A discussion has come up about how Brendan Saur saw his first Isuzu Impulse, and had no idea what it was (here). I will admit that my first reaction was something like “Sheesh, kids today.” But as I thought a little more, I realized that no matter how old any of us might be, there was surely something that stumped us when we saw it for the first time.
For me, it was a 1955 Clipper. I was born in 1959, younger than some here but older than others. I recall being very aware of cars commonly seen on the street, even from a young age. I specifically remember being able to identify an Edsel by its unique snout, even though I didn’t actually know what it was. The same with a Renault Dauphine, which my mother always pronounced Renawlt. (In fairness to Mom, the company’s advertising pitched that pronunciation to Americans in the late 1950s.)
But one sunny fall day around 1970 or so, I was riding my bike along my street when I came across an old car parked on the street. It was the first and only time I ever saw it, but I recall recognizing that I did not know what it was. I stopped and checked it out.
It was a well-worn black sedan, not a flashy two-toned model like in the ad above. All it said was “Clipper”, or possibly “Clipper Deluxe”. Even at around ten or so, I knew (or thought I did) that Clipper had to be a model, not a brand. I knew that there were old cars called Hudson, Nash, Desoto and the like, but there was no labeling on the car other than “Clipper”. Then there was that logo – a ship’s wheel? I had never seen it before, but it was several places on the car.
Finally, after what must have been about ten minutes of going over that car, I rode away. In that pre-internet age, I was completely stumped. Only years later did I learn that in 1955, Packard split off the lower-priced Clipper line and registered it as a separate make, just as Chrysler did that same year with Imperial. When I learned this fact, that ratty black Clipper sedan came back to mind. Ah-HA. Mystery solved.
How about you? What was the first car that completely stumped you when you first saw it?