Here are photos of the cars (listed by chapter) which appear in Jack Matthews’ 1967 novel Hanger Stout, Awake! The novel is now for sale as an ebook . This page is a reference for readers; it contains a LOT of photos underneath relevant quotations in the novel, so click the Continue Reading link to see all the cars. I found these photos from the Internet (Wikipedia, etc), and so I do not own the rights to any of these images; the copyright belongs to the owner. (If you are the copyright owner and don’t want the image to appear here or wish to receive attribution or credit, just email me idiotprogrammer at gmail.)
The 1967 novel Hanger Stout Awake! is a story about how a teenager grows up and widens his perspective. But on a literal level at least, the story is simply about cars. The teenager Clyde “Hanger” Stout works in a filling station, hangs out at junkyards, can identify cars from 20 years ago and is always working on his 1956 Chevy, which he paints solid black. Hanger has this knack for noticing every car that whizzes by and even starts identifying people with whatever car they drive. Some people (like his ex-girlfriend Penny) hardly pay attention to cars except when it’s the latest sports car. But for Hanger cars hint at personality; over time they accumulate dents and scratches, ornaments and used parts to replace the original ones. They become the setting for everyday dramas, and at some point acquire a history closely aligned with its driver.
To an older person, this preoccupation with cars might seem materialistic or superficial. But as I reread this novel on my ebook reader, I realized that I hadn’t the foggiest idea of what the cars mentioned in the book actually look like! So I googled around and found an amazing assortment of styles and colors. As a person already habituated to the slick ergonomic designs of Camry’s and Porsches, I expected the cars of Hanger Stout Awake! to look quaint and old-fashioned. Instead, I found a lot more variety of styles and customizations than what appears on roads today. Even more amazing to me was how popular these vintage cars still are. They are still being displayed at shows, bought and sold on ebay, rebuilt and restored…almost to the point where the restored cars look in better shape than they were when they first hit the American scene.
Perhaps over time a character like Hanger might outgrow his teenage interest in cars and move onto more important matters — like computers, business, raising a family, pondering the meaning of life and dabbling perhaps in the arts. But thanks to the Internet, I see now that there’s an entire army of Hangers out there still tinkering with the contraptions that once captured their imaginations. Even younger people are messing around with vintage cars, finding in it both a technical challenge and a way to assert their individuality. I’m not a car guy — never was, and never will be. At the same time, it’s easy to marvel at the efforts of the dedicated few to make these machines destined for the scrapheap to outlast the company that produced it or even its original human owner.
1956 Chevy black (Hanger’s Car)
I had been wanting to get a rear-vision mirror for my ’56 Chevy, which I painted all black last fall with some lacquer paint I got special from Bert Wilson’s secondhand store.
From the 1956 Chevrolet Story, a promotional book published by Chevrolet.
(From the About Chevy Ads, a blog which reprints a lot of old car ads).
See also: the official 1956 Chevrolet manual (online).
The tire bell rang and I went out to fill the tank of a ’63 Corvair. Its hood had waves on it, it was so hot.
I look up at the grease rack and see a ’62 Fairlane up there. It was waiting for a lube and oil change.
I shook my head no, and Bo Thompson, who just come in from filling a ’63 Dart with regular, said, How could you tell with Clyde there?
Then some crazy guy come roaring through the square, doing about sixty in a ’53 Mercury with twin carbs.
This new T Bird come in, and I see Bo Thompson start to drop his Coke, because he likes to take care of the expensive new cars. But I beat him to this T Bird and I hear Pete laughing at us because he thinks it’s funny the way we fight to get up next to a new car especially if it is a real good one.
And I tell him the only reason he doesn’t laugh at Mr. Comisky is because he’s got a new Caddy instead of a ’56 Chevy, and he’s rich. Pete isn’t the sort of person who laughs at a rich person.
I finished the milk shake and coney and got in my Chevy. I waved at Bo as I turned out into the street and then waited as some old man in a tan ’65 Fairlane up ahead turned into the automatic laundry owned by Bruce Myers, who has a false eye from the war.
Later on, Penny told me about the MG, and I said, I thought you didn’t like cars.
And she said, Oh sometimes I do. And then she just stayed silent, like she didn’t want to tell me any more. So I figured she liked them if they were new and expensive. But what did Charlotte’s boy friend know about that MG of his? I bet I could tear the engine down and put it back together again, and he probably don’t even know where the generator is.
It was a blue ’64 Plymouth. A nice looking car with a stick shift, which you don’t often see a woman driving.
when I got through filling a Volkswagen with about three teaspoonfuls of gas, as Pete is always saying when he puts gas in a VW, I went around in back to see how the racing stripe was drying, which was not too bad.
Pete got out an egg salad sandwich and a 7-Up out of the cooler, and Bo went over to the Dairy Freeze to kid with Phyllis and I took care of a ’60 Plymouth that come in. Its tailpipe was all rusty and dragging on the cement.
When Dean comes back I am just throwing my milk shake carton away and Pete
is putting new plugs in a ’64 Pontiac with mags on the wheels.
Along about two o’clock, somebody pulled the plug, and right then the phone rang and it was Pete’s wife, who talked to him about twenty minutes. Only two cars come in while he was on the phone — a new Olds and a ’56 Chevy four door, not in as good condition as my Chevy was.
Then he walk outside toward the pumps, and a ’64 Dodge come in at the same time, and Bo filled it with regular, looking like he was mad at the whole world, which I guess he was.
Pete said, yes, that wasn’t a bad idea, come to think of it, and he walk out of the door and just then a new Continental come in, but neither Bo or me made a move toward it, and Pete took care of it.
Later on, Bo took off for the Dairy Freeze, when I had a ’61 Pontiac at the pumps…
and Pete had a DeSoto up on the rack, draining the oil. Then a new Ford comes in, and Pete ask me where Bo is, and I told him. Pete cusses him again for taking off like that, but a few minutes later, Bo comes back with milk shakes that he had bought for both of us, and Pete didn’t say anything.
I go up and sit on the hood of an old Hudson, which they don’t make any more, and look around at all the cars which I practically know by heart.
A few minutes later, Bert Wilderman, the four minute man from Detroit drove up in a battered old ’49 Plymouth. If we had seen a car like that in the station, we would of kicked sand over it, as Pete is always saying. So nobody would see it and get scared away.
After a little bit, a ’66 Fairlane comes in, belonging to a man named
Holzaple, who is a good golfer and has an aunt who is drunk all the time and
really makes a mess out of herself around the town, writing bad checks and
things like that. She lives at Mr. Holzaple’s house sometimes.
When she finished, the two women went over to a ’65 Dodge convertible and
got in and started eating their banana splits, and Phyllis started right in
talking about my horoscope again.
I knew all the other cars by heart. So I went up and down the rows, and I
look at them. The birds were chirping and flying all around. I saw a sparrow
fly right through an old Packard. The glass was all out of the windows. It was
a ’36, 1 think Rigolo told me one time when I ask him.