Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Romanticizing the '69

Before I lose a bunch of readers, please understand that this is not a provocative post.  I confess that I only chose that title because it's a clever play on words.  I apologize if you're looking for a sexy post about coitus because this won't satisfy you.

My husband often waxes nostalgic for the cars of his youth.  Specifically, he reminisces about his Camaros.  He's owned two at this point in his life and, while I certainly did not know him when he owned them, it appears that he loved those cars.  I came across a series of photographs of his '73 Camaro while cleaning out a closet several years ago.  I found it humorous that he so loved this car that he actually burned a roll of film (not cheap in 1978 - the date stamped on the back of the photos) to document the awesomeness of his ride.  He was in a few of the pictures too and, I must say, he was a tall drink of water.  I joked that I totally would have been with him in those days. . .if I wasn't just three years old when those photos were taken, that is.  I kept a close up of him from that series of pictures at my desk until I stopped working for wages.  It now resides on our refrigerator so I can still see it every day.

For some reason that I can't possibly fathom, my husband loves white cars.  For the record, I think white only belongs on fleet cars, but that's not his feeling.  He has frequently detailed his quest to find the whitest white with the least bit of undertone when he was getting ready to paint his '67 Camaro.  By the way, the whitest white was apparently from a '75 Cadillac El Dorado.

Though we live in what could be called a project house, my husband likes the idea of project cars.  He is so desirous of a '69 Camaro convertible that I actually looked into buying a body for him several years ago.  Let's just say that the cost was so prohibitive that I suggested he might want to buy a running car instead and call it a day.

The current crop of Camaros were supposedly inspired by the '69.  I think the interior looks terrific (I've never met a gauge that I don't like), but I don't see it at all in the body.  Oddly enough, I think the new Dodge Challenger (a perfectly awesome looking car if ever one existed) more closely echos the body lines of the '69 Camaro.  My husband, not exactly a Mopar-lover, scoffs at my thoughts on the matter.

I was reading the Editor's Letter in Hot Rod magazine which actually makes a compelling case for buying a late-model project car rather than the hyper-idealized old school originals.  They specifically compare '60s to '90s cars and there is just no contest who comes out on top.  They basically state the obvious:  Old cars weren't as comfortable and we have grown quite used to the creature comforts found in modern cars.  I'd also add that old cars aren't nearly as desirable since being big and heavy doesn't necessarily equal safety.  Damn, I've grown so old that I give a rip about safety ratings of vehicles!

If we take it on face value that a late-model project car would yield a better result, why do people romanticize old cars?  I think it goes deeper than the vehicle itself.  Those "old cars" weren't that old when these car owners were young men.  These guys came of age lusting after those prime examples of American heavy metal.  Time doesn't stop for any man, but owning a tits-version of those cars is some small way that they can attempt to reclaim lost youth.  You might not be able to return to your late-teens or early-20s, but you can cruise around in the cars that represent that era.

What of my husband's '69 project car dreams?  If he really wants to do it, I really hope he does it.  And, when he's finished and ready to show off his sweet ride, his sweet girl will gladly cruise around in it with him.


  1. Oh i LOVE that is a CAPITAL L-O-V-E the new Dodge Challenger. I want the 6.1 liter v8 6 speed MANUAL transmission in the burnt orange with the black racing stripes. I am not a guy but I love me a muscle car. Then again, I do drive a full size quad cab dodge ram. =) I just dont have 60K to spend on the car i want.

  2. Agreed. The Challenger is a sweet, sweet ride. My hubby just isn't a fan of any Chrysler product, but even he admits that the Challenger looks hot.

    My ultimate set of wheels would definitely be a Corvette, though they aren't really family (carseat, rather) friendly so I'll have to wait a loooong time before ever having the slightest chance of owning one.