Letters to the Editor 2019

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To the Editor: 

Having grown up in the heart of the so-called muscle car era of the mid-1960s to mid-1970s, I found it almost impossible to resist the magnetic pull of the recent classic car show in Woodbine. It was a wonderful display of vehicles, some of which were close to a century old, yet probably looking better than the day they left the factory. 

Many of the autos being shown were the cars of the “masses,” vehicles ordinary people of the day drove to work and on Sunday family drives. For those of you who were not around in the days before television, the Sunday drive was a tradition among many families across the nation.  

Dad would get behind the wheel and the rest of the family would pile aboard. The destination was not important. These meanderings gave rise to a term you sometimes hear to this day, “Sunday driver.”  

People who regarded the drive as an event were never in a hurry, often leaving a train of irritated drivers behind them looking for an opportunity to pass. 

In addition to the mass-produced vehicles, there was any number of cars that were reserved for the privileged. There were simply magnificent vehicles of the Roaring '20s and several prohibition-era sedans. I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to the contemporary value of such machines. 

Despite such a collection, it was the cars of my youth that attracted me. There was an early 50s Ford that was like the first car I ever owned. It was about 18 years old when I bought it for $120.  

There were Ford Shelby Mustangs, Pontiac GTOs, several Chevy Camaros and Corvettes among others. The car I sought out the most was a 1968 Dodge Charger. That was my favorite car. Mine was red with a black top and black interior and red sidewall Goodyear Polyglas tires. Unfortunately, there was not a ’68 Charger to be found. 

This show provided a fantastic history of the automobile. It was great to relive the days of cruising Friday nights with the windows rolled down and the AM radio turned up.  

It was also great to relive the pre-radar “Stop Light Grand Prix” events against those Mustangs, GTOs, and Camaros. Some my Charger won, and some it lost. I miss the sound of a big block engine into a glasspack muffler and the squeal of rubber when you hammer the accelerator. 

Cars would make their debut sometime in September to huge, long-awaited fanfare, and each year’s models were distinct. Today, not only can’t you tell the year of most cars by looking at them, but, in most cases, you can’t even identify their manufacturer.     

As I was perusing this great exhibit, something suddenly struck me. Of all the hundreds of people in attendance or showing their cars, there was a definite lack of young people under 40. The more I thought about this, the more disturbed I became. 

It struck me that once this current group of car crazies dies off or simply becomes too old to participate, shows such as this in Woodbine probably will go away. I can only conclude that even if someone inherits one of these classics, there is a good chance it will be sold off as scrap. 

You might say that those growing up since the start of the '80s have had too many other things to occupy their time, but I disagree. In the past 20 to 25 years, most new cars have been bland, with little to excite, especially the younger set. 

Yes, there are some who think “souping up” some econobox is a thrill, but there is something more than just adding a loud muffler and tinting the windows. 

I find it hard to visualize someone attending a car show a quarter-century from now and saying, “Oh! I had a Scion just like that. That was some car!” 

The glamour of our automotive past is fading fast and that is sad. 

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