Sunday Suburbia

I have never lived in the core of a city, but always in a suburb or area on the fringes of a city. The first US census where suburban population exceeded that of central cities or rural areas was 1970.

I seriously doubt I would enjoy living in the heart of a city. I don’t like crowds or noise; I don’t like paying inflated housing costs. Some people, though, seem compelled to live in a city. A few months after my second book was published I had a conversation with the editor. This was around the time of the bursting of the dot-com bubble. Our editor had left the company that published the book and went to work for an Internet startup. That company went belly-up quickly and she was without a job at the time of this conversation. She mentioned she was struggling to pay her bills living in Manhattan. I suggested she move somewhere less expensive. Her reply, “I can’t move. Everything happens here.” I don’t know if she moved or what she is doing now.

Our inevitable move to the desert (my wonderful wife really wants to live there) will be to a suburb. We currently live in a small town that is, technically, part of the metropolitan area of a large city, but we are far enough away so that we have little congestion. Our likely desert destination is closer to a large city than we live now. As is the case with everything else, that proximity will have its advantages and disadvantages.


One usual advantage (for me, anyway) to suburban life is that it is more conducive to owning an automobile. Ironically, when we lived in Texas we had a three-car garage, but only two cars. Now we own three vehicles, but we only have a two-car garage. A three-car garage (or more) will be a must in our new dwelling.

The first year the US census showed that the suburbs were the most populous area of the country is the same year many auto enthusiasts think is the peak of the muscle car era, 1970. Muscle cars became extinct soon after that as a result of new and stringent federal safety/emissions regulations, rising insurance rates and the trend towards less expensive cars. One of my favorite cars from 1970 is this new offering from Chevrolet, the Monte Carlo:


See the source image


From a picture of a 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. For almost its entire history I think the Monte Carlo was a good-looking car and its first edition was a prime example of those looks.

Almost 146,000 Monte Carlos were produced in 1970 including about 3,800 with the SS 454 package. According to Encyclopedia of American Cars by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide® the Monte Carlo SS 454 engine produced 360 HP/500 LB-FT of torque. Other sources indicate the Monte Carlo could be ordered with the “ultimate” Chevy engine of that era, the 450 HP/510 LB-FT motor. If anyone “knows” the right answer please feel free to offer it.

While this is neither Frugal Friday nor Stingy Saturday a quick search on Hemmings yielded 12 1970 Monte Carlos for sale—not by auction—with list prices ranging from $12,000 to $47,950. I didn’t bother to investigate the differences among the available cars.

Soon, 1970 will be 50 years in the rear-view mirror. I’m just shaking my head reading that sentence.







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