I am that person who will smile at dogs I pass while walking somewhere. Unless they’re barking or foaming at the mouth, dogs inherently look, to me, like they’re smiling, especially when they’re panting or even when they just have their mouths open. And so I smile back! I often forget to even make eye contact with their owners / walkers as I’m passing on the sidewalk, so I’ve made recent efforts to be more aware of this tendency and to look up, exchange a verbal or nonverbal greeting with their humans, and not look completely nuts or antisocial to the people with whom I share my neighborhood. Also, I don’t how, when or why this tendency started, but I have seen “faces” on cars since a very young age.
For this same reason, seeing certain cars will elicit the same kind of visceral response from me, depending on how I perceive their facial expressions. The very first Chrysler Cordoba, which made its debut for 1975 and continued through ’77 with only minor changes, has a gorgeous face. It has a big, round eyes, and a warm, inviting smile. This car looks happy and content, and I can’t help but smile back at it when I see one. Its expression seems to be saying, “Hi, Baby,” in a very sexy, quasi-foreign manner. By contrast, the ’76 Pontiac Grand Prix, with its waterfall grille canted downward toward the center, looks like its brows are furrowed and that it’s either disdainful or annoyed at something. It’s also a beautiful car, but it looks upset. Many new cars don’t just look angry, but just plain busted in the face. I’m hoping this gaping-jawed mouth / grille look goes away within the next decade or so.
This is not the case with the Cordoba. It’s beautiful and classy, and its smile is a quietly confident one. Another car that makes me smile is the early Colonnade-era (1973 – ’75) Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Not only does it have an engaging, toothy smile, but it has “cheekbones” and “dimples” in the form of the leading edges of its pontoon-sculpted fenders to complement its grin. I honestly can’t remember if I walked around the Back To The Bricks car festival in my hometown of Flint, Michigan (where I spotted both cars) smiling at the faces of cars I saw and completely ignored their owners, but it’s a possibility. Next summer, perhaps, I’ll make greater efforts to actually talk to the drivers of the cars I find interesting so I can write about them in more detail here at Curbside Classic. (Empath problems.)
Downtown Flint, Michigan.
Cordoba: Friday, August 16, 2013.
Monte Carlo: Friday, August 19, 2011.