An American Chimera

Posts tagged “americana

American Muscle – Mustang Mach 1 – The End Of An Era

1973 Mustang Mach 1 - The End Of An Era

Ford 351 Cleveland

Simulated Wood Grain and Vinyl Interior

Mach 1 Badge

Pony Gas Cap

Rear Spoiler

I came across this magnificent machine at the car show that I wrote about in my previous blog entry. What makes this vehicle so significant to me is that it marks the end of an era. The Ford Mustang Mach 1 as shown was manufactured from 1970 -1973. This is when the muscle car era started to come to an end. The War in Vietnam was coming to a close, the economy was not so great, and the price of gas was rising. One side effect of the changing world was the idea of planned obsolescence. Granted nothing lasts forever but this car and those before it were made to last. I am inclined to believe that as this era ended designers and bookkeepers realized there was more profit to be made in cars that would need to be replaced rather than repaired. If I were to guess the early 1970’s was the time that the WWII generation began to retire. Twenty-five years or so earlier the Auto factories in Michigan had manufactured the jeeps, aircraft, and tanks that won the campaigns in Europe and the Pacific. These machines were rugged and were easily maintained. They were not only pretty to look at but also utilitarian in nature. These ideals carried over into the Great American Cars of the 1950’s, 1960’s, and early 70’s. After the mid 1970’s everything changed, as that was the time that disposable culture came into total fruition. In short the era of “Built to Last” had ended.

Working Class Steel – Car Show Pantego TX

This past weekend as I drove by a local burger joint called the Fabulous 50’s, I noticed a car show was taking place. I had to stop and admire the sculpted metal before me. For most of my driving life I drove an American classic. As those classics became antiques their age caught up to them. It was no longer feasible to have one as a daily driver. I reluctantly updated to a new vehicle that has the solid reliability and empty soul of an appliance. Even though I drive a plastic foreign car my heart still belongs to the Detroit of yester year. What was so cool about this car show is that all of the vehicles that were present were like the people who owned them, they were real. These were cars that were considered plain jane in their time. The Mustangs were not Shelbys and the Camaros not Yenkos. Not all of their numbers matched but they ran strong and were maintained solid. There was not a museum piece in sight and not one auto collector, only cars and drivers.

Chrome and Fenders

SS Camaro

Mid 60's Ford Pickup

Vintage Ford Mustang

Mid 50's Buick