Thursday, July 22, 2010

Daly City Street Sighting - 1966 Dodge Dart GT

1966 was a transitional year for a number of Chrysler Corporation's cars. It marked the transformation from weird to awesome. Since the late 1950s, Chrysler was getting really strange. Massive fins gave way to swoopy bodies with unusual design features like backwards vestigial fins and oddly-shaped beltlines. The Dodge Dart came out in 1960 as a midsize car, then shrank after the disastrous 1962 redesign in which Chrysler discovered that making big cars look small isn't the same as making small cars. Especially when those cars were horribly overstyled. The road back to a normal-looking product line was long and by 1966, things were getting pretty good. Some cars got some pretty sweet, all-new sheetmetal, like the new Coronet-based Charger fastback muscle car. Others, though, like the bread-and-butter Dart, lingered with mild facelifts on bodies introduced in 1963. A totally restyled Dart would arrive for 1967, but until then, buyers had to live with this. The Dart shared a platform and most mechanicals with its Plymouth sibling, the Valiant. Unlike the '66 Valiant, though, the Dart has some character in its design. If you wanted a Valiant with character back in '66, you bought a Barracuda.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

San Jose Street Sighting - 1948 DeSoto Custom Suburban

Every time I visit my friend in San Jose, I drive past this car. It's a 1948 DeSoto Custom Suburban 8-passenger sedan. Today, this sort of car would probably be called a "crossover" with its massive long-wheelbase body and three rows of seats. It has all the interior space of a modern SUV without a truck chassis. After World War II ended, DeSoto resumed regular car production. Having no all-new models, they quite literally facelifted the 1942 model and sold it as a 1946. The '42 DeSotos were an unusual animal with hidden headlights and a toothy grille that caused it to resemble something from a Stephen King novel. The new '46s dispensed with the fliplights in favor of fixed units and an even bigger grille. Few exterior changes were made between 1946 and '48, so it's not easy to tell those cars apart. The only clue to this car's year, since even the owner didn't know what year it is (and he's owned it since the 1980s at least), is the wheelcovers. According to someone who knows more about obscure cars than I do, posting on the Internet Movie Car Database, the '48 DeSotos have a full chrome wheelcover instead of the postwar '46 and '47's smaller, plastic-rimmed center hubcaps. Steel was still in short supply following the war, which I presume was the reason for less metal used in hubcaps. Some cars left factories with wood bumpers, to be replaced later by dealers once steel became available for the real thing.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1958 Dodge Custom Royal Regal Lancer D-500

Oooh, night shoot! I actually like how a lot of these photos came out. The story is, I decided one afternoon to head over to Fifties Guy's place and snap more of his cars. Problem was, I was walking from downtown. It was late afternoon, and once I ran smack into the Presidio I realized I had to climb the steep hills of Cow Hollow to get to there. This with a hefty backpack, since I had class earlier in the day. So I finally reached the Inner Richmond as it was getting dark. Too late to shoot cars, right? Voila! Mini tripod.

Monday, July 19, 2010

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1963 Ford Galaxie Country Sedan

For every super-clean classic car I see on the streets, it seems like there's one in deplorable condition. Such cars often look like they've been lived in, or broken into, or abandoned. And then there's one like this, which despite looking straight out of the ghetto....

...actually lives one block from the world-famous Painted Lady Victorian houses in Alamo Square. You know, those multicolored houses on the hill that everyone recognizes when they see pictures of San Francisco. Those babies can go for over $3 million. And then there's this little old blight on the neighborhood, a well-used but not well-loved 1963 Ford Galaxie Country Sedan.
Let's start with the obvious: this "Country Sedan" is a wagon. No need to remind me. It's actually badged Country Sedan and it won't be the last car featured here to bear that name (hint, hint). A Country Sedan is a Country Squire without the fake wood paneling. A squire refers to an assistant knight or village leader, not a station wagon. Yet it was Ford's name for any vehicle with the fake wood, even on the Ranchero, for decades. Silly Ford.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1972 BMW 2002 tii Touring

This is the first one of these I've ever seen in the flesh. It's a 1972 BMW 2002 tii I spotted across the street from City Hall in San Francisco. I was walking by and saw a familiar headlight and turn signal peeking out from a row of parked cars and said to myself, "Meh, just another 2002- waaaaaitaminute."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

San Ramon Street Sighting - 1970 Chevrolet CST/10

It's been a long time since a proper pickup truck was shown here. Pickups help keep this great country moving, and I always like seeing an old truck still out there working. My uncle drives a 1969 Chevy C/20 longbed that he bought from my grandfather years ago. My dad owns a 1971 GMC stepside that he bought from my next-door neighbor's father. It was the previous owner's daily driver since 1972. My dad once owned a 1936 Ford pickup, which I later saw at a car show, three decades after he sold it. The then-current owner was still using it as a work truck, and it wore the same Corvette Elkhart Green paint my dad sprayed on it in the '70s. There's something special about the patina earned through thirty, forty, fifty years of hauling and hundreds of thousands of miles covered. The stories such vehicles might tell.

Friday, July 16, 2010

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1972 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

Okay, this one was a tough call. Almost nobody can look at this and say they've never seen a Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. They're still all over the place and a lot of them are in good shape. This isn't even a particularly old example, in fact it is one of the newest models. It's most likely a 1972 or 1973 model, and the Karmann Ghia was discontinued in 1974.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1964 Chevrolet Corvair Greenbrier Sportsvan

While browsing the archives, I noticed that I had a few old vans to post. So, this week is going to be Big Three Vintage Vans week.

Rounding out this week's Big Three Vintage Vans series is a 1964 Chevy Corvair Greenbrier Sportswagon. Perhaps the most homely, and also the most unconventional, the Greenbrier was a Corvan 95 cargo van with side windows and passenger seats. Introduced in 1961, it beat the Dodge A100 to market and came out at the same time as the Ford Econoline. It was direct competition to the existing Volkswagen Microbus as well. And, like the VW, the Greenbrier was no powerhouse. Equipped with a flat-six, the Corvair produced 80 horsepower to motivate that heavy-looking body along. Considering that the Microbus used a flat-four making only 51 hp at the time, the Corvair was something of an improvement. Still, a decent straight-six '64 Econoline would probably blow its doors off.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1963 Ford Falcon Club Wagon

While browsing the archives, I noticed that I had a few old vans to post. So, this week is going to be Big Three Vintage Vans week.

Second in this week's Big Three Vintage Vans feature is this 1963 Ford Falcon Club Wagon. Much like the previous Dodge A108, the Falcon Club Wagon is effectively a station wagon whose driver happens to sit on top of the front axle instead of behind it. Buyers could still order an array of miserly-to-punchy six-cylinder engines and have a fully appointed interior. The Club Wagon was even set apart from the much truckier-sounding Econoline by its Falcon nameplate, in case you couldn't tell this was a station wagon!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1970 Dodge A108 Custom Sportsman

While browsing the archives, I noticed that I had a few old vans to post. So, this week is going to be Big Three Vintage Vans week.

It kicks off with Chrysler's entry, the 1970 Dodge A108 Custom Sportsman.
The van had already been around for decades, in the form of the car-based sedan delivery and truck-based panel van. But in the early 1960s, Detroit introduced a curious new approach to vans: the forward-control, "one-box" style van. These new vans were usually marketed in three ways: as a cargo hauling van with blank panel sides, a pickup truck, or as a fully appointed family "station wagon" with side windows. That's right, this was considered a wagon. I suspect the reason these vans were created was to compete with the Volkswagen Microbus which was imported to the US and sold primarily as - you guessed it - a station wagon. Now, Detroit wanted to beat VW at their own game, so they created small, often car-based vans in the image of the Microbus.
As far as vans go, the A100 is not a particularly adventurous design. Unlike the Microbus, or even the Chevy Corvair "Corvan", the A100's engine is in the front, with water cooling and six- or eight-cylinder configurations. Ford's Falcon-based Econoline van was designed the same way. This front-engine layout probably saved the company money but ate up interior space, produced a lot of heat and was hell to work on. These vans were poorly streamlined, ponderous to drive and downright unsafe in a collision, but they offered far more interior space than a traditional wagon and could carry a ton of cargo in a compact, relatively thrifty vehicle.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1964 Rambler American 440

It's July 4th, America's Independence Day. Today, across the nation, folks will celebrate by lighting off bottle rockets and running around with sparklers, barbecuing burgers and getting drunk as a skunk. or some combination of the above.
California Streets marks July 4th with our own twist: Independent's Day. The car?
A 1964 Rambler American, of course.

Friday, July 2, 2010

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1964 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray

Here at California Streets we've taken a look at the histories of cars by examining X model's lineage and features and comparing them to the car I happened to find parked on the street. But often the story of that individual car is more interesting. The problem is, usually when I pass by, the car is just sitting there and I never meet the owner. That was not the case with this one.