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A TV ad saying next to nothing about the car excels because of a mutt

Despite the rule of thumb that a TV commercial should show the car and mention a key feature as the selling point, and state a claim for the car such as Consortium of Connecticut Parents Safest Car, my current favorite ad is “Chewy.”

Making me laugh every time, this sweet story shows a man’s reluctance being neutralized by a stray dog that’s been hanging out near a Dumpster. It appears to be a Los Angeles location because of the ficus trees at the curb, but we can’t pin it down because the street, sidewalk, and even alleyway are blisteringly clean, and not a single tramp is in sight.

Dad and his two children abduct the dog–that is, they “keep” him.

The following scenes include a few glimpses of the Hyundai Tucson, but we learn nothing except that it’s a lifestyle accessory that lasts. As the result, we could care less about the Tuscon but are captivated by Chewy the dog and how he wins dad’s heart, especially without being checked over by the vet and given some vaccines.

At the next level, I like the family’s midcentury-modern house and would prefer to know about its own features.

The relationship between man and dog develops over the next 70,906 miles. Then a gag closes things out: Dad and Chewy in matching sweaters in the front row. Hilarious!

I also approve of the upbeat lounge music that goes with it all.

On the first several viewings (during football games), my takeaway was “Hyundai,” but I couldn’t remember which nameplate because of trying to think of what other dog Chewy makes me remember.

In this ad by Innocean USA, of Huntington Beach, the father is portrayed by Giovanni Bejarano.

Entering the ad with the final voiceover, Hyundai spokesman Jason Bateman intones, “When it comes to lasting relationships, we’re thinking of every mile. The new Hyundai Tucson. It’s your journey.”

According to The Drum, “Chewy” was the number-one most effective ad back in September. And it keeps on being marvelous. Here’s hoping that in the follow-up, the family gets a mom.

Still on the subject of trucks, the secrets of this ’46 Chevy are revealed

Trucks seem to demand elliptical sentences–and no flourishes. The older the truck, the briefer the sentence.

“My old truck,” high-school classmate Kim Cooper says, sharing the picture that’s below-left. “Owned for five years. Sold it to my brother-in-law a few years ago. 1946 Chevy. Identical to pre-war trucks.”

In officialese, the explanation about the “interim models” went this way: “These are not to be considered postwar models, but they do represent a continuation of the regular 1942 lines, which are being produced under War Production Board authorization from Sept. 1, 1942 to the release of the postwar models.”

While I’m unable to elaborate upon the officialese, I did see a golden opportunity in Cooper’s clipped comments.

“Ye gods! I’ve accidentally borrowed this photo–perhaps for a blog post. Any other photos?”

“I’ll look on my PC tomorrow.”

His search revealed the photo at the top of this post. Looking at it, I am particularly taken with the use of additional white paint to accentuate form and detail.

“Who did the paint? That’s incredible.” Indeed, the white cab and wheels make the truck look like it could pick up and fly.

“You’re being funny now,” he responds. “Just me. Rear fenders were bad. Except they were good where they were attached to box. I found NOS [new old-stock] panel-truck fenders online. CUT off old ones front to back and bolted on NOS. FRANKENSTEIN! Windshield cranked open. Gull wing hood. Straight six. Oil bath filter. Floor starter. Fun.”

Now he drives a modern truck about which I’d expect much more a detailed, possibly even verbose, description.

My 2022 fave is this vintage Chrysler in action near Desert Hot Springs

My favorite picture of 2022 catches this ’37 Chrysler Airflow in motion a few minutes after daybreak on May 31. Tony Burke and Steve Enneking were in the car. There I was behind the creosote bush as they came over a low crest, and the chassis is still settling. The lustrousness of the paint and chrome is evident in the right places; headlamps are blazing away. There seems to be an air of expeditiousness as well as mystery about this “arrival in California” shot. It’s a moment that would be impossible to reproduce.

As previously explained, we were out there in the desert just east of my town, Desert Hot Springs, for video to be used in a Danish documentary series that’s scheduled for broadcast in mid-March. Rumor is the Airflow is right in the opening sequence of the trailer. There’s also a tracking shot, quite stirring, taken with an aerial drone. It’s good stuff, and I was lucky to be part of it. The above photo and a few others are what I got to take away from that morning.

Amending a slight to the Studebaker Champ: it was a ‘handy, husky-built beauty’

Yes, I sure did put my foot in my mouth last week when writing about the 1960 Ford F-100 and never being a fan of pickups with carlike styling. Chevys and Dodges of the latter 1950s were too fussy. Studebaker Champs that looked like Larks were also off-putting.

Oops! In response, from Bob Merlis, I received a photo of his pickup doing the hard work of hauling landscaping material. The photo came with a caption: “Have owned this 1960 Studebaker Champ pickup for the past 17 years. It’s rough but it works … if I remember to put gas in it.”

He may be referring to the time I helped out by shuttling him to his stranded truck with a gas can. Or was it his Studebaker Avanti that was stranded?

Bob’s Champ–what a great name for a truck!–is seen above (his photo) in MFH Merlis for Hire livery. The logo represents his music publicity firm in Los Angeles.

Studebaker had made trucks as early as 1914 but not in large volumes. The company’s pickups emerged in 1937. The Champ was new in 1960. My reference source, Standard Catalog of Light-Duty Trucks, gives this interpretation:

“Borrowing from the concept of the original 1937-39 Coupe-Express, Studebaker took the Lark body and converted it to a truck front end and cab. Except for being chopped off behind the front door and featuring a brawnier grille and bumper, the styling, including the instrument panel, was identical to a 1959-60 Lark four-door sedan. The new cab was called the ‘T’ cab.”

Two models were available: the standard T4 and Deluxe T6. Distinguishing the T6 is easy: look for the gaudy touches like chromed instead of painted hubcaps. Other luxuries were the bright metal windshield trim, sliding rear glass, and dome light.

In worthy original condition, Bob’s Champ is a rare beast: 8,294 units were produced for 1960. To blame for the low volume was the steelworkers’ strike from July to November of 1959, leading to model-year production being delayed into the spring of 1960 (and to the importation of steel that would nearly wipe out the domestic industry).

“No matter what Studebaker did, they had no luck in increasing truck sales,” Standard Catalog says.

Four engines were available: 170-cubic-inch flathead six, 245-c.i. flathead six, overhead-valve 259-c.i. V-8, and overhead-valve 289-c.i. V-8.

Like the Ford, which came with the Lifeguard steering wheel, the Champ also featured a “safety steering wheel.”

Bob’s Champ scampers around its home base of Palm Springs with the small six. Fitted with the single-barrel Carter carb, it generates a “whopping”–says he–90 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque.

“Yes,” he says, “it was the Raptor of its day.”

The small-six SE5 variant fetched $1,875 in standard T4 trim and $1,912 in deluxe T6 get-up.

A poetic ad campaign supported “America’s Lowest Priced Pickup–Bar None!”

Brand New Champ by Studebaker

handy, husky-built beauty–

yours for thrift and rugged duty

How interesting to see the sign painter at work (and the Merrick & Son title) in the pictorial. Note the Lark lurking in the background. Doesn’t it looks like a two-door?

The ad copy suggested that, like my friend Bob, “You’ll be mighty proud to take the wheel of this husky, handsome Champ.”

Nicked here, inscribed with rust there, this ’60 Ford pickup is still on the go

I came from a Ford family and have always loved Ford trucks. They looked purposeful yet had personality. Chevy and Dodge trucks were too fussy; I was never a fan of carlike styling for pickups. Studebaker Champs that looked like Larks put me off, too. International Harvester trucks were somewhere in between, and I had no particular objection to them. But from the very first, every Ford had an appeal, and this continues to the present: I’m nuts for the Maverick compact truck.

The F-100 series from 1957 to 1960 was my favorite when I was a youngster. The previous F-100 series from 1953 to 1956 looked a bit old-fashioned with their semi-pontoon fenders. When hot-rodders got hold of any of them, it was a different story. That shape begged for amplification from customizers.

The full-fendered 1957 model and its successors made more sense to me. There was something of a big-truck look. The 1960 model with quad lamps was the best of the bunch.

I stumbled on this example Sunday, Nov. 6 at the Palm Springs Vintage Market. Looking it over inside and out, I was struck by the simple steel stampings. You might say “cheap”–and price was an important consideration in the day before $100,000 electric pickups. The 1960 models spanned the $1,850 to $2,250 range. Buyers wanted attractive design, for sure, but utility was paramount.

Among merits of the ’57 F-100, it was wider and lower than its predecessor. Various improvements were adopted in the chassis (new spindles and kingpins) and suspension (longer, wider leaf springs). The wider windshield wrapped around at the corners. The driver benefited from pedals that were suspended from the dash rather than being floor-mounted. Buyers could choose from 10 colors. Flareside and Styleside models were available with steel or wooden bed decks.

It looks as though sales came in at about 110,000 units in ’57, which is trifling compared to today’s figures. But back then, no one was buying a pickup as a lifestyle accessory.

The quad lamps were introduced in 1959. For 1960 the front was restyled with sturdy-looking bar connecting the headlamp pods. Below is a grille with rectangular grillwork.

My reference book, Standard Catalog of American Light-Duty Trucks, says “improvements were made to the springs, door seals, electrical and exhaust systems.” Among included luxury feature were the dome light, driver-side sun visor, coat hook, and white plate covering the instrument cluster. The Lifeguard steering wheel with spokes that would flex and the double-grip door locks were safety advances. Forget about an automatic transmission, although four-wheel-drive was optional.

The best-seller was the Styleside at 113,875 units.

Lots of innovation was occurring in the truck market. In 1960, Ford introduced the Falcon Rachero pickup and the next year ushered in the Falcon Econoline van, station bus, and pickup.

You have to love the intact F-100 that was at the the Palm Springs Vintage Market. Somebody’s practically a genius for leaving it in original condition. Too bad there aren’t hubcaps though.