Rockin’ Down the Highway

Colin-Date-head-shotIt’s funny sometimes how ideas for this column just pop into my brain. Writing my View typically means the magazine is just about wrapped up. All the stories are in, artwork layouts are being finalized and ads are in place. Whew. So, when I’m satisfied the guts of the issue are put to bed, it’s time for me to start rattling the keyboard. What shall we talk about this time ’round? I’ve had my ear buds in for the past half hour and what comes on the iPod? The Doobie Brothers’ “Rockin’ Down The Highway”. A driving song if there ever was one! This particular tune has almost landed me in hot water a few times – it just makes me want to downshift and peg the pedal hard against the floorboard. I’m typing away here – the Doobies’ tune has come to an end, and what’s next on the playlist? The Doors – “Riders On The Storm”. Haunting, to say the least. This one sounds best on a lonely highway at sundown, storm clouds roiling overhead.

It’s amazing how huge a role music plays in our classic car hobby. Listening to Elvis through that tinny 6” dash speaker while cruisin’ ’round the block in your Tri-5, or filling the cockpit with Sammy Hagar’s “I Can’t Drive 55” on some wide open stretch of Interstate – the tunes set the mood, big time!

How about car shows? Ever been to one where there’s no music blaring through the loudspeakers? Neither have I. The songs that have been written over the years about cars and driving are too numerous to count! Jan and Dean and The Beach Boys certainly focused their efforts on the road tunes. Oh, here we go – The Eagles’ “Hotel California” just started – that ominous beat coming through my ear buds. As you can imagine, I’ve got a huge “car/road” collection of songs on my iPod. Little Old Lady From Pasadena, 409, Little Deuce Couple, Hot Rod Lincoln – all perennial favs.

The best moments (for me, anyway) come from matching the music to the moment. I took a ride (not as the driver – bummer) in a ’62 Impala SS about 10 years ago. The owner had “409” pumping out of his beefy aftermarket sound system. And yes, that big Chevy happened to sport a 409 under the hood. It was an incredible moment for me and still sticks in my brain. Heck, sometimes it doesn’t even have to be music. I used to love listening to afternoon ball games on the little Sonomatic AM radio in my ’69 Buick. Single dash speaker, kind of crackly, just set the mood – good times indeed.

Like drive-in movie theaters and old time burger joints, music in our cars tugs us (sometimes not so gently) back into days gone by. And sometimes, that’s just where we want to go. Would love to hear your thoughts here. Tell us a great story – some magical moment that linked a song to your car or road trip – an indelible slice of time. I can’t wait to hear it!

OK, onto this issue of our magazine. The part you’ve all been dying to see – full coverage of this past February’s Winter National in Orlando – all 10 pages of it –begins on page 6. Is your ride there? Next up is a black ’57 Chevy that is driven and raced, everywhere! Check out this awesome classic on page 16. After that, some Reader’s Rides – a ’55 Chevy, a ’71 Chevelle, and four – count ’em – four ’57s!

The centerfold spot this month belongs to Warren Sutton’s beautiful ’67 El Camino, and I think you agree – this is one clean, nicely modified car. Er, truck. Er, car…

Our tech centers around the ins and outs of quarter panel replacement. Watch how it’s done on this ’56 Two-Ten. Hopefully this story will take some of the trepidation out of tackling this job yourself.

A newer, periodic feature we have in Chevy Classics is “Future Collectible”. This month, you’ll find a piece on the 1996 Caprice. It may not be that old now, but give it time!

There’s an update on our Project ’55 on pages 38 and 39. That car heads to the body shop for some serious sheet metal scrutiny. Watch the action as Stan’s Cocoa Corvette’s shop gets busy on this Bel Air.

I hope you enjoy this issue as much as we did putting it all together. Don’t forget – let’s hear some great music-in-your-ride type stories!