CHANG­ING FO­CUS

New Zealand Classic Car - - Editorial - Ash­ley Webb Ed­i­tor

Dur­ing the course of do­ing my job as ed­i­tor of this mag­a­zine, I’m very rarely at a loss for words. How­ever, one such oc­ca­sion hap­pened re­cently, dur­ing the photo shoot of John Mur­ray’s mag­nif­i­cent 1964 Oldsmo­bile 442 that’s fea­tured in this is­sue, when I was shown a box of items that came with the car when John pur­chased it from the US.

Among the many items, which in­cluded orig­i­nal sales doc­u­ments, own­ers pro­tec­tion plan and pro­tect-o-plate, and var­i­ous sales brochures — none of which is par­tic­u­larly rare — one item caught my at­ten­tion. To be hon­est, I had never seen any­thing like it, and I was to­tally blown away with what I was look­ing at.

It was the large and com­pre­hen­sive Oldsmo­bile colour and fab­ric selec­tor, and it is the cat­a­logue of all cat­a­logues. Re­mem­ber that the year was 1964! The at­ten­tion to de­tail is amaz­ing; ev­ery Oldsmo­bile model op­tion is out­lined, com­plete with vir­tu­ally ev­ery fab­ric and vinyl com­bi­na­tion imag­in­able, matched with com­ple­men­tary car­pet rec­om­men­da­tions that could be se­lected to match any ex­te­rior colour com­bi­na­tion. The cat­a­logue also in­cludes a full range of con­vert­ible fab­rics that could be thrown into the mix by any po­ten­tial Oldsmo­bile buyer back in 1964.

I tried to imag­ine the amount of ef­fort re­quired to put such a cat­a­logue to­gether; it must have been done by an in­cred­i­bly cre­ative and ta­lented team. I sus­pect that this cat­a­logue was avail­able at Oldsmo­bile deal­ers across the US so po­ten­tial buy­ers could select their favourite com­bi­na­tions for their new car. Given the num­ber of op­tions — pages and pages of them — se­lec­tion must have been a daunt­ing process in­deed.

I found the best part of the en­tire cat­a­logue to be at the back: a small, ex­tremely clev­erly de­signed sec­tion that al­lowed the prospec­tive pur­chaser to select any Oldsmo­bile model — for ex­am­ple, four-door sedan, coupe, sports sedan, and the like — then over­lay that with any of the avail­able colour op­tions, thus giv­ing the per­fect vis­ual pic­ture of the car in the pre­ferred colour. The next step was to choose the colour of the roof — that’s if you wanted a sec­ond colour — and ob­tain the same vis­ual ef­fect by over­lay­ing that sec­ond colour.

We re­cently pur­chased a brand-new car, and I’m afraid that there wasn’t any­thing quite so elab­o­rate to peruse in or­der to choose be­tween the op­tions avail­able. All we got was an A4-size brochure to scan through, with some ba­sic tech­ni­cal data and about eight ex­te­rior colour choices. In­te­rior was ei­ther cloth or leather, in any colour we liked as long as it was black; that was ba­si­cally our lot.

Although these are im­por­tant de­ci­sions to make when buy­ing a new car, our pri­mary fo­cus seemed to be more cen­tred on the elec­tronic giz­mos, such as the size of the touch screen and whether the ve­hi­cle fea­tured such items as adap­tive radar cruise con­trol, an in­te­grated satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem, blind-spot mon­i­tor­ing, lane-change-de­par­ture alert, re­verse cam­era, park­ing sen­sors, rain-sens­ing wipers, and so on.

How times have changed.

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