Cars, Cars, Cars

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Historical fiction authors have to do a lot of research. Much of the research involves reading books, pouring over archives or visiting a museum, but occasionally we get to experience a living history event. Even though many of my childhood experiences made it into my 1950s novel, I needed more hands-on information and visual aids about 1950s cars.

“Oktober Heat” deals with the clash of cultures between the GIs and their big cars and the German locals who were lucky if they owned a bicycle. My protagonist is saving up for a motor scooter while lusting to get a ride in a big American car.

I needed to know what a car from the Fifties looked like up close. Luckily, there are classic car shows all summer long. We headed to a huge show and, sure enough, Chevrolet Bel Air and Ford Fairlane were well represented. I took photos and even asked an owner what his car engine sounded like. Even though I have yet to ride in a classic car, it was easy to see why such a car made heads turn on the narrow German roads.

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