I can totally relate to the Jan. 15 Ottawa Herald article: “Cars We Remember: From Ford Model-T to Plymouth Fury, reader recalls his memorable cars.”
I came along late in my dad’s life as the youngest of his kids. He was born in Kansas in 1910 and lived until 1997, passing away near Wichita, my then hometown. My dad also had a Ford Model-T and also a Model-A Ford in his youth.
His father, John Marples (my granddad) had a 1934 Buick Roadmaster. Later, when he died and my dad moved to Wichita he had Fords, Chevys, and the standard course of Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouth cars... a tendency that lasted until his death. My dad liked it that auto mogul Walter P. Chrysler was born at Wamego, and had grown-up at Ellis, Kansas. Even I drove a Plymouth Fury and a Dodge Monaco to college. At the same time, my dad had a 1956 Cadillac Fleetwood with its twin-tail-fins. One fin had a rear tail-light button to have the tail-light pivot upwards and thus exposing the gasoline cap. It was fun when my dad would pull into then “full-service” gasoline stations only to have the young boys who were “attendances” have to ask “Mister, where is the gas-cap on this car?” My dad would chuckle and show them.
Ironically, that 1956 Cadillac was more advanced than the 1975 Dodge Royal Monaco that I drove to university. The old Cadillac had power windows, yet oddly the 20-year newer Dodge only had crank-up windows by hand. When I was young, my dad snapped a picture of that 1956 Cadillac (one of the largest cars ever built) parked next to his little 1960 Fiat car (one of the smallest cars ever built). You could practically put the Fiat in the trunk of the Cadillac. The “Caddie” was just that huge.
One car I especially enjoyed driving was our family’s 1963 Chrysler New Yorker. It had an automatic-transmission; yet via “push buttons” and no gearshift. That car was a workhorse. Before I was born, my dad owned some Kaiser automobiles and a “Willys” (manufactured by the same company). He said he also had a Maxwell, a Stutz automobile, an Austin (not to be confused with a James Bond Astin-Martin) and three Studebaker pickup trucks and one Studebaker car. My mother inherited a 16-cylinder 1950 Packard from her parents Adolph and Elizabeth Riedl. Its engine would make a mechanic smile and a tow-truck operator groan, since it had such weight.
In recent years, I’ve driven a lot of cars myself ranging from Kias to Ford Mustangs, Toyotas, Nissans, Hondas, a Volkswagen, a PT Cruiser Chrysler, and many, many more. Cars have come a long way in quality and dependability. Nothing I dread more than a car repair, now. In bygone years, I could work on small mechanical problems. Today, with all the computerized sensors, you almost have to be a technician to even do the most minimal of repairs.
The main thing I am concerned about now with a car is: dependability.
Having “style” is fine. But getting from “Point A” to “Point B” safe and sound ranks high on my list.
James A. Marples