In Aug. 1 IssueRussell County NewsBy Ron Cowell, Columnist
With the economy the way it is today, we are all looking for a smaller car that’s easy on gas and is friendly to the environment. Back in the 50’s and 60’s we were never ashamed of the fact we didn’t care about gas mileage or a greener planet so we flaunted our extravagance by showing the rest of the world we wanted it all and we wanted it BIG!
Car designers had a ball designing cars that looked like finned space ships with luxurious leather interior and all the extras. The cars back then were covered with stainless steel chrome and gallons of metal flake paint that looked a mile deep. The problem came when the cars became to big for the motor so the solution was to build a bigger motor. Back then the only limit to the size of the car was the space between the lines in the road. Who cared about how long the cars were, the longer the better.
Logic and the economy had little to do with the kind of car you bought.
Some small car owners had an attitude when confronted by one of those BIG cars like the Cadillac. Plus once they discovered you were the proud owner of one of these Rocket ship cars with the big fins you were known as “one of those types”. But once they got behind the wheel of one of those cabin cruisers on wheels they were instantly transformed into “one of those types”. They loved driving their new luxury rocket ship on wheels with all the chrome and all the extras.
Transportation in the 60’s was more than just getting from one place to another. It was a statement. If your statement was big and beautiful, the world was a better place for all to see and enjoy. We wanted to drive those cars that weighed five thousand pounds or more and we were actually doing people a favor. We made people smile and took their breath away if only for a second when we drove past them. They would say “look at that”. It didn’t even matter if you yourself didn’t
have one yourself, just seeing someone else drive one was good for the soul.
The Big four, GM, Ford, Chrysler and AMC all had their idea of what the cars of that day should look like. Some did really well with simple , basic transportation like the Ford Fairlane and the Chevy Bel Aires, or the ever popular AMC Rambler. The auto makers attempt to make us all happy with the kind of car we wanted actually went pretty well. From Hot Rodders to Bank Presidents you didn’t have to go far to find that very car you were looking for or just convinced that you had found just what you needed. Heaven forbid that anyone would reach across the water and buy a foreign car of their dreams. No one in their right mind would want their neighbor to see them driving a car that was not American!
Those people who actually had the nerve to buy a BMW or Mercedes were obviously anti-American and were subject to not only ridicule but probably put on the FBI’s top 10 list of subversives and could be related to Churchill or even worse yet Hitler! To own a foreign car was just unheard of! Everyone back then thought the bigger the better. Your car was considered an extension of you manhood or womanhood or whatever the case may be that put you in with those people on the TV in the car commercials. Times sure have changed but thanks to the classic car lover, a lot of those BIG road hog, gas guzzlers are still on the road today.
The top ten most expensive cars in America on 1960 fell into the luxury car category and offered 14 different body styles. Eight of the ten offered a four door sedan or sedan limousine. In addition there were 4 four door hardtops, 2 two door hardtops and a pair of convertibles. They were the Cadillac 60S Brougham, 4 door hardtop that went for $12,000.00, The Lincoln Limo that went for $9,836.00, The Cadillac Limo that sold for $8,950.00, the Lincoln formal sedan $8435.00, Cadillac Eldorado Seville, 2 door hardtop was $6,817.00. There was the Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible that went for a whopping $6,817.00. The Lincoln Continental four door sedan and the four door hardtop that went for $6267.00. The two door hardtop went for $6037.00 and the convertible sold for $6462.00. The Imperial LeBaron four door sedan and the two door hardtop sold for $5,770.00. Last but not least, was the Cadillac Special that sold for $5,770.00. Wouldn’t you like to buy a brand new Cadillac today for under $7,000.00?