It’s summer, and that means weekend cruise nights, road trips and hot, sweaty vinyl seats. But when it comes to summer touring, whether cross-town or cross-country, not all cars are created equal. The following are our recommendations for cars that will either keep you cool or are just plain cool, and perfect for warm, lazy weekends.
The most obvious solution for hot weather is an air-conditioned car, but even among classics there are quite a few options so why not start at the beginning? The 1953 Chrysler Imperial was the first car equipped with air conditioning that actually cooled (a couple of other cars were outfitted with A/C before the Imperial, but it was largely experimental and powered by wishful thinking). The Imperial’s air conditioning was so powerful that, when new, it would cool the interior from 120 degrees to 85 degrees in only two minutes!
But if you want absolutely modern style with power-everything, fast forward a few years to 1963 and behold the “Mad Men”-esque Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible. It’s an elegant boulevard cruiser that can glide comfortably with the A/C on during popsicle-melting days and then with the top down on balmy, clear, star-filled nights. Go for a cruise with your lady, put your arm around her and pull her close, Don Draper (that’s what those bench seats are for, among other things).
If money is no object and you find yourself touring “the continent” with a French starlet, then the Caddy just won’t do, Sir. No, you’ll require a proper sporting GT. This is precisely why “il Commendatore” built the 1968 Ferrari 365 GTB/4, the Daytona Spyder. Peel the top back and delight in hearing the V-12 wail every time you downshift, switchback after switchback through the Stelvio Pass, as you and your companion flirt with the Swiss border. Enjoy an Alpine picnic while the sun pierces the thin mountain air just to caress the Ferrari’s shapely Rosso Corsa flanks. Madonn!
Fantasies aside, summer was truly invented for two cars—the Ford Mustang and the Chevy Camaro. These cars are appropriate for every possible automotive scenario (except perhaps off-roading). And during the summer their suitability is only magnified. The jingle may have been, “Baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and Chevrolet,” but think of the ads: The sun is always shining, and people are at the ball game, having fun, cruising around. It might as well be an advertisement for the summer! And the truth is that only a good ol’ American muscle car will do. Bow tie or oval, it doesn’t really matter. V-6 or V-8? Who cares! Just make sure you can drop the top and turn up the radio!