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Classics Lou Rawls, “Tobacco Road”, and the night my father crashed the SS Chevelle

08:25  28 february  2021
08:25  28 february  2021 Source:   hagerty.com

Gironde. Dismantling of a tobacco smuggling and pimping network

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The song was “ Tobacco Road ” by Lou Rawls , and in those Saturday afternoons before Dad crashed his ‘69 Chevelle SS 396 convertible in a street race, he’d leave it on the record player to spin again and again. We started every weekend by cleaning his car inside and out. I was four years old in 1969, but By the time the Goat was worthy of appearing at Uncle Johnny’s, Lou Rawls was off the record player, replaced with something else I don’t remember. And the street race scene was starting to cool off. Lot of attention being paid by the cops, a season’s worth of cars coming out that didn’t seem to run as

I was born in a bunk Mama died and my daddy got drunk Left me here to die or grow In the middle of Tobacco Road . I grew up in a dusty shack And all I had was a'hangin' on my back Only you know how I loathe This place called Tobacco Road . I'm gonna leave and get a job With the help and the grace from above Save some money, get rich I know Bring it back to Tobacco Road . Bring dynamite and a crane Blow itup, start all over again Build a town, be proud to show Give the name Tobacco Road .

The song was “Tobacco Road” by Lou Rawls, and in those Saturday afternoons before Dad crashed his ‘69 Chevelle SS 396 convertible in a street race, he’d leave it on the record player to spin again and again. We started every weekend by cleaning his car inside and out. I was four years old in 1969, but I still had my tasks to accomplish: wheels and tires, bumpers and hard chrome parts, things I couldn’t mess up.

Douglas Madden © Provided by Hagerty Douglas Madden

Our family was known for having clean cars. Maybe that’s not much to be known for. But it’s something. When I saw my father right before his death seventeen years ago, his Nineties Astro was clearly past its best days and there was rust at the bottom of every sill. Yet around the rust the paint shone with the deep gleam of multiple hand-rubbed wax applications. On his tires, the distinction between white letter and black surface was razor-sharp. He climbed out of the Astro and shuddered when he spoke to me. There was something killing him. I didn’t see much of the man I remembered from the summer of 1969.

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Исполнители: Lou Rawls , Les McCann. Rockin' Chair (From Tobacco Road )From Tobacco Road .

Lou Rawls , “ Tobacco Road ,” and the night my father crashed the SS Chevelle . First off, the early 240s are the ones to have. Later Zs and ZXs got bloated and softer while sprouting ungainly bumpers, and the difference is reflected in values. A good 240Z is worth about twice as much as even the similar 1974-only 260Z.

Back then there was a muscle car scene in Cleveland, and there was also a Black muscle car scene. You have to think of it like two weather patterns interacting; sometimes the overlap was a place of calm and sometimes it was a place of storm. You could get a race in the late evenings. All that “pink slip” business didn’t really happen. The white guys might run for pride, but the Black guys would always run for money. Even if it wasn’t much. That was part of it. Made it real.

General Motors dominated the scene the same way they dominated the rest of automotive America. When the Camaro showed up it became omnipresent almost immediately. Hard to believe it now, but the Camaro had a big part in the Black scene because it was cheap. I don’t mean it was a piece of junk. Only that the cost of entry was low. Cheap to buy. Cheap to make them go fast. For my father to run against the Camaros successfully, he had to have a little something extra. It wasn’t necessarily about modifying the cars. You bought the best factory setup you could and then you kept it running right. Which wasn’t easy in those days, with carbureted cars and variable fuel quality and the fact that they’d just break.

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Lou Rawls , “ Tobacco Road ,” and the night my father crashed the SS Chevelle . In an agonizing twist of fate, these Daytonas and Superbirds were rumored to languish in showrooms for so long that some dealers opted to remove the aero equipment, returning them to regular Chargers and Road Runners. Ford’s even more extreme twins, the Talladega King Cobra and Mercury Super Cyclone Spoiler II, were set to debut for the 1970 season—when NASCAR changed its homologation regulations: one example for every two dealers in America.

Lou Rawls , “ Tobacco Road ,” and the night my father crashed the SS Chevelle . The 3.4-liter XK straight-six that debuted in the XK120 and the Jaguar Mark V featured double overhead camshafts driven by chains, hemispherical combustion chambers, a cast iron crankcase, and an aluminum cylinder head.

Every weekend, my father’s group would meet up at my uncle Johnny’s place. He was 33 against my dad’s 24, drove a Coupe de Ville. My aunt Betty had a bit of a hot streak so Johnny bought her a ‘69 Nova with the 307, sky blue with black vinyl top and interior, automatic on the column. We’d all sit or stand in the kitchen, talking about the races from the week before, who’d picked up money and who’d blown an engine. Betty would pour the men VSQ brandy into tumblers, never more than two fingers’ worth at a time, and they’d sip it slow.

I don’t know how exactly Dad totaled that Chevelle. He went out one night with the car, looking for a race, and came back on foot. Uncle Johnny knew, but he didn’t share those details with me. All I knew was that it was time to find a new car, one that could run heads-up with whatever else was out there.

We didn’t have new-car money to spend; the Chevelle hadn’t been insured against collision. So Dad and I picked through what was available, reading the newspaper ads, making careful calls, always conscious of the idea that not everybody in Cleveland’s ritzier suburbs would want us showing up on their doorstep for a test drive.

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Lou Rawls , “ Tobacco Road ,” and the night my father crashed the SS Chevelle . Special options, design studies, concepts, and competition models have always been a big part of the Corvette’s mystique. Even in 1953, the sports car’s first year of production, Chevy displayed the Motorama Nomad Dream Wagon, the Motorama Corvair Dream Coupe, and the Motorama Dream Hardtop right alongside the production Corvette.

Lou Rawls , “ Tobacco Road ,” and the night my father crashed the SS Chevelle . At 17, Fitz lied about his age to get into The Society of Arts and Crafts and the Detroit School of Art, and a year later was hired by John Tjaarda at the Briggs Body Company. Fitzpatrick moved to California at 19 to work with Howard “Dutch” Darrin, designing custom-built Packards.

After a lot of false starts we found a 1965 GTO convertible, maize yellow with a four-speed manual. The left rear quarter panel had been crumpled by the owner’s kid. In 1969, a four-year GTO with body damage wasn’t worth much. Particularly if it wasn’t a Tri-Power, and this one wasn’t. Dad bought it and set about making it right. There was an underground economy, men whose bosses would let them keep a body shop open after business hours, that kind of thing. That was how we got the GTO straightened out and ready to run.

By the time the Goat was worthy of appearing at Uncle Johnny’s, Lou Rawls was off the record player, replaced with something else I don’t remember. And the street race scene was starting to cool off. Lot of attention being paid by the cops, a season’s worth of cars coming out that didn’t seem to run as hard as last year’s models. The fleet parked outside Johnny’s house started to change. In 1973 my father called it quits for good. Bought a ‘74 Thunderbird. It was all show and no go.

The ‘Bird was a reflection of my father’s new economic status. He had a hustle going on. And in the years that followed, it would yield to some serious hardware, everything from Stingrays to Sevilles. But that’s a story for another time…

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1969 Chevy Chevelle SS 396: A Collector Car You Can Daily Drive .
This car doesn't just have to sit in your garage! In many ways, certain cars can perfectly define a generation. For the 1960’s it didn't get more iconic than the Chevelle SS. A large displacement engine, simple but accommodating interior, and sporty style is what made the muscle car era and Chevy’s arguably most successful nameplate had it all. © Provided by Motorious Although the purist might disagree, one of the coolest features to come out of this part of automotive history was that the cars were highly customizable.

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