.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    “Fock… I made it through Bastogne for *this*?”

    Nice photo; tight grain, low contrast makes me think Plus-X.

  • avatar

    Texas. I’m thinking his Cadillac had a flat and the 600 was the spare in his trunk.

  • avatar
    Fred

    You can also see why freeways flood here.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Tow a compressor & hose behind – Japanese fire truck reservist.

    Deutsche :https://www.pinterest.com/pin/247627679484435334/

    Nonconformist? He’s wearing glasses. Look like local academia to me.

    • 0 avatar
      shipping96

      An academic is a nonconformist in Texas!

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      If I have my bearings right, this section of 59 is a stone’s throw from Rice, University of St. Thomas and University of Houston. I can’t imagine this hooligan working at Houston Baptist University or Texas Southern.

      Funny thing with the Brexit vote – now there’s a little collection of folks who want a ‘Texit’; and then further subgroups centered in Austin, Dallas and Houston who want to exit from the Texit.

      Sigh. Texas, my Texas…..

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Have no fear Dave ~
        .
        Many Americans LOVE TEXAS just as much as you do , it’s a wonderful place to visit , I adore driving my oldies across the wide open spaces.
        .
        -Nate

        • 0 avatar
          Synchromesh

          If #Texit happened, I wouldn’t mind it at all. When I visited last year all I saw was pickup trucks as far as the eye could see. If they all suddenly disappeared, it wouldn’t bother me one bit!

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            As a fan of Dr. Pepper, I’d mind it.

            Unless they worked out a way to keep the Dr. Pepper flowing, in which case I’d be fine with it.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            Not ALL the pickups in TEXAS are ‘ brodozer ‘ jerkhoffs .
            .
            -Nate

      • 0 avatar
        Testacles Megalos

        I think so….”the trench” on 59 pretty much runs from a little east of Montrose Ave. to just west of Hazard, doesn’t it? If so, it’s due north of Rice by about half-dozen blocks.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    Looking at the cars in this picture, I think that it was originally taken in 1962. I see a Ford and a Chevy wagon from that model year but nothing newer.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      I think the Ford is a ’61 because of the concave grille (’62 was flatter) and the tiny finlets on the rear. I see the ’62 Chevy wagon… can’t find anything newer, either.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      tonyola,
      What about the Falcons?

      • 0 avatar

        Pretty sure the Falcon in the front is a ’61. Could be a ’60. Same for the Falcon behind the Galaxie. In ’62, Ford moved the turn signals to the bumper.

        Edit: I take that back. In ’60 the grill was concaved in. In ’60 the grill was concaved out. Looks like a couple of ’61’s.

      • 0 avatar
        tonyola

        The two visible Falcons in the first row are both 1961 models. The convex grille with the inset lights is the clue.

        • 0 avatar

          I do see the ’62 Galaxie way back there, as well as the ’62 Impala or Bel Air or Biscayne wagon. I don’t know how you’d tell the difference at that distance.

          Really good eye tony.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            WhiskeyRiver,
            I remember my father traded in his Rambler for a 64 Galaxie. It had one of those 300cube in line sixes.

            My step mother had one of those DS Citrons, a wagon. Used to go up and down.

            I do remember one day we went out to Montauk Pt on Long Island to the beach and we drove the DS on the beach. That’s eons ago!

            On the way back we stopped and picked strawberries.

            I even remember when the upper level of the Long Island Expressway was being built.

          • 0 avatar

            Al:

            I rebuilt a ’64 Ford 300ci 6-cyl in my garage when I was a kid. 1970. I honed the cylinders.. New rod bearings, cam bearings. Scrubbed the cam and crank with steel wool. No measurements. Ran pipe cleaners down the oil journals in the head, cam and block.

            Nothing clean about it – My mom’s garage open to the elements. Borrowed a torque wrench. It was windy… Lots of debris in the air. Re-assembled the engine. Rebuilt the carb.

            That damned Ford had run another 80,000 miles when I sold it.

            Amazing engines.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            WhiskeyRiver,
            I hope you were removing the glaze and not trying to hone the cylinders.

          • 0 avatar

            That. Just knocked the carbon buildup off the top of the cylinders. It had used oil for a long time and had quite a thick ring of carbon from where the top compression ring stopped at the top of the stroke all the to the top of the cylinder.

            I had the head cleaned and the valves ground and reseated at a local machine shop for $50.

            I drove the old Galaxie 80,000 miles after I got it back together.

  • avatar
    mcs

    If you want to see some of these cars live in person, head to Boston the weekend of July 10th:

    http://larzanderson.org/events/lawn-events/2016-lawn-event-schedule/microcar-classic/

    I have invites to the before and after parties, but not sure if I’m going to be able to make it.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Steph,
    I do see a few in line 6 vehicles amongst the Detroit 4 (3?). You seem to forget AMC.

  • avatar
    DevilsRotary86

    I actually live in Dallas. I remember one time my grandfather told me his coworker drove a Honda Z600 in the early 70s.

    • 0 avatar
      maserchist

      Mother bought a 1972 Honda Z600 sport coupe, a nice blue color. Took my driver test in it the next year. Mom discovered the Honda was NOT fireplug proof. End of Honda. I wept. What a fun stoplight “racer”. NOBODY could beat the car from redlights to the other side of the intersection. Did I mention how much FUN that car was to drive?

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Maybe nobody across the intersection, but you couldn’t beat a ’65 1200 VW bug for the first 10-15 feet! The bug might not have reached the end of the torque curve yet, but unless it had just gotten a fresh tune, it was liable to stall at that distance under full throttle.

        • 0 avatar
          VolandoBajo

          I thought by ’65 the Bugs had gone to 1500 or 1600 cc engines. And I thought the 1200’s were from the Fifties.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            “I thought by ’65 the Bugs had gone to 1500 or 1600 cc engines. And I thought the 1200’s were from the Fifties.”
            .
            Both the 36 and 40 hp engines were 1192 C.C. , they were significantly different internally .
            .
            North American Beetles used the 40hp engine from MY 1961 ~ 1965 .
            .
            1966 was a one year only 1300 C.C. engine .
            .
            1967 was the beginning of the 1500CC 12 volt engines .
            .
            -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      I want a Z600 so badly! Make mine avocado green with radio delete (who wants to hear a crackly radio instead of that engine?!). I’ll take the rear seat out so I can get a week’s worth of groceries in it.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Radio delete? A navy corpsman had a ’70 N600 at the base where I was stationed in 1971, and it didn’t have a radio as an option. Those Z’s must have been fancy!

        I remember Honda shipped 3000 brand new N600’s to Seattle around 1972, with defective heaters. They sold so cheaply that it wasn’t worth fixing them (they couldn’t legally sell them) and between the refund of the VAT for exports back then, and the insurance, it was easier and cheaper to crush them.

        The Honda 600s weren’t as notorious as the Isetta and BMW 600, they were safer and more road-worthy, but they still stuck out on late ’60s/early ’70s American roads, where even Falcons and Darts seemed huge. At least the Honda could do 72 MPH, and 0-60 in 19 seconds, about what a ’49 base Chevy could do. I’d be terrified driving either BMW.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        Back in the 70’s I had a teacher in high school who owned a 600Z in avocado green with a black interior. It was the kind of car that fit his stereotype, the nerdy business, accounting teacher. The occasional wayward group of students would go to the parking lot, pick up the car and turn it sideways in the parking spot. Mind you this was in the days where there was barely any school security and the notion of cameras in the lot barely existed. He later upgraded to a Ford Fiesta, the RS version in mustard with black stripes and rally wheels.

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    I actually remember looking at an Isetta/BMW dealership in Houston in 1961. The European microcars were a hard sell but an interesting novelty. Having one or two on the floor was at least a conversation piece.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    People must have smelled like they just returned from a hard day of snowmobiling after arriving home from work.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      I was thinking the same thing. I barely remember the pre-evaporative emission days. The car would stink like gasoline fumes when parked in the sun. I also remember the open PCV systems that left the greasy streak down the center of the highway and the accompanying stink of unburned hydrocarbons.

    • 0 avatar
      haroldingpatrick

      Agree – my lungs hurt looking at those pictures.

  • avatar
    maserchist

    My folks had the “short” version of the Isetta. I sat in between Dad & Mom, my 2 little sisters were in moms lap or, on the shelf over the engine. The car had great wintertime traction with the 5 of us going for Sunday picnics when I was 5 yrs old in ’62. The deal killer was the solid (?) rear axles. With no differential, crowned highways left the Isetta ass first on the side of the road, in whatever ditch du jour that dad misfortuned his way into. That, and the gang growing up, sort of forced the old man to pull the D-ring on the old Beemer. A sad day indeed…

  • avatar
    210delray

    I see the Isetta is sandwiched between 2 ’61 Impalas. We had a ’61 Bel Air 2-door sedan at the time, 6-cylinder Stovebolt with 3-on-the-tree and no radio.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Anyone else ready to dive into that photo and be 1962 again?

    Take prints of Zapruder stills back and save JFK.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      Just screen out the vehicles with the “US out of the UN”, “Edwin Walker for Governor” and other Bircher sympathetic stickers.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        You’re free to remain here in Hamsterland.

        #AnythingButLyndon

      • 0 avatar

        Um, you do know that Lee Harvey Oswald was a communist, don’t you?

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Oswald was an enigma wrapped in a riddle.

          Maybe we should ask Rafael Cruz since they were pals and all?

          Before you sneer ask yourself why that story died down the memory hole so quickly. Seriously. If I was a hot shot with dough and someone accused my dad of such a thing, I would be spending some of it on experts to prove it wrong even after it didn’t matter for my presidential campaign.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Zowie… that’s the most Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs assertion I’ve seen you toy with.

            Mmmm.. Cocoa Puffs

          • 0 avatar
            MRF 95 T-Bird

            Yes, Oswald did have communist ties. As much as I loath Trump and the bizarre theories he lets float out there like a stink bomb I always thought there was something to the assertion that Rafael Cruz and other Cuban exiles had some sort of tangential involvement planning in the assassination.

            http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/11/after_the_jfk_assassination_ne.html

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Mmmmmm Cocoa Puffs… wait are some obnoxious kids gonna come along and steal them saying something like Trix are for Kicks?

          • 0 avatar
            VolandoBajo

            There is some good evidence of that.

            I once found a book written by a repentant aging former mob lawyer from Florida, who had worked for the alleged bosses of Tampa and New Orleans.

            He told a great deal about the events, including that the two alleged bosses were ecstatic when they heard the news. There was also mention of Cuban involvement, not the Castro type, rather the long time residents of Florida, perhaps the Bay of Pigs types.

            Considering that the Kennedys’ father was in business with Costello and allegedly Seagram, smuggling whiskey during Prohibition, and considering that after Kennedy got elected largely on the results of voting in Chicago, when Robert Kennedy became an anti-mob crusader, I can see what motive they might have had.

            Ditto for the anti-Castro Cubans who were hung out to dry by Kennedy’s administration at the Bay of Pigs.

            It might very well be that Cruz isn’t trying to refute the story because he’s afraid that the more attention it gets, the more it won’t look good for him.

            I’m trying to remember the name of the author/lawyer…I think it was Frank Ragano.

            As Casey Stengel said, you could look it up.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Not according to Oliver Stone!

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    looking at this photo, reminds me of how many lower income workers bought the Ford Falcon we see in this photo, same color, only an automatic and a radio, no a/c, no power nothing, but they were sure dependable and very cheap to run and maintain.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      I could see the attraction of a Falcon or Nova for all income levels if you already had a wagon at home in the ‘burbs. Our neighbor growing up was a very successful chemist at Yale….he drove a Falcon, then a VW in the mid-60s.

      • 0 avatar
        banker43

        My stepdad was a chemist for Texaco in the 60s, then a professor at Marist. Drove a POS Dodge Dart with a fuel leak that he would never fix. He developed STP gas treatment while at Texaco and would later teach me the basics of thermodynamics, but he never thought he (or anyone) needed anything more than a Corolla.

        • 0 avatar
          Corollaman

          I find that most smart people can’t be bothered with fancy cars, more important things in life than the machine that takes you from A to B. Besides,cars lose money the second you drive it off the lot.

          • 0 avatar
            banker43

            True for some smart people, but I don’t think I’d say “most”. I run a bank branch next to an Ivy League campus and I can tell you that plenty of smart folks drive nice cars and are in fact enthusiasts. Same thing with the Tech Park down the street. I’d say that an interest in performance, technology, and luxury is not limited to the great unwashed and uneducated.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            Well said banker43.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        All three gens of US Falcons (not “70-1/2”) were handsome, well-proportioned minimalist little cars that nicely incorporated key styling cues of their larger siblings. Of course, same can be said for Novas.

        My fave is the first gen, can’t resist any big-round-tail-light Ford from back then.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          A 62-65 Nova 4 door with the 230 six or a small block would make fine transportation even today.

        • 0 avatar
          VolandoBajo

          The Falcon was nice, but the Corvair was the more innovative. Convertible ones still look ageless.

          But the hidden sleeper of the first generation of small American cars was the Plymouth Valiant, with a slant six. I think I remember 225 cubes, too tired to look it up.

          It was the fastest of the three, as I got to prove many a time in my youth, as my HS GF had one that we cruised around in a lot.

          And hooned in among other things.

          Damn, now you’ve got me thinking about that Bob Seeger song, Night Moves.

          There was a cherry looking black Valiant running around the Philadelphia area a few years ago. Belonged to a young good looking real estate agent, as I recall. Doubtless the car was older than she was.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      As ‘smart’ as someone might be, it’s a simple fact that daily commutes are now exponentially greater than they were back in the day. When you’re spending a significant portion of your time doing nothing but driving back and forth to work, well, I can’t disparage anyone who goes for as much comfort as they can afford in their particular mode of transportation. This, more than anything else, is likely the reason behind the boatload of seemingly non-essential equipment cars now come with as standard on even the lowest bottom-feeder vehicle. Hell, the base first generation Chevy Spark used to come with power windows and aluminum wheels.

      In the old days, a short commute in a no-frills strippo compact wouldn’t be so bad. But, today, not so much.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    Even more entertaining than the Isetta’s front bumpers — or are they just carrying handles? — is the fact the the only door is on the front of the vehicle. The steering wheel and column swing away and to the side with the door. Which also doesn’t say much for the front end crush structure (other than that there isn’t one). I guess that if you park too close to the car in front you can always climb out via the sunroof.

    Today Isettas are quite collectible, and therefore expensive.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Houston Baptist was just getting started in 1962. I lived in Houston and was raised there from August, 1958 to June, 1987. Also I went to Houston Baptist from 1971 to 1972 then transferred. It is not accurate to assume that all professors and staff at Houston Baptist were ultra conservative. I had liberal professors especially in English literature and in Biology where the professors taught Evolution. A few professors drove some unique cars when I was in college at Houston Baptist and other Universities I attended (SMU, Baylor, and University of Houston). It is much easier to make assumptions about a place if you have never lived there. In 1962 my father had a 1962 Chevy II 300 and our family wagon was a 1959 Buick LeSabre station wagon.

    I had a neighbor during 1962 that had an Isetta and I saw a few of them on the roads during that time. I saw quite a few Renault Daulphin (unique horns), English Fords, and Hillmans. Sometimes I would see MGs, Triumphs, Austin Healey, Simca, Citroen, Saub, Volvo, and Fiats. Mostly I would see Big 3 full size and compacts during that time.

    1969 was the last year of the American Ford Falcon. The Spring of 1969 was when the all new 1970 Ford Maverick was introduced as a 2 door model with the starting price of $1,995. Ford brought a model of the new 1970 Maverick to Galveston during Spring Break of 1969. My oldest brother bought one of the last of the new 1969 Falcons in the Summer of 1969 and I drove it a lot during that time. The last Falcon was not a bad car and I actually liked it better than the Maverick. I was a Junior in High School in Houston during 1969.

    • 0 avatar
      tonyola

      Actually, the original Falcon was sold through the first part of the 1970 model year. At mid year, the Torino-based “1970 1/2” Falcon replaced the compact.

      http://www.oldcarbrochures.org/NA/Ford/1970_Ford/1970-Ford-Falcon-Brochure

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Understood, and I didn’t mean to offend. Looking at the year of the pic (’61? ’62?), I’m guessing Rice….

      The later ’60s and early ’70s changed a whole bunch of things on college campuses nationally. I don’t doubt there was a streak of liberalism at HBU at that time – I witnessed the same at a relatively conservative college in the Northeast 5-10 years later.

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    There are very few cars I am fond of from that era. Mostly Lincoln products appeal to me.(Mercedes weren’t bad either) This BMW Isetta was cool too. The rest of the cars in this pic, look hideous and bloated…putting lead in our atmosphere, wasn’t much better.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Ok, you are correct but the 70 1/2 is what became the Torino which was midsize and not a compact like the 60 thru 69 Falcon. The 70 Maverick basically replaced the compact Falcon. Ford should have just skipped the 70 1/2 Falcon and just called it a Torino instead of waiting to call it a Torino. The Maverick was replaced by the Fairmont which used the Futura name for its top trim borrowed from Falcon. The Tempo replaced the Fairmont. I drove one of the first Fairmonts in 1978 and did not like its lack of power and the car shook.

    It is much easier to judge the cars of past being bloated but when you look at those cars in their time they were not bad. If you were traveling with a family you would want to drive a larger car for comfort. Also most 4 and 6 cylinders would not go over 100k without overhauling the engine and if you wanted a a vehicle that would you would buy a V-8. Also the V-8s were just as efficient as most 6 cylinders. Cars have evolved over the last 50 years and are much safer, fuel efficient, and last longer. A 1962 Ford Galaxy was much safer and more comfortable than a 1946 Ford. Easy to pass judge on vehicles of the past when you compare them to more modern vehicles that did not exist then. In 50 years there will be another generation that will wonder why those living in 2016 America drove large pickups, suvs, and crossovers which will be less safe and less efficient in 50 years.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Amen. While I love looking at and reading about the old cars (especially ’50s-’80s), these are the good old days. Safety, reliability and economy of today’s cars is unmatched. And true, many cars drive like appliances…but the iron from back then wasn’t all that special except in the case of performance or pony cars.

      Learning to drive in the ’70s, a Rabbit, 2002 or even Accord were revelations compared to typical domestic fare. There are times I curse my size (6-3) because I love flogging small cars.

      Today there is a plethora of excellent, inexpensive and reliable cars available…even grabbing a Corolla with 100k on it will give you years of service.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        “Amen. While I love looking at and reading about the old cars (especially ’50s-’80s), these are the good old days. Safety, reliability and economy of today’s cars is unmatched. And true, many cars drive like appliances…but the iron from back then wasn’t all that special except in the case of performance or pony cars. ”
        .
        Hey YOU ! .
        .
        GET OFFA MY LAWN ! =8-) .
        .
        You can have my obsolete unsafe crappy vehicles after you pry my cold dead hands off the steering wheels / handlebars .
        .
        -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Your second paragraph really illustrates what’s true about the automobile.

      I believe ICE cars will be around for another few decades. Rail has had similar issues as the automobile, and yet rail would be far cheaper and easier to convert to electric power.

      Rail had steam up into the 60s in the US. I remember looking down Railroad Ave most mornings as a child in the 60s to watch the steam engine freight train.

      We had electric trains at the beginning of the 20th Century. Diesel, diesel-electric or gas turbine trains have been around since the 30s.

      You’d think with the relative cheapness of converting rail to electric vs converting automobiles to electric, electric trains would of been first to be fully electric, ie, bigger bang for you buck.

      This hasn’t occurred. It’s been a Century now and we still have steam engines, diesel and diesel-electric trains.

      The automobile is not much different.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    There is a Karmann Ghia further down past the 2nd white Falcon. These were not as popular as the Beetle in the early 60’s but became more popular by the late 60’s and 70’s.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    The most significant feature of the BMW 600 was its semi-trailing arm rear suspension, which was used by every subsequent BMW production car until the Z1 and last seen in the Z3 derivatives. Only the M1 didn’t use the design in between, and that was designed by the guys that fled Lamborghini for Ital-Engineering.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Guy in the Forward Look car appears to have his window up? Enjoying a then rare a/c respite, or just into a sauna sweat? You decide!

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      Having suffered my way across America in the pre Air Con days I can tell you , that’s how it was done by tight @$$es , we suffered mightily in Pop’s old Peugeot’s in the sweltering heat with 90 + % humidity no less .
      .
      I’d always puke and then get my ass beat for it , not like I had any choice , I wasn’t even allowed to open the vent wing , speak or move for hours at a time . jammed in there with five other Siblings and his long suffering Wife .
      .
      Childhood was very different then , I don’t miss it one bit and I made damn sure MY Son never suffered like that although we didn’t have any Air Con cars until he was in his early teens .
      .
      Part of why I loved it way out West when I moved here in 1970 ~ I could open the windows and enjoy the fresh air , truly the ‘ dry heat ‘ was nothing after that .
      .
      -Nate

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Air conditioning was not that rare in Houston in the 50’s and 60’s. When my family moved to Houston from Dayton, OH in August of 1958 we had a 57 Chrysler Windsor which my father traded that Fall for a new 1959 9 passenger Plymouth Sport Suburban station wagon with factory air. There were still a lot of cars without air but many had portable air conditioning units added under the dash. We bought a new home in 1959 with central air. Air conditioning was more common in the South and Southwest than it was in the North and Midwest. During the Summer months Houston will be in the high 90s with humidity many times matching the temperature. My middle brother totaled our Plymouth wagon and my father bought a used 59 LeSabre wagon without the 3rd seat but it had electric windows and a huge air conditioning compressor that was ice cold. Our Chevy II did not have air and it was hot during the Summer especially being fire engine red with a matching red interior which my parents ordered in the Fall of 1961 and was delivered in time for Thanksgiving. My brothers each drove the Chevy II in high school and so did I. My father had the 1962 Chevy II for 12 years (first Chevy II with automatic Powerglide and a straight 6 and side chrome strips with chrome around the back of the car). I loved that car and kept it waxed and did most of the maintenance.

  • avatar
    Jeff Zekas

    The BMW 700 was even cooler: four wheels, the same flat twin, and it looked like a perfectly shrunk sedan.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Heh… look at Dieter all squoze in the back seat:

      http://cartype.com/pics/7248/full/bmw_700_coupe_presentation_59.jpg

      Background looks like an SS reunion.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Oh, man, the stench. I can smell it just looking at that picture. And then there’s all the lead, which makes a reasonably convincing explanation of the ’70s-’90s crime wave.

    Thank goodness for catalytic converters and computer-controlled engines.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    My guess is he’s an electrical engineer. I’ve known some that were conservative, yet nonconformist. Iconoclasts?

    And yeah, texasfreeway.com is a cool site – I’ve wasted a few hours there over the years.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I just googled texasfreeway, it is a cool site. Houston was way ahead of much of the country in developing interstates except maybe the West and East coast. Way ahead of the Midwest. Mark Twain said “When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it’s always 20 years behind the times.” No true words were ever spoken.

  • avatar
    Testacles Megalos

    “who knows, maybe he was from Austin”

    …or Montrose or The Heights.

    A decade ago I used to daily ride my bike over 59 on the way to and from work, and thanked any available gods that I didn’t have to sit in that sweltering trench.

  • avatar

    ! My mom had one of these, just in north Texas, not Houston.

    Isettas FTW!

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