Dad loved to go new car shopping. Every year when the new models came out, he would take the whole family to the dealership.
He would study each new model carefully, engaging the salesman in long discussions about the distinctive features of the newest offerings. He would sit behind the wheel, adjust the seat carefully, study the controls, feel the upholstery, ask Mom, Linda and me for our opinions.
We all knew that there would be no new car for us. We couldn’t afford it. After our outing, we would pile back into the trusty old Chevy, which would serve us for yet another year, and head back home.
I wasn’t really interested in the new cars, which seemed to be pretty much like the old ones, just shinier and with a few new bells and whistles.
I loved the concept cars that the automakers created every year, the “Cars of the Future.” They were all wildly inventive and crazy beautiful, and I never understood why the car companies didn’t make them instead of the boring new cars that looked so much like the old ones.
And in 1958, the concept cars were spectacular. Sputnik and the space race had jet-fueled the imagination of the car designers. Now, these were CARS!
This Plymouth Tornado would look pretty cool sitting in our driveway. I bet the kids would pay a quarter just to sit in it.
How about this Corvette? It looks like a jet fighter about to take off.
Then I saw the GM Firebird III, which looked like it might REALLY fly. It could probably chase down Sputnik.
The Packard Predictor was okay, I guess, but it probably wasn’t ready for spaceflight.
I could imagine Flash Gordon at the wheel of the Ford Nucleon. That’s right, Ford thought that a car powered by a nuclear reactor was probably just around the corner.
This was the coolest one of all. How could anyone even consider buying a new Chevrolet after seeing the Ford X-2000?
Of course, I designed some of my own cars, too.
But what I really dreamed of was a flying car. I was certain that it was just a matter of time before they came along.
Not that Dad would ever buy one.