Folklore says the fuzzy dice you find in antique cars owe their start to the fighter pilots of WWII. Pilots would drape a pair of dice over their mirror or instruments in the cockpit for luck before flying on combat missions.
The dishevel of American society caused by war resulted in celebrating rebellious nature against the status quo. This social rebellion not only resulted in the modern-day biker stereotype, but also hot rods and fast cars finding a place in American culture.
Thus, it was only a matter of time before the little symbol of luck changed and came along for the ride. During the 50’s and 60’s fuzzy dice appeared as a symbol of rebellion and dangerous racing.
The fad, like most, did not last. By the late 80’s the dice began to take on a new meaning to the aging population of original hot rodders. It wasn’t a symbol of rebellion as much as a reminder of the past.
As the decades passed, the feeling of nostalgia only became stronger. A reminder of past times when fast cars driving with the windows down on winding roads on the way to the local drive thru was born.
I endeavored to tap into this feeling of nostalgia while creating this piece. The long black and white panel and steering column of this Ford Thunderbird embodies the past stretching in the distance. The bright red of the dice hanging on the mirrors dramatically rivals memories of past exploits and summer travels.
The bright red dice, shown in full sunlight, is slightly off-center. I used the color as a natural draw denoting the struggle we feel coping with the present and future. They become a vivid reminder that the future is bright, colorful, and inviting yet now quite here yet. It gives hope.
Dodge is a portrait image of the front of a 1951 Dodge “Job Rated” Pick Up truck. I found it lying in an open field next to some other slowly rusting hulks of America’s automotive past. Indeed the cold and bitter weather of a Taos winter appear to have done quite a bit of damage to what must have been a fabulous paint job back in the 1950’s.
It is unclear just how many long years of toil this “working man’s” truck put in until it finally sat abandoned in this field to rust into history. Unlike it’s competition, the Dodge designed trucks to put looks second and offer a no compromise utilitarian truck that you could specifically buy for the job you needed.
In the 1950’s Dodge introduced it’s Job Rated series with larger engines ranging in power from 94 to 154 horsepower. Another feature was an increased electrical system for easier bad weather starting and a moisture resistant ignition system. Dodge also added a twin carburetion and exhaust system for improved power and fuel economy.
The technical abilities of the truck did not end with the engine. Quieter brakes designs and a smaller turning radius than it’s predecessors were also emphasized along with improved shock absorbers advertising a smoother ride.
While the primary purpose of the truck was to have the right truck for the job, style was not totally forgotten. It’s true these trucks did not sport the flashier front grills of the GM or Ford models but they surpassed their competition in roomier cabs and larger windows designed to cut blind spots. It even had a new instrument panel so the driver could see the gauges easier.
Regardless of this trucks noble start and eventual finish, abandoned in a field rusting away, this truck is definitely a work of art that tells a story. Enjoy it on your wall.
For those of you who are hard-core fans of the trucks of yesteryear, I found a video about this truck from the sales training film made in the 1950’s. The real part of the video starts at 2:13. The first part of the video is an excellent historical lesson in stereotypes of the Hollywood in 1951. (warning: it’s not necessarily politically correct by today’s standards.)