Those Bitchin' (And not so Bitchin) Cars of the 60's and 70's


In my book, "Because You're the First" Lynn, the cool teacher (and if you read the book you will find out, actually pretty evil teacher) owns one of the most most coveted muscle cars of the 1960s, a 1968 Camaro.

I actually remember this car when it came out (I was eight, but I remember), it was the ultimate cool car. Everybody wanted to own it. Over the years, it has become a legend. There have been numerous songs written about it. The one I remember came out when the car did in 1968, but I couldn't find the song (I found some rap songs about it, but I hate rap so if you want to hear them, you'll have to check out You Tube) Anyway, when I wanted to put cool teacher Lynn Steinberg in a car, this is the one that immediately popped into my head. Of course the Camaro is still made today, but I don't know; it was never like this one, the epitome of cool.

This got me thinking about the other cars in the story. One of those cars is the station wagon Kassandra and Cameron first made out in. It was one of the big, gas guzzling, boxy things every housewife in the 60s and 70s had, including my own mother.

1971 Ford LTD Wagon

This Ford LTD wagon was actually the first car I ever drove. I still remember sitting behind the wheel, feeling the intoxicating sense of freedom driving a car gives you for the first time. I also must add I ran into another car in a parking lot, and totally creamed the wood panelling, to my parent's chagrin. But it cost ten bucks to fill the tank, and it held all my friends when we went to Castaic Lake, and Zuma Beach and Westwood Village, blasting the eight track player. Good times and memories.

But I think this wagon was more what I pictured Kassandra and Cameron making out in when I wrote that scene in the book. Much more plain. But like me, these big wagons were the first cars many of us growing up in the 60s and 70s first drove as teens. Hopefully most of us had a license to drive them; not like Cameron who didn't!!

A bug like my Dad's - The 1967 Volkswagon Beetle

Another car in the story is Kassandra's father's car, which I admit, I based on my father's 1967 VW Bug. My dad bought the car when we moved to California from back east because his job entailed a lot of driving, and this was well before the dawn of the economy car. The bug was really the only thing available like that. I don't think my dad liked it all that much, but they were surely popular at the time. A few years ago Volkswagen brought them back, but I think something is lost with the newer ones. That sense of nostalgia just isn't there.

As for myself, my first car, at age 18 was a 1971 Ford Maverick, which I drove for about seven years. It was in relatively good shape when I got it, but by the time my first husband and I traded it in, it was clearly a beater with nearly 200,000 miles. The accelerator stuck, there was no gas gauge or speedometer or radio. The body has numerous dents and dings from my inattentive driving.

What the Maverick looked like in the end

Funny thing is; in spite of all these things, when you put the key in the ignition, it always started up, without fail. The body was heavy; like a little tank, and took all the punishment I gave it. I think it would be accurate to say, with the cars made these days, you couldn't say that.

People teased me incessantly because the Maverick was not considered one of the cooler cars of the 1970s. One friend called it my "big fish" because she said it looked like a fish. Of course the most bitchin car in the late 70s was the Pontiac Trans Am. This car was to the late 70s what the Camaro was to the late 1960s.

One day when my son was in high school, he asked me about the first car I drove, and when I told him, he said "Wow, Mom, that was a really cool car." Made me laugh, because at the time, it was considered the ultimately car for dorks. Funny how things change!!!

The 1977 Pontiac Trans Am

I didn't know anyone who owned this car at the time. It was way too expensive for most people in those days. This car was eventually immortalized in the 1977 movie "Smoky and the Bandit" starring Burt Reynolds and Sally Field.

But anyway, one day when my son was in high school, he asked me about the first car I drove, and when I told him, he said "Wow, Mom, that was a really cool car." Made me laugh, because at the time, it was considered the ultimately car for dorks. Funny how things change!!!

A few years ago, I finally got my own "muscle car"

Me and my brand new 2006 Mustang convertible in 2008

My husband wanted to know what I wanted for a graduation gift when I completed my Master's Degree. This was it, color and all. We drove all the way to a dealer in Santa Barbara to get it. I had never owned a convertible before, and I have loved it!! My family has enjoyed it more than I even expected.

And it just was kinda fun being "cool," even if you're not a teenager.!!


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