On the trip back up I-5 to Seattle, I stopped being able to convince myself the car was enjoyable to drive. The rattles and creaks were irritating, though I quieted some of them with folded bits of paper stuffed between interior trim and the metal it wasn’t quite secured to. But although this car was substantially similar to the ’65 D’Valiant I’d happily driven for many miles, certain that it was the best car ever (and working to make it even better, though sometimes my efforts landed well wide of the mark), I really didn’t like driving it in highway traffic. I’d become professionally involved in traffic safety research, and this car’s near-total lack of crashworthiness was no longer something I could blissfully ignore—especially not with all the death and loss on my mind at the time. The car had no head restraints, no side-impact guard beams in doors barely held closed by Chrysler’s improved-for-’64 door latches, which can vividly be seen doing their not-good-enough best here at 1:32:
No crumple zones, a marginally effective defogger, a small area swept by the windshield wipers, a small left sideview mirror and none on the right. Only lap belts, so in a crash perhaps my bottom half might stay more or less put while a solid steering column speared my upper half. And more important than my lower half or my upper half was my other half, whom I was subjecting to my choice of car with all its implications. There hadn’t been that to consider when I was driving D’Valiant.
So in 2010 I sold the car to a college professor in Oregon, who, with his son, drove up to Seattle to fetch it. I met them downtown, pulled the plates, swapped keys and title for money, and off it went. That set the stage for something of a complicated international game of musical cars, which will take several instalments to describe—starting next week!
* Whether you wondered if I’d ever get around to explicating that asterisk in the second graf of this post, or you forgot it, here I am. The house, which my grandparents put up between 1950 and 1952, and where my father and aunt grew up, was a magic midmod on a hill. There are four multi-page galleries here; Before and After refer to its 2013 exterior colour change, the first since about 1965. Toxics Gallery is the home and garden chemicals grandpa sequestered in the garage because household hazmat wasn’t a thing yet and he wasn’t about to pour them down the drain or on the ground. Go see the galleries if you like; it’s going to be a long time before I can bear it. I bought the house from grandpa’s estate in 2011, and Bill and I split our time first between Toronto and there, then between Vancouver and there. This had its delights and rewards, but it was costly and exhausting. We came close to moving in full-time, and started getting a Green Card for Bill, but then events made Canada our wiser choice. That, in turn, made it clear we couldn’t keep the house or it would drag us down and drown us. A developer bought it, subdivided the lot, bulldozed the house and gardens, and put up two vulgar McMansions for vulgar McPeople. This felt just like losing grandpa and dad; I’ll probably not ever get over any of it. This has been an unusually sadness-heavy post; sometimes life’s been like that.
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As I was scrolling down the third page reading, your Fram filter picture entered my peripheral vision… Until I focused on it, I thought you were showing off an adult beverage!
Sorry to hear about your Grandfather, and the eventual fate of his/your home. My own Grandfather was a civil engineer, and he built a house up above Whitefish Lake, in Whitefish MT… during the exact same time period. It was in the family until 2014, then quickly sold to pay for Grandma’s nursing home care. I love midcentury architecture, and dreamed of someday owning that house. However, it was not to be. I haven’t been near Whitefish, let alone the property since then. Can’t bear to see what’s become of it… but I will guess condos. Think I’ve already mentioned it in a previous comment.
Grandpa was a mechanical engineer specialised in industrial-commercial-office-school-etc HVAC and plumbing systems. He didn’t put A/C in the house he built, and he didn’t use it in his car.
As to houses like the ones you and I have described here: they say it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. They might have a point—or not. Ask me again in a decade.
(Barkeep! Gimme a Fram. A PH8A. Make it a double. And put it in a dirty glass!)
Nice old Dart, yes I know about the safety factor in driving old cars in modern traffic its scary sometimes another reason I upgraded to something with factory fitted seatbelts and a very tough unibody shell, comfort quiet and dynamics are well behind my daily car but for a 55 year old car my classic is pretty good, a huge improvement on the last two the 59 Hillman and 63 Holden, neither of those were pleasant on a long trip.
As always, thanks for a great Saturday morning read.
Your writing is so pleasant and positive that I almost regret focusing on this one thing, but…
“Vulgar McMansions for vulgar McPeople” is just so good that I need to add it to my rarely-used collection of excellent put-downs.
I only drove in a Dart once, in 1991. A friend in the Air Force had a lime green 2-door early ’70s one. Slant six and auto. He lived and worked at a (now gone) base in Michigan’s upper peninsula.
It was in great shape and only upgraded with a better stereo. During Gulf War 1 he got drunk one night and perfectly chalk-line painted a large neon pink peace sign on each door.
Living on base, it got him the wrong kind of attention and he had to remove them.
I wished I had driven it when he had it. Cool car. Even in ’91 it was a cool, uncommon ride.
Thanks kindly. I’m sure they who now live where my family home used to be are perfectly nice, for some definition of those two words. And none of my having to leave that property is their fault. They’re still a bunch of vulgar McPeople, though, y’know?
Neon pink peace signs on base? How did he not get clobbered before he had a chance to remove them?
According to him, everyone liked the peace sign, but it still had to go.
Might have been different if it was the Marines, I spoze.
Great story about another Dart! Sorry about the house, it was beautiful. My grandmother died in 2000 or so, and the house they had built in 1953 was torn down too for a new, larger house. It was very upsetting to the all of us, though it was nothing as nice as yours!
Grandpa really meant business; he didn’t faff around when he drew up the build specifications for that house—even down to which way the timbers were to crown, and oh yes he did check and make sure the specs were followed. I heard from the developer; it was so unusually sturdily built that it took him twice as long and cost twice as much as planned to demolish it. Good.
Was the developer the only interested party?
I know vulgar McMansion’s well. My parents house in Orinda was on 1 acre of upwards hill. The two houses on either side similar and pretty much obscured from view by trees and hedges. One had a corral in the front yard. The dentist with the corral moved away first and a McMansion was put in and now you could see it right there from all the bedroom windows of the house my parents once had.
The house below, on the other side, was owned by an elderly couple with a natural spring in the back and a Robinson Crusoe bamboo distribution system. When they died the single son who lived there inherited a small house on two lots. When he died he willed it to his Church who sold it to a developer who then built two McMansion’s out to the edge of the property line. Houses that would be normal in San Francisco but really out of place in a woodsy rural looking area composed of houses dating to the fifty’s. Ostentatious is in…
The view from the living room, dining room, and master bedroom.
@ tbm3fan :
That’s just sad .
I’m so pleased my historic neighborhood was down zoned .
I wonder if the neighbors who were directly affected did or said anything in advance of the new build(s), after all it’s not like a developer can just move in, bulldoze and start building the next day, especially if one property now spawns two houses instead of the original one. I used to live in the neighboring town (Lafayette) and in general the whole area was/is constantly decried as one where “nobody lets anyone build anything”…In Berkeley (over the hill) for example to add a second story or dwelling amongst other things you need to perform a “shadow study” with poles showing how the proposed new build will impact existing neighboring properties and there is frequently much (and successful) neighborhood opposition, view blocking is a legit reason for complaint. However, when building is blocked then the other half comes out and (correctly) complains that there aren’t enough houses to meet the demand etc.
And that’s how you end up with houses such as the 1,700 sq footer built in 1946 as a “summer house” in the LaMorInda area on a hillside almost half acre that we sold for $890k way back in 2006 and is today valued at over $1.6million, which is cheap for the area, it was located on a main connector road (Moraga Road). Property in the area was cheap back in the ’40s-s-’70s as it was likely still a minimum 40 minute drive to downtown SF back when there was less traffic, cars were slower and the Caldecott tunnel had fewer bores and there were a plethora of other options closer in (and no BART). Now on a good day or the middle of the night it’s a good hour, on a bad day multiples thereof BUT it’s three lovely little adjoining towns with excellent schools that attract parents from SF and Oakland that either often commute on BART or work from home. It used to be considered out in the sticks, now it’s a relatively close suburb in the grand scheme of things. No surprise the Church sold the lot with old house to a developer, what else were they going to do?
I have no particular reason to defend a developer but it seems that often people complain about developers buying up land or a house and scraping it, but those same people then end up selling their house or property to a developer, presumably because they offered more (or were the only offer) compared to a family or whatever that wanted the house as is to live in themselves. Nobody is forcing anyone to do so. I’m totally assuming Daniel didn’t sell his house to a developer for a dime less than a regular person was offering at the same time and likely more. Doing so makes it possible to lament what ends up happening but then again can end up making one look a bit hypocritical – not that I necessarily begrudge anyone from extracting as much as they can from a place they are no longer calling home themselves, I totally get it, money talks loudly.
Again another Saturday morning and another Dart story! Thanks and keep them coming. Love the early A-Bodies and they remind of those in my family growing up. I agree about driving older cars in modern traffic. Have to be careful and they are okay for weekend or hobby uses. You are taking a risk with using them as a”daily driver.”
I wonder if as the current “vision” of all new cars being electric in around 2030 if there will be a great movement to preserve gasoline cars. People using them as daily drivers. Imagine the driving a 1999 Ford Escort in 2035 and the problems of keeping it going. Also all the electric car recharging while you stop for gas and drive on.
Seeing the old Dart makes us realize how far we’ve come in 57 years in terms of safety but we’ve lost a lot in terms of simplicity and more of an attachment to your car. All so you could “feel” the car more by the sounds and vibrations than you can now. Cheers to the past, to the present, and to the future! Keep those Dart articles coming! :)!
Yeah, eh? The Dart was a 45-year-old car when I bought it, but the basic infrastructure to facilitate its use was still in place: gasoline and engine oil available everywhere. It seems very unlikely that’ll be the case in 2054, which will be 45 years on from 2009 (though the question will be moot if humanity finishes making the planet uninhabitable by then, which seems likely).
Totally agree about the gradual loss of connection between driver and car. I’ll have more to say about this in one of the final chapters of my COAL series.
Oh, so much here. First, I spent enough time with slant six A bodies that one with the 273 would be the kind of exotica I would have craved. But water leaks – ugh!
I have to agree on the safety stuff. It was one thing to use something like this as a DD in, say, 1979 when modern cars were moderately safer with 3 point belts and side protection. Even in the early 90s there were a lot of cars on the road without airbags and modern crumple zones. But today, everyone drives around in a cocoon, secure in the knowledge that they will walk away from all but the most catastrophic crashes. And they all have cell phones.
Oh, that house. I love houses from that time, whether modern or traditional. There was so much optimism in the designs. For many years my Mrs and I would take every chance we got to go through old, original time-capsule open houses. People lived differently then. It still kind of irritates me that everyone needs to adjust the house to themselves than themselves to the house when doing massive remodels. And the teardowns are the worst.
The toxics gallery was fabulous. I once presided over an estate of an old widow who lived in the house she and her husband bought brand new around 1950 or so. In the garage was a can (over half full) of Ortho DDT. I almost grabbed it to take home, but resisted the urge (it wasn’t mine to grab, and what would I do with it anyway).
Well, according to the propaganda it was quite pleasant over ice with dash of angostura bitters.
Hah! And a cigarette or two or five, the kind with the filter made of asbestos (Kent, wasn’t it?).
I did not like the 273. Most tinkering was more difficult (I’m really glad I never had to try changing the starter, which is a 7-minute job with the Slant-6), it did not make the right sounds, and its performance as configured was not better than I’ve had from a thoughtfully-put-together Slant-6 car.
I’m fortunate to be married to a photographer! I am glad we can no longer go in a hardware store and buy such grievously toxic stuff, but the packaging makes me wish we could still have stuff that looks like this.
House: Yeah. The teardowns are the worst.
As soon as I saw that beautiful Dart I knew this would be a good comprehensive read .
Kinda bittersweet but you managed to put the good in with the sorrowful parts .
I’m still daily drive my old death traps, Motocycles too but I understand and accept the dangers therein .
If I weren’t married, I might have less qualm about driving unsafe cars.
The old fella, your grandad, went off to Elsewhere smoothed on his way by the best with Rossini: the Rossini Stabat Mater (sorrowful mass) is often a companion to me, a funny choice for a non-believer (if an overly-happy oddity in its genre). And I’m glad it was you who held his hand as he listened for that last time, as I have a strong impression of you as one of life’s good people from your writings here.
You give a good reminder to me of how bad cars once were when you recite the failings of even a nice and historied old Dart here. Old cars were universally awful. On a bad day, you couldn’t easily start them, you couldn’t properly see out of them if it was cold, you couldn’t really drive on a wet day and feel confidence in how much you were gripping the road (because you weren’t), you couldn’t on any day stop them, and if – more likely, when – it ended in disaster, a not-huge prang would end up ending you. I love the looks of the cars from when I was young and many before that, but truth is, I never want to drive one again. They’re all now just pretty objects, for viewing only.
I have to confess that much as I might love ye olde looks of the cars that have gone before, that can’t include any of the pie-eyed Chryco creations of the early ’60’s. All of them look as they’ve been caught mid-revival by some saviour who has slapped them mid-back to get oxygen back to their lungs, either that or by another, less savoury stranger, who has gripped them unbidden by their bits that hang low. When I compare the non-surprised-faced AP5/6 Valiants of Oz to this Dart, I can’t help but prefer the former.
Please note that just because I mightn’t much fancy your surprised if unsurprising choice of conveyance, it doesn’t mean I don’t wish to hear more of your detailed and starkly-honest tales in the great world, Dr S. They are an absolute highlight of CC.
Now I can’t un-see it!
Will I forever see these as looking like one of those cartoon elephants that has seen a mouse?
Keep in mind that a 1965 car is now 56 years old. Cars have come a long way since then. If you went back to 1965 and then drove a 56 year old car, you would be driving a brass era Buick or an Overland, or possibly one of the first Model T’s.
Thanks for that, JB. I try to be, and sometimes I fail spectacularly in really stupid ways.
Well…yes and no. It’s complicated. The worst car available today objectively does a vastly better job of being a car than the best one available in 1964 (which doesn’t say a thing about which one might be the better looking, or the more charming, or easier to change spark plugs on, or anything like that). By today’s standards, a 1964 car is unroadworthy.
But in 1964, there wasn’t much point to the average person fretting about the unsafety of their car—and mostly they didn’t; see attached. They had to get where they were going, and what was available was cars like this, with useless seatbelts nobody bothered wearing, minimal brakes, minimal tires, etc. The playing field (or killing field, to be luridly less euphemistic about it) was a whole hell of a lot more dangerous, but it was also pretty level.
Even with its updates—bigger radial tires, disc brakes—this car on 2009’s roads was relatively much, much more grossly unsafe than it was on 1964’s roads. Much less dependable, too, because it was half a century old, service stations largely no longer existed, and the knowledge and parts to fix a breakdown, once readily available everywhere, could be had only special order or good luck.
(Other factors are harder to score for 1964 or 2021. People phone and text while driving now? Yes, and they cause crashes doing it. In 1964 they weren’t phoning or texting, they were drunk.)
The local skim-reader here, drawn in this morning by Anderson and the beautiful graphics seen a couple of posts below.
Soon, with an update to the pictured 2015 chart, 2020/1 data is expected to show a 13 year high in deaths.
Miles down over 13%
Deaths up over 7%
Obviously the narrow window in time saw no significant changes to roadways or vehicles. Common sense would tell us that with Plandemic traffic volume way off roadways should be even safer than recent years.
What does that leave? Yep… as plainly recognized by Writers to the Editor, way back in ’66:
EUREKA, it’s the drivers!
As to the pie-eyed Chryslers, yeah, I see your point, they might’ve overdone it a little, but maybe use a narrower brush. The downsloping ’63-’64 Dart hood made for a really good front sightline, convenient while parking in town (worsened for ’65). The front bumper looks a bit like a thrown-on afterthought on this ’64 (improved for ’65), but…well, just you look at this. It’s Doug Dutra’s Dacuda, a ’64 Dart front end on a first-generation Barracuda. Tell me that doesn’t work better and make a more coherent design than the Valiant front end on the same car, I double-dog dare ya! (though I think maybe better still with the ’63 Dart’s concave grille).
I used to revile all of the pie-eyed Chrysler products until I came around in recent years to their “Exnuberance.” (Yes, I know Engel embraced them as well.)
The 1963-64 Darts have a purity of design that was watered down by the more conventional-appearing 1965-66 models.
I also love those pushbuttons for the auto tranny; too bad Mopar had to revert back to clunky levers in 1965 to ape GM and Ford, who for the most part never abandoned them in the late 50s into the 60s.
I do apologize, but still no. In my defence, the Barracuda was a bit of an odd duck, or at least, a bit of a messy one, so making its face all surprised just makes for a messy surprise, to me.
As for the old cars stuff, I get exactly what you’re saying (and mostly agree) and would reply but will refrain, as it does seem to have done like a tiny pair of underpants and revealed some nuts.
There’s no apology warranted; personal taste is personal taste.
Another great A-body story. I really liked the looks of this one, with the white paint and later Rallye wheels updating the look.
I understand the feeling of vulnerability driving in modern traffic in a 1960s vintage car. My wife’s uncle has both a 1968 Mustang and a 1969 Camaro (the latter owned since new) and I have always felt unsafe in both, especially the Mustang, at speeds above 35 MPH. Slick vinyl seats, old-style lap belts and sharp metal interior surfaces all combine to puncture any illusions of the good old days for me.
Love the house pictures, too! Sorry to hear of its demolition.
Thanks, William, on all counts!
Hmm, I never feel unsafe in the Parklane and Polara at all. When in the Cougar and Mustang I do feel antsy because of all the now crazy drivers out there in new cars might hit me and total one of them. Example, talking to a docent on the Hornet today he clocked a Nissan Rouge moving at 105 mph east bound across the San Mateo Bridge at 0830 hours this morning. That makes me feel unsafe and it is more common than you would think.
There is often a giant canyon between how safe we feel and how safe we are.
A 66 Dart, three-on-the-tree, brush-painted with house paint, was in my family when I learned to drive. I still have fond memories of that car, especially the sound of the starter.
Your story was very touching, and much appreciated. I especially enjoyed your toxics gallery. It reminds me of my grandfather’s garage. The labels on those products are time capsules from a bygone day.
When I lived in Birmingham AL, the organization that supported an old iron furnace that is now a museum sold shirts with logos based on some of the products made from by-products of the furnace back in the day. These included some gasoline additives, which makes my post relevant to this site. My favorite was one with a stylish ad for DDT, which I wore for years until it was threadbare. It would be great to have it now, because I teach environmental science to youngsters.
Yeah, when names like “Killz-All” and labels saying things like “Another fine product of the Virginia Tobacco Byproducts Company” made the cash register ring, eh!
Sad about the shirt, but here’s a consolation prize.
That is a great graphic, and it seems pretty popular on this site.
It reminds me of my dad, who used spent automotive fluids as weed killer. The ground around the perimeter of the garage had a black crust from all the stuff he poured there, and grew no weeds.
Here is a picture of the DDT ad I found on Flicker.
I could be wrong, but I think I might’ve first to post that clip from Popular Science, and I think this was that first post. Looks like it jumped from here to Fecebook and elsewhere.
DeaDinsecT…oh my. 😳
The acronym I’m familiar with is Drop Dead Twice.
And how about that Ortho PBC Weed and Grass Killer — for use on playgrounds among other things? Hmm, how much of that did I absorb in my wonder years?
In Ontario in the 60’s (and before) they used to spray gravel roads with oil to keep the dust down. I thought that it was used engine oil, although I don’t know if that was true. In practice very similar to the PS approach.
My first car was an Austin 1800 that had the transmission in the oil pan. That meant that it took 8 quarts (imperial) for an oil change. I had a clever idea that I could skip the middleman and drain the oil directly on to a country road and help keep the dust down. Unfortunately the police drove by while I was doing it, so a minor breakdown was invented to explain what I was doing, but I never did it again. Actually the car leaked so much oil through the shifter cables that I almost considered it a total loss system. It was polluting all the time by dripping oil. I used to carry a case of oil in the trunk and a pan to put under it when l parked.
Many people of a certain age range reminisce about running along the road behind the slow-moving fogger trucks saturating the area with DDT. They thought it was fun to play in the fog. Holy shit.
Ah yes, Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham.
I was driving by that several years ago, with a co-worker while we were on assignment in Birmingham. He, a fellow on his first visit to Birmingham (from VT), exclaimed:
“Whoa! What are those? Why are there sculptures of penises right there on the side of the highway?!!”
Love the Vitrolite!
Hmm…if 6-12 insect repellent is toxic, I should be dead by now.
I miss those Vitrolite washroom walls. For those who’ve never heard of it, it was a line of coloured thick plate glass. Widely used in storefronts and subway stations and homes in the 1930s-’60s. There’s one guy left, and his website is full of eye candy.
“Old cars were universally awful. On a bad day, you couldn’t easily start them, you couldn’t properly see out of them if it was cold, you couldn’t really drive on a wet day and feel confidence in how much you were gripping the road (because you weren’t), you couldn’t on any day stop them, and if – more likely, when – it ended in disaster, a not-huge prang would end up ending you.”
That’s gross exaggeration and generalization imo. Somehow hundreds of millions drove them for decades and billions of miles yet survived to tell the tale. Modern perspective and, yes, the obvious technical improvements aside, they functioned just fine at the time for the overwhelming number of ordinary drivers. Of the 12 cars my folks had between 1948 and 1996, not one of them malfunctioned or behaved as described above.
…and many didn’t survive to tell their tales. Look at this: over time, lower and lower death rates despite more and more people driving more and more miles.
How much of your folks’ car/driving tribulations in their 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s cars did they share with you in great detail? Service stations with tow trucks were everywhere, because they were needed all day, every day. Now they’ve mostly been replaced by convenience stores, because a service station won’t pay its way any more—cars just don’t break down or require maintenance anywhere near so often as they used to.
I certainly agree with RAnderson and his statement about older cars. Pictured here is my 273CI powered 1964 Dodge Dart GT 2 door hardtop, bought brand new and driven mostly over long distances it’s first few years. NEVER FOR A MOMENT did I ever worry about dying in this or any other car I have owned. GOD is my co-pilot so I have nothing to fear! Cars such as this ’64 model Dart GT were very well built for their time compared to the Chevrolet and Ford examples of compact cars. I drove and sometimes raced this car, even outrunning 426 wedge engined Plymouth Satellites of that era. Handling, even at 130+ MPH was precise and stable.
These days people are pampered in creampuff padded safety bubbles that are just look-alike people movers with no class whatsoever. Soon you won’t even have to drive them. How lazy can people get? I for one am glad I lived in the day when cars WERE REAL CARS.
Please do tell on what road did a 1964 273ci equipped Dodge Dart hit 130mph while at the same time exhibiting “precise and stable” handling while on 1960s era tires? I have a hard time believing any part of that claim, please tell us more about your car.
He has the rare high downforce model.
Wow, God really is his co-pilot!
HE really is!
So you really want to know Jim? It was on the 2 lane divided highway that led east from Middletown, NY to the New York Throughway. Back then, in 1965, I would attend the Stock Car Races at the Middletown Fairgrounds on Saturday nights. Frankie Schneider, known as “The Old Master”, among others, raced there weekly. After the races, this old guy in his new car would challenge anyone willing to take him on as he was heading home on Hwy17. I had taken him on in an other car in the past with not so good results, but this night he came up on me just driving along, him in his new 1965 Plymouth Satellite with a big block, wedge head, 426 CI engine.
We began from about 70 MPH, nailed it, and ran up until he backed off around 130 MPH. He took 3 tries at me and each time I stayed right with him with my little 273 CI Dart. My engine was built with the ’65 10.5:1 pistons and had a Racer Brown ST14 Cam, solid lifters and that loud, ‘virtual straight-pipe’, 2 1/4″ exhaust system. It also had 2.93:1 rear gears while his had a 727 Torqueflite automatic with 3.23:1 rear gears. So he was turning a lot more RPM on his long stroke 426 compared to my 273. It wasn’t as though I blew him away, but neither did he blow my Dart off. I can’t tell you what brand tires were on the car except to say that they were in good condition and I have never had a tire fail until 2002 while running on Firestones on a 2010 Chrysler T&C Van. My Dart also had the 16:1 manual steering gear and I had the front end set to track well. I might add, I was a Dodge Dealer line mechanic at the time and had been since ’59 though it was a DeSoto/Plymouth dealer at first. I retired in 2012 after operating my own shop from ’88 until retirement.
When I drive my Nissan D21, I remind myself that it is safer than any motorcycle ever
made. That makes me feel better, at least. Now I am wondering if this is the last episode
in the great Dart saga?
No, not yet.
The biggest problem that I have with most of the safety “advancements” is the propensity of people to depend on the car to do what the driver SHOULD be doing! IIRC, I read an article years ago at the advent of ABS, that stated that crashes went up because people would drive faster and brake later because “ABS would help them avoid crashing.” Add to the fact that driver education is no longer taught, and the majority of driving tests are a joke! Maneuvering through cones in a parking lot doesn’t really convey the driving experience; and is parallel parking still required? When driving abilities are based upon electronic aids, what happens when the aids fail, or when another car doesn’t have them?
I really believe there’s a lot of people alive mainly due to the plethora of gadgets doing the lane-tracking, blind-spot watching, cruise control adaption, and automatic braking for them while they post pictures of their lunch, their Yelp reviews of the place that made their lunch and watching the live reactions of the people who are watching the reviews of the reviewers who made and posed said lunch for the cameras.
Whew! Long sentence. Time for lunch.
I’m making bacon and eggs while going 80 down the Interstate, while ironing a pair of slacks and cutting my own hair. I trust all the Diddlyboops® are working because I think there’s a work crew ahead. It says so on my YouBookFaceTweet feed.
Those people were all doing the same before the advent of safety systems, now though instead of them killing others the systems have the opportunity to avoid letting bad drivers plow into those others.
And really, for those amongst us who have been in an accident that wasn’t an intentional act, would the accident potentially have been avoided had the vehicle used been equipped with either or all of the following: Automatic Emergency Braking (that’s the kind that also stops you from rolling into someone at a stop light or while making a turn while looking to see if it’s clear while someone ahead of you stopped not just from high speed), Blind Spot Warning, LaneKeepingAssist, etc?
I see VERY few people complaining about anti-lock brakes or electronic stability control anymore, likely because they’re so commonplace now that many people can honestly tell themselves that either system has saved their bacon at least once.
It only takes one very minor incident to more than pay for the additional cost for all of these systems. Even if you’re the best driver out there (you are, right?) and never ever have need for any assistance yourself, you should be happy that they are helping to prevent all the other saps out there from running into you and ruining your Dart or whatever.
“Okeh, granted, it’s raining, but I’m not getting wet, so what in the hell am I carrying this umbrella for? Why oh why did I pay money for it?!”
Very well stated Jim, I fully agree. I love my driver assistance aids, but at the same time I’m not on my phone, shaving, or slapping the kids silly in the back seat!
We are all human, subject to fatigue, errors in judgment, random thoughts not related to the driving task, etc., so I’m happy to have the aids as backup. And the umbrella analogy is perfect, Daniel.
As to the ABS conundrum, I don’t think it was ever determined why ABS didn’t have a positive effect on the rate of crashes, but it’s a moot point now anyway. This is because ESC, which piggybacks on ABS, has been proven to be a lifesaver and has been required since 2012 on all passenger vehicles.
Plus one, Mr K, a big plus one.
The ABS thing you mention is an example of risk compensation—basically, the idea that people will take risks within an environment they perceive as safer, than they would in an environment they perceive as less safe. The devil, as always, is in the details; it is not accurate to say something like ABS doesn’t reduce crashes.
I completely agree with you that driving licence tests should be difficult and stringent. Driver education…sigh. It would be nice if it worked, but it doesn’t, so it is no longer taught. Even very rigourous driver training doesn’t really help very much, because the problem is less Oh, I didn’t know and more Oops, I didn’t do. It would be lovely if people would just behave as they best should, but that’s not what people do, even highly trained ones. Even in places with extremely stringent driver training and licence regimens, like Germany, human error is still overwhelmingly the most common cause of car crashes.
This presentation on the subject is worth your 24 minutes (less if you watch it at 1.25× speed):
I’m not trying to be snippy, but…some time after the electric starter became a thing, cars started coming without provisions to manually crank the engine. When electronic ignition came along, it meant you could no longer get your car going again by the side of the road by using a piece of rubber sliced out of an underhood vacuum hose as a makeshift breaker point spring…but it also meant never needing to make such a repair.
It’ll be awhile, but eventually real fully self-driving cars will come. In the meantime, advanced driver assistants are good and steadily getting better.
That won’t be much different to driving today’s cars in today’s traffic. It will be a very long time before the traffic system no longer caters for human-driven cars, if that ever happens.
Beautiful Dart and wonderful story. Driving in traffic, even at high speed, many people slow down & give a thumbs up passing my 1966 T-Bird convertible. My vintage car actually slightly slows passing autos for just a moment. No one breaks, they just take foot off the accelerator to take pictures, then speed on their way (while I and doing 65 mph with top down).
I have really been enjoying your COAL series so far. You are quite the gifted storyteller.
I would love to live in a house like your grandparent’s. The picture of the staircase with it’s ribbon like hand rail captures mid century modern to a tee for me.
I also really appreciate how you took the time to document “toxics gallery”. I inherited a similar smorgasbord of chemicals when I bought the house I’m currently in, but not as old and well preserved as your examples. I’m a sucker for old labels and advertising.
Thanks kindly, Matt. Another feature probably not well shown in those galleries is the one-piece custom-stamped stainless steel kitchen counter/sink. Best kitchen counter I have ever (probably ever will) have. That handrail went from the basement all the way up through the lower (laundry/garage) landing, the main floor, the upper floor, and all the way up to the upper landing which led to a short side-hinged big window/small door out to the roofdeck. Going out there meant seeing views like this and this we used to sit out there on July 4 and watch the fireworks all round Lake Washington.
(I would love to live in a house like my grandparents’, too 😢)
I’m biased, of course, but…yeah!
As one who still owns a ’63 model car, your apprehension in driving the Dart in current traffic is very relatable. Having very much traffic nearby is an angst-inducing experience. After a near miss in St. Louis rush hour traffic when headed to Nashville for a CC meet-up, I’ve kept my driving it to lower volume rural roads. Yet I realize you didn’t exactly have that in Seattle.
Your grandfather’s house is also highly relatable. I’ve written about one and just learned of the sale of my paternal grandmother’s property this afternoon.
Excellent story, and an excellent Dart.
And my parents’ house had a Thermador wall oven just like that.
Thanks for the memories.
A Thermador WO-16 (16″ model) or WO-18 (18″ model)! Grandma was a masterful entertainer, and I have pictures of every horizontal surface in the house covered with food she cooked in that kitchen, but for whatever reason that oven was mostly used as pan storage. She used the main range, mostly, so this one had very low miles on it. I sold it before vacating the house, to a very grateful retired schoolteacher back east. The WO-16 in her own same-period house did not have low miles, and it had finally failed irreparably. The delivery driver dropped it right in front of her, onto the hard concrete. Fortunately it had been very carefully packed, and suffered only a slight and easily-fixed bent flange corner.
And the Frigidaire refrigerator original to the house had been relegated many years back to auxiliary usage in the laundry room, and then to unrefrigerated storage. Still, if plugged in it immediately started, ran very quietly, and got cold. I sold that to another same-period homeowner somewhere else back east, whose own same-model fridge had likewise finally fatally failed. She had mine trucked(!) to an auto body shop near her, who made it look like new with fresh glossy white paint and carefully polished chrome. The mechanicals were seen to, as well, and now it’s back in service.
When you say “main range”, I assume that means that device also had an oven, in which case, yes, I can certainly see why she didn’t use the Thermador much. Probably mostly for holidays such as Thanksgiving where an extra oven does come in handy. My parents’ early 60s modern house had a cooktop instead of a range, so we put the wall oven to good use.
I applaud your successful efforts to sell the appliances before vacating the house. Being a person who devotes as much attention to my appliances as I do my cars – in fact, I service the appliances probably more often than the cars — I appreciate well-built and crafted washers, ranges, refrigerators, etc. It’s great to hear about someone taking the time to restore old ovens and fridges instead of just throwing things out. Right now, my washing machine (which I just rebuilt) is older than all of my cars aside from the 45-year-old Volvo, and works as well as the day I bought it new.
Yup, originally a 40″-wide GE with double (side-by-side) ovens and four coil burners on top. A few years ago I helped the lady across the street, who grew up in that same house across from my dad and my aunt and my grandparents. She still has the original Hotpoint 40″ range with colour-lit pushbutton switches for the burners. Some of the bulbs had burned out, so I tracked down replacements and installed them for her. It also badly needed a new oven thermostat, but we couldn’t find an exact replacement. I pointed her at one likely to be adaptable, but didn’t want to get involved in trying to do so. It’s one thing to replace a few light bulbs; quite another to take the works apart and…yeah, please get a professional to do that.
Old-appliance refurbishment, oh, you betchya. Take a look at this guy’s channel (keep on scrolling down; there’s a bunch of great stuff). Old laundry machines, I can understand the attraction. Just look at this damn-near-new old Whirlpool dryer (with UV light inside!) I found at a secondhand store in Tucson in 2009! If I’d lived in Tucson, I’d’ve bought it immediately. But an old washer…eh…no thank you. They use enormous amounts of water and don’t spin the laundry anywhere near so effectively, making the dryer work longer and harder, driving up energy costs.
I like my modern front-load washer, except for its annoying water fill strategy: it hooks up to hot and to cold, but no matter what wash temperature is selected it fills with a mix of hot and cold water. Even for the Sanitary cycle, it takes on a lot of cold water, then heats it up with an internal heater. I don’t know why they programmed it this way, and the days are long past when you could call up a company and speak to someone who could give actual, real answers. Now you get to talk to some outsourced help desk (Zendesk or something equally useless) and the non-answer they give is “Your washer fills with hot and cold water for optimal results depending on the cycle selected”.
Okeh, fine, BizCorp, you do you and I’ll do me; I created and installed a workaround. Now the washer fills with water at the temperature I want, not the temperature it thinks it wants.
This car has a very pleasing aspect to it, as if it is eager to make its owners happy, which I’m sure back in the day it did. Also looks very European, especially from the front
The Rallye wheels make it pop, which maintains my belief that every car looks better with a nice set of wheels, either factory or period aftermarket, rather than a cheap stamped cover.
Nice color too.
4 door Darts have never really appealed to me, I think the stretch behind the doors looks a bit awkward, probably due to years of looking at Aussie Valiants, but this one comes as close as any.
Another fab chapter. It’s hard to imagine what could get me to give up a house like that: absolutely superb. All the materials and details. Most newer houses are junk compared to it.
I’m writing this from my van on a property we just bought in Port Orford on the southern Oregon coast.
We’re crazy. It’s seven acres on the Port Orford heads, much of it steeply sloping in a ravine down to the beach. It’s a jungle but some decades back the folks who lived in the house that was later partitioned off had obviously made the upper part a naturalistic garden with a pond and native plants.
There’s no house, but a pole barn building which we plan to turn into a camp cottage. And eventually build a house there but that’s some time off.
I’ve spent the past four days chainsawing with an extension pole saw to make the drive accessible and clear out room to park the van. It’s not been maintained for decades.
Not sure why I’m saying this except that’s why I’ve not been around much on the site. And that I’m very quickly falling in love with this place although the amount of work it will take is a bit mind boggling.
I’d love to build a smaller version of that house here.
We had family friend who inherited two cars when a distant relative died in ’82. One was a ’73 Nova SS in what at first appeared to be decent shape, and the other one was a ’64 Dart in the same white as the car in the article. The Nova showed it’s problems right away, it had been hit hard and poorly repaired and was so tweaked that it would not go straight. It would crab badly and it had to have constant course corrections. A relative of theirs owned a body shop and messed with it and eventually, it drove OK, but the crabbing remained, which was an endless subject at stoplights. Predictably, the Nova met it’s end in a wreck, it’s modded up 350 got the driver into trouble and he hit a lightpole. It would not be his last tango with a lightpole. His 2000 Trans Am got out of shape and hit a pole on a straight road, it was nice and sunny out. Somehow, he hit the pole with the passenger door. Goodbye T/A!
The Dart was rust free, and even the interior was in decent shape, except the speedometer was non functional. It’s /6 used no oil and ran as good as a slant six ever did. When the youngest kids started driving, they got the Dart and I knew it’s days were short. Almost as soon as they got it, the ticking started, and it got worse and worse. They just decided to drive it until it blew or seized up. It took almost two years for it to finally go, and the last time I saw it, it was on the flatbed of a local scrapyard, probably to be shredded. It was the last car of that era that was daily driven locally, with the exception of a friend’s mother’s ’65 Dynamic 88, which would have major work done on it every 3 years or so to fix the rust on it. That car made it to around ‘2004, when she died. Some Olds fanatic bought it and we never saw it again. It was in one of my most hated colors, “seafoam green” or something like it. We younger people called it “Weak assed green” and we all seemed to hate it. My mom liked it, for some reason.
I had to chuckle. You said you just happened by the place to find this for sale. Ha! Non-believers among us (well, me anyway) think that you staked out that car and kept an eye on it daily until one day finding it available.
The back end of that car is nicely designed. It does have more than a striking resemblance to the 1964 Chrysler post we saw the other day. It looks much better on the Dart that on the Chrysler.
You paint a vivid picture in our minds of the emotional experiences in your life, including passings of those near and dear to you. You are quite adept at writing.
I was thinking about the rear-style resemblance to the ’64 Chrysler. I agree that the ’63-’64 Dart version is better—more refined, tidier, less busy—than the ’63-’64 Chrysler version, but I don’t think I’d kick a ’64 Chrysler out my garage…!
Thanks for the compliments! I’ll keep writing as long as I can come up with subjects. I’m not worried about running out soon.
Re Safety Concerns: I note that Click and Clack on Car Talk used to talk about keeping cars running forever but at some point switched their advice to get rid of old cars and get the car with the most safety equipment possible. I am sure other readers here are familiar with this and may be able to fill us in with dates, further reasoning, and etc.
PS – Completely unrelated but while typing this I wondered if the official position of Curbside Classic on the Oxford Comma is absolutely required, not allowed, or who cares.
There is no official CC style guide. As far as I’m concerned, the Oxford Comma is mandatory.
I absolutely agree, for readability, punctuation, and structure. The meaning and connotation can completely change otherwise (not change, otherwise).
A friend of mine inherited his parents’ ‘64 Dart when they upgraded (that’s a joke) to a Pacer. At the time my daily drivers were a Fiesta and my Vega, and even at just 15 years old the Dart, with its lap belts, drum brakes and 6 turn lock-to-lock manual steering felt dated. The /6 was sweet however. My friend drives a Tesla now but still has very fond memories of the Dart. I didn’t realize Chryslers used the PH8A filter; as a former owner of a Ranger and a Land Cruiser six, I’ve handled a lot of those.
My mom had a Dart when I was born. Red 64 convertible with a push button auto. She gave it to my older sister as it began to disintegrate after years of Cleveland winters. I remember I called it the ‘shaddada’ because of the way the starter sounded. After reading blogs like this, I now know this is the sound of the Highland Hummingbird and is because of the gear reduction starter in that era of Mopar.