Sunday, April 24, 2016

Danville Street Sighting - 1972 Chevrolet C-20 Custom Camper

I've been a big fan of the 1967-'72 GM pickups since I convinced my dad to purchase a '71 GMC stepside when I was a kid. Most of them around here are either restored customs or tired work trucks now, so a clean stock truck is a great find. This one is a 1972 Chevy C-20 3/4 ton Custom Camper fleetside longbed, and I really like it.

Looking at this truck up close, I'm a little bit saddened that the cool butterscotch and white paint isn't original. It may be the original color combination but there is ample evidence of a repaint. I have nothing against repainting a vehicle that needs it, I just wish that it involved less masking and more disassembly. It all costs money, though. On the other hand, the owner did an excellent job of keeping the body straight and solid over the years. The camper shell is a period piece, but a recent addition according to the for sale sheet affixed to the rear window. The truck is an original 350 V8 and automatic-equipped vehicle. The 1972 Chevy truck brochure recommended at least the 350 V8 for C-20 Custom Campers as an extra-cost option.
One of the cool things about this pickup is it's been in California since it was built. It is a Z-code truck built in Fremont at the factory that later was converted into NUMMI (New United Motors), a GM-Toyota joint venture. The factory today is owned by Tesla Motors and builds their Model S. The license plate frame on this truck indicates it was sold through F.H. Dailey Chevrolet in Oakland (now located in San Leandro) so I'm guessing it's been in the Bay Area its entire life.

I hope that this truck found a good home. The owner needed to sell for health reasons, which is understandable. My father's truck was obtained from an elderly man who was unable to drive it anymore. No one likes having to part with their baby, but there is some comfort sometimes in knowing that the next owner will take care of it.

Photographed April 2015

Monday, April 18, 2016

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1986 Oldsmobile Firenza Coupe

Of all the cars featured on California Streets, a Chevy Cavalier isn't most people's first idea of a rare classic. It isn't even on most people's list of classic cars. So why are you looking at one on this website? Because you aren't, it's an Oldsmobile Firenza Coupe. Same difference, you say? Yeah, it's a GM J-body compact that shares 90% of its body and parts with a Cavalier. But this one features bespoke fascias and wheels, and other goodies that you really can't get anymore. Not many people bought Firenzas when they were new and the aftermarket is nonexistent.

As a car, an Olds Firenza functions just as well as any other J-body. Which is to say, it's a car. It does car things. Maybe not great, but it goes, it stops, it turns. The Firenza could be had with one of three engines, a 1.8 or 2.0 liter four, or a 2.8 V6 introduced for the 1985 model year. The Firenza existed from 1982 to 1988, but the Coupe was only sold starting in 1986, making this one a first-year example. The Overhead Cam badge suggests this car is equipped with the 1.8 liter engine. It wears a faded coat of Carmine Red with black tape striping and optional alloy wheels, as well as the optional right-side mirror. I can't tell if it's a Firenza LC or just a base model with options. Not many people will get excited over a 1980s GM compact, but I did.

Photographed August 2015

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Emeryville Street Sighting - 1963 Volvo PV544 Sport

Tucked away on a quiet corner of a quiet street in Emeryville, California is an unassuming brick building with a simple script sign above its door that says "Fantasy Junction". It lives up to its name. Inside are dozens of classic sports cars worthy of anyone's dream garage, and all for sale. And outside... well, usually there's nothing special outside. But on one of my visits there with a friend who had never been, we encountered this cherry red Volvo PV 544 parked across the street.

Volvo developed the PV 444 prototype during World War II as the company's first unit-body model. The car went on sale in 1944 and was mass produced from 1947 to 1958. It was the first Volvo officially sold in the United States, introduced here in 1956 and replaced in '58 by the 544. That car was an evolution of the 444 and maintained its classic postwar styling, but with a modern curved windshield, different taillights and grille, new speedometer and new transmission. Later 544s had Volvo's B18 four-cylinder engine, popularly equipped with dual carburetors in U.S. models.

This one is a 544 Sport, Volvo's marketing name for the more luxurious and powerful model. Unfortunately the Sport badge is missing from the trunk. I believe it to be a 1963 model because '64s got new wheels and hubcaps. I like the bright trim rings that are included on the body-colored wheels, and the little wraparound over-riders on the bumpers. This is a classy little economy car!

Photographed August 2015