I don’t know the exact moment of the change-over. Not even the year. I just know I was never happy about it.
Growing up in Detroit in the sixties I lived within walking distance of two major Detroit landmarks. The Hitsville Building (Motown) and the General Motors Building. A group of neighborhood kids would make the trek in September to check out the new models a few days before the nationwide rollout. As long as we didn’t have ice cream or candy on us, we were allowed to sit in the cars and pretend to steer.
The cars not equipped with power steering were more fun because you could turn wider. The first thing I always checked out were the tail lights. I wondered if they would be like the ones I imagined in my head. Then, I’d dash to the front to see the headlights’ expression. It was usually some form of a smile, nothing like the aggressive look of today’s cars. I was intrigued by the Impala. I loved to see what they did with the Bel Air and Biscayne, stripped down versions of the great Impala. No power nothing and they were just butt ugly. For me it was the black wall tires that turned me off. What a difference a white stripe made.
The first time I noticed the black wall tire as standard equipment was during a week long gig at the Borgata in Atlantic City with Vic Henley. I hit a $2,500.00 payout and decided to rent a Caddy and drive back to NYC on a night off. Well, Vic rented it and I gave him the money. We had the new Outcast double CD with Hey Ya on it so we were in groovus maximus to and fro. But when I saw the pretty Caddy in the light of the next day with black wall tires, I felt…like when you wake up next to a woman who looked much finer the night before.