The term Curbivore was coined by CC old timer Bryce in this post just over five years ago. It aptly defines people like you and me, feeding our endless automotive hunger and community through CC. But what first turned you into a Curbivore, rather than a more general petrolhead, gearhead or motorsports fan?
In my case, I trace it to a book I got as a birthday present in January 1975. The Olyslager Auto Library series was unknown to me until I went to a favourite book shop with my grandfather, to choose a birthday present. A budget was set, and I choose above it, inevitably. A negotiation followed and I closed the gap with pocket money, and a few days Olyslager’s American Cars of the 1950s would be mine.
Looking at it now, 40 plus years later, it is unarguably a very simple concept. A year by year summary of the cars of the America, illustrated exclusively in black and white with publicity photos or promotional artwork, and some period advertising copies. The pictures had, effectively, what can be best described as long captions, summarising the key features of the cars and the changes over the previous year or previous model. There was also a short piece (perhaps 100 words), as an annual summary of the industry.
It introduced me, in 1970s West Yorkshire (coal strikes, power cuts, economic gloom, Allegros and Avengers, and school homework) to a presentation of 1950s America, to Thunderbirds, Corvettes, Chrysler 300 and be-finned Cadillacs, to strange names like Desoto, Willys and Kaiser. Not to mention Edsel.
There are few things that say “optimism” more than a late 1950s American car with fins, chrome and a V8, and this book carried that over, as well showing that old cars could be more interesting, when seen with a perspective of hindsight and historical context, than the latest and greatest. There’ll be plenty of time to get to know them.
Back in the summer of 2000, there were two unfamiliar cars in our office car park on the same day – a new BMW 528 and a 1983 Austin Ambassador automatic. I was more intrigued by the Ambassador then, and would be now, and I blame this book.
I went to gather a collection of Olyslager Auto Library volumes, covering American cars from 1930 to 1969, British cars from 1930 to 1959 (2 volumes for each decade!), trucks, wreckers, the Jeep and fire engines, some 20 books altogether, and there’re still on the shelves behind me now.
But, what did it for you?