Thursday, April 9, 2015

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1971 Ford LTD Country Squire

I often find myself becoming nostalgic for the days of the traditional American station wagon. They're big, spacious and to me they just look cool. Of course, I never had to ride in one on a family road trip, frying my backside on hot vinyl seats through untinted windows, getting carsick on the highway while choking on exhaust fumes sucked in through the open tailgate window. My parents both owned at least one compact station wagon each years ago, including a Chevy Vega Kammback, Ford Escort and Chevy Cavalier RS. But that was before I was born, and neither of them ever had a monster barge like a '71 Ford LTD Country Squire.

The '71-72 Fords always appealed to me for some strange reason, especially in wagon form. The pointed front grille and quad headlights appeared on a lot of the cars I drew in elementary school.

The most fascinating detail of this car for me is actually the dealership frame on the license plate. Hughson Ford in San Francisco was the first Ford dealership, ever. William Hughson had a machinery parts supply company and wanted to sell horseless carriages after he saw the first Ford prototype demonstrated at a bicycle and machinery convention in Chicago in 1902. He purchased twelve of the first cars produced by the fledgling Ford Motor Company in 1903 and shipped them to San Francisco to sell to customers. It took three years to convince buyers that the vehicles were anything more than a novelty, and only after some of Hughson's inventory was pressed into ambulance and rescue duty following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. Hughson Ford operated in the city until 1979, ten years after Bill Hughson's death.

This car presumably was sold new through Hughson Ford, so I expect it's lived its whole life in and around the Bay Area. Time has not been kind to the fiberglass and vinyl woodgrain side trim, though the steel body has held up well. Body trim and hubcaps are all accounted for, down to the rear wind deflector and accessory rub strips on the front bumper corners. Heck, I'm pretty sure the paint is original. It's not super old but it's still a survivor in a town where big gas guzzlers long ago fell out of style. Whether the owner drives it by choice or out of necessity, this Country Squire is eighteen feet of awesome.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Livermore Street Sighting - 1969 AMC Javelin SST

Today is Easter, a holiday associated with a number of various symbols depending on how you observe it. Sometimes I like to tie in the most appropriate car I can find for holiday features, so here is a robin's-egg blue 1969 AMC Javelin SST. It has nothing to do with bunnies, marshmallow Peeps or the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but it is a rare car in a good spring color on a holiday known for seeking out hidden pastel eggs. And if you really, really want to associate a javelin with Easter time, read the Bible verses (specifically John 19:34) about what happened on Good Friday, three days before Easter Sunday. Beyond that, this is a car blog and it's not my place to lecture my readers on religion.

Anyway! We've looked at a '69 Javelin SST once before, and that one was relatively similar to this one - blue with Magnum 500 wheels and a factory 290 V8 engine. Unlike that car, though, this one has a black top and no stripe package. I've seen this particular car a few times, including once in spectator parking at the Pacific Coast Dream Machines show in Half Moon Bay. It has some dents and rust, not show-quality in the traditional sense. My belief is that a show car is any car you take the trouble to bring to and enter into a car show. Some of you are going to cry foul on this as a street sighting because of the 1970 Buick GS 400 next to it, and yes, it was photographed on Nostalgia Day in Livermore, fall 2013. But it was a few blocks from the car show on an open, public street. So there. And fear not, you'll be seeing the Buick sometime as well.

This is a unique alternative to a Mustang or Camaro that you can still have fun with. I can dig it.

Happy EaSSTer!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1994 Dodge Grand Caravan Art Car

It's April Fools Day, and this is probably the only time you'll ever see a '94 Dodge Caravan as a feature post here. It's an art car, a Burning Man creation, and there's not a whole lot more I can say about it. It has toilet seats on the windows.


Just wow.