The cars we loved: Some of us still do.
There was a time, not long ago, when cars were fantasy incarnate. They weren’t just transportation; they were
statements. Each new model year we wondered who would offer the most extravagant sweeps of chrome, the most
fantastic twists of sheet metal, the flashiest dash, the flightiest fins. We wanted our cars long and low, fast and
powerful. And we wanted to feel the wind in our hair.
Then the consumer protectors told us our convertibles were unsafe, so we abandoned them. The government declared our
Belch fires wasteful and dirty, so the automakers tamed them. The arbiters of taste decreed that those voluptuous
lines were vulgar, so we shunned them.
Some brave souls remained unin-timidated. Here are five Dallas car hobbyists who still love these old cars and drive
them regularly. They know that today’s cars are safer, more efficient, more sensible. But how many ’79s can turn a
head or thrill a heart?
The 1965 Lincoln has spent its entire life in Dallas. It belonged to friends, and I always bugged them about the
car. Finally one Saturday they called and woke me up and said they were ready to let me have it. It is in excellent
shape and is mechanically sound.
I first sawthe Cabriolet parked under a carport along McKinney; It had been sitting there for 11 years. 1 got it
running and restored most of it. It runs 70 mph on the highway with no problem. It runs well and is very dependable.
It’s not a show car but rathera fun car.
A man in Longview had a huge barn with 75 or 100 old cars in various states of disrepair stored inside. The
Skyliner had been sitting there for six years. The top is called a retractable top, but the teenagers started
calling them fliptops. 1 drive it and the ’48 Lincoln in parades.
The first car I owned was a 1965 Mustang hardtop, and I loved it. I found his one-owner convertible, painted it,
put on a new top and new tires, and now it looks new. It’s a toy for me; I love driving it.
I’m an old hippie, and I ’m living proof that even poor people can afford an exotic car. Cruising down LBJ at
midnight with the car sparkling under the lights leaves me in awe. The car is just. . .Outer Space.
I wanted the nastiest Cadillac ever made, and it took me six months to find one. I restored it, and now it is
beautiful and runs like a top. One night I drove Vince Vance and the Valiants to their concert; I wore a turquoise
space suit and we had the top down. It was a hit!
As a kid in Brownsville, I didn’t have the money to buy a real nice little car. The fly-boys from the Air Force
base down there came into town in their Corvette roadsters and dated all the local gals. I promised myself that some
day I’d buy myself one of those cars.
Accessories to make your car your own
Unless you had your new car custom-made to your own specifications, chances are it’s not exactly what you were
looking for. Even if you order every factory option in the book, there’s usually room for improvement in comfort,
convenience, speed, and handling. For a few (or a lotta) dollars more, you can enjoy some of the offerings of the
booming aftermarket industry.
1. Your most vulnerable passenger is a baby. The Wee Care infant seat by Strolee exceeds government requirements for
head movement in a crash, and it adjusts to accommodate a child up to 40 inches tall. $39.88 at ABC Furniture and
Infant Wear. 2. For the driver, the Scheel 401 Rally is an ortho-pedically designed seat that ensures comfort on
long trips. The seat angle is fitted to the driver during installation, height and back angle are adjustable, and
there’s plenty of lateral support to keep you from sliding around on the corners. $416 at IXXI Enterprises. 3. To
keep your car from sliding around on the corners, the Pirelli P7 is a street version of that company’s racing
rain tire. It has a low profile for minimal tire roll, and the extra width keeps more rubber on the road. Extra-wide
wheels are required. Tires $312 each from American Tire & Auto Repair; double wire basket wheel from American Racing
Equipment. $65. 4. Mobile telephone service isn’t something you can buy on a whim. Waiting time is about three years
for local service, seven years for nationwide service, and even then you might have to wait five minutes for a dial
tone. Local service is $82.20 monthly plus 18 cents a minute, from.
Southwestern Bell. 5. Bilstein shock absorbers won’t fade under hard driving, and they adjust automatically to road
conditions. $61 each from BAP Imported Auto Parts. 6. Quartz-halogen headlamps by Cibié give up to a third more
illumination than standard equipment. High-beam and clear fog lamps are legal in Texas now; road lamps, which extend
night vision to 5000 feet, aren’t permitted here yet, but they’re great for crosscountry trips. A stone shield
(included) protects your road lamps when they’re not in use. High beams $25.95; road lamps $39.95 at BAP Imported
Auto Parts. Ford Mustang courtesy of Mid-dledauff Ford.
Page 107: 1. The Prince on-board computer monitors fuel consumption, fuel cost per mile, elapsed time,
estimated time of arrival, and cruising range. $499, plus installation, from ARA Manufacturing, Grand Prairie. 2.
The Cobra 63GTL CB transceiver is tucked away out of sight. All the controls are included on the microphone unit.
$400 plus installation at Auto Sound Specialists. 3. Automotive music systems have become very sophisticated lately.
Panasonic’s Classic AM-FM-cassette unit has electronic tuning, quartz lock, and adjustable sensitivity. About $400
plus installation. Team it with a three-way eight-speaker system from Auto Sound Specialists, (4), about $145, and a
Fosgate 100-watts-per-channel amplifier (5) called The Punch, $420, and all you’ll need is a dance floor. To keep
all this sound safe inside your car, the Ungo Box (6) by Techne Electronics emits a 60-second blast on a horn or
siren if it detects forced entry or motion. It’s keyed to a digital code, so there’s no lock ripe for the picking.
$295 at IXXI Enterprises.
Substantial discounts are oftenavailable on many of the items listedabove. Shopping around is advised. Andsome
bargains can be found in the mailorder ads in auto magazines.
The car of the future isn’t what it used to be.
Ten years ago, a forecast of the automotive future would have been a fantasy of power and speed, an atomic roadster
with a wet bar and gangster whitewalls. Now fantasy has taken a back seat to utility. The end of our fossil fuel
reserves is in sight, and the economics of scarcity dictate that 21 years from now cars will be smaller, lighter,
and almost certainly slower than the ones we drive today. Plenty of technical wizardry will go into their designs,
but it will be wizardry without flamboyance; instead of a 200-mile-per-hour pleasure palace, expect to see a
slightly sleeker version of the Volkswagen Rabbit with electronic cruise control.
The incredible shrinking car
The Federal government’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations, which require that all the cars sold by
each manufacturer average 19 miles per gallon this year, have put direct pressure on the American auto industry to
make cars more efficient. The easiest way to do that is to make them smaller and lighter. Downsizing made its first
big appearance in 1977, when General Motors cut 660 pounds and 11 inches from its full-size models. That’s only the
beginning: After GM finishes downsizing all its models in 1981, it will begin a new cycle of shrinkage.
By that time, if current trends continue, the largest cars sold in appreciable numbers in the United States will be
slightly larger than the present GM intermediates, the Chevrolet Malibu and Pontiac LeMans, with a wheelbase of 108
inches. Most will be shorter than that, down to 88-inchers like the Honda Civic.
Up to now, downsizing has meant taking the basic Detroit hardware and making it smaller. Starting this spring,
however, we’ll see a difference, as U.S. automakers take a cue from the Europeans and Japanese and build compacts
with front-wheel drive. Not only does fwd offer more interior space and good traction, but eventually power units of
engine, transmission, and differential will be designed as a package and dropped into a variety of vehicles, making
A more expensive approach to fuel economy is to use lighter materials. High-strength steels, aluminum, and plastics
are being used in greater quantities than ever before. An extreme example of lightening, still in the experimental
phase, is graphite-fiber reinforced plastic for connecting rods and other highly-stressed components. The high cost
of new materials is one reason why, as cars get smaller, they won’t get much cheaper.
Little engines that can
Assuming there’s any gasoline left in 21 years, gasoline engines will still be rolling off the assembly lines.
Automakers have too much time and money invested in research and tooling for the traditional reciprocating
gasoline-fired engine to take a flyer on a savior powerplant. But no more big V8s: The days of stoplight racing are
gone forever, and someday soon even the present V6s will seem like a lot of iron. Don’t sing a dirge for the thrill
of acceleration, though. Electronic fuel metering and turbocharging, already offered by Ford, Buick, Saab,
Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche, will add muscle to the small-displacement engine at little cost in fuel economy.
Diesel engines will become increasingly common, especially for city driving; they enjoy their greatest efficiency
advantage over gasoline in slow and stop-and-go driving. The rotary engine, or Wankel, offers very good power for
its size; the principal problems to be overcome are poor fuel economy and high tooling costs. Electric powerplants,
now mere curiosities, will be increasingly common in city autos, sometimes in combination with gasoline engines for
longer trips. The development of electric vehicles depends primarily on the development of lighter, cheaper storage
batteries. Many alternative engine development projects seem to be petering out; Ford recently abandoned work on the
Stirling-cycle engine, a low-pollution design patented in 1816.
Shape of things to come
Two opposing forces will shape the car of the future: space-efficiency and fuel-efficiency. The current trend is to
very boxy shapes that let a short vehicle carry a lot of people and cargo, as in the VW Rabbit. Unfortunately, the
box is not a slippery design, and fuel economy depends to a great extent on aerodynamic drag. Last year, the famed
Italian design firm Pinin farina penned a low-drag design that was nicknamed “The Blob.” Its liquid lines are
everything a sci-fi fan could hope for, but it’s a tight fit for two people. Clearly, a compromise between the box
and the teardrop is in order. Automakers are committed to finding it: GM is building its own wind tunnel at a cost
of $15 million.
Though in most respects the cars of the 21st century will be leaner versions of the ones we drive today, Buck Rogers
does get into the drivers seat when it comes to the use of electronics. Electronic devices already govern ignition
systems, fuel injection, and suspension leveling; the most recent trickery is the on-board computer.
In 20 years, electronics will monitor exhaust gases and speed to keep enginesrunning at maximum efficiency
regardlessof changing temperature, altitude, andload. Computers may be doing the driving; it’s already possible to
have vehiclesdrive themselves, following a cable buriedin the road. Walt Disney predicted thatdevelopment 20 years