Boonton NJ Cruise Night, June 10, 2016

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The Boonton NJ cruise night, held on Fridays in the WalMart shopping Plaza, had its first show of the 2016 season on June 10. This year’s festivities were scheduled to start on June 3, but that show was cancelled due to inclement weather.

The cruise night, sponsored by the Starlight Cruisers car club, began in 2007 and has proven to be one of the better attended events of its kind in northern Jersey. The parking lot is roped off to allow parking for up to 250 cars. Because of the show’s popularity, vehicles are limited to those with QQ (NJ antique automobile) plates, or those which are at least 25 years old. The club provides music and door prizes.

The weather on the 10th was perfect – sunny, warm, cloudless, with low humidity, which brought out the crowds. The show cars were 99% domestic product, with a large percentage of them easily defined as “modified” – everything from bolt-ons to full customs in the old-school sense. GM vehicles from the 50s and 60s dominated, but there was also enough variety to keep things interesting for those who seek the unusual. There was a smattering of pre-war iron, including a lovely 1940 LaSalle convertible. Original owner and/or unrestored cars were present, such as a 1967 AMC Marlin whose owner has had it since 1971. And some imports dared to show up among all the Chevys and Fords, including an Opel GT, a Saab 93, and your author’s Alfa.

 

AMC products are rare sightings at any car event. This cruise night featured a number of them, including this Rebel “The Machine”, and this 1978 Concord AMX.

 

This 1967 Marlin was striking in several ways, most notably because its owner told us that this was his first car when he bought it in 1971. His daughter was dutifully deployed to attend to polishing duties. When asked about the missing fuel door, he replied that the door has been shipped to Sweden (!) for color-matching. We were left unclear as to why.

 

The number of Corvettes in attendance easily reached several dozen. What was especially impressive was the large number of C1 and C2 cars.

These C2s lined up their beautiful rear ends
These C2s lined up their beautiful rear ends

 

It is often stated that American car styling reached its bizarre peak in the late 1950s. While that may be true, what is sometimes missed is that interior styling also captured some of that strange creativity, and that included functional items such as transmission controls. This 1958 Edsel and 1960 Plymouth both used unusual solutions for transmission control placement. (Note that the Edsel has a floor shifter as part of a complete drivetrain swap.)

 

 

Studebaker’s history began 50 years before the dawn of the motorized vehicle, when the Studebaker brothers manufactured covered wagons. By the 1950s, they struggled to compete with the Big Three. “Daring to be different” was a strategy employed by them (as well as by AMC), as borne out by this Hawk and Avanti.

 

Despite the dominance of 50s-60s muscle, a few cars from an earlier time were also on the show field. None was more striking than this 1940 LaSalle. The LaSalle brand was a “junior Cadillac”, but alas, could not compete in the marketplace. Production ended in 1940, making this car a representative of the marque’s final year.

 

Not all T-Birds are restored to AACA standards. This '56 was ready to rumble.
Not all T-Birds are restored to AACA standards. This ’56 was ready to rumble.

 

This Saab has been in Boonton before. Although we did not have the pleasure of seeing it run on this particular evening, the owner has kept the 2-stroke motor and has opened up the exhaust a bit, resulting in some glorious albeit raucous noises.

 

DeLoreans never went away; they’ve been hiding in plain sight all these years. For a vehicle which was manufactured for only two years (1981-1982) and in limited numbers, one always seems to turn up. Their collectibility may be on the rise, though, as a recent change in government regulations will allow the “new” DeLorean Motor Company to begin to legally manufacture cars again.

No BttF jokes, promise!
No BttF jokes, promise!

 

In 1970, if you could not afford a new Corvette, you may have been drawn to the Opel GT. Buick dealers sold them as captive imports. Built in Germany, the Opel GT was available with either a 1.1L or 1.9L inline 4-cylinder. You certainly didn’t pay the Corvette’s price, but you didn’t get the Corvette’s horsepower either.

 

This '67 Firebird has the optional hood-mounted tach
This ’67 Firebird has the optional hood-mounted tach

 

The Alfa may have looked lost among the sea of U.S. built cars (it certainly is physically smaller than all of them), but several spectators stopped by to tell the typical “I had one of those” stories. The car ran flawlessly up and down Route 287 that evening.

One last shot before wheeling the Alfa back home
One last shot before wheeling the Alfa back home

 

All photographs copyright © 2016 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

 

Back To Print: Car and Driver, March 1967

In March of 1967, for my 13th birthday, I was given a subscription to CAR and DRIVER magazine. I already had been reading everything I could on the topic of automobiles. Up until this point, the majority of that had been my dad’s Popular Science and Popular Mechanics magazines. While their automotive articles were good, they encompassed but a fraction of those magazines’ editorial content.

 
It was my father who selected C&D among the then-available buff books; it was a decision which profoundly affected and still influences the way I think about automobiles. CAR and DRIVER, in 1967 under the helm of David E. Davis Jr., was already displaying a slant toward European machinery and away from American iron. They were also several years into embracing a tone of irreverence, in part fed by 1960s counter-culture, that would grow stronger in the decade of the 1970s.

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My first issue of CAR and DRIVER magazine, March 1967. Mailing label still attached. 

I recently plucked that March of ’67 issue from the bookshelf for a revisit. Their preference may have been sporty European cars, but they were also in the business of selling magazines (at 60 cents per copy), so the newly-announced 1967 Pontiac Firebird graced the cover. The statistics page at the end of the Firebird road test swings between factual calculations (0-60 in 5.8 sec.), and a “Check List” which uses “excellent”, “very good”, “good”, “fair”, and “poor” for its subjective ratings. Nice to know that the “synchro action” was excellent, while the “trunk space” was poor.

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This says there were 3,450 Pontiac dealers in the U.S. in 1967.

C&D regularly featured articles on personalities and/or topics related to, but not necessarily directly about, cars. Case in point was this article about the photographer Pete Biro. The sharpness of the color photos I find especially enthralling.

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Pete Biro: One Man Show
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Jim Hall and Don Garlits
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Rodriguez in the Ferrari, and Hill in the BRM

Some of the real fun in browsing through an almost-50-year-old magazine is re-reading the advertising. The Volvo ad for the 122 uses the “Stronger Than Dirt” tag line which Volvo aficionados know well. But look at the fine print: “Stronger than dirt copyright Colgate Palmolive, used with permission”. The Porsche ad, like Volvo’s, quotes a 3rd party source for credibility. With prices ranging from $4790 to $6990, these German sports machines were expensive cars, especially compared to other cars featured in ads in this issue such as the Renault 10 for $1647, the Fiat 124 for $1798, and the MGB/GT for $3095.

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Volvo print ad from 1967
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Porsche print ad from 1967

By contrast, note that these two ads from domestic manufacturers are in color. Bigger ad budget perhaps? The Camaro ad pointedly attacks the perceived discomfort and unreliability of other (unnamed European) sports cars, finishing off with “… and go show those purists”. The biggest surprise in the magazine for me is this ad: “Mercury, the Man’s Car”. Really? Try that today. Nevertheless, they still attempt a tie-in with the overseas competition by informing you that “European elegance comes to Cougar Country in Mercury’s Car of the Year”.

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Camaro print ad from 1967

scan337cccCougar print ad from 1967

Bringing up the rear is “The Classified Marketplace”. While Road & Track magazine’s classified section was probably better-known (and more likely to contain exotic sports cars), there are still interesting tidbits here at CAR and DRIVER. Among them are a Lancia Flaminia for $1100, a ’63 Porsche 90 coupe for best offer over $3000, and a 1934 Rolls-Royce for $1450 FOB England. My favorite is the picture ad which ran in C&D for years: “A Playboy’s Dream”, the Volvo 1800 convertible. With all my years around the product, I’ve rarely seen one in the metal, which makes me wonder how many were made, and how many survive?

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The Classified Marketplace

This glance back to March of 1967 was fun, and I think we’ll do this again with other ancient periodicals that may be in the collection.

 

All scans are from the March 1967 issue of CAR and DRIVER magazine; the copy of the magazine is from the author’s collection.