Pick any car show–large or small.
You’re going to see a Camaro, a Mustang, and some form of Mopar muscle at every show because that’s how popular those cars were/are in the hobby.
The first one is the 1956 Chrysler New Yorker convertible. These cars were built in the early years of the famous Virgil Exner era–they were an interesting combination of European style and Detroit flash.
They had a nice, wide stance with a simple grille, tons of power with a 354 cubic inch 1st Gen hemi under the hood. Style-wise, they had well-defined, yet understated fins that welcomed buyers to the jet age. New Yorker convertibles offered comfort, performance and sheer presence in ’56, but you’ll never see one in 2022.
The 1961 Olds Starfire convertible is another great example of a car that won’t crack many lineups at car shows in 2022. Not because they have no fans–it’s because ’61 Olds Starfire convertibles are nearly extinct.
1961 was a year when the 60s said goodbye to the 50s and the Olds Starfire was an excellent example of this transition.
Starfires had one of the most unique taillight displays ever seen on a car. You could track it to the name–the space race was heating up and the Starfire looked like a horizontal rocket. They were big, bad turnpike machines–the ’61 Olds Starfire was one of the coolest roofless land yachts ever built.
You could paint the 1962 Thunderbird convertible with the same brush. This was the second year for the Bullet-Birds and they upped the game with the 1962 Sports Roadsters.
Add-ons don’t always work on classic cars (see Continental kits), but the tonneau cover took the space age T-bird into hyperspace. The look was complete because everything that shouldn’t have worked on a large car like the ’62 Thunderbird Sports Roadster but it did work–in a spectacular way.
The 1967 Rambler Rebel SST doesn’t have a big following–maybe because you never see them anymore. That’s a loss for any car show because these cars deserve a little time in the spotlight.
The Rebel SST didn’t shatter any records with its 343 V-8 under the hood, but it did dry gulch a few guys at traffic lights. The Rebel’s biggest asset was its clean, functional body lines combined with unique appointments like convex taillights and front grille. The Rebel didn’t jump out at you because it was understated and cool at the same time. Few builders can say that and fewer could pull it off.
The last car may come as a surprise. It’s the Checker Marathon–you may recognize it as the ultimate taxicab.
The Checker cab was an extra in every movie ever filmed in a major city from the 50s into the 1980s. They were industrial-strength automobiles built to take incredible punishment on city streets all over America.
They weren’t cheap but they were built for function over form, so they had spacious back seats with flat floors and power trains with large tolerances for daily abuse. You’ll rarely see these warriors at many shows because they were used up and baled, so very few Checker Marathons retired on the show circuit.
By: Jerry Sutherland
Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post, Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.
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