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1938 Chevy Coupe, and other interesting carsWilliam dropped me a line in 2007, with some of his motoring memories, which all started back in 1956, thanks to a '38 Chevrolet and a retired Scottish schoolteacher...
"Your site is exhausting and exhaustive! Thanks for going to the trouble. I thought Andrei Bogomolov was the only one who did anything so extensive. On to my story...
First car, a 1938 Chevrolet Coupe
It ran fine, but had no radio. After some thought and consultation with my peers, I went to an automobile junkyard, carrying a battery in a sling, and extracted a working '49 Buick radio from a wreck. I carefully cut a hole in the leatherette-covered plywood of the shelf behind the Chevy's seat .. hung the radio face up against a foam gusset I made, and with rubber insulating strips between the metal case of the radio and the strap-iron hangers, screwed it into the underside of the plywood shelf.
An electric lead to the Chevrolet's dash ignition .. Radio Shack automotive aftermarket aerial affixed to the passenger side between the roll-down and the opera window .. and soon the Chordettes were filling my '38 coupe with "Lollypop", and some throaty rockabilly fellow chewing bubble gum whilst moaning about an unlikely place called Heartbreak Hotel.
When winter came, I found the tiny GM heater to be almost no heater at all. On that same radio, I heard a Western Auto Stores commercial...
"Heat your car in a minute!
With SouthWind Minute Heat!
You'll be comfortable the minute you're in it!
With SouthWind Minute Heat!"
The price was right, something on the order of six or seven dollars. It was, of course, simply a 12volt compatible electric-fire coil in front of a little electric fan in a box which you hung as best you might under the car's dash. Worked beautifully. Girls liked to ride home from highschool with me because they rode warm very shortly after I stepped on the starter.
Next automobiles, a Ford then an MG 1100..
I loved driving that little car! While I owned it, I dated a University of Indiana co-ed and ran back and forth from Indianapolis to Bloomington each weekend to see her, using the hilly winding roads of southern Indiana as a playland for the peppy responsive MG. The steering position, ratio and response was especially pleasing as I changed gears up and down on those mildly challenging roads. I was so dumb about 'foreign' cars at the time I had no idea that beneath the dress-up skirts of the 1100 was a Morris Mini.
My one complaint was the Lucas electrics. I swore there was a demonic sensor somewhere on the car which caused the wipers to shortcircuit the moment the rain began and the headlamps to fail as soon as it was full dark. Even so, my affection for driving the 1100 was undiminished so long as I drove it in dry daylight.
Again, what a fine site!"
Thanks for getting in touch with your recollections of motoring in 1950s and 1960s America, its always great to read first-hand accounts of 'antique cars' back in their day, when new and still had that 'new car' smell inside. You can read more personal car stories in the motoring memories pages.
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