Today's challenge is a postcard from the online collection of writer James Lileks, who describes it thus:
An example of a simple truth: there's no point where one cool style simply gives way to the lesser styles that follow it. Things evolve. This is an example: all the stylistic antecedents are 60s, but nearly everything here could be ugly and ur-Seventies if you just gave it a push.
--Cookie the Dog's Owner
Note: We interrupt Show Cars Week to insert this special time-sensitive post. Normal programming will continue tomorrow.
Following on last week's Carspotting Challenge in which we offered readers a chance to identify some forlorn automobiles gone to their final resting places in an Elephant's Graveyard, we now turn to what amounts to actual archaeological sites. I recently did some fieldwork in a (not identified here) portion of eastern Washington State and part of the survey area included a couple of what we call "dump sites": areas where, historically, people dumped objects. Which is, in fact, a prime kind of archaeological site from any period -- places where people discarded the detritus of everyday life. Really, garbage heaps and latrines are some of the best places for finding out how people actually lived, be it the 20th century AD or 15th century BC.
This post is part photo essay, part eulogy for the sad fate of some automobiles, and part call for assistance from Car Lust readers everywhere. You see, while archaeologists are often called upon to record any site older than 50 years, it is often kind of tricky to determine the age of some of these really recent sites. For example, does a particular beer can or bottle date to 1965 (not older than 50 years) or 1955 (older than 50 years)? And if the latter, was it tossed there around 1955 (older than 50 years) or perhaps much later? On top of that, given the range of time of artifacts that we often encounter -- from 10,000 years ago to occasionally last week -- we are often presented with objects for which we have limited expertise.
And thus, the subject of this post: car dumps. Specifically, two actual sites, one a true car dump and the other a general dump containing a couple of automotive artifacts. My purpose is twofold: First, to show a bit of our automotive past as it appears to archaeologists, and second, to solicit input from readers to assist us in dating these sites. So feel free in the comments to chime in on any insights you may have on the make, model, and especially year of manufacture of any of these objects that may help us to provide an accurate description and dating of the sites.
I had not been to New York City for 32 years, and things there have changed quite a bit since 1980. But the weekend of April 13-15, 2012, was full of events like the 100th Anniversary of Titanic's sinking, the 2012 New York International Auto Show was wrapping up, and I could barely get tickets to the 9/11 Memorial in time. So when the invitation and other events fell into place, plane tickets were bought and bags were packed.
The only non-stop flights from Nashville to New York I could find were on a smaller jet. I had never been on one before, and expected treatment such as the old Southern Airways ad. But I was amazed and surprised at what a smaller aircraft offered, like being able to immediately get off of the plane when we arrived at the gate, and I'll gladly fly on one again.
The Auto Show was held at the Jacob J. Javits Convention Center on the west side of Manhattan from April 6-15. Of course, the weekend was packed with many other things, like seeing where Titanic would have docked, reflecting at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, visiting the Empire State Building, meeting Rupert Jee at Hello Deli, and watching the sun rise on Manhattan.
Just a friendly reminder, Uncle Sam wants his cut, and he doesn't like to wait. Unless you file for an extention. And then only for a little while. I'm proud to say we finished our taxes early this year. As in Friday. Last Friday.
Death and taxes. Unfortunately I got word of a pending car world death. The closure of a regional car museum comes later this week - Ellingson Car Museum - http://ellingsoncarmuseum.com/ I'm hoping to take a field trip up there later this week before they close.
If you are in the market for a "new" car check out their offerings on the left side bar under "Cars for sale". You say you want a show quality 1954 Buick Roadmaster Convertable? We can do that. The '69 Corvette keeps calling me asking me to bring it home. My wife said no. Seriously though, that is my dream car.
And a 1952 Kaiser Traveler? Where's my drool towel? How can you say no to the hybridization of a Sherman tank and grandma's station wagon?
If you could chose any car on their sale list, what would it be and why?
As always this is your place for all the random thoughts that might not fit under our other various thread.
I'll confess right now that I'm a "rivet counter," a person with a deep interest in Titanic and all about her. I've been to four Titanic exhibits in two different cities, built models of her appearance in both 1912 and 1986, I've written Dr. Robert Ballard (He actually wrote back twice), and I've seen the movie way too many times.
This weekend, of course, is the 100-year mark of her sinking. She hit the iceberg at 11:40 PM local time on April 14th, and sank at 2:20 AM on the 15th. As a stroke of luck, I should be in New York City right about now (April 14 & 15, 2012), and hopefully will see some notable events in the city of her destination, as well as tour some little auto show that's in town.
Not much is left of the pier where she would have docked; the White Star Line was absorbed by rival Cunard, and by 1950 had disappeared. But the interest in Titanic lives on in books, displays, documentaries, a play, and of course in movies.
This week, we're in Dyersberg, Tennessee, in the Bicentennial year of 1976, when the Avocado Green-ing of America was in full swing and vinyl was considered proper roofing material.
--Cookie the Dog's Owner
(Photo obtained from the retail history blog Pleasant Family Shopping.)
Okay, let's get this out of the way right off the bat: As Motor Trend put it, Enough about the four doors, already. While the so-called "purists" are still bellyaching that the latest incarnation of the Dodge Charger doesn't look almost exactly like the original, Dodge has moved past that and isn't going to look back. And frankly, I don't think they need to: they've created a good-selling, profitable vehicle that has improved over time and has established itself as a really good performance sedan in a traditional American mold.
There, I said it.
The Charger was always something of an oddity for the retro trend, eschewing the temptation to hew closely to the original "look and feel" of a classic car, and instead performing an almost complete reimagining. Hard to tell if it was a risky proposition or not at the time. The Prowler hadn't, arguably, met with resounding success, and neither had the new Ford Thunderbird. The new retro-styled Ford Mustang was only in its first year or so of sales, and the new GTO, itself a not-terribly-faithful rendition of the original was also meeting with disappointing sales. So, what to do with a classic muscle car from the past: make something of a modernized clone or go off in a totally new direction? Either way had its pitfalls.
Well, I for one think they got it right.