A 58 YEAR OLD TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE

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My brother Jerry and I (co-conspirators at MSCC) are part of that huge group of aging car guys from the baby boomer generation.

 

Some of us literally cut our teeth during the Fabulous Fifties and developed our car guy tendencies at a very early stage in life.

 

Many of us were influenced by our car guy fathers and started reading our dads’ car magazines shortly after we learned how to read.

 

We looked at the car pictures during our pre-literacy phase in life and learned how to read simply because we wanted to know more about the stories behind the pictures in the magazines.

 

Jerry and I received an old issue of Science and Mechanics as a gift this year and were intrigued by the magazine because it was an August 1958 edition from our pre-literacy early childhood. We may even have looked at the photos in that very magazine during that bygone phase of our earliest years.

 

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The old magazine is even more interesting in 2016 because it is a time capsule for that early era of space races and faster cars. There was plenty of article diversity in the aptly named Science and Mechanics, but we want to concentrate on the automotive side of the magazine.

 

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The magazine contained a couple of car tests, including the 1958 Ford Thunderbird. The second gen ’58 T-Bird was a much larger car than its predecessor. The newer car weighed almost 800 lbs. more than the ’57 T-Bird and was about five inches wider-plus the ’58 had a back seat.

 

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The ‘58 also had a bigger 352 engine with 300 horsepower to push the larger bird down the road.

 

The T-Bird’s road test in Science and Mechanics was more in depth than today’s car tests and even included a few math equations in the mix. The Science and Mechanics writers were very careful when it came to their car tests and provided a lot of data for their readers. They even included a signed declaration of authenticity in their vehicle test articles.

 

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The road test included oil consumption and modern car owners would be very alarmed if their brand new cars used a quart (liter) of oil in only 600 miles of driving, but oil consumption in new cars was not entirely unusual in 1958.

 

The other car tested in this edition of Science and Mechanics was a 1958 Rambler American. The little compact was built to compete with small European imports like Volvos and Simcas. The writers called the Rambler a “speedy miser” because it was much faster than its Euro rivals with its 0-60 mph times of 16.8 seconds-almost a full 6 seconds faster that its closest rival, Volvo.

 

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16.8 seconds to hit 60 mph is very slow in 2016, but it was peppy enough for somebody looking for better fuel mileage in 1958. The Rambler American had a six-cylinder engine with a three-on-the-tree manual with overdrive and averaged almost 30 mpg under optimum test conditions.

 

 

The Rambler used two quarts of oil during its 500 mile test run and would have been crucified for this level of consumption in today’s world.

 

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The new cars tested in this August 1958 Science and Mechanics magazine were far from perfect driving machines compared to today’s rides, but they were from a different era for cars.  It was also the era of our early childhood when we were young, highly impressionable car guys and first saw these cars on the road.

 

That reason alone will always make these cars tested in old magazines like this August 1958 Science and Mechanics cool for us here at MyStarCollectorCar.

 

Jim Sutherland

 

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