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SEPTEMBER 16, 2015: THE DISAPPEARED…WHAT WAS ONCE COMMON IS NOW HISTORY

By on September 16, 2015

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Memories from the past is the only place where we can find some of automotive history’s most popular rides.

 

Most of us are too young to remember the Model T in its stock-form heyday, before it became a hot rod dream machine on the roads.

 

But the Model T became famous as a mass-produced affordable form of transportation for early 20th century drivers long before our parents (or grandparents in some cases) had even entered grade school. The total production numbers are a point of some debate among enthusiasts, but 15 million Model Ts is a number that has been used in the argument.

 

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There are still plenty of Model Ts left in 2015, even though the cars are over a hundred years old in some cases. The Tin Lizzy has one of the most dedicated and largest fan clubs in the car hobby and one can be assured the famous Fords will live on forever in the future.
But a Model T is an uncommon sight on today’s roads because they are engineered for the pioneer portion of the automotive hobby. The Ts are too slow for modern highways and too complicated for modern drivers, most of whom would be hard-pressed to even start a T, let alone work out the foot pedals for a Tin Lizzy.

 

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Those of us who come from the baby boomer era had our own version of the Model T during our younger years: the Volkswagen Beetle. There were plenty of Bugs on the road throughout most of our formative years and we paid little attention to them-outside of the painful game of Punch Buggy.

 

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The air-cooled Beetle was our automotive passenger pigeon and we took them for granted until they were gone but not forgotten by us, replaced by more efficient, faster cars with creature comforts like actual heat during the winter months. We missed these lovable little German cars as soon as they disappeared from the streets and now we celebrate a sighting with a nostalgic round of Punch Buggy whenever we see one.

 

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The Chevrolet Chevette was a mid-70s sub-compact replacement for the Vega and had a production run from 1976-87 in North America, roughly aligned with the formative childhood years of Generation X and sometimes Y. Both groups moved through childhood with the Chevette, but few of them mourned the death of this unloved little car.

 

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The Chevette, and its Canadian cousin the Pontiac Acadian, were practical little cars and topped the North American small car sales the late 70s and early 80s, so there were plenty of them on the road during their heyday.

 

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Today few survive because they were disposable cars that were used up and discarded to the forgotten scrap heap of forgettable rides. Chevettes never got the love given to the Model T and Volkswagen Beetle after their production runs ended and people actually missed them. Consequently a Chevette sighting in 2015 is actually a rare occasion but it still gets little fanfare from the public.

 

Our best guess is the Chevette will never enjoy rock star status in the car hobby, but it will become more of a conversation piece in the future because there are so of these little Chevys left in the world.

Jim Sutherland

 

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