Shotgun’s Car of the Day
The Christmas Story Oldsmobile
Ahhh, the old family car….there are but few things in our lives that we look back upon with the warm glow of emotion (or chilling terror) as that rolling living room of our youth.
The good, the bad, the ugly and the indifferent; it happened in our homes away from home.
For Ralph Parker that family room on four balloon tires was, “The Old Man’s” Oldsmobile.
I triple dog dare ya to find a more historically significant 1937 Oldsmobile. This is the type of car (unfortunately not THE car from the movie) that had the blow out that led to Ralphie going blind.
Mrs. Shotgun (aka "The Hot Wife") and I outside The Christmas Story House with The Old Man's Major Award in all it's glory behind us.
Hold onto your tin cup, kids. Let’s take a look at that bastion of Parker Family automotive bliss, the Parker's 1937 Oldsmobile Six F-37 Trunkback. Also known as (insert dramatic chord here) "The Christmas Story Oldsmobile".
Across the street from The Christmas Story house in Tremont is an F-37 Oldsmobile just like the one featured in the movie. The whereabouts of the original are unknown.
One of the most distinctive features of sedans of this era is what was referred to as “Suicide Doors”. So named because if one was to open while the car was at speed you could, in theory at least, get sucked out of the car. They sure don't build 'em like this anymore. Another example of why that's a good thing.
Roomy…Powerful…Distinctive…Combining Style Leadership With Quality and Dependibility At Low Cost. On and on Oldsmobile waxed about their new for 1937 Oldsmobile Six, so named for the 95 horsepower, in line flathead six cylinder engine. At the time this was a lot of power. By comparison though, the new Chevrolet Cruze makes 138 horsepower. I'd compare those 95 horses to a modern Oldsmobile but that GM division went the way of the Parker's Chinese Turkey after the 2004 model year.
Power steering, power brakes, automatic transmissions, (air conditioning?? haha) were years off in the future. Actually, Olds did offer one of the world's first automatic trannys in 1939 but you would have to go up to the Oldsmobile "Eight", not a lowly "Six" like this to get that indulgence. The Old Man would never spluge for that. An eye shooting out BB gun for his son? You betcha. But an automatic for himself? Never!!
This car is called a a "trunkback" because it has a storage compartment "out back". Trunks on cars back then were a novelty. As were heaters, power steering, power brakes, automatic transmissions. The list goes on and on. Sheesh, can you blame The Old Man for being a little cranky? And all he got for Christmas from Mrs. Parker was a blue bowling ball?
Mrs. Shotgun and I came about this other '37 Olds on a drive along Lake Road in Sheffield Lake. The, ummm, patina, or should I say lack of one, makes the already foreboding '37 Oldsmobile even creepier looking. Boo!
The Old Man's Oldsmobile was a big car and quite tank like. The fenders are of a much heavier gauge steel than that used on today’s cars. If you've ever knocked on the enamel of a cast iron bath tub then you would know what this car feels like when you knock on it.
Oh, c'mon! You don't have a freaky little doll on the front seat of your 75 year old car? Sakes.
That said, these cars would crush up like an empty soda can in an accident. Just having a strong shell is not going to be of much help to you in an accident. You need a strong structure under it to be safe. Good thing The Old Man was a safe driver.
Oldsmobile is named for Ransom E Olds. After he sold "Oldsmobile" to General Motors he went came up with a new company called REO, pronounced R-E-OH, not "Rio" as in DeJaneiro. You may have heard the name of one his most famous REO trucks, the REO Speedwagon.
From a back seat just like this (below) Ralphie got the suggestion from his mom, as she had never done before, that he help his dad change that "dang blow out". It would ultimately lead to Ralphie's tragic blindness.
That's not entirely true. Ralphie's subseqent incompetence in tire changing and anger management issues only led to a mouth full of Lifebouy. His blindness was part of an elaborate fantasy that he thought of while his saliva was being turned into sudsy goodness.
BTW, the owner bought this car not knowing that it was a “Christmas Story” Oldsmobile. I believe him! If YOU knew this was "A Christmas Story Olds" would you put a PLASTIC DINOSAUR?? on the hood??
Another sign that he did not know this was a special car is the fake (gee whiz I, ummm...hope they're fake) bullet holes on the the flanks. Hey, maybe Ralphie used this car for target practice? No, wait! Scott Farkus with his yellow eyes did this. Yeah! That's it!
Honestly, I'm not a fan of this car. Then again I'm not a fan of any pre war automobile. They're crude in ways that go well beyond mentioning in this soliloquy.
But I adore the movie as much as Ralphie adored his Red Rider BB gun with a compass in the stock and a thing that tells time.