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  • The Joys of Driving a Vintage Car Daily

    Posted on January 30th, 2019 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 1 comment

    A real hep cat needs a cool set of wheels. New Toyotas and Kias just don’t make the grade. If you want to arrive in style, you need to be driving a vintage car.

    My Daily Driver, a 1985 Cadillac Seville. Shown here in front of the Versace Mansion in South Beach, Miami, FL.

    Man, I’ll tell ya…there’s really nothing like cruising down the main line in cool, classic car. Since I got my license in 1986, I’ve only driven vintage cars or newer cars with a retro look. ’65 Chrysler Newport, ’63 Imperial, 78 Lincoln Town Car, ’75 Cadillac Eldorado with Superfly custom work, 1956 Buick Century Station Wagon, and a 1974 Eldorado Convertible are just a few of the classy classics that were my daily haulers. So you might say driving a vintage car daily is my thing. I currently drive a pristine 1985 Cadillac Seville, the last year for the slant-back design that was a throw back to mid-century Rolls Royce and Bentley models. Does she turn heads? You know it.

    1956 Buick Century Wagon
    My 1956 Buick Century Wagon, with my 1978 Lincoln Continental Mark V in the background, 1997.

    Cruising down the highway in a car with history can be pure pleasure. Sure, new cars have lots of fancy gadgets, but is the cruise control on your Honda called “Auto Pilot”, or does the air conditioning have a chrome lever that says “MAX COOL”? They did on my 1963 Imperial Crown Southampton.

    Let’s face it, when you drive up to the Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale in your two-year old BMW SUV, nobody notices, even though you paid as much as a small house for it. Pull up in a 1974 Cadillac Eldorado convertible in Cranberry Firemist with the top down, and everyone stops what they’re doing to see who the movie star is. And no matter where you go, the valet will always park YOUR car up front.

    I used to drive my ’74 Eldorado Convertible down Hollywood Blvd in Hollywood, Florida all the time…My office is a few blocks from vintage down town.

    After all, if you’re going to live in a mid-century house, with mid-century furniture, and dress mid-century style, how can you justify driving a non-mid-century car?

    Of course, driving a 30, 50, 70 year old beauty can have its challenges. Even restored to mint condition, it’s still an old car…basically a used car…and eventually you’re going to have to do some maintenance. Cars from the 50s, 60s and 70s were built much differently than today’s cars, and require a lot more upkeep. Frequent tune ups, engine and brake adjustments, fluid flushes and wheel alignments are some of the things you must expect. If the car’s not restored mechanically, also expect to replace parts like switches, brake cylinders, vacuum hoses and suspension items the more you drive. These parts are decades old, and they do wear out. But isn’t it all worth it, in the end?

    Depending on the geography of your locale, your driving habits and mileage needs, and your mechanical ability, there is probably a vintage car out there that’s right for you. If you can do some work yourself and have the right tools, you can pick pretty much any car or truck you want and go from there. If you’re not mechanically inclined, keep in mind you’ll be spending some big bucks to keep your vintage car on the road. Also remember that getting 18 MPG in the 50s and 60s was a big deal, and those big cars got 10 MPG on a good day, down hill, with the wind at their back. Also racking up 2,000 miles a month on a 60 year-old car is going to give you heartaches. You might want to consider something a little newer that looks older…like my 1985 Cadillac Seville, that has the classic Rolls Royce bustle-back styling, a late-1970s Lincoln Mark V, or even a Fiat Spider.

    My 1953 Chevy Belair StarDust in 1992. Not my daily driver, but a reliable and fun car do drive around town. I still have this car.

     

    Another thing to keep in mind is that cars made up until the late 1950s, with the exception of luxury cars, are generally much less complicated than later models. No computers or complex electronics, simple mechanical systems and made-to-last parts like door handles and window cranks make these cars a lot easier to maintain than vehicles from the 60s, 70s and 80s. The drawbacks are that they aren’t as easy to drive (mostly manual steering and transmissions), the brakes don’t work as well as more modern systems, and six-volt (opposed to modern 12-volt) battery systems can be problematic. If you’re doing more than 5-mile drives, you might want to consider a “resto-mod”, a vintage car that retains its original look but uses a modern engine, transmission, suspension, brakes and electrical system. This can be a great option for someone who wants it all.

     

    -Tiki Chris P, reporting from the garage behind Pirate’s Cove Tiki Bar, Somewhere in Paradise

  • 1950’s Car Commercials…The Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To

    Posted on August 26th, 2010 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 4 comments

    A lot of you kats and kittens are big on the MAD MEN series. But are you hip to the ad jazz they were laying down? Here are a few Automobile TV commercials and print ads from the golden era of Advertising.

    I currently have a 1953 Chevy in my garage. Have had it for 20 years.

    This bat-winged beauty was marketed toward big business presidents and tycoons. It cost more than a Cadillac.

    There are few cars more elegant, beautiful and powerful as the 1963 Pontiac. Always wanted one. This commercial makes me want one even more!

    For fans of the “little” Fords…I love how they point out “no dog leg”. That’s a reference to the wrap-around windshields popular on GM models (esp Cadillac) through the early 1960’s.

    Ah, one of my favorite all-time rides, the 1958 Cadillac. We had one (already vintage) when I was a kid. I will have one again someday.

    An here’s some old print ads from ’50s and ’60s magazines (click on each to enlarge):

    Hope you kids dug this little trip down memory lane to the days when cars were made of steel and chrome and horsepower meant everything. My my how times have changed. Sorry kids, but after looking at ads like this, how could anyone ever get excited about a Honda Accord? bleh.

    -Tiki Chris reporting from the showroom floor of the Imperial dealership down the block from Tiki Lounge Talk.

  • Mod Movie Monday: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, 1968

    Posted on February 8th, 2010 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 3 comments

    mod-movie-mondaysHang on to your hats kids, we’re goin’ on a wild ride! It’s

    chitty_chitty_bang_poster

    Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, 1968

    There are few movies that can compare in the combination of craziness, zaniness, modness and madness as this one. Between the comedy of Dick Van Dyke, the beauty of Sally Anne Howes and the original story by Ian Flemming (of James Bond fame) it’s no surprise this flick has remained a favorite for over 40 years.

    But let’s not try to fool anyone…the real star of this movie was, of course, the car. A true-bred race car, born to win until a fatal accident retired him to a peaceful life slowly withering away in a field, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang would be rediscovered, and reborn – by Caractacus Potts, a somewhat oddball inventor who seemed to be able to make mechanical wonders out of bits of junk. The ultimate in recycling and restoration came when he brought Chitty back to life, using spare parts from toasters, boilers, and even a boat. And what an amazing cat Caractacus was – a mechanic, machinist, welder, brass-wright, boat-wright, carpenter and inventor all in one!

    chitty-chitty-bang-bangOf course we’re led to believe he didn’t actually build it all by himself…especially the wings and flotation built into the car…there’s a little bit of magic in that car, just a little.

    Depending on where you look, you’ll find that there were anywhere from four to six full-size models of this car built for the movie, with at least one being fully-operational. There’s been a lot of conjecture over the years as to what happened to them all…lost, hiding in barns has always been a favorite of mine. But they all seem to be accounted for…apparently one lives somewhere down here in Florida, so I may even get to see it in person one day.chitty_in_water

    For someone who has had a hand in restoring (or at least fixing up) old cars since I was a kid, this movie really hits home. More than the fact that it’s a kool little car that can fly, more than the fact that it’s magical. There’s another story here, one that most people don’t care much about…it’s a story about taking something that was once magnificent, and that has since fallen from grace; about taking that wondrous piece of machinery and bringing it back to life, giving it a new chance to delight and be adored. I’ve had the good fortune to do that with a couple of cars, some vintage toys, and even an antique clarinet. I’m doing it now with my 1953 Chevy Belair, although not nearly as quickly (or with as much talent) as Caractacus Potts.

    Since this is really a kid’s movie, I’d have to go with some sweet snacks and drinks to go along with it. For drinks, I’m thinking along the lines of chocolate milk…maybe a Nutty Irishman, or Chocolate Martini. For snacks, break out the hard candies, chocolates and cakes. Some good old-fashioned Hershey’s chocolate bars and Brach’s hard candies should do the trick. Oh, and don’t for get the Maloxx.

    -Tiki Chris Pinto, Live from The Tiki Blog

  • Festival Antique Car Show, Pompano, FL Nov. 22, 2009

    Posted on November 22nd, 2009 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    car-club-tikiToday my wife and I drove up to Pompano, FL to meet our buddy Patrick at the Festival Flea Market Antique Car Show. Man, did they have some nice rides! My favorite had to be the 1960 Imperial Crown, in original Rose Pink, complete with push-button tranny. Colleen really dug the ’67 Cobra, and Patrick liked the ’64 Lincoln 4 door convertible, mildly pimped with 22″ rims and custom speaker system seamlessly built into the trunk. I can go on and on about the cars, but I know you really just want to see some kool pix so here goes…