I guess like a lot
of boys of
I was space-nuts
when I was a kid.
I mean, anything that
had to do with
or science fiction –
– man, I was into it.
once a year,
when my birthday
I always got to pick one present –
– not too expensive, mind you –
– from the local department store…..
Which meant ,
some kinda space gadget
of one kind or another.
You might remember
my post about my
7th birthday present,
a space-age toy ray gun –
– well, every year
( until I discovered girls )
I chose something like that….
My eighth was a ginchey
space helmet with ear plug
and a wire antenna that
worked on the tin can
and string principle.
High tech, right ?
Hey, it came
with a bonus –
– what else,
but another ray gun ?
By the time I was nine,
I had every space gizmo
that could be rendered
into a cheap plastic toy
I could get my greedy,
grubby little hands on –
– a lot of my friends had
lost interest in theirs,
and I seized my chance
to build a virtual empire
of used, unwanted
galactic space junk.
about the time my
hormones really kicked in –
– so, my universal take-over
would, quickly enough,
be put on indefinite hold,
but it all got stashed
away safely in the garage,
for the day when my space
empire-building days would
return with a vengeance.
somehow or other,
all of my astral treasures
were confused with trash
and jettisoned into the
of the local dump.
has a good
explanation on how all
that happened —
My Mother claims that
she was busy cleaning
the upstairs bathroom
when it happened ….
— and my Father
asserted until the
day he died that
the rental truck that
he was seen driving
was in no way
related to the
a likely story, man.
!!!! HOY !!!!!
Cadillac Cyclone …
…. sounds a bit like
it might be a figment
of an old car guy’s
imagination, doesn’t it?
And I’m car crazy…
I will readily admit it.
cars don’t just represent
a way of getting somewhere..
…….. they mean a good deal more.
Sure, some of
can be traced back
to my still-very-much-in-play
adolescent desires for
freedom, status, and power.
Let’s not forget sex.
you thought I was gonna
use a fucking profanity, didn’t ya? Didn’t you read yesterdays’ post ? )
But that’s not all of it….
because when I see
a car that has been:
and beautifully executed,
it makes me think that there
just might be hope
for the human race yet.
I rarely miss an
automotive fair —
I have worn out the
carpets of the local car museums.
And as much
as I love classic cars,
I don’t even own one…
not one you’d
call classic, anyway,
I get around on my motorcycles.
Part of the problem
is that I have
never found one that I liked,
that I could afford to buy.
That used to bother me.
Until I realized that
I could sublimate
the urge to own one,
by blogging about them.
So… guess what.
We’re gonna look at a couple
very hot ‘concept’ cars
over the next few months.
You don’t have to be a car fanatic
to enjoy looking at concept cars, either…..
Concept cars are interesting,
because they’re cars that
designers put together
when they want to ‘think outside the box’.
Usually only a few of each
are produced by the manufacturer,
and are taken around to auto shows
as a way of showing the kinds of ideas
the company will be incorporating
in their upcoming models.
Consumer reaction is
carefully observed at these shows..
… and often, there is a survey
taken of what people like/dislike most about it.
The car featured today, for instance,
1959 Cadillac Cyclone .
…. Otherwise known as the “XP-74”.
It was created by famous
General Motors designer
Harley Earl ,
(actually, the last concept car
that he designed from the ground up)
… and was first debuted
at the 1959 Daytona Beach
500 Automotive Showcase.
The Cyclone had some interesting features,
electric sliding doors
with small access panels for paying tolls,
… and an intercom to talk to someone
on the outside of the vehicle
without having to open them.
( remember– no windows ! )
radar sensors built into the
front nose cones for crash avoidance–
forward mounted exhaust
( just above the front wheels ),
an “auto-pilot” system
that steered the car when activated,
a removable, silver coated,
UV reflective, plexi-glass bubble top
which raised when the doors were opened,
…. and that automatically sensed rain,
and raised itself in bad weather,
a hood canopy that pivoted up
and away from the engine compartment for easy access,
an innovative aircraft style ergonomic dashboard
and control cluster,
Plus automatic transmission,
cruise control, with a 325 horsepower V-8 engine.
It was low to the ground–
–only 44 inches high,
…. but the electrically operated sliding doors
made entry and exit easy.
It was long — 197 inches —
but, while you might think parking would be a nightmare,
the onboard radar would be a good deal of help in that regard.
I love that curved windshield–
… it makes for excellent field of vision with no A-Pillar blind spots.
One of the things Earl was going for was a feeling of 360 degree visibility….
so the whole glass bubble and curved windshield makes perfect sense.
Plus, it was cooooool, man.
You can certainly see the influence jet-age
aerodynamic design concepts
had on automotive planners here.
If you look hard at the car,
you start to notice design features
that carried directly into later production cars ,
….. not just by G.M. ,
but by Ford and Chrysler, too.
And I can’t help but wonder
what kind of looks this car
would get on a Saturday nite cruise.
I don’t know if it’s a “chick magnet” —
……………… but it certainly attracts me !
This post covers the original Corvette-
called the C-1,
…… which was manufactured between 1953 and 1962.
In 1953, the post war boom in the United States was in full swing….
A whole generation of homeward bound servicemen had changed their view of automobiles– they no longer were satisfied with pure functionality– they wanted and expected style, and speed.
The boxy, staid models available after the war in the U.S. had continued the general trends carried over from the late thirties– and they looked bulky, overblown, and old fashioned.
Many of the returning post-WWII occupation veterans had been exposed to the cutting edge sporty cars of Europe,
Particularly cars like :
the Abarth Vignale—
an Italian twin carbed beauty that could top 105 mph,
The British MG Sport TD,
whose advertising was themed “MG- Safety Fast“.
The speed and handling of these cars
made cars like the Plymouth P-15
or the Ford Super-Deluxe seem stodgy,
with suspensions right out of the stone age.
There was really nothing made at home
that was comparable to those sporty Europeans,
……… and so, many European models came home with the vets.
Most car executives in Detroit in those days thought
that the future of car design lay in an over-the-top middle-class-psuedo luxury,
with huge fins and chrome everywhere.
They viewed the car as an expression of new found American prosperity and power
— a way of the working class showing their ,
as one critic put it, “nouveau riche glitter”.
And, Detroit produced many of those kinds of cars,
at the expense of those who were looking for other kinds of luxury
— like economy, longevity, or performance.
In such times, when the manufacturers considered themselves
to be the movers and shakers of popular automotive taste,
cars like the Corvette would have a struggle from the get go.
There were designers with vision
who could see a future for an American sports car, however…
George Mason of the Nash-Kelvinator Company, along with British designer Donald Healey, had worked up an aluminum Nash-Healey prototype that had come in fourth at the 1950 LeMans just months after it’s conception.
It could be said of the Nash Healey, that it was the first purpose built American sports car.
But, only 507 of these were ever produced during a four year run, and they were priced near $6000.
Still, the time was coming.
In 1951, famed car designer Harley Earl
was able to convince Chevrolet management
that there was a market for an American made two seater sporty car.
A concept car was developed by Robert F. McLean, at the Flint, Michigan plant.
It was a beautiful car,
and it certainly made waves when it debuted at the 1953 GM Motorama.
Still, GM’s heart wasn’t quite in it at first….
The 300 models produced in 1953 were all ‘Polo-White’, and the bodies hand built from fiberglass-
They used the stock Chevy solid-axle rear suspension, the stock Chevy chassis, and a stock Chevy 235 c.i. “Blue Flame” inline-6 cylinder engine connected to a stock Chevy ‘Powerglide’ two speed automatic transmission.
They did give the 6 banger a higher-compression ratio, triple Carter side-draft carbs and a sleeker camshaft — all together it would make about 150 horsepower.
Harley Earl’s concept had been for a car priced around $2000– this one was $3500.
If you look at the marketing materials of the time, it might seem that Chevy was attempting to appeal to a buyer who wasn’t really in the market for an expensive, underpowered, uncomfortable, fiberglass two-seater, and very few of them were likely to be.
Clearly, Detroit hadn’t figured out where this car fit in the automotive heirarchy, yet.
And Chevrolet was on the way to canceling the project altogether…..
Two events changed that .
Ed Cole, Chevy’s new head of engineering, first saw the car at the 1953 Motorama.
He quickly saw what the car could be with the right combination of powerplant , suspension, and marketing.
He had busy at work developing the 1955 “small-block” V8– (Chevy hadn’t sold a V-8 since the 1920’s) and decided his new pet project could be a perfect candidate for it.
“Lackluster” might describe the sales of the 1954 Corvette.
Despite initial enthusiasm after the Motorama, the car had acquired a reputation as a paper tiger, and buyers wanted to wait until the car lived up to it’s potential.
The main difference between the 1953 and 1954 models, was that it was available in more than one color in 54 — black, red, blue or white.
It was also being manufactured in a different plant, in St. Louis; a total of 3460 were built that year.
One of the two most important developments in Corvette history-
……. the availability of an 8 cylinder engine option —
came in 1955.
Though this model was again nearly identical to the 1954- distinguished outwardly from the 54 only by the oversize “V” in the lettering along the front fenders,
Ed Cole’s new 265 c.i. small block V-8 restarted stalled buyer interest in the car.
Only 700 were made in 1955, due to the fact that many dealers still had old 1954 V-6 stock unsold, however.
The V-8 was boosting power, and sales — and more big changes were coming.
The styling updates made in the looks of the 1956 and 1957 Corvettes are considered by many to have created one of the most beautiful cars of all time.
A new front fascia and side coves were added, the tail fins were dropped in favor of a more rounded, aerodynamic look — power windows and convertible top were new options.
At the 1956 Daytona Speedweeks, the modifications to the Corvette was the hit of the party-
The cylinder heads had been redone, increasing the compression ratio to 10.3 : 1, and with a few other tweaks, the V8 was making 255 horsepower.
New options for 1957 were fuel injection, heavy duty brakes and suspension, removable hardtop…
The second real turning point for Corvette, after the introduction of the V-8, was also made that year.
Chevrolet’s new chief engineer, Zora Arkus-Duntov, had added his own touch to the 57– as the four speed manual tranny, the T-10, became available as a late year option.
This legendary transmission would finally enable Corvette to live up to it’s potential —
Corvette was coming into it’s own, and now Chevrolet threw all it’s corporate marketing and engineering might into promoting it.
The 283 c.i V-8 engine option was now making 283 horsepower– and GM’s advertising department had a field day : ” one horsepower per cubic inch !! ”
It was a remarkable achievement for Chevrolet… the first engine in history to make that benchmark.
Motor Trend’s article on the Corvette that year glowed with praise:
“The function of the fuel injection system was notable,” Walt Woron wrote. “Starts were quick. Pumping the throttle didn’t pump raw gas to the cylinders, so you can’t flood it. Throttle response is instantaneous.”
The car was selling well, and Chevrolet kept up the pressure in 1958, adding distinctive quad headlamps, a larger front end, side scoops, hood louvers, more chrome, and driver-centered gauges in a redesigned dashboard.
( But many Vette fans frown upon these modifications, as overkill. )
1958 was the year that Chevrolet actually made a profit on selling Corvettes, too.
In 1959 and 1960, several new, larger engine options were offered.
In 1961, the now instantly recognizable “duck tail” rear end with four small tail lights was first introduced.
1962 was the last year of the “C-1” Corvette , with the 283 c.i. V-8 now bumped up to a 327 , making over 340 horsepower — making it the fastest of the C-1 Corvettes.
It was also the last year for the trademark C-1 wrap-around windscreen and for the solid rear axle.
Big changes were afoot —
Just around the corner — in 1963 — awaited the C2 Corvette — the “Sting Ray”.
I hope you enjoyed this post on the C-1 —
An interesting side note:
The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky
recently had a disaster of epic proportions —
— a sink hole opened up under the building,
and swallowed a sizable part of their collection.
Much was lost, but several irreplaceable cars were saved.
Anyone interested in Corvettes
should consider visiting them and supporting the Museum.
Visit them online at: http://www.corvettemuseum.org .
Seldom do I get
such a wonderful
and welcome opening line….
women really do seem to love a sailor.
Being a Navy man,
I’m always happy to hear that!
at least when I was in,
it always seemed to me
that they liked long-haired civilian hipsters better…
and a ‘take no prisoners’ attitude
toward ladies in general….
seemed to hold us back in a lot of the ports
we visited in the 70’s and 80’s,
it might have also been that
‘been at sea too long’ look we often had —
It mighta been a little too intense for some girls.
that whole ‘Ladies Love A Sailor’
thing must be true,
… cause I got plenty
of vintage postcards that say so.
I’ll take it
why/how/where/when I can get it,
… ya know?
It was very popular around the turn of the century–
When the expression originally went:
“Ship Ahoy !”
(“All The Nice Girls Love A Sailor”),
It originated as a song title,
from an early 1900’s London hit stage show–
featuring a very popular
‘male impersonator’ —
named Miss Hetty King .
She does seem like a nice girl.
But she don’t look very convincing as a man.
Those breast tie-down things must hurt like hell, too.
No real self respectin’ Sailor
would mess with one of them Officer types.
Those ceremonial swords
get pretty pointy, too.
Being a Navy man,
The truth couldn’t be further from the truth.
……… well, you know what I mean.
speaking for Sailors in general,
I can safely say that:
means that we’re willing to continue to research the subject until we do.
until we run outta gas.
And, at least for me,
it’ll be a long, long cruise before THAT happens.
I might mention, by the by,
that the United States Naval
Nurse Corps program
celebrating it’s 110th Birthday.
And everybody knows the Navy
ain’t nothing without
our Navy Nurses.
Thank you for your service —
———– and here’s to another 110!!!
Check out this Enoch Bolles designed magazine cover from 1928: