D.L. Hammons of Cruising Altitute 2.0 is hosting the 2012 Déjà Vu Blogfest, in which participants repost a favorite blog post from 2012, perhaps one that never got enough attention the first time round. For most of this year, I was still learning the art of getting my average post down to under 1,000 words, so it was a bit of a challenge.
“My Dream Hobby” was originally published on 8 May, and paid tribute to some of my favorite antique cars. I’ve liked cars since I was a little kid and had toy cars. I’m so grateful that my parents raised me and my little brother as people, not stereotypes erroneously based on biological sex. It never occurred to me that being interested in cars was a “guy” hobby. I just happen to like old cars.
For almost as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by antique cars, Brass Age cars in particular. They just have such interesting shapes and colors, and call to mind a simpler time. And since I write 20th century historical, I get to incorporate my love of antique cars into my writing. I’ve seen some classic cars I like, but I far prefer the shapes of antique cars. If I ever have enough money, space, and time, my dream hobby is to own, repair, drive, and show antique cars.
These are a couple of the antique cars I’ve featured or mentioned in my books, which are also among my favorites:
The Duesenberg was a luxury automobile owned by royalty and celebrities. It stopped manufacturing in 1937, and today the cars can go for several million dollars. This is my dream antique car, particularly in red. My villain Boris Aleksandrovich Malenkov and semi-antagonist Mr. Seward (Max’s dad), one of my favorite adult characters in my Atlantic City books, both have red Duesenbergs. There’s also a scene with a blue Duesenberg in my recently-completed first volume about Jakob DeJonghe.
The Rochet-Schneider, another luxury car, was like the French version of Rolls-Royce. Ivan’s maternal aunt Valeriya and her second husband Grigoriy Golitsyn, a deposed prince, buy a sea-green Rochet-Schneider after they come to America in 1920.
The French Delahaye, a high-end car that was produced till 1954 and which was a big symbol of French patriotism during WWII. It won the 1937 Monte Carlo Rally, the Million Franc Race, and humiliated the Nazis in the 1938 Pau Grand Prix when Jewish driver René Dreyfus beat their Mercedes-Benz. Jakob DeJonghe is going to buy this particular model, in that color, as his first American car in 1946.
The Peugeot, an upscale French car. This 1935 model, in that color, is owned by Kees (Cornelius) and Gusta (Augusta) ter Avest, the older couple whom Jakob and his mother Luisa move in with after his father’s murder at the start of the book. Jakob later risks very serious consequences to drive the car (loaded with his beloved bicycle and some other important possessions) to a sympathetic Christian family in the nearby Jordaan neighborhood for safekeeping, after an edict forbidding Jewish ownership of cars and bicycles.
The 1926 Chrysler Imperial Touring. Ivan and Lyuba come into the possession of this beauty after they and their friends Aleksey and Nikolas mete out appropriate justice to some scumbag who did something awful to Lyuba and Ivan’s daughter Darya, their third child and their first blood daughter together. He confesses that he never committed any of his crimes in the car, so they don’t feel wrong about taking it for themselves.
Not all Model Ts were black. The Model T (1921 version) is owned by Ivan as his first American car, and by Lyuba’s uncle Mikhail.
The Model A, which debuted in 1927 as the new, improved version of the old Model T. Lyuba’s mother and stepfather acquire one in 1929.
The Russo-Baltique, Russia’s very own car manufacturing company in the early 20th century. It was recently revived with modern models. In my first Russian novel, this car is owned by Ivan’s father, and is the car where Lyuba and Ivan have their first kiss in March of 1917. It’s also owned by their dear friend Pyotr, who risks his life by double-crossing his Bolshevik father and older brothers to get his friends out of the Soviet Union.