Age…they say it brings wisdom. In my case, it’s brought a fading memory, expanded girth, and an inverse ratio of head hair to ear hair. But it has done one thing; it’s allowed me to reassess some of the earlier judgments I made about vehicles in my younger, less informed days. So how about you? Was there a specific model that you absolutely hated when you first saw it, then realized later in life that you were completely wrong? Here’s mine…
My formative automotive period was the ‘60s and early 70’s. While I was a Ford guy, I was forced to admit GM’s beautiful designs, all styled under the supervision of Design VP Bill Mitchell, set the benchmark for everyone else. The ‘63 Stingray, the ‘63 Riviera, the ‘66 Toronado were all standouts, but even more plebeian models – the ‘65 Impala for example, was and still is, drop-dead gorgeous.
So I was drawn to these crisply styled, beautifully proportioned models. On the exact opposite end of the spectrum, was something older, still seen on the streets but mostly in the poorer sections of the city – the early ‘50’s Hudson Hornet.
The step-down Hudson – I think I wretched when I first saw one. What was this thing that looked like an overturned bathtub, with a semi-enclosed body that sloped in the back, making it look like some Giant Cock Roach that escaped from Alamogordo? It didn’t help that these were all at least ten years old and were rust-eaten, dented, and with fading paint. I thought they were the ugliest thing to ever haunt a driveway.
Well, time does bring some fresh perspective and hopefully a little more maturity. Once I outgrew my “nothing is any good unless it’s packing a 428CJ” period, I started to appreciate other aspects of automotive design and engineering. So in the ‘80’s, it finally dawned on me that the Hornet was a car driven to production not by the accountants, or the designers, but by the engineers. The step-down design significantly enhanced safety, handling, and interior space. The tub-like body was auto aerodynamics in its infancy. The big 308 cu in flathead six with dual “Twin-H” carburetors made as much power as the then new OHV V-8s.
So now, yes, I love the Hornet…what’s your “used to hate it but now I love it” story?