In the 1920s, a small car company called Jordan manufactured a sporty looking car called the “Playboy.” The car was nothing special, but the print advertising for the Jordan Playboy is considered by many to be some of the finest automotive advertising ever written. This article pays homage to the spirit of the Jordan ads, written when print advertising was king, and the headline of one of their most famous ads read, “Somewhere West of Laramie.”
Somewhere west of Montauk there is a Porsche, or a Miata or a Corvette or a vintage MG, being driven through flashes of early morning sunlight poking through the hundreds of tree branches that line the back roads of Bridgehampton. The secret roads of Bridgehampton are known not only for their beauty but also for the ghosts that watch over them—the ghosts of the Bridgehampton racetrack. Take a ride there, obey the speed limits, but know that the greatest cars ever made, driven by some of the best car pilots ever born, have driven these same roads in the past, at impossible speeds, around the same curves you are driving.
Somewhere west of Montauk, there is a large green box of a vehicle built by the Prevost Bus Company of Canada sailing along the road, carrying dreamers from the city out to the Hamptons. The Hampton Jitney has been doing this for decades in competition for passengers with the Long Island Rail Road. Whereas the diesel-electric LIRR trains are all business, the Jitney is a lot like the jolly “Thomas the Tank Engine,” a friendly green hulk of a machine that says hello to everyone on the road. Powered by a 450-horsepower diesel engine, this gentle giant of the Hamptons highway is as much a part of the East End as the sea breeze.
Somewhere west of Montauk there are hundreds—no, make that thousands—of pick-up trucks scurrying around like ants to their various jobs, driven by the people that keep the Hamptons going. The landscapers’ pickups towing equipment on transparent trailers; the pool-cleaning guys, whose trucks have battle scars from years of carrying corrosive chemicals; the carpenters and builders and painters that freshen up aging properties—it’s the little trucks driven by the earnest workforce of the area, that keep the Hamptons humming. Let’s also not forget all the police cars in the Hamptons. Thanks to them, most of the serious crimes committed are illegal U-turns. Respect these guys and give them a smile.
Somewhere west of Montauk there are quite a few car collectors. Most of them have one or two collector cars they cherish. I know of two collectors who have more than 80 cars. Of course, you can only drive one at a time, and I say make that one count. Also, speed is not that important. I’ve always maintained that it is more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow. Also, remember those nice black-and-whites I mentioned above? Their drivers are sometimes overzealous about handing out tickets, and not to Broadway shows.
Somewhere west of Montauk, we can be taught a lesson in crowd control. Driving and parking, if even possible, can be painful. In the old cowboy West, they used to say “Don’t take your guns to town.” Perhaps here we should say, “Don’t take your car to town.” Take a bike, or even walk—it’s healthier. However, going to town west of Montauk, or even to Montauk, makes for good people watching—it’s great for the spirit. This is the Hamptons, so enjoy. Don’t forget, further west of Montauk is Manhattan.Though it’s the greatest city in the world, you’ve gotta go back there to work on Monday. “Give your mother the password, or I’ll run this over with the truck. That will be MY ‘recreational activity.”
Photo of vintage 1926 Jordan Playboy Roadster ad courtesy Alden Jewell, Flickr creative commons: flickr.com/photos/autohistorian/