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The Cars Of "The Andy Griffith Show"


TAGS Opening(Sung to the tune that opens "The Andy Griffith Show:")

Well now, take, down, your fishin' pole, and meet me at The Fishin' Hole,

  We may, not, get a bite all day, but don't you rush away. 
  What a great, place, to rest your bones, and mighty fine for skippin' stones, 
  You'll feel fresh, as, a lemonade, a-settin' in the shade. 

  Whether it's hot... whether it's cool... oh what a spot... for whistlin' like a  fool.

 What a fine, day, to take a stroll, and wander by The Fishin' Hole, 
 I can't think, of, a better way, to pass the time o' day. 

The name of that song is "The Fishin' Hole," and those were the words to the whistling theme you heard every time you saw Sheriff Andy Taylor and his son Opie walking toward Myers Lake in Mayberry. Of course Myers Lake didn't exist, so maybe surprisingly, the title openings of the show were shot here.

Just like the music in "The Andy Griffith Show," cars also played an important part. In fact, several of their best episodes were written around them and the people who were driving them. So let's take a gander at a few of these machines... some of them might even surprise you a bit!

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4th Annual Home Depot Cruise-In, Medina, Ohio 9/14/14

Last Sunday was a perfect day for a cruise-in, so the Frazer Manhattan and I went to the one sponsored by our local Home Depot.


There were probably close to fifty vehicles that were in attendance at one point or another over the span of five hours, and it was a pretty eclectic mix.


Here's some of what we saw.

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Willys Jeep Wagon

Submitted for your consideration, a charming example of a Willys Jeep Station Wagon, the first all-steel wagon and the mother of all SUVs.

Willys Jeep Wagon 4

This particular Willys was spotted and photographed on the streets of Rocky Ford, Colorado, this past Fourth of July, by my friend Norman Kincaide.

Willys Jeep Wagon 6

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Meet the new car, (not the) same as the old car

The vehicle to the right there probably doesn't strike anyone as being particularly significant; for the most part it's not. Just a basic early 21st century compact Compact Sport Utility Vehicle (CUV or SUV), not too different from half a dozen other similar vehicles we see about a thousand times a day on the streets of our fair cities, 'burbs, and rural roads. Just a fairly basic 2014 Subaru Forester 2.5i. Subaru

It has a couple distinctions though. For one thing, it was Motor Trend's 2014 SUV of the Year:

The Forester combines the practicality of a small, wisely engineered SUV with the fun enthusiasts will enjoy. . .The Forester has the right combination of attributes for many SUV buyers, and seems to do the impossible: It has more power than before, with better fuel economy, is fun to drive, offers generous ground clearance, and achieves all this at reasonable prices. The Forester isn't a wagon anymore. When a vehicle does this much and does it this well, it truly earns the title of Motor Trend's 2014 Sport/Utility Vehicle of the Year.

So it's a decent little SUV. And as a matter of fact, it is now not only my primary vehicle, but the final contestant in an almost year-long search for something to take me into the field and back, albeit not quite at the sub-$10k amount I'd intended.

Even more than that, this thing has the distinction of being the first vehicle I've purchased since George Bush was president.

That would be George H.W. Bush.

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Aunt Bee and her Studebaker

Andy's phoneWe all know Aunt Bee (Beatrice) Taylor from The Andy Griffith Show. She was a pivotal character, one that the show could not have survived without. In fact, the show's first episode is titled "The New Housekeeper," referring to Aunt Bee's arrival at the Taylor home. That episode set the stage for the show's eight-year run, and we saw Aunt Bee in many episodes of the spinoff Mayberry RFD (1968-1971) and once on Gomer Pyle, USMC as well.

I will proudly admit that I am a huge fan of the show. The black & white episodes are my favorites, most of which include Don Knotts as Barney Fife, MD (Mayberry Deputy). I've also had the priviledge of meeting Hal Smith (Otis Campbell), George Lindsey (Goober Pyle), Doug Dillard (One of the Darling clan), and Howard Morris (Ernest T. Bass) through the years.

And the telephone Aunt Bee is using here on the right? As a token of my affection for the show and all the years of happiness it has brought so many people, the dial-less phone now sits on an end table in my home with a small authenticification note from Ken Swartz, the show's Set Decorator.

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The Way We Were - Big Chris

While I haven't had a list of tremedous vehicles I've driven, what I lack in quality I make up for in quantity.

My first two cars were Toyota Corollas.  I started with a 1979 in white with 4 doors and a 5-speed manual.  We got this from some relatives and my parents drove it for a year or so before I was old enough to drive.  Unfortunately, I don't own photos of most of my vehicles (or most of my childhood).  We didn't own a camera most of my life (crazy huh?) and it just was never a concern of mine to document these sorts of things.  The '79 was a great learner car.  It was a stick, and it was slow.  So I got good experience but was limited in how quickly I could do stupid things.  Eventually the clutch cable broke, and the car wasn't worth fixing with some of the other issues that began to crop up with it.

The second Corolla was a dirt brown 1978 2-door with the automatic transmission (was previously my grandparent's car).  The only option it had was a rear window defroster.  Both Corollas were glorified beer cans with wheels.  I give thanks I was never in an accident in them.  The only claim to fame for the brown car was that we sold it with nearly 300K on it for something like $500.  The body was shot, everything mechanical worked, but barely.  Suspension was laughable.  But 4 years later the same guy who bought it was driving it around town still.  You just couldn't kill it.  A cockroach of cars.

The next car I got was a 1984 VW Rabbit.  4 doors, tan everywhere, and epically slow.  My first front wheel drive car and my first hatchback.  It was as uninspiring as a car could get, but it served me well until the distributor broke off in the motor.  I regularly ferried about a half ton of offensive linemen home after football practice in this little car.  Rear bumper just barely above rubbing pavement.  Imagine three linemen in the back seat of a VW Rabbit.  Yeah.


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Car Lust Classic: Car Respect--Geo Metro

Please note: This feature was first posted by Chris Hafner on April 22, 2008. Please place any new comments on the original post.

Metro1I'm not actually going to write a Car Lust for a Geo Metro, simply because it doesn't generate lust for me. I have a lot of respect for the Metro, but as we can see in other walks of life, respect does not always equal lust. My respect for the Metro is a purely intellectual response; the only real emotion the Metro prompts in me is a slight tinge of ennui.

(Note that this isn't really true of the Metro's predecessor, the Chevy Sprint--its turbocharged variant will be appearing in this space someday as a bona fide Car Lust.)

Yet the Metro, in its own way, was as superlative as any Porsche, as extreme a performer in its sphere as any Ferrari. Its forte? Providing maximum fuel economy and usefulness for the minimum price. Within that context, the Metro was the ne plus ultra.

There has been a lot of conversation lately about alternative-fuel cars, hybrids, electric cars, hydrogen-fueled cars, Smart cars, and the like--all very cool developments, all interesting additions to the automotive world. Then fellow Amazon blogger Rich Sloan blogged about his friend's Smart fortwo--and subsequently got roasted in the comments for saying that his friend's fuel costs were $0 after 142 miles.

All of this really puts into context just how amazing the Geo Metro was--or, possibly, that we just haven't made much progress on fuel economy in the last decade. I like both the Smart and the Prius--there's something gadgety about them that appeals to me--but if your goal is just to have a useful gas-sipping car, it would be hard to do better than a Geo Metro.

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2014 Mazda 3 5-Door Hatch: Something Just Clicked

You know that moment, with a car that's been around for a few years, when the automaker finally works out all the kinks and puts out a car that is perfectly dialed? Like what Dodge did with the 392 Challenger for 2011: suddenly, with the right amount of power and the right amount of handling, everything just falls into place, and you can finally say that they got that car right. That seems to be what's happened with the all-new Mazda 3, the bread-and-butter compact that's been paying Mazda's bills since 2004. Now on the cusp of its third generation, the Mazda 3 is indeed dialed—it hits all the right notes in power, handling, and appearance. Let's take it for a spin...


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Limousine Week--Airport Limousines

OK, it's the 1960s, give or take a decade or so, and let's say you're going to stretch a car and make a limousine. Many, if not most of us, would probably choose a premium brand such as Cadillac, Chrysler, or Lincoln. But the fine folks over at Armbruster Stageway and other places seemed to have liked more "base model" cars, such as Chevys, Fords, and the now dearly departed Pontiacs.

And from 1962 to 1977 (except for 1975), Checker even built their own in-house 9- and 12-passenger "Aerobus" models. Heck, one of them, the Convoy, was designed to haul prisoners. Now that's pedestrian travel!

Checker limo

Here is a Checker Aerobus airport limousine. This one has "only" 6 doors, but other Checker limos had the full 8-door treatment as well.

What makes up an airport limousine? Well, they seem to be a large, lower trim level 4-door sedan, station wagon, or truck that has been stretched and has one, two, or three doors added on each side. There is usually a large roof rack for extra/oversized luggage and/or Aunt Edna. These vehicles were built for function more than form or luxury; getting passengers and luggage to and from airports and hotels quickly was their reason for being. Going to the opera or prom... not so much so.

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Limousine Week--Jumpseats in Checker Marathons

Three words, three fonts!Up until 1965, we were a one-car family, and Dad invariably drove the "Oldredford" to work. If we wanted to go shopping or to the doctor's office, or anywhere else during the business day, Mom called the Independent Radio Taxi Company and ordered up a cab to take us there.

Independent Radio Taxi operated a fleet of white-over-black Checker Marathons, with the firm name proudly hand-painted on the front door in three different fonts. (I've seen old photos from the era of Chevy sedans operated by Independent, but I only remember riding in Checkers.) Its major selling point was that its cabs were equipped with two-way radios, and could be dispatched to pick you up anywhere in the city on a moment's notice, with just one phone call to the firm's downtown office (RIverside 6-8844). There were other taxi operators in Youngstown, but I don't know if if any of them were up-to-date enough to have radios in their cabs; we always got our taxis from Independent.

The big Checker would appear in the driveway within five or ten minutes of Mom making the call--this was space-age efficiency at its finest!--and we would go out the front door and get in. The back seat of a Checker Marathon is a large space, and it's even larger when you are two or three years old. The cab had a two-way radio--just like an airplane!--and a fare meter with numbers that changed, and those were cool in their own right, but what really made it a great place for a kid was the fold-down jumpseats.


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Pictured above: This is a forlorn Chevy Vega photographed by reader Gary Sinar. (Share yours)

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