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Cruising in 1972 - Where were you?


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I was in the Detroit area and just about to move to southern California. I was an every night cruiser in my 1968 Road Runner terrorizing the streets.....mostly Woodward Avenue....

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Mostly cruising back and forth to work at a nuclear plant that needed LOTS of overtime. Usually  in a 61 Ranchero, a 69 Fairlane Cobra, or a brand new 250 Suzuki enduro bike !  

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Family car was a Pontiac LeMans Sport convertible with the big engine.  It would tow my open trailer with a 1910 E-M-F on it.  Commuter car was a 1966 Datsun 1600 roadster, except when I took the TC.

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I was cruising in my first square-bodied car,a 1926 Oldsmobile coach. The fellow that sold it to me advised that I should get the headlight reflectors resilvered.

"They're about as bright as two fireflies in a bottle" he said.

1926 Oldsmobile coach.jpg

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I had a black 1958 Chevy Bel Air 283 with a "slip en slide powerglide" cursing the loop in down town St. Paul Minn. 

My hair is well on its way back down to my shoulders like it was back then.

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In 1972, I was nine years old. 

 

My father was in between cars; he had sold a 1953 Chevrolet and was a couple years from buying a 1941 Buick 90.  

 

But we went for rides to no where and we went for rides  to look at new Buick Electra 225s at the dealer.  

 

He loved his Electras.  

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1964 volkswagen micro bus. had a 12V battery in the back to power my sound system. it came in handy a couple of times when i needed a jump. and once, my throttle cable broke 50 miles from home, so i hooked my speaker wires up to the carb and made it home with a hand throttle, routed thru the tailgate

 

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In '72 I was 12.   I had to wait two more years until I got my Learner's Permit (at age 14 here), but didn't get my own car until I was 16, which I still have!!

 

Craig

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I was working at AMC building Gremlin's at the Brampton, Ontario plant for about $4.00 per hour.

No real cruising as I came from a small Town and everyone parked their cars at closed Gas stations to save fuel.

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I  was working as a District Service Manager in the Chicago Zone and we drove our cars for about 3,000 miles and then turned them in.  I had a lot of great rides back then but felt like king of the hill when I got a Toronado.  The car distributor was very good to me!

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Like Ted and Pomeroy in '72 I was 9, and starting to have an interest in cars. Lots of hotwheels, and these bigger cars designed to break apart if you deliberately crash them.  Dad had a champagne colored 67 Pontiac Bonneville two door, my grandfather had a white 66 Pontiac executive two door.  I distinctly recall trips to AC Hine Pontiac in Hartford, cool as the cars used an elevator to get to the service area.  Its basically a war zone today...

 

Friend down the street's dad bought a brand new Lincoln Mark IV, I thought that was the coolest car ever.  Moms all drove LTD wagons and the occasional big Chevy, no minivans in those days! 

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I had my first teaching job ( art) in an elementary school (kids ages 5 to 12) 40 miles east of where I live on long island. I made the 80 mile a day round trip mostly on a parkway that ran along the north shore of long island . I couldn't find an apartment or room to rent nearer to work because it was in Stony Brook, NY and there is a state university there so all rental accommodation was and still is scarce. My long time good friend Hank Manwell of Liverpool, NY (upstate 300+ miles from me) agreed to sell me a car that I liked and I bought that and used that to commute everyday , rain or shine, except in the winter when the snow, salt, and ice were on the roads. That car was a 1941 Packard 8 cylinder "120" series woody station wagon with body by Hercules. It ran great but I eventually put an overdrive transmission in it so it would put less strain on the motor since I would drive it at 55-65 mph out and back. In 1972 the Packard was only 31 years old so wasn't even eligible to attend car shows "officially" ( AACA had a cut off date of 1935 at that time).

Car worked great and never let me down. Two friends and I during the Easter vacation break that year drove the Packard to Rhode Island from long island to see a place we always wanted to visit Bill's Junk Yard on Macondry Street in Valley Falls, R.I.  Wow what a cool place.. Mostly all pre war cars sitting hubcap to hubcap next to each other. A line of about fifteen 1938-42 Packards  lined up nest to each other , all kinds of great stuff. You picked the part off the car you wanted and brought it inside and paid for it. It rained most of the trip, really poured and the wood body swelled up enough to make it impossible to get in and out of the car except for one rear door. The friend that sold me the Packard used the money to purchase the wood to restore a 1930 Franklin station wagon he bought the remains of and it had a body by Cantrell.  That Franklin of his is on display in the car museum in Norwich, N.Y.

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I turned 20 later in 1972. I was into motorcycles and just before Christmas 1971 I bought a brand new BSA 650 Thunderbolt - probably one of the last BSAs sold new in NZ.  In Christchurch in that era the 'cruising' place was The Square in the central city - actually not square at all but cruciform in shape - and the general idea was to ride or drive around The Square as much as possible until the traffic cops told you to "p**s off".

 

The first photo shows The Square in the early 1950s when all of the roads were still intact. In 1965 the road in front of the cathedral was closed off and by the late '70s the western half was completely closed to traffic. The cathedral was severely damaged in the big earthquake of February 2011 and the arguments about its rebuild or restoration are still going on.

 

I don't have any photos of the gatherings in The Square but the last photo is my BSA at bike rally I went to in August 1972.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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North Ave in western burbs of Chicago, can’t remember if Skips was still there or gone by then. Also used Army Trail road as a drag strip out past Addison Rd or Bloomingdales Rd. Had the Austin 3000 with the 289 Ford in it. 
dave s 

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I didn't cruise Woodward Ave then as I lived across the Detroit River in Canada but bought this 1958 Buick convertible and did some cruising with the top down.

196393358_1958BuickSpecial-49ElliottStLeamington-pic3-Copy.thumb.jpg.8fa19256e355d656d91ef81d67bde14d.jpg

 

Still have the car today and need to do the Woodward Cruise some day!

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I was 20 in 1972.

In the spring, over Easter,I put a $50 junk yard 283 engine in my 4 door green 55 Chevy to replace the dying 265 it had. I was a commuter student at the local PSU campus working on getting an Associate Degree in Electrical Engineering Technology with graduation scheduled for June 1972.  Had to keep the car alive and running to get to classes. The 283 does its job.

June 1972- graduate mid June and get job with a local company that makes specialty electric wires, some products go to the Atomic Energy Commission.  Three days after starting work Hurricane Agnes devastates the east coast and many places around me in eastern PA are destroyed.  My home is ok, many are not.

July 1972 the President of the United States sends me “greetings” and would like me to report for a pre-induction physical in flood ravaged Wilkes-Barre PA in August.  I go as requested and see the induction center is missing all of its equipment on the first two floors from the flood.  Got my physical and went home to wait for the call up but it never came.  Decided to buy a 1966 Chevy Caprice coup from a local used car dealer to replace the 1955.  Figured I could sell it if the President calls again. Worked at the wire cable company until spring of 1973.  Took a job in TV display engineering with RCA corp that lasted for the next 34 years.

 

Due to the flood, not much cruising going on, too much dirt and damage.  Put chrome valve covers, tach and 8 track stereo in the Caprice to give it a little class. It was a 283, 2 barrel with that fancy button tuft interior.  A nice big ride but not sporty enough so it only lasted until the summer of 1973.  For some reason I have no pictures of it. I guess I didn’t like it enough for photos.

 

 

Edited by TerryB (see edit history)
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Hmmm....I was also 9 in 1972. Mom and Dad had the ugliest burnt orange '68 Chevy Nova 4 door with the straight six. In '73 they traded it in on a new Chevy Malibu station wagon in a hideous yellowish color with the fake woodgrain on the sides. It was uglier than the nova.

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in '72 was back from SEA, going to GMI, had a 72 GTO station wagon tow car for my 63 split window tanker SCCA racer. Note relining driving position.

vetteautox.jpg

 

 

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My ride looked pretty close to this and literally right around the corner from where I live now.  Moved 400 km (240 miles) away for university to end up back where I started from, who knew!

image.jpeg.3008d71f2fa1e36d62d0658fc571454c.jpeg

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My cruising was interrupted by the Navy in 1969.  Before that home was half-way between Chicago and Detroit.  An older cousin lived and worked in Detroit and my Uncle there worked at Chrysler in the R&D div.  He had some amazing cars that I used to get to drive when he came over to visit, or when we went there.  Lots of Woodward Avenue stop-light drag races in those days cruising in GTOs, Hemi Chargers and whatever else we could get into. A lot of weekends were over at US131 Dragway in Martin Mich helping friends with GTOs and 442s.  I'd coming home smelling like burned rubber and nitro.  Still my favorite after-shave.  A great time growing up. Had bought a 30 Model A but had to put it in my folks back yard under a tarp while I did the Navy thing.  By 72, I'd finished my first tour of duty in Washington DC - real close to Hershey of course.  I had joined AACA in 1970  while in DC.  Wow - looks like this is my 50th Anniversary!!!!   Later in 72 the Navy decided in needed to be in Scotland.   Of all the places I'd ever dreamed about going someday,  Scotland was at the top of the list.   Almost as soon as we got there, connected with a local antique car club and bought a 1935 Morris Eight, which we still have.  From that point on we did every car club event we could.  Rallies through the highlands, tours to castles and historic sights, parades, county fairs, etc.etc.  It was a great time. 

Still cruisin.  Had the GTO out this past weekend.

Terry

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I was 17. Cruising around Halifax Nova Scotia in a 1958 Ford Fairlane 4 door imitation hardtop. 332 V8. Thought I had the world by the tail hanging out in Bedford at The Chickenburger or Sunnyside Drive In. Then back to Woodstock Ontario that summer where cruising Dundas St back and forth all night long was what everyone did. I knew guys that wore out tires and engines doing nothing but "Shootin the Dig"  Yep, it was pretty mindless!

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40 minutes ago, Ed Luddy said:

Then back to Woodstock Ontario that summer where cruising Dundas St back and forth all night long was what everyone did.

And they still do! - Willing to bet that you stopped by Towers and had to cruise the line at the Capitol 

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7 hours ago, 28 Chrysler said:

I had a black 1958 Chevy Bel Air 283 with a "slip en slide powerglide" cursing the loop in down town St. Paul Minn. 

My hair is well on its way back down to my shoulders like it was back then.

 

Did you cruise around Lake Phalen too? When not cruisin’ the loop downtown we hit Phalen and hung out at Mr. Anthony’s Peanut Room. Consumed much barley pop there and played foosball. Ahhh, summer of ‘72!

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I turned 20 in March of '72 and spent the whole year in the Army at Fort Benning, GA. That July I took a 2 week leave and drove up to my hometown of Waukegan, IL in my '64 VW bus trying to tailgate big rigs all the way so I could go at least 60. My dad thought it was a POS so he told me to go see a friend of his who was a salesman at the local Ford dealer and I drove home that evening in a bright blue '68 Mustang with a 289 and 3 speed stick. I drove it back to Fort Benning and stayed there until late January 1973 when I got out and became a civilian again. I drove the Mustang for a few more months until I wrecked it after having a few too many beers on a Saturday night. I went back to the Ford dealer and bought a '71 Pinto with a 4 speed. That was a mistake and my life has been going downhill ever since.... :D

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I turned 22 at the end of 1972 and although to quote Elvis “them memories isn’t clear” that might have been the year that I had basically my 1971 Honda CB500 as my main transportation. Had a very low paying job as a driver for a local department store and could not afford anything else until I was hired on at Johnson Motors(big outboard motor manufacturer) in Waukegan, IL.  After that I bought a used ex-police 1970 Plymouth Fury with a 383 four barrel.  Drove both until I got married in 73 and then sold them so I could buy a 1966 Triumph TR4A (Start of my sports car era).  In late 72 a friend and I went to his brother’s wedding in Omaha.  That is when I discovered how well big Plymouth’s cruised at 100+mph on I-80.

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25 minutes ago, Lebowski said:

I turned 20 in March of '72 and spent the whole year in the Army at Fort Benning, GA. That July I took a 2 week leave and drove up to my hometown of Waukegan, IL in my '64 VW bus trying to tailgate big rigs all the way so I could go at least 60. My dad thought it was a POS so he told me to go see a friend of his who was a salesman at the local Ford dealer and I drove home that evening in a bright blue '68 Mustang with a 289 and 3 speed stick. I drove it back to Fort Benning and stayed there until late January 1973 when I got out and became a civilian again. I drove the Mustang for a few more months until I wrecked it after having a few too many beers on a Saturday night. I went back to the Ford dealer and bought a '71 Pinto with a 4 speed. That was a mistake and my life has been going downhill ever since.... :D

Reed-Randle?

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8 hours ago, 3macboys said:

My ride looked pretty close to this and literally right around the corner from where I live now.  Moved 400 km (240 miles) away for university to end up back where I started from, who knew!

image.jpeg.3008d71f2fa1e36d62d0658fc571454c.jpeg

 

I had some hand-me-down two wheel version of that (I was 14 in '72.) Can't remember what brand it was (though Schwinn would be a good guess) or even what it looked like.  Model cars were the closest I got to four wheels back then.

 

I do remember the era pretty well, though, and it seems to me that circa  '72 saw the first big resurgence in nostalgia on a popular level, and the automotive manifestation of that was the movie American Graffiti, which came out in either '72 or '73. So, as much as we might like to reminisce about '72 (and there was much to miss about it when compared to today) some people back in '72 were already starting to reminisce about earlier days (1962) themselves.

 

But I miss 1972 anyway. I had a great interest in music, and AM and FM radio of that era had a wide and eclectic range of music: Everything from Bread and Alice Cooper to Dueling Banjos and Amazing Grace on bagpipes. One of my favorite weird songs of 1972 was this one, which was very nostalgic, but for an era much earlier than 1962 😄:

 

Hurricane Smith - Oh Babe What Would You Say - YouTube

Edited by JamesR (see edit history)
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