Monday, May 9, 2011

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray

I've always been a sucker for 1963-67 Corvettes, and yet I rarely photograph them. Why is that? Because they're something of a cliche. They're like first-generation Mustangs, 1955-57 Chevy Bel Airs, and such. At car shows, everybody has one. You might say I'm spoiled, living in California. It's the most populous state with the most vibrant car culture, and my local fairgrounds hosts car shows every four months with 3,000+ cars. Dozens of C2 Corvettes show up, and I walk right past most of them.
However, in the real world, vintage Vettes are much less commonly seen. So when this gorgeous blue '65 Sting Ray pulled up and parked, I grabbed my camera. In retrospect, I probably should have taken more pictures of it. I shot this car the same day as the '64 Sting Ray I posted last July, it was late in the day, and I probably wasn't in the mood to spend a bunch of time getting close to a car nearly identical to one I'd just photographed pretty thoroughly in another part of town.
The '65 Corvette was a fairly important model year. It was the first year of the 396 big block and four-wheel disc brakes, but it was also the last year of fuel injection until 1982. This example looks like it could be a lower-spec car, with standard hubcaps, and no hood bulge which indicates a base 327 engine. It does have the optional sidepipes, but lacks the rare and expensive fuel injection package.
The fairly new license plates suggest that this car was restored recently. The color isn't right for factory Nassau Blue, but I like it. If it were mine, I'd probably have swapped the wheel covers out for the optional turbine-style alloy wheels with spinner center caps.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1966 Pontiac GTO convertible

Oh hell yes.
Now this one I like. It's a 1966 Pontiac GTO convertible in Reef Turquoise. Hailing from the first year of the GTO as its own model instead of a trim level in the Tempest line, this "Goat" is a prime example of the "Coke-bottle" shape that was becoming popular in the industry - a muscular shape that strayed from the car's boxy roots and gave it some flair. It is one of 12,798 convertibles built that year and would have sold for about $3100 new. Selling a convertible for only $250 more than a coupe is unheard of today, but back in the '60s a dollar had a whole lot more buying power. Those days are long gone. But then again, the GTO (and indeed, the entire Pontiac brand) is likely gone forever as well.
This example is one of the cleanest muscle cars I've seen doing everyday driver duty in San Francisco. Most older urban cars are a little beat up, with bent bumpers, dents and scratches from indiscriminate parking, and in SF they usually have some rust in the rockers or wherever the paint's chipped off. This car is mint, likely the recipient of a fine restoration. I love unrestored "survivors", but I also love a beautifully restored car that still gets driven - and not just onto the auction block. If I were to make any changes to it, I'd fit the passenger door a little better - and take the "Delta" brand lettering off the headlights. They appear to be new, more powerful halogen lights to replace the old sealed-beam lamps - a smart swap for someone driving a fast car with slow brakes. Sadly I don't know whether the 389 V8 in this car is equipped with the Tri-Power triple carburetor package, nor do I know which transmission it has. Given that no column shifter is visible, it must be a 3- or 4-speed manual on the floor. The owner got in and left shortly after I crossed the street to take pictures of the driver's side, so I didn't get the chance to talk to him about it.
At any rate, it's good to see Ted taking care of his GTO.