Time Machine - Back To The '50s (posted 4/29/05)

car blog

James Lileks recently asked his readers what objects they might take with them on a trip back to 1950. One replied: "1950? I'd take a laptop, since you could plug it in. And I'd take a Mac, since Windows' susceptibility to viruses would probably mean my PC laptop would catch polio."

I'd take a car with me. A 1990 Nissan 300ZX Twin-Turbo coupe. You could run it on '50s Amoco Hi Test white gas (no lead) and it would generate some interesting conversations:

1950 Guy: "What the hell is that?"

Me: "It's a car."

1950 Guy: "I never seen a car like that. It must be new. Looks even more swoopy than one o' them Tuckers!"

Me: "Actually, it's 15 years old where I come from. Almost an antique."

1950 Guy: "Holy cow! It sure looks fast."

Me: "Well, it won't go over 155 miles an hour because it has a speed limiter on it."

1950 Guy: "Jeez Louise! Must have a helluva big V-8 engine in there. Maybe one o' them new Rocket Oldsmobile V-8s maybe?"

Me: "No, it's a six cylinder car. And the engine is smaller than a Ford six. Just a little bigger than the one in the Studebaker Champion."

Joe Sherlock car blog1950 Guy: "Well, I got a V-8 in my '47 Ford Deluxe. It's hotter than a two-dollar pistol. Tom McCahill tested it in 'Mechanix Illustrated' and said it'll go from a standin' start to 60 miles-per in 18 seconds flat."

Me: "This car will do it in six seconds. It'll hit 100 mph in about 13 seconds."

1950 Guy: "Holy smoke! Hey, whazzat music comin' from in there? Where'd you find a radio station with no commercials?"

Me: "It's prerecorded music."

1950 Guy: "What?! You mean you got a record player in there?"

Me: "Kinda. But it plays these little things called CDs. You can fit about 25 songs on each one."

1950 Guy: "Wow! Where do ya buy 'em?"

Me: "I make them at home. On my computer. But that's kinda old hat now. See, you can buy this thing called an iPod ..."

1950 Guy: "Yer kiddin', right? Computer? Jeez, you must have a helluva big house to fit a damn computer in there. And you must spend half your life replacing burned out tubes. I seen pictures of those things and they're just fulla tubes and plugs and sockets. The damn vacuum tubes on my 10-inch Muntz are always goin' out. Seems like every month I'm headin' over to the Rexall to test 'em on their machine. Say, where's this car made anyway?"

Me: "Hiratsuka."

1950 Guy: "Izzat in Indiana? I know they make Studies in South Bend. I gotta cousin lives in Elkhart."

Me: "It's a city in Japan."

1950 Guy: "Japan?! You mean this car was made by those Jap bastards?! I spent three years o' my life fightin' those sumbitches and you're buyin' a goddam car from 'em? Shoot! I'm gonna run that piece o' Jap tin off the road into a ditch - right now."

Me: "Try and catch me with your flathead Ford, bud. See ya."

Zoooooom. Back to the future.

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