Start your engines: Push the button!

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As I sit here in the car dealership waiting for several “car things” to be looked at, the service manager asked for my keys. Oh yeah, even though I press a button to automatically start the 2019 Honda CRV with my keys in my nearby purse on a regular basis, he needed them to start the car in the service department. So, I dug those keys out of my purse for him.

Which got me to thinking — what goes around comes around, be it in fashion, food, hairstyles, cars. Now, as my husband pointed out to me, the engines of cars from the 1960s started in a very different manner than cars today. Even though I understand that fact, I couldn’t help but recall that the 1960 Rambler I learned to drive in and the 2019 Honda CRV both started with a push to a button. The Rambler needed an actual key in the ignition; the CRV needs the key FOB close by. It gave me a sort of “back to the future” moment.


Learning to drive in the 1970s on a 1960 white Rambler with push button transmission brought with it a rush of car memories that many of you will recall and many may not believe: 

  • The “wing” side vent small triangular-shaped window that was in the front doors just in front of the main door window. It rotated outward and could be angled to bring the outside airflow into the car. This, of course, was prior to the nearly universal air-conditioning car option, making those little windows obsolete
  • The lack of universal seatbelts
  • Paneled station wagons where kids made funny faces to the driver behind or stuck their feet outside windows
  • Having to move the dial carefully to tune in your favorite AM radio station because there was no FM, eight-track, CD, or download option
  • Crank windows that seemed to move even slower when an officer pulled you over
  • Learning to drive without power steering (power steering, as well as cruise control, air conditioning and seat belts, were available but not in every car)
  • Paying $.299 a gallon for gas that a gas station attendant pumped for you. He or she also inquired if you wanted your oil checked and windshield washed
  •  Getting 7 miles to the gallon

Nostalgia washed over me as I waited for my CRV. It was certainly a different time, for which we can be grateful as today’s cars have acquired so many safety features that keep us protected. But it’s fun to go down memory lane occasionally. And remember, although I learned to drive in a four-door Rambler, it’s two-door cousin, the 1960 Rambler American Custom, started at $2,010 to purchase. 




About this Author

Annette Kurman

A native of Philadelphia with baccalaureate degrees in journalism, nursing, as well as an MBA from now defunct Daniel Webster College, Nashua, her endeavors in various roles and industries — as well a very supportive husband — once again bring her to the question of “What do I want to do when I grow up?”