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My dad was a coupe man, though I cannot say he owned coupes on purpose. He was a bargain hunter, and a car’s door count was less important than its price. Nonetheless, my sister, mother and I never complained about having to squeeze into the back seat. For the most part, my dad’s Chevrolet Nova 2-door, and multiple Oldsmobile Cutlass and Pontiac Ventura coupes, offered sufficient rear-seat space, provided you didn’t mind negotiating the path past the folded front seat—and for the most part, we didn’t mind.
According to website Statista, light-truck sales—which include crossovers and SUVs—have risen from about 2 million in 1980 to almost 12 million last year. One needs only to look around to see that coupe and convertible sales have fallen to all-time lows, but it’s the humble sedan that I am most worried about.
I don’t know when it was that stand-up comics began telling clown jokes. I want to say I was fully an adult before it was brought to my attention—by those stand-up comics—that the whole clown thing is pretty weird. I recall a local shock jock dedicating considerable attention to the whole clown-as-a-career thing.
By most accounts, the automotive period known as the Malaise Era lasted from 1973 until 1983. During that time, the performance of most new vehicles paled in comparison to the less-regulated cars of just a few years earlier. Blame the government if you will, as low-lead gas, fuel-economy standards, and emissions regulations all took a serious toll on the horsepower output of most engines. I say most, because some cars suffered less than others. And there was one main reason for that relative immunity to the Malaise Era woes: fuel injection.
I recall a time, oh, 38 years ago, when my folks forbade me from driving to a friend’s house because it was raining. At the time, even if I believed that rain in any way made driving more dangerous, I wasn’t prepared to admit it. Besides, real car guys were unafraid of driving in snow, at night, and through downpours. Honestly, I still enjoy driving around through fresh snow.
In terms of general statistical sexiness, brake performance has long taken a backseat to acceleration. Horsepower numbers are fun, 0-60-mph and quarter-mile times are fun. But braking? Most car guys know that reaching 60 mph from a stop in less than 6 seconds is an impressive feat. How many folks, I wonder, know what a decent time would be for coming to a complete stop from 60 mph?
In his 2012 book Fractured Times: Culture and Society in the Twentieth Century, historian Eric Hobsbawm noted, “In terms of literary pedigree, the invented cowboy was a late romantic creation. But in terms of social content, he had a double function: he represented the ideal of individualist freedom pushed into a sort of inescapable jail by the closing of the frontier and the coming of the big corporations.”
As an automotive journalist, I am not predisposed to know much about fashion. That said, I do know a smartly attired individual when I see one.