She was red, shiny, and ridiculous. She was loud, large, and fun. Layla was my dear friend’s 1979 Cadillac DeVille. And she was our ride for countless cruises, countless cruise nights on Fridays in Somerville, and some shenanigans here and again. She lived a good life while under the proud ownership of my friend Michael Duffek, but she alas had more ailments than could be addressed. Under different owners though, she’s still running. There’s something that makes these steel stallions outlast their modern fiberglass counterparts.
Michael is still highly active in the world of classic automotive, and I decided to take care to get insight into that subdivision of revival culture at the very beginning of Cruise Season. Check out his work here! https://www.facebook.com/MichaelDuffekAutomotivePhotography?fref=ts Having the Somerville Cruise season start up on Memorial Day weekend made this feel like the best possible time for this publication. Since 2012, I have been well-cultured in the world of classic automobiles, with all courtesy to Mr. Duffek. But what makes these particular metal beasts so appealing even decades, (or a century!) after their heydays? I turned to my dear friend for all the answers and insight to the Cruiser culture.
Foremost, I should denote that he is an avid fan of American-made classics. The foreign beauties are also prevalent, but let’s focus on some good ol’ Americana for argument’s sake. Besides, sociologically, the history and vintage concepts I present are limited to the bias of American history, since this is the history I grew up learning as a lifelong citizen of the States. Anyways…
Mr. Duffek articulates that a strong pressure to invest in a classic auto is to support the industry, (even though some of them no longer exist, like Studebaker, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, and Packard). It becomes your mission to bring glory and awe to your brand, even if it is not well-known. The economy may not be as sterling as it has been in yesteryears, but classic autos are a way of paying homage to the hard work of the assembly line. All are used by this day and age, and the maintenance is high, but you eliminate the large and fast-paced dealerships.
By buying into a project piece, as I’ve come to call most antiques needing TLC, you participate in a journey. You’re compelled to learn about the car, restore its original features, track its history, and eventually you end up treating it like your pride and joy. But, taking intricate care of our treasures reflects the kind of person in a retro lifestyle. The more obvious notion of a retro set of wheels concerns the building materials. Instead of driving a brand new Cadillac whose main pieces consist of plastic and fiberglass, the older grandfathers to the same model offer steel and more space.
“It’s about the connection between the person and the car. What makes it desirable to the person?” He discusses with me what a connection really is. The principle of the feeling is built on a desire to be different, to stand out in a positive light. He explains that the buyer and caretaker of these classics needs to be impacted by the car’s influence and history is in order to appreciate it thoroughly. With this passion ignited, there is definitely a subculture of cruising within the american culture, especially with the ever-constant rise of interest in antique cars. This interest dates back to 1952, as featured in a magazine “Popular Science”. Let’s even take it further and acknowledge the Youtube hit series “Jay Leno’s Garage” or the recently discontinued “Top Gear”; both of which fuel the interest we all share for the classics. The fascination, fueled reciprocally by media and passed between generations, continues to support revivalism as a whole.
There is something compelling about the entire experience of a Cruise night, much like that of Layla’s heydays. How can one miss out on the antiquated antics this Cruise season?