Monday, September 14, 2015

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1962 Plymouth Fury

Ever have those times when somebody needs help parallel parking? I've been there, on both sides. As a suburbanite I don't get a lot of practice parking parallel and certainly not often in the tight spaces in San Francisco. So I cringed when I saw a car put on its turn signal while I was photographing this 1962 Plymouth Fury sedan and start to pull in front of it to park. I stopped taking pictures and helped the lady avoid damaging the classic car with her Jetta. I've seen this Plymouth around the city multiple times but have rarely caught it standing still, so this feature includes photos from two different sightings a year apart in the same neighborhood.

I grew up hating these cars. I thought the 1962 Plymouth offerings were some of the most awfully styled cars ever -- and I'm not the only person who felt that way. These cars were kind of a bomb for Chrysler Corporation and an example of what happens when a company throws its weight behind a wrong guess of what the competition is doing. The 1962 Mopar full-size line was shrunk down based on information that Chevrolet was going to shrink their Impala. What actually happened was Chevrolet introduced the Chevy II compact for '62. So Chrysler was stuck with intermediate-sized cars that looked heavy, yet appeared relatively small inside for their size. Dealers hated them and Chrysler stylist Virgil Exner could hardly be blamed for it since he was recovering from a massive heart attack. He penned the original lines for the car but Chrysler brass were responsible for ordering his basic design warped into a smaller package.

For what it's worth, a 1962 Plymouth Fury is a very unique-looking car today, one that will certainly stand out even among the multitude of classics prowling San Francisco's streets. It has some cool details to it, and I'm always a sucker for great vintage badges. Stylized "Fury" emblems are some of my favorites from this era. The hubcaps are a strange style I've never seen on anything else. I like the early black plates with Earle C. Anthony dealership plate frames from 901 Van Ness in San Francisco. That location used to sell Packards, then Plymouths, and now is a Jaguar-Land Rover dealer.

Overall this Fury's in great shape for a daily driver. I have no doubt it runs like a top.

Photographed August 2014 / August 2015

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Oakland Street Sighting - 1976 Ford Ranchero 500

Over the past several months, my friends have gotten me into a new pastime: flea markets. Every so often we get together early on a Sunday morning and hit the Laney College Swap Meet in Oakland. It's a fun little place full of bargains and occasionally sellers who think they have something made of gold-plated unobtainium, both of which make for amusing interactions. It has contributed significantly to my diecast collection, and also triggered my interest in customizing small-scale toy cars thanks to the low price of used examples at the swap meet.

It was after attending one such swap meet at Laney that I found this 1976 Ford Ranchero 500 parked just down the block. Many old trucks with amazing patina show up there on Sundays, but few as classic and interesting as this. I've long been a fan of this generation of Torino and Ranchero, in no small part because the red Gran Torino from Starsky & Hutch is awesome. The blocky styling of the '74-76 Torino lends itself well to a coupe-utility pickup body, too.

This Ranchero is a base 500 model and I have no clue what powers it. The single tailpipe gives up no secrets but I'd guess the 302 cubic inch V8 or even the base 250 straight six sits under the hood. It still has a dealer sticker on the tailgate from Brown-Clarkson Inc. of Redwood City (formerly located at 365 Convention Way if my research is correct), making it a longtime Bay Area vehicle. Dark Brown metallic body is heavily worn with evidence of accident repairs to the front end and passenger door, yet the two-tone butterscotch and brown vinyl seats look perfect. It's yet another reminder of how vinyl upholstery resists the ravages of time and weather better than most.

I like this ute. The patina makes it interesting, the camper top makes it practical and the doggy in the driver seat is just adorable.

Photographed May 2015