During our many trips to the California region, we see lots of classic cars in excellent condition on the highways. This is possible mainly due to the temperate climate of that area.
However, the layman may be mistaken to believe that most of the classic cars observed are genuine, when they’re not. Many are fiberglass reproductions built over contemporary drive-lines; locals call them “classic impostors.” Nowhere are they more accepted and popular than in Southern California.
That begs the question, why are there so many classic impostors, when there is quite a number of originals still around? These cars offer the best of two worlds for the car buff: nostalgia and modern power and convenience.
Instead of stick shift, most replicas have automatic transmissions, air conditioning, and other modern engineering qualities. This way the classic car owner and manufacturers can make nostalgia on wheels – the image of cars prior to the ’70s.
During conversations with a classic car owner in Monterey, Calif., the gentleman named his most, and others, desired models – Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg. He said these were the most elegant of American automobiles – powerful, sleek – plus quite expensive for their time.
One of America’s outstanding automotive designers during the 1930s created the 1935 Auburn Boattail Speedster and 1937 Cord 810. Both are very rare in original form, however replicas can be obtained by someone willing to lay out mega dollars.
The most popular in Southern California is the Auburn Boattail, sometime seen in older movies. This replica is made in Pasadena by California Custom Coach. Appearing on the exterior quite accurately, it belies a Ford chassis, automatic transmission and a V-8 engine.
The Cord 810 was updated in 1982 to Cord 815 and is quite possibly the most realistic appearing. This is manufactured in Largo, Fla., by Southeastern Replicars. The Cord 815 is as authentic as can possibly be made, true to the guidelines set by E.L. Cord in 1937.
This 1937 Cord was considered, in its time, aerodynamic in style and featured an advanced driveline. It was one of the first to feature front wheel drive, 40 years before it was accepted by other manufacturers.
After World War II, automobiles began to appear in many aerodynamic styles. The ’50s witnessed every manufacturer attempting to out-do others via rounded and flowing lines. Then came “cut-the-cost” days and boxy designs dominated the scene and lasted for a decade or so.