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    Auction Finds

    1957 Chevy and the allure of vintage cars

    When I saw the model 1957 Chevy and the other vintage cars on the auction table, a memory flashed through my mind. I was a child, sitting on the porch with my cousins in a small community outside Macon, GA.

    We watched as car after car drove past our house. “That’s mine,” one of us would shout out. “That’s mine,” another would say. We were picking other people’s cars as our own. We could not afford our own car so we were choosing ones that we’d love to have. It was child’s play, a game that kept us occupied and kept us dreaming.

    Two 1957 Chevy Bel Airs.

    Someday, we knew, we’d have our own ’57 Chevy or ’65 Corvette or any other car that we wanted. That day came and went. And I still love those old cars. I don’t shout out at them like I used to, but now I would love to have one of the even earlier cars, those big boxy ones that were made like a tank.

    One of my cousins, when he reached the age when men start examining their lives a little closer, bought a 1960s-era red Corvette. Maybe that’s the type of car he had in mind when we all sat out on the porch on those summer afternoons tagging cars.

    My car memories were unleashed by the more than 50 model cars that came up for auction recently. Many were still in their original boxes, and I can only assume that they were someone’s collection. They were all beautiful, and most seemed to be in excellent condition. Someone had taken very good care of them.

    There were Fords and Chevys and Cadillacs. Trucks and station wagons and antique cars. Hardtops and convertibles. From white to pink to purple.

    Chevy Corvettes.

    The prize, though, was the 1957 Chevy Bel Air with its tail fins, one of the most recognizable cars in the country. I see one strolling down the road (they stroll like a runway model, they don’t roll), and I start gaping, just like everyone else. Who can resist?

    When the car was first introduced, it wasn’t as popular as Ford’s line of cars (remember the Fairlane) and Chevrolet didn’t sell as many of them. But through the years, its popularity ballooned and it’s one of the most sought-after and collectible of cars, according to several websites. One site mentioned that a restored Bel Air could go for $100,000 or more.

    Chevrolet did a mighty job of promoting its cars back then, and singer Dinah Shore helped make them the most widely sold, according to one site. I can still hear her singing “See the USA in your Chevrolet, America is asking you to call …”

    She sang the song on “The Dinah Shore Chevy Show” that ran from1956 to 1963 and was sponsored by Chevrolet. The company used the song a year ago in the TV show “Glee” as an advertisement for the 2011 Super Bowl.

    Several of the model cars at auction had whitewall tires, much like the real ones when they were on the road. The whitewalls pulled another song from my memory: William DeVaughn and Curtis Mayfield separately signing DeVaughn’s 1974 song “Be Thankful for What You Got”:

    “Though you may not drive a great big Cadillac

    Gangster whitewalls, TV antenna in the back

    You may not have a car at all

    But just remember brothers and sisters

    You can still stand tall

    Just be thankful for what you’ve got

    Though you may not drive a great big Cadillac

    Diamonds in the back, sunroof top, diggin the scene

    With the gangster lean …”

    It’s amazing how our love affair with cars seem to evoke songs in their honor, from Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally” to Bruce Springsteen’s “Pink Cadillac” to Prince’s “Little Red Corvette.”

    Ford Crown Victoria.

    When the model cars came up for auction, they sold cheap. The highest price per model was $9.

    Here are photos of several of them:

     1955 Chevrolet Pickup Truck

     Ford Mustang (left) and Thunderbird

    Pink Cadillac Coupe de Ville

    1954 Chevrolet convertible



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