Redartz: Recently our friend and frequent commenter Charlie Horse 47 passed along to me a suggestion for a topic. It was a good one, and hence we have our subject for discussion this week. Thanks CH!
Charlie was pondering the influence that cars, and related automotive miscellany, had on our Bronze age culture. It got me to thinking. Cars surely have been present in films, books, and magazines since Henry Ford was active. But when you look back at the 60's, 70's and 80's, you find many examples of rather specific 'Auto' philia. OK, that doesn't really sound right, but you know what I mean! The automobile was, and is, much more than merely a form of convenient transportation.
In previous discussions, we've looked at "Odd Rods" stickers from the early 70's, and "Hot Wheels" cars from , well, everywhen. That's just a toe in the water of this lake. Here's a few examples of popular culture's love affair with the automobile. I'm betting you can come up with quite a few more. So buckle your seat belts and lower your visors, here we go...
The animated "Hot Wheels" cartoon
This show was a favorite of mine when it debuted in the 1969-1970 season. Fairly standard animation, but it sure held my attention (doubtlessly the intent of the producers, as I also frequently pestered my parents for a new "Hot Wheels" car or two).
Hanna Barbera's "Wacky Races"
This was another 'never miss' show on those great pre-teen Saturday mornings. I always rooted for the "Arkansas Chugabug", although it would have been fun to see Dick Dastardly actually win a race, just for a change.
Hanna Barbera's "Speed Buggy"
Sort of "Scooby Doo" with a car replacing the iconic dog. Rather formulaic, but weren't most Saturday morning offerings? And it boasted the brilliant vocal talents of Mel Blanc!
Mattel's "Hot Wheels" toys
Between the cars and the tracks, these were my toy of choice from the ages of 8-10. Countless hours were spent racing them with friends and with my brother. One of the very few toys I managed to hold on to, after all these years: the "Red Baron"...
Ronny and the Daytonas, "Little GTO"
This blast of vintage 60's racing pop is representative of the whole slew of racing songs that filled the music charts of the day. The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, the Rip Chords; so many practitioners of the genre. A close sibling to Surf Rock, and just as cool.
HO- scale Racing
Another toy that found a lot of use at our house. No fun like accelarating down the straightaway and flying off the track at the curve. And the best racing was in the dark, if your cars had working headlights...
"Odd Rods" stickers
Yet another element of our collective youth. Combining cars and monsters; what could be better? My school notebook was covered with these.
AHRA Racing cards, 1971
Not a far jump from collecting baseball cards, these cards depicted some of the hottest, fastest, and most popular racers of the early 70's. This card had the "Mongoose" and "Snake" as featured in the Mattel "Hot Wheels" collection mentioned earlier...
DC's "Hot Wheels" comic
You knew we'd get to a few comics eventually, didn't you? Based on the cartoon we covered above, and with art by the likes of Alex Toth and Neal Adams, it was a great (albeit short-lived) series.
Charlton's "Drag 'n' Wheels"
Never actually had a copy of this title, but it serves as an example of the generic 'racing' comics found on the spinners of our Bronze age. It seemed most publishers (notably excepting Marvel) took a shot at this style of comic; there were many.
All right, I've filled the tank for you. Take the wheel and let's cruise into a high-octane discussion of automotive fun...