Wednesday, February 27, 2013

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1970 Citroën DS

I'm not certain if this counts as a street sighting. I was leaving San Francisco's annual Fleet Week air show (at the same time as thousands upon thousands of other people as seen in these photos) and discovered this lovely green Citroën DS parked at Fishermen's Wharf. It turned out there was some sort of informal car show starting down at that end of the wharf, consisting mainly of lowriders and donk/high-riser cars on huge chrome wheels. Since the DS didn't match that description, and was parked on the same block where the Studebaker collector usually parks his cars, I felt more inclined to accept it as a legitimate street sighting. As difficult as it was to get clear pictures without hordes of people walking or biking past the car or milling around it, I feel like I've earned the right to feature it here!
The next question was what year it is. To an American, a DS is not so easy to date. This one is a US-spec model with exposed sealed-beam headlights. The color appears to be 1968 Vert Illicinée (Holly Green), but the dashboard is a post-1970 item and the car has 1970s license plates. My best guess is a 1970 or possibly 1971 model. (Citroën fans, please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.) I couldn't blame the owner for wanting the deep metallic green - the only green offered in 1970 was a ghastly algae/moss green color. Note the orange fabric interior - not many other cars dare to offer such a vibrant hue. It's a beautifully preserved example, and by far the cleanest DS I've seen in San Francisco.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1961 Ford Falcon

It seems like there's something about Ford Falcons and Dodge Darts/Plymouth Valiants that makes them nigh unkillable. It's a testament to the simple, basic economy car of the 1960s, a reliable six-cylinder engine and no-frills packaging based on solid platform engineering. The end result is a car that doesn't look like much and isn't fast but it won't die. Basically this was in 1961 what the Toyota Corolla is now. Except that unlike the current Corolla which still heavily resembles the 2003 model, the Falcon was still fresh in 1961, its second year of production.

This Falcon is a basic 2-door sedan which appears to be finished in a well-worn coat of Aquamarine that resembles toothpaste. It's a solid example with a mostly straight body, though some of the trim is missing. Inside, there's a blanket covering the bench seat, so you can figure the upholstery is shot. Oddly, the rest of the interior looks pretty good. Maybe the blanket is just for show. The stock steering wheel is gone, replaced by a smaller-diameter Grant GT wheel. I found this car while venturing out of Chinatown in San Francisco, searching in vain for the 1959 Edsel Ranger that supposedly lives in the neighborhood. I photographed it because I'm a sucker for a good Falcon and the really early ones are starting to become less common now. Maybe someday I'll have featured an example of every year of Falcon sold in the U.S.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1964 Buick Skylark

There is an adage about the proverbial little old lady car. They're the mythical older vehicle that was only driven to the store and to church on Sundays. It's garaged, kept clean and often owned for a long time until the owner cannot drive any longer or passes away. For that reason, such cars are desirable when they come up for sale. Of course, there is a flip side to the little old lady car. Older drivers are not always the most careful, so cosmetic damage can occur.

I was with a friend in San Francisco for Chinese New Year when we happened upon this 1964 Buick Skylark coupe sitting in front of a bank in North Beach. The owner told me the car was bought at auction in all-original condition with just 29,000 miles. The body was pretty straight, with a little damage on the right front and rear corners and a small amount of surface rust on the hood. The interior was by far the car's strongest attribute. The owner opened the door to show me the flawless black vinyl upholstery and silvery headliner. The only changes he had made to his car were a set of later-model Buick Rally wheels (a design I've always loved) and some LED lighting under the dash to illuminate the interior when the doors are open. The latter was a bit bright - and too blue - for my taste, but I could tell that the man cares about and enjoys his Skylark. It's a nice change from all the Chevelles out there.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

For Your Consideration

If you like reading California Streets, you may also enjoy a new blog I contribute to called Insomniac Garage. It was founded by Chris Garza and my colleague Colin Stacy and is a car culture site that celebrates old parked cars, general automotive history and calls attention to affordable projects found for sale on the web. It's where I post a lot of what doesn't end up here.

Go check it out. You might like it.