Monday, October 31, 2016

Danville Street Sighting - 1982 Jeep J-10 Honcho Sportside Pickup


Who here remembers the movie Twister? The Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton storm-chaser flick with the roaring tornado and flying cows had its 20th anniversary this year. I've mentioned it before in a different post but that film was what got me interested in vintage Jeep trucks. The fact that as a little kid I was fascinated with tornadoes and natural disasters was just gravy. A yellow 1982 Jeep J-10 Honcho Townside pickup was used by the two protagonists in the beginning of the movie, then met its untimely demise when the twister picked it up. For the rest of the movie a 1995 Dodge Ram 2500 pulled hero truck duty. But I always liked that Jeep.

So, what makes a Honcho a Honcho? Looking at this truck, that's a great question. The Jeep Honcho was the sportiest appearance package offered on the J-10 truck. It came with special side striping and decals, blacked out grille, a roll bar, wood bed rail trim and vinyl-trimmed bucket seats with a center armrest.
This truck has seen a repaint at some point in its life. Assuming it's a real Honcho, it's lost all of its striping and model badging. It has a roll bar and what appears to be the correct interior. Were it not for the owner's for sale sign directly indicating it to be a Honcho, one could easily mistake it for a J-10 Custom with a roll bar added. It runs a 360 V8 with automatic transmission. The big rear bumper and steel pipe additions to the bed rails give the truck a tougher appearance. Eight-spoke white steel wheels and large side mirrors are factory pieces.

I was really excited to come across this Jeep, even if it isn't a real Honcho.

Also, extra points for sharp eyed readers if you noticed the 1968 AMC AMX I photographed on the same day.

Photographed March 2016

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Danville Street Sighting - 1931 Ford Model A Pickup

Autumn is in full swing and it's almost Halloween, so how about a vehicle that reflects the colors of the season? This 1931 Ford Model A pickup in cheerful yellow, orange and black is downright cute.

From time to time I like going over to downtown Danville on weekends because the town allows people to park for-sale vehicles on the street in front of the high school. It's usually the typical assortment of modern used cars but occasionally something classic pops up. This is one of the oldest vehicles I've come across on that block. It's not the first Model A I've featured and it won't be the last.

Ford built the Model A from 1928 to 1931 as a replacement for the popular Model T. By the end of its near-20-year production run the "T" was getting to be a relic with its unusual throttle and pedal setup and thoroughly antiquated design. The A reflected the more modern design ideas of Henry Ford's son Edsel, and adopted the now commonly accepted interface of clutch, brake and accelerator pedals and a gear shift lever, along with a new four-cylinder engine making roughly twice the horsepower of the old Model T. It was a vehicle that most anyone (at least anyone familiar with driving other contemporary cars) could climb into and operate without learning all-new techniques.

A pickup truck was one of many body styles available on the Model A (I believe this one is the Model 82-B Deluxe Pickup). Buyers could also specify a roadster pickup for top-down utility or upgrade to an AA commercial truck if they needed to haul real stuff. That's not to say a little truck like this can't haul things. I'm pretty sure I saw this one puttering past Home Depot once with some kind of appliance box in the bed. Back in the day you didn't have a Super Duty F-350 ponying up to the home improvement store for two or three yards of dirt. A Model A pickup had a payload capacity of about 500 lbs and 16.5 cubic feet with the standard bed. And honestly, with 40 horsepower on tap, and buggy spring suspension, would you really want to put much more strain on it?

Today a truck like this is more of a toy to enjoy on nice days, that can hold a few more things in the back than your average Model A. As I remarked on my previous Model A pickup feature, it's a charm-filled alternative to a base model compact truck from the modern era. If you want something with a stick shift, no air conditioning and not a lot of power, and you don't mind babying it and doing maintenance, maybe one of these might be for you.

Photographed September 2015
Please don't ask me if it's still for sale; I do not know the owner and would assume it most likely is no longer available.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1971 Toyota Corona Mark II 1900 Automatic Wagon

For every model of car that someone values and keeps in great condition, there is someone else who beats up on theirs. Such is the case with the Toyota Corona Mark II station wagon that I posted earlier this week. The Corona isn't a terribly valuable vehicle but it is rather rare in the US. This has an upside and a downside: rarity makes them interesting, but it also makes parts hard to find. The guy who owns the red Corona 4x4 trail rig basically has a hacked-up Toyota body on top of a truck chassis. The car probably reached the point where the body panels were too damaged to justify repairing and he just decided to have fun with it. Then there's this Corona Mark II, basically identical except one or two years newer. But my goodness, what a difference in terms of condition.

For some reason almost all the Corona Mark IIs I see are wagons, and all the wagons seem to be automatics. I was a little confused about this one regarding its model year, primarily because it appears that some markets got this front end styling in 1971. US-market advertising and Google searching seems to show two different front ends for '71-72. Usually my solution of running the license plate in California online smog records helps, but this car is smog-exempt since it is pre-1975. Sometimes I get lucky if the car was still being tested in the years immediately following 1996 when the state began keeping online records. That was not the case with this one, so my guess stands at a 1971 model based on the color, probably code 521 Greenish Yellow. That paint was used on Coronas up through 1971. ToyotaReference.com says that Mark IIs were available in Pale Yellow up through '72, but this car looks more like Greenish Yellow. So who knows?


This Corona is one of the cleaner ones I've come across, and one of very few I've seen that wasn't white or red. It has about as much rust and body damage as one would expect to find on a daily driver Japanese car of the era, but still displays well on the street. I like that it has all of its stock hubcaps. For those of you who like a complete walkaround of the car, I apologize. I focused on the rear hatch badges and somehow forgot to snap a full rear shot of the car. I think you can figure out what it looks like. Or, go here.

Photographed July 2016