Chevrolet Deluxe Coupe is the original ’60s spaceship
BESIDES the free love, great music and birth of the surfing craze, teenagers in 1960s America also lucked in by having a host of curvaceous 1950s cars cheaply available that were ripe for modification and hot rodding.
One of these big barges was Chevrolet's Deluxe Coupe. These chrome-heavy luxury chunks of Detroit iron became part of the 1960s show car scene as young modifiers stripped, pin-striped, lowered, painted and performance boosted them.
This example, owned by Moffat Beach's Cameron Nitschke, presents today exactly as it did in 1960s Southern California, making it a wonderfully preserved relic of this evocative period. It's now enjoying its second life as a daily driver on the Sunshine Coast - surely an even more appealing beach life than SoCal.
"I bought it a year ago after an old friend had imported it from the USA," Cameron said. "It still has its original paint and style that it had from the 1960s show scene, and all I needed to do was get it a roadworthy certificate."
With panels, paint and chrome that may not have been touched for up to 50 years, Cameron's Chevy has the odd bit of rust, some dents and tired paint, but it has that desirable originality to it so favoured by classic car fans not keen on cars that have been restored to the nth degree.
The rear end has been lowered for a ground-scraping stance, the red paint has a '60s metal flake through it while chrome garnish moulds around the screens and windows complement the beautiful chrome bumpers and grille.
The Chevy's cabin is equally chrome-laden, while custom pin-striping on the metal dashboard is another original 1960s modified feature. And while show cars these days attract judges' points with a dozen TV screens and sub woofer boxes, Cameron's features a vintage rotary dial telephone in the passenger foot-well. Far cooler.
"I enjoy taking it to shows, and I'm a member of the Reaper Car Club that features similar American cars," Cameron said. "I love the Chevy's shape, but I'd love to customise it more, maybe with a roof chop and giving it a repaint."
But what's it like as a daily driver? With a huge interior space and bench seats there's comfort in spades, but Cameron admits it's definitely a car for cruising rather than cornering.
"It is really nice to drive, very smooth and feels a bit like driving a spaceship," he said.
It doesn't look too far off a 1950s spaceship either, helping add to the appeal of this beautiful big Chevy that brings a large dose of SoCal cool to Australia.
Model: 1950 Chevrolet Deluxe Coupe.
Details: Luxury American coupe produced between 1941 and 1952.
Owner: Cameron Nitschke, Moffat Beach.
Engine: 3.9-litre (235-cubic-inch) Blue Flame in-line six-cylinder taken from a 1955 Chevrolet.
Gearbox: Chevrolet 3-Speed manual.
Body: Painted rad metal flake in 1960s show car style.
Did you know? Steve McQueen may have been better known for driving a Ford Mustang (Bullitt) or Porsche 917 (Le Mans) in his films, but a 1951 Chevy Deluxe in convertible form was the last car he ever drove in a movie, in The Hunter in 1980.