MARCH 19, 2014: HOW AN OLD SONG SHAPED MY VIEW OF A GOOD COLOR CHOICE FOR A CAR

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The Ides of March were a one-hit wonder band that charted high in April, 1970 with their only claim to fame song ‘Vehicle’.

 

The song was largely about a love-crazed cat who promised the sun, the moon and the stars to some babe who clearly had serious George Costanza hand on the guy.

 

Oh yeah, he drove a black car and he labeled himself as the “friendly stranger in the black sedan” in the opening lyrics of the song.

 

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One of the strongest features of the song is an introductory blast from the horn section delivered in high octane fashion.

 

The brass sound was big in the early 70s and it was mainly trumpeted by super groups like Chicago in that era.

 

The Ides of March used their horns very well in ‘Vehicle’ and it always gave me a mental picture of a big car on the move rather than the lovesick driver on the make.

 

It is a secret to nobody that North American sedans of yesteryear were big, but they were also beautiful to me.

 

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There is still something special to me about a giant land cruiser from the pre-1973 oil embargo past.

 

Nobody was really concerned about the price per gallon in those days because pump prices stayed very stable and were not subject to huge overnight price hikes in today’s market for reasons that range from incredibly ridiculous to just plain uncreative lying.

 

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The idea of a big sedan in motion came through loud and clear in the song. The bold sound of a trumpet/trombone musical collaboration was a stroke of genius by the guy who wrote the melody for ‘Vehicle’.

 

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A big sedan from the dinosaur era clad in black paint will always be an impressive sight for me.

 

In fact I would like to have owned one of these babies at some point in my life.

 

Sure I have owned a few giant cars from the era, but none of them were giant black cars. A friendly stranger in a maroon car does not have the same impact as a guy in a black car.

 

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The upside to an old sedan with a black paint job is the cool factor found in the Ides of March song and its powerful horn musical accompaniment. The downside is quite obvious: a black paint job is all kinds of hurt for car guy who make this color choice.

 

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Black paint is a tell-all color choice because it hides no secrets. It will show everything from minor blemishes to major waves in the bodywork and the defects will look much larger than life on a black car.

 

Nothing gets swept under the rug with a black paint job and owners can expect to pay more to get a decent end result with a black car project.

 

The final issue for black sedans from the past was their primary list of owners during that era.

 

Most were either wealthy, wanted to appear wealthy, or owned a funeral business because black was a power color for funeral cars before they switched to white cars.

 

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None of these color issues mattered to me when I first heard ‘Vehicle’ on the radio in 1970 because giant American cars with black paint became instantly cool to me when the brass section kicked in on the song about a friendly stranger in a black sedan.

 

Jim Sutherland

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