Cohort Pic(k) Of The Day: 1981 Ford Crown Victoria – Likeable Generation Gap, Courtesy Of Acme Products

Photo by J. C. from the Cohort.

I spent a little over a decade in California after moving there in the fall of 1990 to attend college. And through those years, I only met one person who owned a 1980s Crown Victoria; in Los Angeles of all places. A blue two-tone in good condition, not much different from this find posted at the Cohort.

And nope, this post’s title has nothing to do with that Crown Victoria having a multitude of gremlins. Instead, the Acme reference is related to the car’s owner, a creator of the fabled Acme Works of Wiley E. Coyote’s fame.

Yes, in this story, Acme Works is kind of a real place, as it was the work of one Maurice Noble. The name probably won’t be familiar to many, but most of you should know his work. After all, he’s the man behind the colorful landscapes where the Road Runner’s adventures took place in the Warner Bros. world. And while the Road Runner is an invention by cartoon director Chuck Jones, that frisky bird needed some cool landscapes to roam. And thus, Mr. Noble’s craft came into play.

Above, you can see his skilled hand at work in some images from the 1963 Road Runner cartoon “To Beep Or Not To Beep.”

I had met Maurice not long after college when my old pal from Wyoming introduced me to the old-timer. At the time, the two of them were working on some ideas for a cartoon series that never took off. But regardless of that letdown, there was a gain. During that short stint, the two became inseparable pals.

They were clearly kindred souls. Partly because they shared a love for art and storytelling, but there was more at play. My pal may have been young, but he had the heart of an old soul, with great fondness for an old-style life. Meanwhile, Maurice had an old body, but a yearning to enjoy life and experience the world as if he were still young. You could sense, when he spoke to young folk, his spirits rose, and a pep in his voice and demeanor appeared.

The two also firmly believed in politeness and courtesy, something that seemed kinda alien in the ‘coolness-obsessed’ LA of the ’90s. So these two old-yet-youthful souls (or youthful-yet-old souls?) spent much time together, stockpiling anecdotes to fill a book.

Less relevant but still pertinent, the two also shared a love for Fords. Not the greatest link in their friendship, but one that did help cement further bonds. As I’ve mentioned before, my pal came from a family with a long-running Ford tradition and so did Maurice’s. It was a topic that came up a few times in conversation, and believe me, it wasn’t hard to get them to talk Ford. 

By that time, I knew Maurice was ‘legally blind’, so it didn’t surprise me to learn that his Crown Victoria sat mostly unused in his garage. But failing eyesight or not, his opinion on aesthetics was still strong; even with cars.

  • I just can’t stand those jellybean cars… I look at those new cars, and they just aren’t for me!

Not that the Crown Victoria never got any use, as my Wyoming pal occasionally chauffeured the old man around. Something he didn’t mind doing, as it was far more reliable than the Bronco II he owned at the time.

Of course, Crown Victorias were not exactly a common thing in 1990s Southern California. At least not in the hands of regular folk. This led to some unusual situations, as my pal told me when I asked him about the car:

  • So, how do you like the car? What’s it like?
  • It’s great! I love it! But you know? It’s funny to drive around with it… when people see you coming, they think it’s a cop car! They slow down and look around, you know… Then they see me well, and go back to normal. It’s pretty funny.

Maurice passed away not long after the turn of the century, and I won’t deny that I miss the conversations we had. I felt he belonged to a generation that had worked hard to make a better life for the likes of me, and each story was a revelation. His days of ruthless overtime hours as a store department illustrator as a young twenty-something were eye-opening. Meanwhile, his fight to get Hollywood cartoonists to unionize was deeply inspiring. Those acts got him blacklisted at Disney, with his name removed from Snow White and Bambi’s credits (His name has been restored in recent prints), but he had no regrets about his actions. And well, he spent WWII working with Frank Capra, helping in the war effort.

Finally, there are those Road Runner cartoons he worked on too. I’ve spent my whole life laughing wholeheartedly to those, and my life has been all the better for it.

So, for all the good times, Mr. Noble, this Cohort’s Crown Victoria is for you. I know you’ll enjoy it.


Related CC reading:

Curbside Classic: 1985 Ford LTD Crown Victoria – Hellooooooooo Kitty! 

CC Design Shoot-Out: 1977 Chevrolet B-Body vs. 1979 Ford LTD – The Boxing Match