Where shall I start comparing vehicles of yesteryear and now? As a baby boomer I came of age to drive in 1964 and I remember the vehicles back then. The cars, trucks and pickups were so different from the ones today.
Our vehicles back then were solid metal, very little plastic on them at all. The steering wheel might have been plastic but even the dash was metal. The gauges in the dash and the tail lights would have been glass or they may have been plastic. The cars bumpers then were made from steel and then covered with chrome. Yep, they actually had real bumpers.
If someone said they had a fender bender, that was all that was damaged, just the fender, or bumper, got dented but the back or sides of the car were not damaged. The fender or bumper could be replaced or the dent removed and it was good to go.
Now, when you have a “fender bender” there will be major damage. The whole trunk and rear side panels or the whole hood and front bumpers will have damage too. There is no such thing as minor damage now when you are in a minor accident or “fender bender”.
I miss all the chrome that used to be on vehicles from the bumpers to the trim down the side of the car and even around the wheel wells and the hub caps were chrome. The chrome made the vehicles shine and sparkle. The chrome made them look sharper than the black accents they use today, especially the black wheels or the red accents on the wheels.
Vehicles of yesteryear were not as big as they are now. Even the station wagons fit well into a parking space. But the worst thing about the vehicles today; like the double cab pickups and the suburbans and vans; they are so tall and long it is hard to see around them to see if anything is coming down the street so you can back out of a parking place safely. I was parked beside a pickup the other day and the floor board of the cab was higher than the top of my Honda Accord.
We went out to eat a few weeks ago and we parked at the end of the row and over as far as we could get in the parking space. When we came out of the restaurant there was a big Suburban parked beside us. The doors are so big on the Suburban’s that it is easy for them to bang your car. Luckily the people in the one that night were careful and they hadn’t dinged us and I thank them for that.
Parking spaces today should be wider because all the vehicles on the road, or most of them, are bigger than they have ever been and we need wider and longer spaces or maybe special sections for the big SUV’s and the double cab trucks.
When the baby boomers were growing up it was a big deal when the new models came out each year. Our dads would anxiously wait for them to be unveiled at the dealership. There was a lot of secrecy about the new models every year; they weren’t advertised on TV before their release. The dealership would cover all their windows when the new ones arrived so they couldn’t be seen until the day they were to be unveiled.
I often wondered how they got the cars into town on those huge double decker trucks without someone seeing them. Did they have them all covered or did they come in during the night and get them unloaded and onto the show room floor while the town slept?
The different car companies in the 1960’s strived to have cars that didn’t look like the other cars; unlike today when they all have the same shape. You could tell a Chevy from a Ford or Pontiac or any of the other brands just by looking at them. The styling was totally different. I could tell what car it was by the tail lights and especially at night. And you could tell the year and model car by the dashboard too.
Station wagons were the rage back in the 1960’s. My dad had station wagons when I was in junior high and high school. The first one I remember was the 1962 white Pontiac Catalina station wagon. It is the one I wrote about in the story about the skating parties my class took.
The Catalina station wagon was almost as long as an SUV but was the normal height of a car. It had a third seat in the back that faced backwards when it was up. But when we went skating we never put it up. All the seats in cars back then were bench seats. There would be 2 kids in the front seat with dad, 4 kids in the middle seat and 4-5 boys in the back area. So he could carry half of our class of 20 to the skating rink 40 miles away.
Even the 1964 Pontiac Tempest station wagon he bought and drove until I graduated was all metal. It was smaller than the white Pontiac station wagon but was still very spacious and could carry as many people and cargo as the SUV’s of today. It was also all metal from the front bumper to the back.
Something I miss on cars today is Glass Packs. There was nothing like the sound of glass packs. They were loud and mean sounding and every one knew where you were. Cars back then had dual exhaust pipes which helped with the sound they made.
A lot of the small cars today sound like an engine that is wound up with a rubber band. They put a large pipe on the back to make them louder but it doesn’t make them sound mean like the glass packs did.
There is a lot of difference in the vehicles of yesteryear and today and unless you talk about the technology today that can prevent a crash, I don’t think they are safer than the all metal vehicles we drove back then. To contact Sandy: [email protected]