Over the holiday break, I’ve been watching Comedians in Cars getting Coffee , Jerry Seinfeld’s web series which is chock-full of witty repartee between Jerry and his comedic pals. It’s obvious that the man’s got a caffeine AND car addiction but when he rocked-up to collect uber-cool President Barack Obama at the White House in a 1963 silver blue Corvette Stingray, it was the perfect match of man and beast.
This was the car that the Apollo 12 astronauts were presented with on re-entry in 1969 – it doesn’t get any cooler than that – and it reminded me of a classic car story I heard from a masseur (who else!!) when we were staying at the Miramonte Resort near Palm Springs.
There are just 2 degrees of separation between Palm Springs’ first golf country club, the racy Ford Thunderbird motorcar and Velma Dawson, a dancer/actress born in Sydney in 1912. Velma married well and she and husband John bought an old, failing dude ranch near Palm Springs long before it became the bolt hole of the rich and famous. Surprised that Palm Springs had no 18-hole golf courses, John, a prominent amateur golfer, decided to create one from the dude ranch and in 1951, Rancho Mirage’s Thunderbird Country Club, a golfing community for Hollywood’s elite and captains of industry, was born. And didn’t they love it!
It became a template for the scores of Coachella Valley golf cubs that followed. Noted modernist architect William F Cody created timeless club house buildings while Velma tackled the interiors. The electric golf cart, invented for members of Thunderbird Country Club, was popular with cinematic celebrities and former Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon and Ford.Speaking of Ford, the Ford Motor Company liked the Thunderbird logo so much it decided to adopt the name and logo for its new sports car launched in 1955 to compete with Chevrolet’s Corvette. Sleek lines, wicked tail fins and a stylised logo, this was the start of the golden age of American consumerism and it hit a bulls-eye. Ford’s then chairman Ernest Breech was a member of the country club and the Dawsons received a shipment of the very first Thunderbird convertibles.
But when it comes to futuristic design in Palm Springs, doesn’t stop at cars. This desert oasis is world-renown for its stunning collection of mid-century modernist architecture and holds an exciting, annual Modernism Week over 11 days to celebrate designed and foster an appreciation of all things modernist.
Running from February 11 to 21, 2016 visit www.modernismweek.com for more.
Information on Palm Springs and Coachella Valley’s desert towns can be found on www.visitgreaterpalmsprings.com
Miramonte Resort & Spa is in Indian Wells near Palm Springs. www.miramonteresort.com The desert air is dry and the spa treatments deliver lashings of hydrating Hollywood glamour not to mention the odd tidbit of gossip…….
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