AUGUST 5, 2013: A FEW BLASTS FROM THE PAST THAT MADE THE OLD IRON SO COOL

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I have always been drawn to the old school cars even when they were new and I first saw some of them during my own lifetime as new car previews in magazines like Mechanix Illustrated, Popular Mechanics and Popular Science.

 

Some of the old cars I love were produced well before my time on this planet but there were always reasons for my love of the old school rides.

 

I love the fender designs on the pre-war cars and trucks because they represented a style that was a fundamental part of the engineering of that era. The flow of a well-formed fender on a 20s or 30s-era vehicle is visual eye candy that still is a head-turner look in 2013. Possibly even more of a head-turner in today’s world because most pre-war cars are long gone from the roads.

 

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Likewise, I love the air vents that sat right in front of the windshield until well into the 50s on cars and trucks. Many car owners were unwilling to check off the air-conditioning option on their new car lists during the bulk of the time when a lever-controlled vent was a cheaper alternative to AC.

 

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The AC option was practically a non-starter for frugal Canadian car buyers during that time frame but AC became more of a factor in the southern US states where scorching hot summers were a reality long before Al Gore and David Suzuki let us know summers were warmer than winters.

 

The other way to theoretically beat the heat in the old days of automobile choices was the vent window and I still miss vent windows on today’s cars. They were actually a very useful way to keep fresh air moving inside the vehicle without the hurricane force of open side windows at 70 mph.

 

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The vent windows were also useful in damp weather because they could direct air at the inside of the windshield and clear away the fog. Eventually the vent windows developed leaks and were less effective with wind noise suppression when the sealing rubber around them wore out, but they had more of an upside than downside on the old cars in my opinion.

 

I always liked the overstuffed comfort of the seats in old cars from the early 50s on backwards to the pre-war cars. The passengers were treated to a plush seating compartment made of cloth and ample cushion even in the low end priced models during the first 50 years of cars.

 

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I also liked the dashboards in vehicles from the past. The cars’ dashboards were a fashion statement in the vehicle that was unique to the era and model in most cases. The old dashboards were very cool even when the temperature gauges on the dashboards showed hot.

 

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Lastly, I liked the lack of seat belts in old cars. Most of us took our chances in the old days and never really thought about actually wearing a seat belt until the seat belt laws made their use a non-optional situation.

 

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I never wore one in the front or back seat of my parents’ cars, even when my father bought a new car in 1966 when front and back seat lap belts were made standard equipment in North American cars.

 

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Maybe the last one about no seat belts is not my smartest choice for old car nostalgia but the lack of seat belts is still part of the old car appeal for me.

Jim Sutherland

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