A Good Year: Do You Conform With These Rules?

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

Like fine wines and their ‘good years’, a car’s desirability can also be signified by its year of manufacture. Just as a season of perfect weather conditions grace the land, producing palate-tantalising grape nectar, car designers manage to merge the combination of curves, lines and technological advancements to create an automotive ‘good’ year.

One of the finest years has to be 1957, a year Chevrolet nailed the Bel Air pictured above. Out of all the automotive TV programs I watch, “57” comes up the most. It’s not surprising, either; just look at the combination of curves and lines and the way it’s a fairly compact car but features those glorious fins.

This article features American cars because, although Euro and Japanese cars have their ‘good’ modes, they are defined more by their chassis number, spec and ‘facelift’ improvements.

1962 Ford Thunderbird

1962 Ford Thunderbird

Take the Ford Thunderbird above, for example, one of my favourite looking cars. Despite it being in my top 5 garage, I could only have one from 1961-63 because of those rear afterburner tail lights. American cars seemed to change their looks considerably over a short period of time, whereas the rest of the world hang on to their chassis number longer and work on technology and subtle design improvements.

1963 Corvette

1963 Corvette

Another extremely desirable car is the 1963 Corvette Stingray for the simple reason ’63 was the only year Chevrolet produced the rear split-screen.

1970 Plymouth Hemi Cuda

1970 Plymouth Hemi Cuda

In 1970, after Plymouth had a redesign on their Barracuda, shifting it away from resembling their Valiant design, they built a limited number Hemi ‘Cudas, a car now highly sought after because of its place and heritage in the 1970s muscle car story.

Last but not least… 1987… the Buick GNX. How could Gargling Gas not feature its all time favourite car? After Buick transformed their rather bland Regal into a turbocharged monster in 1984, calling it the Grand National, just three years on saw a farewell with their GNX, the X standing for ‘experimental’. This X meant 275-hp, a massively understated figure that left the GNX a must for the serious collector.

1987 Buick GNX

1987 Buick GNX

Of course, there are many more cars I could list, so forgive me for not listing them, but I’d be getting away from the point of my article:

So with my long-winded explanation that cars have their good years and all this talk of desirable models, do you conform to prescribed? Do you go along with these ‘good’ years, or do you like the ‘undesirables’, the ‘ugly ducklings’ you find alluring, looks that appeal to you simply because they tick all your personal boxes?

 

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Little Red Corvette

The Corvette is to America what the Aston Martin is to England. It doesn’t need any introduction, and since the majority of my readers are from the States, I don’t need to waffle on about heritage or what it means to the U.S. However, I will say that the word ‘Corvette’ – in my mind – evokes images of those signature rear lights, Face from the A-Team, and the crossed flags badge. The Corvette is light and slender and designed to cut the air like a bullet. The horsepower is always massive and models of past were loud widow-making maniacs… which is why I’ve always fancied one.

Over here in the UK you can pick up a 2008 car with low miles for under £30,000. The C6 is a great-looking car, and I found an eBay example for £28,000 that possesses a massive 6.2-L V8. Because the Corvette is light compared to the European cars, and the fact it pumps out 440-bhp, it is fast… very fast. You get the looks, a wonderful sound track that can crumble buildings, and enough power to lay thick elevens every time you even glance at the accelerator.

Although Jeremy Clarkson contradicts himself a lot when it comes to the Corvette (most cars come to think of it) – he loves it, he hates it, it’s too flimsy, it’s the most uncomfortable ride in the world, you can’t have one in Britain etc – I don’t think it’s too out of place in the UK. We are a nation of people who need big 4X4s just to pop to the Post Office. Certain parts of the UK you’ll only find Range Rover Sports and Mercedes G Wagons, all driven by mums who need to fit in two children and a handbag. Why would the Corvette be out of place? It’s not massive compared to these 4X4s, it’ probably more economic than the supercharged Range Rover, and it’s no bigger than an Aston Martin or Ferrari 599.

If you want that car with savage acceleration and a gut-rumbling sound track, the Corvette is the one for the job. It may be a little flimsy, but it is light and will keep you on your toes when the road turns bendy. If I suffer a midlife crisis, I’ll take a red Corvette over the 911 any day.