Tri Five Chevrolet

1955-1957 were watershed years for Chevrolet, and the cars of these three years (in particular the 150, 210, Bel Air, and Nomad) became known as the Tri-Five. In terms of styling, and mechanically, these cars were revolutionary in their day and they spawned a cult following. They remain some of the most popular cars for collectors and enthusiasts. A popular view is that the styling increasingly chased the Cadillac market with the exaggerated tail-fins and chrome bumpers. If asked which is the better looking car, the 55, 56 or 57, it’s hard to answer but for me, maybe the 55 two door hard-top or the 56 Bel Air convertible. OK, choosing two is cheating but hey, what can you do?

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1960 Corvette

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You know that mid-life crisis thing – go out and buy yourself a sports car only to find you’re still miserable? Kind of embarrassing too when you’re out there on the driveway on Sunday morning giving it a polish – the neighbours walk past with the dog thinking ‘Tragic’ and you’re thinking ‘I know they’re thinking ‘Tragic’ and they’re thinking ‘he’s thinking we’re thinking tragic’ … Yeah well anyway, you can have a nice sports car in the privacy of your own bedroom and not be embarrassed at all – simple as buying a print and framing it. Only one thing though, it will be better all round if you hang it on the wall and don’t prop it up on the pillow next to your’s. I’m sure we are on the same page.

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EH Holden Special

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My Grandma lived in a block of flats like this, on the ground floor, she wasn’t very mobile. Spent her time watching Days of our Lives and John Wayne movies. Not many John Wayne movies probably, but that’s what she used to tell me. It was that little thing we would bond over, even though I didn’t like John Wayne movies, and I’m guessing she didn’t either. We would go and visit in the school holidays, Mum would keep Grandma company and we’d hang around the town all day, looking for things to do. Not much was happening in Whanganui in the mid seventies. I know, we were as surprised then as you are now. I do remember seeing a Gary Glitter, Slade and The Sweet triple bill at the cinema one afternoon – bargain, three for the price of one. We were a bit too cool for this sort of thing, but these were dire times. We entered the cinema by sashaying down the pavement as though the cinema wasn’t there, then suddenly lurching through the front doors, like being sucked in by a vacuum. It was the only way to minimise the chance of anyone seeing us enter, not that we knew anyone in town but the stakes were high – if this got back to Wellington … it was all over, all over mate.

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Vespa GS150

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The Vespa motor scooter was a positive that fell out of Italy’s WWII years. Having had a smack on the hand by the Allies and told to stop making war planes, Enrico Piaggio did the next most obvious thing – he built a motorcycle, fully enclosed it in sheet metal (as one did an aeroplane) and called it a scooter. Well that’s not strictly true, the enclosed bodywork actually came about by employing a designer called Corradino D’Ascanio who hated motorcycles. A seemingly odd decision from Piaggio, but conveniently, D’Ascanio already had a scooter design in his back pocket – something he had whipped up for Ferdinando Innocenti at Lambretta, but it had been rejected. D’Ascanio’s design was revolutionary: he wanted the frame to be stamped steel, Innocenti had wanted rolled tube. ‘Stamped.’ ‘Rolled.’ ‘Stamped.’ ‘Rolled.’ went the argument and D’Ascanio left in a huff. Ensconced down the road at Piaggio, D’Ascanio set to work. Eventually, he revealed his new creation to Piaggio who exclaimed ‘Sembra una vespa!’ (which translates to something like ‘It would seem to be a wasp!). Thus, the Vespa was born. Sales grew steadily through the late 40s and then, in 1952, as luck would have it, Audrey Hepburn side-saddled Gregory Peck’s Vespa in the movie Roman Holiday for a spin through Rome – and the rest, as they say, is history.

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