The Cars of Hanger Stout Awake


Himageere 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, and I’ll be happy to remove it and switch the image with another.)

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).

Chapter 1

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.

1962 Ford Fairlane

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?


Chapter 2

Then some crazy guy come roaring through the square, doing about sixty in a ’53 Mercury with twin carbs.


Chapter 4

Along about noon, Pete comes to me when I’m checking the spark plugs on a ’61 Buick Special,


Chapter 5

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.


Chapter 6

After a while I come across this ’53 Pontiac that has been sideswiped and there is a side mirror on it, right on the side that has been wrecked, only it don’t seem to be damage at all.


Every time I would tell her something about my Chevy or what Bo was doing with his ’58 Ford, she would take a quick breath like somebody just poured a glass of ice water down her back.


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.

Chapter 7

Jim Boynton pulled up in his ’59 Dodge, and yelled out, Hey Hanger, what you doin boy?


It was a blue ’64 Plymouth. A nice looking car with a stick shift, which you don’t often see a woman driving.


I was on a bad angle, but our old wrecker, which is a ’62 Ford, is heavy duty and can lift just about anything.


Then the tire bell rang, and I said I better hang up because a ’66 Buick has just drove in.


Chapter 8

Last year I fixed the water pump on his ’63 Impala. It’s got a nice pale green color and dark green upholstery.


Chapter 9

There was an old Buick station wagon there that looked like it was big enough to haul pianos. Its rims were sunk in the ground, clear up to the hubs, it had been there so long.


Chapter 11

Just then I hear the tire bell ring, and there is a ’66 Buick coming up to the far pump.

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.


I saw a blue ’66 Chevy drive up to the far pump, and I went out.

Chapter 13

I was sweeping up the garage with the long push broom when I see a clean ’63 Corvette come in.

Is that yours? I ask.

And he says, What do you think of it?

Pretty nice, I said. I tried to sound kind of bored, but it was an awful nice car. It looked like it had all the extras. And it had been babied, you could tell.


Things were quiet a couple seconds while Jim passed a Rambler station wagon, ’61 or ’62, I’m not sure which, because I was worried about what Jim was going to tell me.


Chapter 15

The next time I saw Phyllis, she was making up a big order of barbecue sandwiches and orange drinks for a stranger who I never saw before. He had his family in a pale green ’67 Buick.


I ask Rigolo if he thought maybe I could put a ’58 Plymouth grill on my Chevy.


Chapter 17

I saw Perry Wilson’s ’47 Ford panel truck, which he says he has put two hundred thousand miles on without changing the oil once.


Chapter 18

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.


Chapter 19

Rigolo had walked out ahead of me and I saw him go over to his ’62 Dodge and get in. Mrs. Rigolo was in there with him, so I guess there was nobody out watching the junk yard.


Somebody pulled the plug, and there was only this ’64 Dodge pickup, which Bo was filling with gas.


Chapter 21

A ’65 Ford Galaxie come in then, and I went out and filled it with regular. It was somebody from out of town and I didn’t know him.


Chapter 22

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.



Chapter 23

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.





chapter 24

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.


chapter 25

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.


chapter 28

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.

1966_ford_fairlane rear_side_view

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.


Bo was emptying the oil pan on a ’64 Buick.



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.


This entry was posted in By Robert Nagle, Curiosities. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Cars of Hanger Stout Awake

  1. Franklyn says:

    Hey that’s my 49 Plymouth. Literally my 49 Plymouth. Took that picture with my phone haha.

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