Monday, July 31, 2017

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1966 Mercury Comet 202

Around the city it seems like the favored kickaround classics are the Mopar Dart/Valiant twins and the Ford Falcon. They're tough, simple, reliable and practical. And in a town where parking spaces are nigh impossible to find, a small footprint and solid bumpers are helpful. While Falcons are relatively plentiful in urban environments, a Mercury Comet is a little less common. Here's a '66 Comet 202 sedan.

The 1966 Mercury Comet was the first year of a new generation that saw the car reclassified from a compact to a midsize. The styling had been previewed in 1965 with the adoption of stacked quad headlights and rectangular taillights. The 1966 body introduced a hint of a Coke-bottle shape and smoothed out some of the prior car's hard edges. It was made longer and wider, marketed for better highway performance. Where the 1965 Comet was a Falcon twin, the '66 was paired with the Ford Fairlane. The '66 Falcon was smaller and rode on a shorter version of the Fairlane platform. The 202 was the base Comet model this year but was available with three engines: a 200 cubic inch "Big Six", 289 small block V8 or 390 V8. This one has one of the V8 options, probably the mild 289.

A couple of years ago I featured a 1967 Ford Falcon that I described as having been around the block and hit everything along the way. This car isn't quite at that stage yet. It's been bumped and banged a number of times but the passenger side and rear end are still in relatively good shape. It's nice to see that it has all of its original badges and hubcaps. I'm curious where the fourth headlamp went, though. I had to find and photograph the car twice to get the full walkaround view my readers like.

So how rare is a 1966 Comet 202 sedan? Ford sold 182,000 Falcons and 317,000 Fairlanes that year. Mercury sold 170,426 Comets. Of those, the base 202 four-door sedan accounted for 20,440 cars. How many of those do you think have survived? Not a whole lot, probably.

Photographed March and August 2014

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Danville Street Sighting - 1968 Cadillac Coupe DeVille

This week I have an impromptu theme for my posts. These are all cars I've found outside the same Danville auto repair shop on the same side street, just not at the same time. Last one for this group is a 1968 Cadillac coupe that I believe is a DeVille.
For the longest time I was sure this was a Calais. The Calais was Cadillac's base model from 1965 to 1976, replacing the long-lived Series 62 (sometimes called Series 6200). The Calais looked all but identical to the more expensive DeVille, but offered a little less standard luxury equipment. Every 1968 Calais received a 472 cubic inch V8, automatic transmission, power windows, automatic climate control, an electric clock, AM/FM stereo and three-speed wipers. Power seats, leather-grained vinyl upholstery and whitewall tires were options. The biggest deal on the Cadillac order form was paint and interior. On most Cadillacs a buyer could choose from 147 interior combinations across the various leather, vinyl and fabric color and texture options. Calais offered five cloth and two vinyl seat styles, with no vinyl roof option. Twenty exterior paint colors were available, but some years of Calais were not offered with the extra-cost "Firemist" metallic paints.

But there's a problem. This car has no trim level badges to indicate its identity. And it has a painted roof that is cracking like it isn't a solid metal surface, and a thin metal trim piece around the base of the roof. Which tells me this car probably has a vinyl roof, which means it is most likely a Coupe DeVille and not a Calais. This car has some body filler repair work in the front fender area and the rear fender skirts are missing. The wire wheelcovers are from a 1980s Chevy Caprice. Paint looks like an older job that might have been applied without taking the car apart fully. Since it's not a show car, the owner may only be concerned with keeping the mechanicals in order so the car can still be enjoyed on the road.

I usually don't get excited about Cadillacs but this one caught my eye enough to shoot it. It has enough patina to look like it has an interesting story, I'm just a little sad I didn't get the chance to learn it.

Photographed October 2015

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Danville Street Sighting - 1958 Chevrolet Impala

I needed a theme for this week's posts. In the previous feature of the '46 Ford convertible I mentioned that sometimes I find good cars outside of a repair shop in Danville. So I guess that's what we'll do. Second in the series is this 1958 Chevy Impala.

My friend Colin got me hooked on 1958 Chevrolets. I never liked them when I was young. For me it was all about the '57s. Over time most of the other 1950s Chevys endeared themselves to me, but the '58 took the longest for me to come around. It's so ... baroque. And the most ornate of all Chevys that year was the Impala Sport Coupe. This was the first year of the Impala, in which it was the most expensive trim level of the Bel Air series. It was offered as a hardtop coupe or a convertible. It featured extra bright trim pieces and six taillamps, and a longer wheelbase and smaller greenhouse than other Chevrolets. Engines included a 283 or optional 348 V8, with fuel injection offered on the smaller engine. The styling was a significant departure from the previous model year and featured motifs inspired by the 1956 Impala Motorama dream car.

This Impala is a mild custom with modern wheels and a little restrained pinstriping work. It looks to be a solid driver with a bit of wear visible. Some of my readers are completionists who would like to see a full visual walkaround of my subjects, but you can probably see that pesky blue Prius parked up close behind. So no rear end shot for you. I tend to favor the lower trim models for their cleaner design, but these fancy Impalas are the most favorable '58 Chevys. Decent ones can be $30,000-plus, with fully restored examples known to hit six figures at auction. They're special cars.

Photographed July 2016

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Danville Street Sighting - 1946 Ford Super DeLuxe Custom

Every so often I pass by a shop in Danville and there's something interesting parked off on the side street. This usually happens while I'm on the clock at work in my van, so I can't stop. They aren't always there when I come back, and I usually don't get to meet the owner. This time I got lucky.

This 1946 Ford DeLuxe convertible has been thoroughly customized. The owner happened to come outside while I was taking pictures and told me some things about the car. It had come from back east and he had just purchased it as a present for his wife. It was to be a surprise for her so I decided to wait a good long time to feature it here. I also managed to find a copy of the for sale listing for the car which provided a great deal of info about it. So here's what I can surmise.

It looks like an older build with a lot of retro "kustom" flavor. There is a lot of metal work evident here. But apparently it's a retro-inspired modern custom job. The biggest clue as to the age of the build is the tape deck in the dash. It is a 1946 Ford body on a modified General Motors A-body chassis, probably sourced from a Chevelle. Power comes from a Chevy 350 V8, a popular hot rod engine choice. The headlights are "frenched" into the fenders and the grille resembles a '46 Chevy unit. I'm more partial to the stock Ford front end, but to each his own. The spot lights and lake pipes are in keeping with the 1950s flavor of the car but apparently are just for show according to the ad. The top is a solid removable piece by Carson, leaving the car as a full roadster with it removed.

Nearly everything on this car is customized or modified. Even the doors have had their handles filled and replaced with remote "poppers" for a cleaner, smoother appearance. The final result is generally pleasing and a convincing professionally built "kustom". I wish more of it worked -- it would be cool if those pretty chrome spot lamps were real -- but these cars are all about style. And sometimes style is enough.

Photographed June 2016