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Transports of Delight: School Prom Rides

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by Chris Henniker (subscribe)
There are 6m postcodes in London, what's happening in yours?
Published August 25th 2017
You want to make a grand entrance to the prom, but has anyone noticed that white stretch limousines are full of tacky ankle chain gangs of Deptford Wives on a hen's night? You want to be Don Draper or Dita Von Teese, for the biggest night of the year (and your life so far). You want to make it memorable for all the right reasons, but how? Let's get one thing clear: you won't make an impression by taking public transport. More likely, you'll make the wrong one. Namely, someone unimaginative with no sense of style.

At thirteen, I wanted a 1957 Chevy Bel Air as daily transport (and still do), which is great for making an entrance to any occasion. Avoid Elvis clichés and you're onto a winner, it's the prettiest car ever made. Given Prom Night's American origins, it's appropriate to have the archetypal all-American car. Ask yourself the following:

What cars am I into?
Does it go with my outfit?

Most importantly, would I stand out?

The first one's easy for a gearhead. I love traditional hot rods, customs and lowriders. After 1973, styling and power went downhill (thank you, Ralph Nader).

Does the car go with your outfit? Girls, if you're inspired by Dita Von Teese, think 1946-59 Cadillac, or upmarket American cars of that era. If you really want glamour, consider a Facel Vega Excellence, with suicide rear doors. Photo-opportunities abound if you're very elegant. Research by going to cruises, talking to owners and taking down details. Hot rod clubs are good too, so contact them.

Prize picks

1949-51 Mercury:

This elegant custom is prime candidate for prom transport, as the 6" roof chop really enhances the lines. Sam Barris, Pioneer customiser, chopped his Mercury by exactly this amount when new in 1949. With the right paint, 1953 Buick trim and full interior, jaws will drop on arrival.

1949 Mercury, Prom, prom dress
For the James Dean wannabes among you.

1949-51 "Shoebox" Ford:

From Ford comes this cutie, whose adorable face I've loved since my teens. The best thing? Bench seats that six people sink into.

Shoeb Ford, Prom, Prom dress
Who wouldn't fall in love with a face like that?

1954 Cadillac:

Harley Earl's finest is the chic way to travel. These curvaceous bombs are elegant and seductive, with a feminine twist. If you look closely, you'll see the belt line dips, suggesting aircraft tailfins and an attractive woman's waist. Talking of women, the bullets are nicknamed Dagmars, after the breasts of the pneumatic television host.

Cadillac, Prom, Prom Dress.
Harley Earl's finest penmanship made metal.

1955-57 Chevy Bel Air:

The 1955-57 Chevy has been built as a tough as nails street racer, to a lowrider. Pick one, you can never go wrong. I love the fins, curves and chrome, but the '57's proportions are spot on. Pillarless cars are prettiest.

1955 Chevy, Prom, Prom Dress
The iconic Tri-era Chevrolet Belair

1961-64 Ford Galaxies:

By the 60's, cars became more masculine. Galaxies were no exception. If you can get a 60's Bellflower custom or lowrider, all the better. Alternatives include the Lincoln Continental, 1963-65 Buick Riviera and most 1960's luxury cars, like the Chrysler Imperial.

1963 Ford Galaxies, Prom, Prom dress
The Galaxies weren't people carriers.

Dodge Charger and Challenger:

Talking of Chrysler, they built the finest muscle cars of the 1960's. Their Hemi engine was the most powerful in production, even getting banned from NASCAR. In fact, Chrysler underrated it to deceive insurers and competitors. An appearance in cult film, Vanishing Point, means Kowalski wannabes can charge(r). After all, Supersoul said: "Speed is Freedom of the soul."

Dodge Charger, Prom, Prom dress.
Like the school bully, it's tough as nails, but can look sharp come prom night.

Want something very British?

Eccentric, Reliant Robin, Three-wheeler, prom, prom dress
There will always be an eccentric at the school prom, but he could be the next Mark Zuckerberg.

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Why? You don't want to arrive at your prom in a police car, do you?
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