My Car Quest

November 29, 2022

Driving an Oldie but Goodie From Your Past

by Wallace Wyss –

I drop in every year on a route 66 celebration–an annual display and slow cruise to show hot rods, and mild to wild customs celebrating Route 66–an old highway that took travelers West before the interstates.

I actually was one of those who traveled to California on this route in ’53 before the freeways and remember certain vistas and even buildings (like the Wigwam hotel). So this time, in mid-September, 2022 as I tried to make it by sun-up (but couldn’t resist breakfast so missed the sunrise) I saw a hundred cars had arrived, among them a ’58 Impala convertible I thought I’d shoot that to send to my sister, who might remember it, as one of her first boyfriends drove a similar car, only his was white.

1958 Chevrolet Impala

1958 Chevrolet Impala

I figure that’s part of the appeal of a stock looking old car–if not customized too much (this one had skirts and was lowered). If the owner had one in ’58 or rode a lot in one and every time he steps into it now, it”s Old Times again. Especially if he has a sound system, remember they had 45 rpm record players as options in cars?” In your modern restoration, you equip it with records that coincide with the exact model year.

As I see it, there’s a certain comfort in that. It’s one Rock that stays in place in rough seas. Wives come and go. Jobs come and go. Wars come and go. Your body has its limitations, which you find out again each year as the years accrue on your heart’s odometer.

But, boy, get in that ’58 ragtop, put the top down, hit the record player and hear the Everly brothers “Dream..dream..dream” coming out of the quad speakers and it’s like old times. And then sadly you realize that not all of the people who co-existed with you back then still inhabit this earth. If it was old times, you’d like to take that Chevy over to Tony’s house and see what he thinks of the latest little change you made, but Tony isn’t there any more. Died in ’85. Even Tony’s kids. Gone.

So most times there’s a little bit of that Last Man Standing aura when you finally get your dream car. Time has passed but the car’s still a ’58, holding onto that year resolutely. I tried to fathom what’s the appeal in re-creating a certain car precisely as you remember it. As near as I can figure out, it’s like donning a suit of armor, protecting you against all the bad things that happened to you between the ’50s and the 2020s. At least once you’re behind the wheel.

But I haven’t done it (and, truth be told, a lot of the cars I owned back then–say the Mercedes Gullwings–are way too expensive for me to buy back today) but just for curiosity’s sake, I won’t stop trying to find out what being able to drive a piece from your past brings to the table today, in 2022.

What say you?

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss art

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss, the author of 18 car histories. He is currently doing oil paintings of exotic cars on commission. He can be reached regarding art at malibucarart@gmail.com.

 
 
 
 

De Tomaso Mangusta Prototype-Art by Wallace Wyss

De Tomaso Mangusta Prototype-Art by Wallace Wyss

Summary
Driving an Oldie but  Goodie From Your Past
Article Name
Driving an Oldie but Goodie From Your Past
Description
Remembering the good times and the cars that were important then.
Author

Comments

  1. David Dolter says

    You captured my sentiments precisely… memories too… moved from Dubuque to LA in ‘53 via US 66 in a ‘50 DeSoto with Mom, Dad, Grandma, brother Mark and Mac, the cocker spaniel… pulling a trailer with all we owned.. new lives and fates awaited us… no regrets.

  2. Wes Stewart says

    A lowered ’58 Chevy with fender skirts still makes me cringe.

  3. Robb Northrup says

    Wallace, I sold a late-model Porsche project and bought a 1972 Corvette — the year I graduated from High School — with only 35K miles on the dial. I could not be happier! I drive it continuously as a 2nd car (now that I’m retired) and we take it on trips. It is fast, the handling exceptional, is exotic looking and it is RELIABLE! No issues at all.

    I am lucky. Why would I want anything modern?

  4. Arthur Salo says

    Yep, I am working on the restoration of my very first sports car, a 1957 Triumph TR3 for which I paid the grand sum of

    $450 in the mid sixties. It was driven from Orange County, California and was driven to Waverly, NY in the middle of

    winter by a man who was in Orange County on business for IBM. He saw the little car, liked it and bought it. When he

    finally got to NYS, he was sick of freezing (the car has no roll up windows and no heater so he sold it to me and, I

    think bought himself a new Corvette which, of course had a heater and roll up windows. He still drives a Corvette at

    88 years old. When I die the car will return to my daughter wgo lives in Orange County !

  5. Rex OSteen says

    I wonder how my children will be nostalgic. Perhaps it will be less tied to objects like cars, and more related to a spirit born of brokenness.

    However, one son does regret he removed his tape-player radio from his 1989 F150, found joy in finding old lost one, is sorry he cut its wires, and is looking for a harness to replace it.

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