I want to thank my readers for an overload of responses to my recent columns “Muscle cars and music of the 1960s” and “1958 car designs; the good, bad and ugly.” Here are three of many that deserve note.

What? No 1968 Camaro SS 396?
Q: Greg, I read your article on muscle cars and music of the 1960’s published in the Ocala Star-Banner on May 13. How you can justify not including the Camaro in your article. Having owned a 1967 RS 327 Camaro 3-speed and a 1968 SS 396 Camaro 4-speed while in high school, I would put either one of these cars up against any of the others in your article.

After all, this is the Camaro’s 50 year anniversary and it is still one of the finest muscle cars produced in this country. By the way, I graduated from High School in 1972, so the Camaros I owned where only a couple of years old when I owned them. My best friend at the time had a 1966 Mustang, which I would regularly have for lunch. Stay safe.
-- Sheldon Morgan, Ocala, Florida.

A: Hi Sheldon and thanks for your letter. As for the column and my personal experiences … well, guess what? I also owned a 1968 Camaro SS/RS with a 396/375 engine, M22 4-speed, 4:10 gears and it was the best muscle car I ever owned. I’ve mentioned it many times in my columns.

As for not including it in my special 1960s cars and music article for More Content Now and GateHouse Media, I have mentioned my ’68 Camaro SS so many times in my other articles I figured I’d give a few more cars some publicity. However, I’m not sure if you missed my mention of the great Camaro Z28 instead of the SS, but if I had more space I would have mentioned the great ’68-’69 Camaro SS.

Loved your column on the 1958 models
Q: Greg, I very much enjoy your columns every Saturday in our local paper and the many other newspaper sites nationally that carry your columns. I especially liked the column on the good, bad and ugly 1958 models. And I agree completely with you on that subject.

A couple of thoughts came to mind.

What about the Edsel for 1958? I recall one auto magazine saying “it looked like an Oldsmobile sucking a lemon.”

And, aside from the styling issues, 1958 models seemed to have had far more than their share of mechanical problems. Lincoln/Mercury had automatic transmission issues, as well as engine troubles.

Several GM lines had similar problems and I remember air suspension came out in several domestic lines. GM and FoMoCo all seemed to have more than their fair share of problems with air suspension systems; not sure about the MOPARS.

All in all, the big three (GM/Ford/Chrysler) as well as their dealers, all gave a collective “sigh of relief” when the 1959 models came out. As I recall the ‘59’s were better looking and certainly had far less mechanical troubles.

Thanks for such a good column; please keep it up.
-- Larry Tanzer, Idaho.

A: Larry thanks for the comments and I also agree that when the 1959 models arrived, the dealers were much happier. I remember the 1959 models were transported to dealers completely covered up so the consumer wouldn’t get a heads up as to the new styling. The dealers utilized the new car showing as big events at their showrooms and I remember attending as many as I could growing up in south Jersey. Every dealer at new car introduction time has refreshments and food at their dealerships, and I ate probably one too many hot dog during these glorious “new model” years.

You are also correct that the 1958 Edsel had a very unique front end, so much so that to this day many negative comments come its way. The Lincoln/Mercury workers were very upset that the Edsel was basically thrown on them as additional work and many felt taken advantage of by Ford Motor Company. I know this for a fact as my uncle John worked at the Lincoln/Mercury plant in Metuchen, New Jersey, during this time period on the line. And yes, they had transmission troubles also.

Those air suspension systems you mention were problematic as you recall, but not for Chrysler as the Chrysler family (MOPAR) utilized suspension systems with torsion bar and coil spring front ends and leaf spring rear setups. Thanks for your letter Larry.

Engineering student replies on 1958 designs
Q: Greg, I read your recent column about 1958 auto design and as I was a second-year engineering student in 1958, I was very interested in cars. What boy isn’t at that age?

Back then, I had a 1952 Pontiac inherited from my grandfather. The best thing about that car was its gorgeous green color. After reading your column, I immediately went to my car nostalgia shelf and pulled down the 1958 edition of the Popular Mechanics 1958 Cars Fact Book. I have several of these books left after all these years. I just wish I had a 1955 book since I have always liked the Chrysler designs of that year. I had several Pontiacs, then one Studebaker, then several Ramblers/AMC, and, since then Chrysler vans although my current car is a Jeep Cherokee, which I love. It is great in town and great in the mountains of northern Idaho.

Keep up the good stories.
-- Myron Molnau, Washington State.

A: Thanks much Myron. We’ve both owned similar cars in our lifetime, although I never owned a Studebaker. Thanks for taking the time to write me a letter and sending the Popular Mechanics cover.

-- Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other GateHouse Media publications. He welcomes reader questions at greg@gregzyla.com.