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News Letters Tony Oksien Across the Pond From Here to Obscurity 20 Subscription Offer 53 Behind the Wheel 92 Back Issues 94 Reviews 96 Merchandise 101 Drive Buy 104 Events & Cruises 111 Service Directory 117 Private Classiﬁeds 130 Next Month & Credits
22 1958 Plymouth Fury ‘Christine’ 28 1959 Dodge Coronet Custom 32 1962 ‘Resto-mod’ Corvette 38 1970 Dodge Coronet 440 R/T 42 Hollywood stars and their Cadillacs 48 Truck Life: Dodge Ram Drive Buy 57 Corvettes race at this year’s Le Mans 61 Interview: Corvette’s Oliver Gavin 71 AACUK Summer Nationals 74 Goodwood 78 Americana 82 Hotrod Hayride 89 Vintage Style Kai Hoffman 101 1969 Dodge Charger 440 R/T
Words: Mike Renaut Photography: Mike Key Film Stills: Gaumont TriStar Video
…well no fury like Lee Day’s 1958 Plymouth ‘Christine’ replica. Classic American ﬁnds out just what goes into making an accurate replica of a movie car.
hen Stephen King released his novel Christine in April 1983 it’s a safe bet he never guessed his tale of a demonically-possessed 1958 Plymouth Fury would inspire three decades of classic car owners to create replicas of the evil red and white Plymouth. In case you’ve somehow missed it, the story involves an all-round loser of a teenager falling in love with a wreck of a Plymouth and obsessively pouring every penny into restoring it. All sounds perfectly rational so far, doesn’t it? Things take a twist when the school bullies wreck the car and it’s revealed Christine is capable of repairing herself. Dents pop out like magic, shattered glass reforms and a mint condition Christine takes a bloody revenge… John Carpenter’s movie version, released in 1983, brought further publicity to the 1958 Plymouth and gradually people started saving the cars from junkyards and restoring them.
Lee Day is the lucky owner of the beautiful ’58 you see here and it’s no surprise to hear that he was one of the many heavily seduced by Christine: “My dad was a Lambretta-riding Mod in the Sixties,” explains Lee, “so I grew up playing his Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry records. By the time I saw the movie version of Christine I had already developed an appreciation of Fifties America. I would’ve been 14 back then; too young to see it at the cinema. I watched it on its VHS and fell in love with that 1958 Plymouth Fury. Something about a geeky kid becoming cool due to the inﬂuence of a gorgeous Fifties car appealed to me. Four years later my ﬁrst car was a 1959 Ford 100E. She didn’t have ﬁns, but I thought the world of her and many years later, still dreaming of somehow owning a Christine, I got my ﬁrst computer. “I’d already seen a ‘57 Plymouth feature in Classic American so I knew such cars were
still available, but internet searches proved fruitless until around 2005.” Then Lee discovered the Plymouth Central website, a section of which – the Christine Car Club – was devoted to Christine fans. “I didn’t know much about the cars, so I was a bit daunted but they really welcomed me,” remembers Lee. “I’d been saving for a new everyday car but a new job meant a company car, leaving me with a small pot of money. I approached a guy who was to become president of the club – Donnie Taylor from Tennessee – and ended up commissioning him to build me a Christine of my own.” Lee bought a two-door 1957 Plymouth Belvedere hardtop from another club member; John Fowlie of Big M Automotive in California. “That car was quite famous because it was rust-free,” laughs Lee, “most Plymouths of the time are now pretty rotted.” ❯
Words: Mike Renaut Photography: Mike Key
1959 Dodge Coronet
B A B Y
Clive Reese’s 1959 Dodge Coronet was an impulse buy he at ﬁrst regretted, but it’s since become a car he’ll never sell.
ssuming you read Classic American from front to back (and the magazine’s been laid out in the normal way) you may have spotted a blue and white 1959 Dodge lurking in the background of some of the photos of Lee Day’s Christine feature. You might also recall Lee’s friend Clive Reese who was instrumental in getting the ’58 Plymouth road legal when it arrived in the UK. Well, this 1959 Dodge belongs to Clive and, quite frankly, it was just too great looking a car for us not to include in the magazine.
“I’d owned a number of American cars before the Dodge,” explains Clive, “a 1978 Chevrolet Caprice coupe, a ’73 Chevy Bel Air, a midSeventies Cutlass, an Olds Delta 88… but I tend to only keep a car a year or two before buying something else. I’ve had this ’59 Dodge since 2004 – the longest I’ve kept any car – so there must be something special about it.” After all those Seventies cars Clive had been searching something with ﬁns: “A 1957 to 1959 car, I didn’t mind what, Ford, Chevy or Chrysler it didn’t matter.” Clive’s search led to eBay where the Dodge was being auctioned in Montana. “I emailed the seller and asked him for a lot of pictures. It was described as a two-owner car with low mileage and rust-free. I’d had a couple of drinks – I was tipsy, but not drunk, when I hit the ‘Buy It Now’ button,” laughs Clive. That was April 2004, a couple of months later Clive was at the docks anxious to see exactly what he’d bought. “When it came out of the warehouse I was shocked, my mouth dropped open. The seller had been completely honest, it was rustfree and still had the original paint
– you can see where it’s almost down to the primer in a couple of places after years of polishing.” In fact the car was good enough for Clive to drive it straight home. “I gave the Dodge a quick once over and booked it in for an MoT which it sailed straight through first time.” Although Clive had bought a Dodge Coronet, the base model in the Dodge range for 1959, his car seemed to have more trim than usual. “It turned out to be a Custom Coronet,” explains Clive, “a Coronet with extra chrome. I found that out after I discovered the Broadcast Sheet taped in the top of the glove box and had it decoded by members of the Forward Look Network website.” The Broadcast Sheet or Build Sheet was taped to a car as it ran down the production line to ensure that car was built exactly as the buyer or dealer had ordered it. From it we learn Clive’s Dodge came with push button radio, heater/defroster, back-up lights, Day/Nite mirror, electric clock and was ‘Appearance Group 2’ with two-tone steering wheel, standard-plain wheel covers and stone shields. However, the Coronet was also built with the ‘Custom Style Group’ an extra chrome package of rear quarter chevrons, hood ornament, rear fin chrome inserts, front fender chrome arch extensions and chrome drip rails to roof. Inside the ‘Custom’ Coronet Interior included notchback seats and Mylar Trim on the doors. Ordered with five Rayon cord 8x14in whitewall tires, Clive’s Deluxe Two-Tone Dodge was built at the beginning of December 1958 in Detroit.
Fin for the ﬁns
Even base model Dodges wore a lot of chrome for ’59, the designers realising it was now all or nothing. The Sixties would usher in an era of cleaner designs for most car manufacturers and the tailﬁn quickly became an anachronism. But compared with some of Chrysler’s styling in the early half of the Sixties, the 1957-1959 Dodges should probably be viewed as a high point. Introduced on October 10, 1958, the ’59 Dodge resembled the 1957 and ’58 cars, albeit longer, lower and wider. The entry-level model was the Coronet, middle child was the Royal range offering sedans and hardtops, while top of the line were the Custom Royal four-door sedans, two- and four-door hardtops, and convertibles (the rarest model that year, with just 984 sold). Station wagons were a separate series. An interesting new feature was a rarely-ordered self-dimming rear view mirror; another was the swivel seat option. The driver’s and front passenger’s seats twisted around some 45 degrees for easier entry and exit, “swing out to meet you, swing in to seat you” said the television commercial. They were keen to point out that “only Dodge engineering know-how brings you that new look of lowness combined with stretch out roominess inside”, but the cars didn’t really look different enough when compared to Ford and GM’s all-new styling, although the Dodge’s front end continued to raise eyebrows… Even in America the 1959 Dodges seem rare today. Only 151,851 Dodges were built – better than the 133,953 cars in 1958 but a sharp dip
from the 281,359 that rolled off the lines in ’57. Of those the ’59 Coronet’s production run was 96,900 cars priced from $2537 to $2657 and 43,025 of them were four-door V8 sedans like Clive’s. Massive demand for the all-new ’57s had led to corners being cut during production, Chrysler was now working hard to lose its reputation for poor quality assembly and early rust-out. Although most of the ’59s were much better built they discovered it can take years to get back a reputation that can be lost almost overnight. Paint quality problems didn’t help; one buyer reported his Dodge Lustre-Bond paint “peeling off in large sheets after a year”.
Clive’s Dodge has a two-speed Powerglide gearbox costing $189.16, although $226.90 would have got the three-speed TorqueFlite. Power steering added $92.15 to the price while two-tone paint was just $18.55. The original owner didn’t feel it was worth an extra $42.60 for power brakes, or a massive $468.55 for air conditioning – an option only 4.5% of ’59 Dodges got. There’s a dual exhaust on the Dodge but that was ﬁtted in the US and Clive can’t say for sure if it originally left the factory with the optional twin pipes. ❯
Owner: Clive Reese.
Angie Dickinson clearly enjoyed driving a 1960 Cadillac Convertible for The Killers – this is a 1962 De Ville drop-top. In ’62 Angie starred as the Vespa-riding midwife in the comedy Jessica. The poster is stylish, but the ﬁlm is beyond dreadful.
Cadillacs and Hollywood stars go together like... well, you get the idea. In what must have been one of the earliest examples of product placement, we take a look at some amazing archive images of brand-new Cadillacs being delivered to their proud new Hollywood star owners back in the Forties, Fifties and Sixties. Words: Liz Turner Photography: GM Heritage Centre
adillac was once at the core of the American Dream. When you made it, you bought a brand-new Caddy for yourself – or your mom in Memphis. When Arthur Miller created his doomed salesman, Willy Loman, he gave him a Studebaker, just to show how the dream had passed him by. Then, as now, a celebrity association boosted the Cadillac’s status further. So, when a star took delivery, the company liked to get photos. Sometimes a snapper went along when the
gleaming, chrome-laden Caddy was delivered, but celebrities also were invited to collect their car from the factory. They were given a tour and the option to watch it roll off the line. They could even help ﬁnish it, perhaps by tightening a headlamp screw. In 2013, a trip to Detroit might not sound too appealing, but before the 1967 riots and the heavy-handed response that ripped out its heart, the Motor City was a glamorous destination. The 1928 Art Deco ziggerat Fisher building peered imperiously over Grand Boulevard at the
quadruple towers of GM’s HQ, Cadillac Place; both iconic buildings designed by Albert Kahn. Woodward Avenue was lined with grand departments stores and restaurants. You could take in a show at the Opera House, the Art Deco State theatre, or the quite frankly bonkers Fox. Stars hung out in solid mansions along the Detroit River, or the yacht club at Belle Isle. The Cadillac factory started production 1921, a four-storey 2.5 million square feet, Metropolisstyle monster, it was then considered to be the
The crowds indicate that this could have been a publicity shot at a Motorama, although movie star Pier Angeli is wearing her jacket, so maybe she just popped in. Italian-born Pier is best known for playing Paul Newman’s long-suffering wife in Somebody Up There Likes Me. She also had a relationship with James Dean, and is believed to have been the love of his life.
Bing Crosby (BH plate)
When he was out ‘on the road’ with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour, crooner Bing always got the girl. It looks as if Hope got the last laugh, here, though, as his 1947 Series 62 Convertible seems to be wearing a BH personal plate.
Sammy Davis Jr
It says something about the appeal of a Cadillac that Sammy Davis Jr would want to buy an Eldorado in 1957. Three years earlier, as he drove his Cadillac Convertible from LA to Las Vegas, a car ahead tried to make a U-turn. In the crash, his head hit the steering wheel, and in those days before airbags, a piece of ornamental chrome took out his left eye.
It’s also interesting that Davis Jr is the only star to be pictured with black workers. Downtown Detroit was more cosmopolitan than most in the mid-Fifties and early Sixties, but Motown stars were not allowed to play in some of the snootiest venues. Martha Reeves of the Vandellas fame served as a council member 2005 to 2009.
Funny man Bob Hope won many hearts as he toured extensively to entertain the troops during the Second World War. Did that put him at the top of the queue for a 1946 Series 62 Cadillac? Once America joined the war, Cadillac production ceased, and the factory
began manufacturing engine parts for the P38 Lightning, P-39 and P-40 fighter aircraft, and from February 1942, the M-5 tank. Bob Hope’s car was a slightly face-lifted prewar model; 31,944 were made.
most modern automotive factory in the world. It closed in 1987, and was demolished in the midNineties to make way for the Clark St Technology Park. GM’s HQ is still downtown in the triple cylinders of the optimistically named Renaissance Centre. If you eat in the Summit restaurant, you’re eye to eye with circling buzzards. Ford has its magniﬁcent Ford Museum in Dearborn, and Chrysler has a small but stylish museum in Auburn Hills, but it is mainly down to the enthusiasm of the GM
workers that anything remains to commemorate the company’s glorious past. The GM Heritage Centre in Sterling Heights was pitched to the top brass as somewhere to hold corporate events by staff who wanted to ﬁnd a place for so many precious things heading for skips as building were closed or demolished. It was opened on a shoestring, with a modest number of exhibits. Then people started arriving with boxes of things they’d ‘borrowed’ for safe-keeping. Some sections of the collection have since been
purchased from collectors. Then there were the boxes of ﬁles and photos. Among them was a battered manila folder with these photos inside. Each image is a window into a more glamorous age, but most have just a name and date on the back in pencil. We are left to imagine the day each star enjoyed and the response of the workers in the noisy, grubby production line as Hollywood stars appeared, and in some cases joined them. Thanks to the GM Heritage Center www.gmheritagecenter.com
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Club News & Events
The Classic Motor Show
With more than 1500 wonderful cars from all eras, showcasing myriad marques and models, the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show really is every motoring enthusiast’s idea of heaven. The biggest and most popular classic car exhibition in the UK takes place over the weekend of Friday, November 15 to Sunday, November 17. Every year tens of thousands of visitors, from all over the world, gather for this annual homage to motoring history. Whether you are a classic car owner, collector, enthusiast, or if you simply love all kinds of cars, this really is a must-do event. This grand ﬁnale to the UK classic season celebrates all ages – veteran, vintage, classic and future classic, bringing together the whole motoring spectrum in a unique annual celebration of motoring. The show also hosts the Victory’s end single biggest gathering of UK of season companies and traders in the market, offering every conceivable product Get your diaries out. The Victory and service to the classic car Wheelers’ end of season meet owner/enthusiast, plus some superb will be at The Plough, features that are totally unique. Portsmouth Road, Bursledon, The Classic American stand will Southampton SO31 8BT on showcase the seven heat-winning Sunday, September 1, 2013 cars from the Footman James Car of from 10am to 4pm. There will the Year competition. be a barbecue and an outside Tickets are on sale on the website, bar. Small admission charge. All or by telephoning the box ofﬁce on proﬁts will go to Hannah’s 0871 230 1088 or (for International Holiday Appeal, the Victory Visitors) +44 (0) 114 2249 774 or Wheelers’ chosen charity. see: www.necclassicmotorshow.com
Scotland – Bridge of Allan
A slightly damp but muggy, Sunday, May 19 was the day Stirling and District Classic Car Club held its annual car show. This was the ninth year the club had held the event at the Strathallan Showground, Bridge of Allan, near Stirling. Despite the slightly drizzly conditions and slightly muddy in places the ﬁeld quickly ﬁlled up with show exhibitors and public alike, with a bouncy shoot and castle to keep youngsters amused and a small autojumble too.
Jim Horn form Bowness and his 1970 Ford Econoline which he imported from San Francisco.
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Ireland – Rock & Rumble
The Rock & Rumble is establishing itself as a not to be missed show on the Irish events calendar. This year was the ﬁfth Annual GASCC (Great American Steel Car Club) All American Car Truck and Bike Show at the Viaduct Inn, Cork, on June 8. The weather could not have been better, with people having to use suncream in Cork for the ﬁrst time in years. The sun was shining from early morning and the weather got better progressively through the day. Cars started to arrive from all over the country, from around 10.30am onwards, with all the major Irish clubs in attendance, including MAAC. AMCI, the Southcoasters and the Tarmac Terrorists. The Cruise this year saw the convey of American classics and muscle cars heading down to Charles Fort in the picturesque town of Kinsale where tea, coffee and sandwiches were put on for everyone. A chat, a few pictures with an amazing backdrop and they were off again. Arriving back at the viaduct for about 3pm, the cruisers were met by the rock antics of local band Bog the Donkey. Barbecued food, live music and sunshine was the order for the rest of the day with a Meat Loaf tribute band and Hot Guitars putting in a great performance in the evening sun. Eventually everyone moved indoors where rock legend Pat McManus of Mama’s Boys kept them going until the early hours. The Show and Shine was won this year by Martin Gilroys GT350
... and Trans Ams!
and the club prize went to Peter Burke’s, Chevy 1954 ½ tonne truck. In a neat touch the trophies are unique as they are pistons and rods from a 302, Ford and 440 Mopar engines, chromed and mounted on blocks. Some other great cars on the day were a C1 Corvette, a Mustang GT350, a 440 Cuda, and a gorgeous looking early Buick. There were also some awesome one-off custom bikes from C&C Choppers. This year’s Rock and Rumble was the most successful to date with more cars, trucks and bikes on display and more live music than ever before – No doubt the folks at GASCC will be counting the days to next year’s event.
John Muir from Dunfermline and his 1957 Buick Special which he has owned for four years and imported from Idaho.