QOTD: Are You All Out of Love?
My bedroom as a kid was pretty typical. While there wasn’t much in the way of sports paraphernalia (and certainly no trophies… God, no), there were cars on the wall. Glossy, glitzy side-on shots of all the cars a young boy in the late ’80s would want.
There was a Countach and a Testarossa (kids aren’t known for their subtle and refined taste), plus the appropriately revered and attainable Mustang GT. I don’t think Vanilla Ice had yet come out with his one hit, so I was ahead of the curve on that, at least among my classmates. Keep in mind that I grew up in a land populated primarily by Oldsmobile and Chevy sedans — no one owned a sports car of any pedigree, and it was the early 1990s before a German came to town.
Ah, but the classics. That’s truly where my heart lay. Joining those Miami Vice denizens on my bedroom walls was a quintessential American classic that couldn’t have churned greater excitement and awe in young Steph’s heart. I roll my eyes at this vehicle now.
It’s the 1957 Chevrolet, be it in Bel Air, 210, or 150 form. That thing’s a grotesquery.
Young Steph admired the machine for not being his grandfather’s 1986 Olds Cutlass sedan, or perhaps the first-gen Ford Tauruses he saw cruising past the schoolyard. It was not his mother’s Pontiac Phoenix, either. It has style popping out of its bra — er, bumper guards. That pair of rakish tailfins could slice deli meat all day. And wrap-around windshields? Ka-pow!
Again, kids aren’t always paragons of good taste. I’d have probably said that sherry cask single-malt was gross at the time, but adulthood taught me otherwise. It also taught me that there’s far greater ’57 American cars to look at and long for — practically all of them. Yes, Studebaker included.
Janet Leigh’s ’57 Ford Custom 300 in Psycho? A beauty, and apparently a decent used buy for embezzlers on the run. Any ’57 Plymouth? Same deal, though owners probably wished they’d picked up the Chevy after a few year’s time. You’re also more likely to beat the Chevy in a race (especially on a twisty course). Dodge and Imperial? Bingo. The Buicks and Olds models of ‘1957, especially in two-door form, were underrated styling successes, innocent to the bloat that would occur in a year’s time. The same can be said of Lincoln.
In comparison, the ’57 Chevy is a desperate attempt to tart up a ’55 model with the “Suddenly, it’s 1960!” styling cues that so tempted buyers that year. Its base six-cylinder belonged to an engine family that originated in 1937. General Motors swapped the ’56 model’s 15-inch wheels for 14-inchers on the ’57 in an crass attempt to lower the bulky brick and give it a slinkier, road-hugging appearance. Over at Chrysler Corp, the cars actually hugged the pavement. Meanwhile, the profile-lengthening tailfins didn’t jibe with the model’s blunt, conservative face.
There’s better ’57s to lust after, and they’re everywhere. Yes, several innovations appeared on the secretly old ’57 Chevy, among them fuel injection and tubeless tires, but we’re all about looks today.
What’s your story? What vehicle did you spend years lusting over as a kid, only to reverse course in the years since?
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