Thursday, September 24, 2009

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1975 Pontiac Catalina

I first found this 1975 Pontiac Catalina in summer of 2007 when I was on a road trip with my friend Colin, who coincidentally operates his own blog much like this one. We had made a grand circle tour from my hometown in the East Bay to Las Vegas to Los Angeles and then to San Francisco before dropping me off back at home. En route to Golden Gate Park, we passed a baby blue full-size Pontiac parked on a street. I snapped two quick pictures of it from the car and never saw it again.
Fast forward to May 2009. I was wandering around the city with my camera as I often do when I have free time, and lo and behold, I happened upon a gigantic baby blue full-size Pontiac parked in a different part of town. I took a dozen or so pictures and went home. Turns out it was the same car. The last two years have been mostly kind to this behemoth. The paint and pinstriping are the same. The original hubcaps and license plate are still intact. The parking permit and bumper sticker are the same ones the car wore in 2007. The front turn signal reflector lenses haven't been fixed. It has some minor rust in the rockers but it appears not to spread since I last saw it. The only immediately noticeable difference is a driver mirror which has been replaced by a Cadillac unit that probably originated on a Fleetwood Brougham.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Castro Valley Street Sighting - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher

If any company doing business in the US at the dawn of the 1980s had small cars down to a science, it had to be Volkswagen. VW helped put the world on wheels with its Type 1 (Beetle), Type 2 (Microbus), Type 3 (Fastback, Notchback and Squareback). But even the People's Car had to have a top model, and in 1974 the Passat (German for "Trade Wind") was born. It was available in a variety of body styles including a two or four-door sedan, a three or five-door hatchback, and a station wagon. In North America the first generation of Passats were marketed as the Dasher between 1974 and 1981. Following the model's refresh for 1982, the name was changed to Quantum, and then, in 1986, to Passat. It remains Volkswagen's large-midsize sedan in the American market.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

San Francisco Street Sighting - BMW 2800CS

These days one expects to see BMWs everywhere. I once sat down to dinner at a window table in a restaurant in my town and counted over 40 BMWs driving by during the meal. And I think I was only counting E46-generation 3 Series models. But once upon a time, BMW was just "one of those foreign cars" and most Americans aspired to own a Cadillac if they wanted luxury.

Friday, September 11, 2009

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1972 Chevrolet Kingswood

Many Americans have fond (or perhaps not so fond) memories of family road trips in a big station wagon. The Family Truckster has since given way to the SUV, but some folks still hold on to their big old wagons. This 1972 Chevy Kingswood Estate Wagon is a prime example of a fixture of yesteryear still lurking on the streets in the 21st century. And in eco-centric San Francisco, no less!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1958 Mercury Monterey

Remember the '58 Oldsmobile post where I mentioned that 1958 was a weird year for the auto industry, whose designs are often criticized for being really strange? This is pretty much the poster child for "ugly" in 1958. Most will disagree with me and point fingers at the new-for-'58 Edsel, but that's too easy. Besides, I like the Edsel.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1971 Datsun 1200

San Francisco is home to many quirky old imports, most of which seem to be Toyotas. But the city has its share of Datsuns too, as evidenced by this 1971 Datsun 1200 Coupe I spotted parked on Steiner Street near the famous Painted Lady Victorian houses.

Monday, September 7, 2009

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1965 Plymouth Fury III wagon

This one was a quick take from 2007. I was killing time walking around in the South of Market area and I stumbled upon a green Volkswagen 412 wagon. The owner was present and saw me photographing his VW. Naturally curious as to why someone was taking pictures, he struck up conversation with me for a while. Inside his garage was this red 1965 Plymouth Fury III station wagon.
Since I showed such an interest in his cars, he agreed to pull the Fury out for me. This was long before I began shooting thoroughly for any kind of feature, but I knew better than to just snap one photo of it and go on my way. And now, two years later, here we are. I figured, why not? It's a classic, and a relatively rare car.

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1958 Oldsmobile 88

1958 was an odd year for the automobile industry. Throughout the fifties, fins were in, chrome was the norm and bigger was better. But in 1958 something was different: quad headlights. Some cars wore them well (DeSoto), and some did not (Studebaker). Some have criticized the 1958 General Motors lineup of having poor styling compared to the generally good-looking (and only dual-headlight) 1957s. For sure, I wouldn't say that this '58 Oldsmobile 88 is fantastically gorgeous. Far from it. I've never been a big fan of most Olds designs from the '50s (and my favorite '58s are the Chevys and Pontiacs), but personal preferences aside, these cars have their fans.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1965 Plymouth Barracuda

Before it was a neon-colored, billboard-striped street terror known simply as the 'Cuda, the Plymouth Barracuda was more like this: a sporty fastback version of the Plymouth Valiant. It was introduced in 1964 as a competitor to Ford's Mustang, but it never would be a serious threat in the ponycar wars, at least not in the sales department.

Friday, September 4, 2009

San Francisco Street Sighting: 1987 Sterling 825 SL

What looks like a Japanese car, runs like a Japanese car, but feels like a British car and rusts and breaks like a British car? Well, if you live in the US, chances are the car is a Sterling. Europe knows this car as the Rover 800, a car which, under the skin, is basically an Acura Legend. The engineering was done by Honda, with the platform and powertrain built to last. Everything else was done by Austin Rover, a fact which pretty much doomed the Sterling.