Thatís Gone Away
I guess everyone
gets to that point in life where they start to say, I remember
. Heres some from me:
cars were rear-wheel-drive
a handful of cars most of them high-end cars are rear
wheel drive. But back in the day the 60s, 70s
and into the 80s most cars were rear-wheel-drive and
that included most economy cars. Pintos, Vegas, Chevettes
even imports like the Datsun B210 and of course, the old
Beetle were burnout-capable (assuming there was a little
black ice on the pavement). Vegas and even Chevettes
were popular as sleeper hot rod projects and bracket racers, because
of their RWD layout. Stuff a big V-8 into a Vega (or a V-6 into
a Chevette) and you had an M80 on wheels and for cheap, too.
Thats the other thing about RWD econo-cars: Their mechanicals
were the essence of simplicity, which made them genuinely economical
in a way that modern economy cars arent. No CV joints to fuss
with. You had a solid beam axle that would outlast the car instead.
A pair of shocks $40 for the pair instead of $200
for a set of struts. True, you usually only got a gas gauge and
a speedometer and a dial-control one speaker AM/FM radio
but you also didnt get a $300 a month payment for the next
five years. I miss that. And being able to spin the rear tires,
I just put
a set of factory-correct raised white letter tires on one of my
old bikes. But you never see white lettered tires on cars anymore.
Theyve gone the way of whitewall tires. Its all blackwall
now and so, tires all look just the same. Which is a shame.
Tires used to be a signature element of a given cars look.
Anyone who remembers Firestone Wide Ovals or the BF Goodrich Radial
TA will know what I mean. The style of the lettering and
the name of the tire itself, boldy called out added something
to the car thats absent today. Goodyear Wingfoots with the
cool checkered flag. The Eagle GT. Even the el-cheapos they used
to sell at places like Pep Boys were fun. I remember buying a set
of Revenger HP tires for my old Camaro back in the late 80s.
They were the perfect accessory for the primered rear quarter
panels and glass packd exhaust.
take you back. Well, it takes me back. The leaf-sprung muscle
cars of the 60s and 70s tended to sag in the tail after
ten years or so which was right around the time my generation
(Generation X) got their hands on them as their first/high-school
cars in the early 80s. One of the first things many of us
did was to go to local auto parts store and buy a set of Gabriel
Hi-Jacker air shocks to give the car the proper nose down, ass up
attitude. It looked cool but transferred too much
weight onto the already worn-out, overburdened front end while simultaneously
unloading the already too-light rear end. Already marginal handling
and braking was thereby rendered downright catastrophic in the event
of sudden inputs. You learned to drive carefully and preferably,
in straight lines only. The best part, though, was when the air
line to the shocks frayed or came loose and they lost air pressure.
Instant low-rider! At least, partially. Now, instead of looking
down at the pavement, you looked up at the sky. It made for fun
times. If you werent there, youll never know!
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[send him mail] is an automotive
columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2012 Eric Peters
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