Sunday, September 30, 2012

San Jose Street Sighting - 1962 Dodge W200 Power Wagon Town Wagon

One of the things I've always liked about postwar Dodge trucks is that they look like they mean business. They just have a tough overall appearance that says, "I'm here to work hard and don't even think of messing with me". Such is the case with the Power Wagon. Even the name evokes a badass work truck. The name dates back to the end of World War II when Dodge developed a civilian version of its M37 military truck. The original Power Wagon was almost medieval in its design by the time it was dropped after the 1968 model year, what with its 1940s cab, separate fenders and exposed radiator cap, but it was still a brutally effective 4x4 truck. The Power Wagon name spread to other 4WD Dodge trucks, including this W200 Power Wagon Town Wagon. The Town Wagon was a carryall, basically a proto-SUV. It was also available as the Town Panel, a delivery van-type vehicle with no side windows made for hauling cargo.

The Power Wagons didn't seem to get redesigned very often, as seen by this early 1960s model which wears front sheetmetal from 1958. The rest of the body dates to 1954. Only small trim changes were made to the body, with the rest of the improvements made to the dash and the chassis. Town Wagons were dropped following the 1966 model year. This truck is an ex-Navy vehicle and wears a custom heavy-duty bumper with a winch (winches were available from the factory but the bumper isn't stock). According to information I found on a web forum, this example is a 1962 model with amber turn signals from a '63. If the information is to be believed, this one came with a 318 V8 which was replaced at a later date by a 360. The crazy thing is, when the info was posted back in 2010, the truck only had 22,000 original miles. Not too shabby. Throw some new paint on it and fix the windows so they keep out water and it'll be pretty awesome. The owner appears to be restoring an M35 troop transport truck in his driveway so fixing this one should be a cake walk.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Collector's Corner - Maisto Ferrari F50 Berlinetta and Barchetta

Occasionally I like to do a photo shoot with two of my models together. In this case it's two Maisto Ferrari F50s, a Berlinetta and a Barchetta. The F50 was one of my favorite sports cars when I was a kid. Created in the mid-'90s to commemorate 50 years of Ferrari, the F50 was utterly outrageous in every way. Some people to this day think it's one of the ugliest things out there. I was smitten with it because it just looked so exotic. I drew it, I raced with it in Need For Speed, and I ended up with three of them in 1:18 scale (a friend gave me another red coupe years ago). In fact, the red 1997 First Editions Hot Wheels F50 Barchetta I got as a gift at age nine was the first toy car I treated with the utmost respect, and from that day on did my best not to damage my collection. So you could say that the F50 had a little bit of an impact on me.

In retrospect, I can kind of see why people don't like the F50. I don't even like it as much as I used to. Compared to the F40, which is beautiful in its brutal honesty and simplicity, the F50 seems fussy and overstyled. Still, it has an exotic look to it that draws small children and convinces parents to funnel into Costco at Christmas time and buy lots of bright red and yellow Maisto Ferraris.
These models have their share of faults, but the parts you don't usually pay attention to are actually their strongest assets. I could rag on the lack of paint on the top of the rear wheel arches when the engine cover is opened. But look at that V12 with its spark plug wires, individual hoses and textured surfaces. The functional suspension is also visible back there. The rear taillight panel mesh has actual holes, not just indentations, and the chrome prancing horse is a separate piece. The interior is excellent, with seatbelts, chrome window cranks and a delicate chrome manual shifter in a six-speed gate. The seatbelt buckles and release buttons are painted as well.
Exterior body detailing is so-so. This is an older Maisto so certain things are iffy, including but not limited to body gaps. The doors don't like to open and close smoothly, but unlike most Maisto models, they do not use dog-leg hinges. They're a more realistic hinge that holds the door closer to the body. Tires are Goodyear Eagle F1s with embossed lettering, another nice touch. Most of the light lenses have their mounting pegs hidden from view, with only the front turn signals showing how they're connected to the body. One of my biggest pet peeves about this model was always the front air intakes in the hood. It transitions from the metal hood to a separate piece of plastic and the gaps between them always bothered me. One must remember that at the end of the day this is still a budget model intended for children and the manufacturer had to make cuts here and there. I can appreciate that, before Hot Wheels got an exclusive license to make Ferrari replicas, Maisto was out there producing this and doing a pretty good job of it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

San Ramon Street Sighting - 1965 Chevrolet C-10 Fleetside pickup

I'm a sucker for mid-'60s Chevy trucks. The 1964-'65 C-10 fleetside trucks are some of my favorite pickups, and I have no idea why. I just really like them. This body style came out in 1963 and replaced the old four-headlight body that dated back to 1958. The '63 model had the last vestige of 1950s design, the wraparound windshield. In 1964 that disappeared, replaced by a modern (and probably cheaper) curved glass unit. If there's anything unusual about this design that I don't care much for, it's the almost perfectly trapezoidal door window shape. Oddly enough, that's something I never noticed about these trucks until I photographed this one. The rear edge of the door is slanted to match the 1963 windshield slope, which was reversed on the '64. These trucks seem to frequently come with the grille and front bumper painted white, and I think it suits the overall look. This pickup has the very common white 8-spoke truck wheels which aren't stock but are on -everything-. I don't know whether I like these trucks better with plain body sides or the deluxe stainless and white side trim on this truck. Either way, the body looks good in a lot of different colors as long as the roof is painted white. If this were my truck I'd freshen it up a bit. It needs some crash damage repair on the right front for starters. I'm torn regarding the paint condition, though. If you clean a truck like this up too much, you'll be afraid to use it as a truck. This one still gets used for its intended purpose. I'm all for trucks that look good but can still be used.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pleasanton Street Sighting - 1963 Ford Falcon Club Wagon

A while ago, I featured a Ford Falcon Club Wagon I found parked on Haight Street in San Francisco. It was a well-used example and was in rather ratty condition. The van, being a Falcon-badged variant of what is more commonly called the Econoline, confused some people. The post made it to an Australian Falcon forum, and mind you, the Aussies take their Falcons very seriously. They couldn't believe that such a thing existed, because clearly it was an Econoline someone put 'custom' Falcon badges on. Well, it wasn't the only Falcon Club Wagon van out there.

This Club Wagon, which I'm calling a 1963 model because of the AXP prefix on the black license plate, is a nicer example of the breed. It appears to be the same model year and even the same color as the other van, but its paint is in far better condition and the chrome is better as well. Unfortunately it hasn't escaped all damage, evidenced by the crinkled left front corner. The owner has fitted cheap white truck wheels on thin whitewall tires, a choice that some of my friends would decry. I must be one of the few who likes that wheel style in a lot of truck applications, including this one. The paint is pretty well shot on this van, but at least it's all one color and doesn't have rust spots all over.
I spotted this Falcon a few blocks away from the Alameda County Fairgrounds on the day of a car show. Note the 1986 Vixen 21TD motorhome parked just around the corner.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Alameda Street Sighting - 1955 Chevrolet Two-Ten

Picture yourself at a car show. What do you most expect to see there? If you said a plethora of 1955-1957 "Tri-Five" Chevys, most of them sitting on chrome five-spoke custom wheels, then we probably go to the same car shows. Or maybe we don't, because the Tri-Five Chevy is an extremely popular choice for classic car owners. Don't get me wrong, it's popular because it's a beautiful car, a solid design with room under the hood for some cookie-cutter GM small block crate V8 and they look great with American Racing Torq-Thrust or Torq-Thrust II wheels. They usually end up painted black-and-white or red-and-white or blue-and-white or something-else-and-white. They look really nice all done up. I've become so bored of Tri-Five Chevys, I typically walk right past them at shows unless an owner has actually done something unique with theirs.

That said, I freaking love this one. Why? Because it's not a cookie-cutter custom. It's not even a Bel Air. Everyone loves the higher-trim Bel Air hardtops and convertibles and they go for a lot of money. There's the problem, though. Everyone saved the Bel Airs and let the base 150s and mid-range 210s go to scrap. The Bel Air is more showy, with more chrome and usually fancier options and and bigger engines and two-tone paint schemes. This sedate 210 has just enough chrome trim to reflect '50s style. It isn't a hardtop coupe, it's a two-door sedan. I actually really like the pillared cars, including the pillared four-doors. This car just looks right to me in every way. It's a beautiful color with a perfect body and perfect chrome, appears to be all stock with clean whitewall tires and full chrome hubcaps with all the detailing intact. It's likely a lovingly restored car equipped with some factory options to class it up. This really is one of my favorite '55 Chevys I've ever seen. It blows the other '55 I've featured, a generic red and white Bel Air convertible on Torq-Thrust IIs, completely out of the water. It is, like the license plate says, a clean '55.

I was driving through Alameda with friends, looking for the Pacific Pinball Museum when we stumbled upon this car. I stopped and quickly photographed the Chevy in the evening sunlight. I've stayed away from Alameda for blog sightings previously, if only because I considered it the domain of Murilee Martin's "Down on the Street" series, formerly of Jalopnik and now of The Truth About Cars. Murilee was the one who got me interested in blogging about parked cars in the first place, and photographed over 500 old and interesting cars in Alameda alone. But since he moved out of state, I figure whatever I find on 'The Island that Rust Forgot' is fair game now.