It is not exactly a state secret that we at MyStarCollectorCar have always been huge fans of the vintage vehicle hobby.
However, it’s probably less well-known that we at MSCC are also Frank Sinatra fans, particularly as it applies to music from his middle-aged years.
One of the more interesting Sinatra classics is his 1965 version of the retrospective song entitled ‘It Was a Very Good Year’. Sinatra covered this version but few would dispute that he owned the song like no other before (or after) him.
MyStarCollectorCar would like to put a new spin on this old Sinatra song and apply the title to vintage cars. What year would best apply to an old classic as a very good year for that car? We will pick some of our favorite very good years as the notion applies to Detroit’s finest from the automotive past.
The first car that comes to mind is the 1958 DeSoto. Older MyStarCollectorCar readers may recall the famous Seventies sit-com ‘Happy Days’ and its complete opposite of Fonzie cool: Howard Cunningham’s heavily-mocked 1948 DeSoto four-door sedan.
The brilliant style changes of the DeSoto from 1948 to 1958 was an automotive version of an ugly duckling’s transformation into a beautiful swan. All fables aside, 1958 was an incredible year for DeSoto because it had everything: chrome, fins, and some of the best tail lights ever designed for a space age terrestrial rocket.
Another car that had a very good year during its production run was the 1960 Chevrolet Corvair. The ’60 Corvair was completely new out of the box because the car was air cooled, economical, sporty — and still five years away from a collision with consumer advocate Ralph Nader’s scathing attack in his best-selling book ‘Unsafe at Any Speed’.
All things were still possible for the exciting new Corvair, including the potential to run the VW Beetle right off North American roads because the new GM compact was bigger and faster than a Bug. Maybe the car was unable to outrun its bad publicity in subsequent years, but 1960 was Corvair’s very good year.
No list of automotive very good years would be complete without the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray. The ’63 Vette was a radical departure in style for this iconic GM sports car. The 1963 Corvette Sting Ray had hideaway headlights and a fastback roof design that radically separated the car from its 1962 predecessor.
The ’63 Vette looked fast, furious and futuristic when it debuted with a tidal wave of fanfare 56 years ago. The car had been in the design and planning stages for several years with GM engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov and his talented team before it hit the showrooms as a 1963 model.
To say 1963 was a very good year for the Corvette is a massive understatement for these cars.
Another vehicle that had its own very good year was the 1968 Ford Torino GT fastback model. 1968 marked the debut of this particular intermediate-sized Ford model. The high point of the new Ford was achieved with its performance models that combined brute force choices under the hood with the go-fast style of its SportsRoof (fastback) GT versions.
The fastback ‘68 Ford Torino GT model cars were cooler than Luke (Paul Newman’s 1967 movie character) –– and much faster than his stolen prison work farm truck.
1968 was a very good year for the Ford Torino because it was brand new and took no prisoners in the muscle car wars.
MyStarCollectorCar has many ideas for classic rides and our choices for their very good years, but our 5th and final addition to this particular list is the 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk.
Studebaker was a small company with a limited budget and unlimited imagination that compensated for their financial restraints. The 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk enjoyed a very good year for many reasons.
Studebaker literally bolted on tail fins to their Golden Hawk models to give the car a foothold in the fin game for cars built in the late 1950s. They got things exactly right with this car in terms of style-and then upped the ante when Studebaker supercharged the Golden Hawk’s small block V-8 engine and turned this stylish Studey into a road rocket.
In the final analysis, 1957 was indeed a very good year for the Studebaker Golden Hawk because it was a flashy and fast model from a company that had big dreams and modest resources. MyStarCollectorCar would also call the ’57 Golden Hawk an automotive home run that year.
BY: Jim Sutherland
Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section.
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