Gassers, if you aren’t familiar, are those drag racers that ran in the NHRA Gas classes from 1955 to 1971 and the similar classes of other sanctioning bodies. As distilled down by SEGA, the hallmarks of a ’67-style gasser are a solid front axle (straight or dropped) suspended from leaf springs, an elevated stance (12 inches at the rocker behind the front wheels, 11 inches at the rocker ahead of the rear wheels), a vintage (i.e. a design that existed in 1967) V-8 engine, and a manual transmission
.The SEGA rules also make it clear that every car has to be invited and that day-of-race entries aren’t permitted—you should check with the organizers before assuming anything is within the spirit of the rules. Still, the general guidance on selecting a vehicle for racing is “Closed full body styled production cars 1967 or earlier. No open or altered body styles. All cars must have a top/roof” with further prohibitions on 1967 Mustangs, all Camaros (we’re guessing Firebirds too), V-8 Corvairs, Opels, and Cougars.
American Graffiti, the surprise summer blockbuster that ignited the career of filmmaker George Lucas (director and co-screenwriter), is one of the most car-saturated movies that is not explicitly about cars. Set in Modesto, California, at the tail end of summer 1962, it follows the exploits of a quartet of recent high-school grads: college-bound Curt Henderson (Richard Dreyfuss), class president Steve Bolander (Ron Howard), the nerdy Terry the Toad (Charles Martin Smith), and drag-racer John Milner (Paul Le Mat). The action takes place on a single night against a backdrop of endless cruising. Lucas made the movie in 1972, and it was highly autobiographical. In an interview in The New York Times, Lucas said of the film:
It all happened to me, but I sort of glamorized it. I spent four years of my life cruising the main street of my hometown, Modesto, California. I went through all that stuff, drove the cars, bought liquor, chased girls… a very American experience. I started out as Terry the Toad, but then I went on to be John Milner, the local drag race champion, and then I became Curt Henderson, the intellectual who goes to college. They were all composite characters, based on my life, and on the lives of friends of mine. Some were killed in Vietnam, and quite a number were killed in auto accidents
What if AMC had a Mustang-style vehicle before Ford?
Henry Ford Museum curator goes for a drive in the 1962 Budd XR-400 concept car
Budd Company was a major supplier of sheetmetal stampings to American automakers, producing body parts for nearly half of the passenger cars produced in North America in the pre- and post-war eras.
In 1962, Budd produced a running prototype of a sporty convertible, the XR-400 concept designed with sports car proportions. Budd suggested to American Motors that it should put such a vehicle into production. By the way, that production would have begun months before Ford unveiled a car with similar styling, the Mustang.
Brooks Stevens’s Sceptre concept, designed for Studebaker. Photo courtesy Milwaukee Art Museum.
From its start as a manufacturer of horse-drawn wagons to its demise as an independent automaker competing head-to-head with Detroit’s Big Three, Studebaker enjoyed over a century of success. Opening on May 18 at the AACA Museum Inc. in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Studebaker Cool: 114 Years of Innovation narrates the history of the imaginative brand with a display of over 40 vehicles, focusing primarily on the years between 1906 and the end of automobile production in 1966.
Among the vehicles scheduled for display is a battery-electric wagon from Studebaker’s early days as a powered vehicle manufacturer. Built to carry congressmen through the tunnels connecting the Capitol to government office buildings nearby, the 1908 Studebaker Electric “Carry All” was one of two such models built for this purpose.
WHAT IT’S LIKE TO OWN AND DRIVE AN UNRESTORED 1962 RAMBLER AMERICAN DELUXE?
Love them or laugh at them–the 1961-’63 Rambler Americans are now a kitsch classic. An evolution of the original 1950 Nash Rambler, America’s first successful compact car, the 1961 Rambler American was an extensive reskinning of the “bathtub” Rambler American of 1958-’60.
In the long history of car sales, dealers have attempted all manner of gimmicks to get new buyers into the showroom and out the door with a new set of wheels. Lottery contests, rebates, all types of giveaways, and more. We thought we had seen it all until an we saw this ad from 1962: a free Shetland Pony to the first 25 buyers of a new Chevrolet.