Saturday, October 30, 2010

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1960 Chrysler Saratoga


If you've seen the previous feature in the series, feel free to skip the following paragraph.It's that time again, time for another weekly series. This one comes to you courtesy of Fifties Guy in San Francisco. Frequent readers will know who that is, but for those of you just joining us, Fifties Guy is my nickname for a collector of 1950s and early '60s cars in SF who parks them on the streets around his home and drives them daily. Most are big, heavy, massively-finned and usually overstyled late-'50s Chrysler products. So here you have it, folks: Forward Look Week. The "Forward Look" was stylist Virgil Exner's baby, and was the design language for most Mopar cars from 1955 to 1961. Take a look at an early-50s Dodge or Plymouth. Pretty boring, right? Maybe some chrome gingerbread and a snazzy grille but not much else to liven up an otherwise stodgy car. Then Exner came along and made things interesting.

Friday, October 29, 2010

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1959 Plymouth Fury


If you've seen the previous feature in the series, feel free to skip the following paragraph.
It's that time again, time for another weekly series. This one comes to you courtesy of Fifties Guy in San Francisco. Frequent readers will know who that is, but for those of you just joining us, Fifties Guy is my nickname for a collector of 1950s and early '60s cars in SF who parks them on the streets around his home and drives them daily. Most are big, heavy, massively-finned and usually overstyled late-'50s Chrysler products. So here you have it, folks: Forward Look Week. The "Forward Look" was stylist Virgil Exner's baby, and was the design language for most Mopar cars from 1955 to 1961. Take a look at an early-50s Dodge or Plymouth. Pretty boring, right? Maybe some chrome gingerbread and a snazzy grille but not much else to liven up an otherwise stodgy car. Then Exner came along and made things interesting.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1959 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer


It's that time again, time for another weekly series. This one comes to you courtesy of Fifties Guy in San Francisco. Frequent readers will know who that is, but for those of you just joining us, Fifties Guy is my nickname for a collector of 1950s and early '60s cars in SF who parks them on the streets around his home and drives them daily. Most are big, heavy, massively-finned and usually overstyled late-'50s Chrysler products. So here you have it, folks: Forward Look Week. The "Forward Look" was stylist Virgil Exner's baby, and was the design language for most Mopar cars from 1955 to 1961. Take a look at an early-50s Dodge or Plymouth. Pretty boring, right? Maybe some chrome gingerbread and a snazzy grille but not much else to liven up an otherwise stodgy car. Then Exner came along and made things interesting.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Biased?

Sometimes I wonder if I unfairly overlook certain vehicles for consideration here.
Basically, my standards are that the vehicle is at least 30 years old unless it has something that makes it otherwise special (for example an extremely rare post-1980 car, or a particularly infamous design). I have a mental list of cars that aren't likely to show up here. Let me know if you think it's unfair.

- Any Acura. Period.
- Alfa Romeo Spider Veloces.
- Post-1980 Audis.
- Most BMWs, including 2002s (the 2002 Touring I featured was a rare exception). I also pass up E28 5 Series and anything produced in the '80s or later - unless I happen to stumble upon an M1 someday.
- Post-1980 GM unless there's something special about it to catch my attention. GMC Syclone/Typhoon, Corvette ZR1/Grand Sport, vehicles like that.
- 1978 and newer GM G-body cars unless they are particularly rare. A 1986 Pontiac 2+2 is acceptable. A 1986 El Camino isn't likely to end up here.
- Post-1977 GM B-body cars.
- Most 1970s and later Cadillacs.
- Fiat 124 Spiders.
- Garden-variety Ford Mustangs. Rare special editions are the exception, particularly 1960s Shelbys.
- Post-1981 Ford Escorts.
- Post-1979 Ford/Lincoln/Mercury Panther platform cars.
- Most Hondas. That early-'70s Civic better be really clean.
- Jaguar XJs, XJSs and post E-Type XKs.
- Mazda RX-7s.
- Most 1970s and later Mercedes-Benz, particularly W123 and later cars. They are everywhere, they don't die, and I don't bother to photograph them.
- Modern Nissans.
- Most Toyotas. Boring, boring, boring. Less common early 1980s RWD models may make the cut if they're in good shape.
- Modern Rolls-Royce/Bentley cars.
- Subarus. I'd consider a BRAT but an SVX probably won't show up here. Loyales and stuff are out for now.
- Most SUVs. You won't find an Explorer here. Pioneering Japanese 4x4s may be accepted. International Scouts are acceptable, 1970s and older Land Rovers and 1960s Ford Broncos are as well, depending on condition and age.
- Volkswagen Beetles, Jettas and Golfs/Rabbits. I typically pass on Microbuses unless they are pickups.

So what will you find here?

- AMC products (includes Rambler, Nash and Hudson)
- Cars with tailfins.
- Most anything from the 1950s and older provided it isn't too cliched.
- Less common 1960s cars. Common models should be visually interesting and/or in good shape.
- Old Datsuns. I'm very choosy when it comes to Z coupes, though.
- Ford Falcons, 'cuz I like 'em.
- Ford Rancheros, because everybody knows the El Camino.
- Fuselage bodied Chryslers.
- Obscure European cars. Vintage Opels, European Fords, Citroens, Peugeots, etc. French cars are a definite yes even though I hate most of them. A clean Merkur might make the grade.
- 1970s Japanese cars, i.e. Toyota Corona, Honda 600, etc.
- Vintage limousines and luxury cars.
- Cars that are rare or historically notable.
- Cars that are atrociously bad and yet still alive. I'm still looking for a Yugo.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1965 Fiat 600D


It's funny how certain vehicles are unique enough that you can search for them on Flickr. Go ahead, type 'san francisco fiat' in the Flickr search box. This car is a veritable rock star compared to most vehicles in The City. It shows up at least 13 times on Flickr from a variety of photographers. In several of them, it's misidentified as the more well-known Fiat 500. It's actually a Fiat 600, and as best I can tell, it's a 1965 600D.

Monday, October 18, 2010

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1970 Ford Galaxie XL


I'm going to say straight up that this is one I've wanted to get rid of for the better part of a year now. I shot the pictures in spring 2009 before I even started this blog, in the hopes of submitting them to Jalopnik.com for Murilee Martin's now-discontinued "Down On the Street" weekend feature. Due to the crappy camera and bad timing (half in shade and half in evening sunlight, right down the middle of the quarter panel), I needed a better profile shot. Since the location of this 1970 Ford Galaxie XL Sportsroof is kind of out of my way usually, I didn't bother to seek it out for a while.
Then, I found out that this semester I had a drawing class down on Townsend, and this car lives only a couple of blocks off of my route to class. So, for five straight Fridays I walked past it, waiting for the right light. Honestly, I was uneasy because the street has security cameras right above the car's usual parking space and I didn't want to make the wrong impression on the neighborhood. No harm, no foul.


I'm kind of ambivalent about this car. I like its profile. I like its front to a degree. The back end is kind of a mess though, and the fastback roofline is fake. You get nice sail panels, but the rear window is a standard notchback angle and ends up resulting in a giant blind spot without the aerodynamic improvement of a fastback roof.
1970 was getting toward the end of the Galaxie's production run. The model was already 11 years old and '70 would be the last year for hideaway headlights. It was also pretty much the last model with sporting pretensions, as Galaxie became a more formal fullsize car. The XL designation refers to the luxury edition, and was dropped after this year (I suspect because Galaxie would soon become a strippo version of the luxurious LTD fullsize body for 1971). This one still features Magnum 500 mag wheels and dual exhausts. The color is a decidedly un-sporting brown which appears oddly different in good light.
As far as condition goes, this is no shining example. It looks all right from 20 feet or perhaps from down the block. It makes me sad how a vehicle can change for the worse over a year and a half period. Take a look at the profile shot. The busted mirror is still busted, but now there's a big dent in the fender and the hood has bent corners and sprung hinges from where it's apparently popped open and peeled back while driving. That had to have been scary.
Despite all its warts, I can't remember the last time I saw any 1970 Galaxie other than this one, let alone a Sportsroof XL model. It's also one of the last relatively cool Galaxies I've seen. And perhaps most importantly, this beast of a car is still surviving in Yank-tank-averse San Francisco. That's a very good thing indeed.

Friday, October 8, 2010

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1977 Mercury Grand Marquis


Continuing my "Spirit of ... '77" theme this week, I present to you this lovely 1977 Mercury Grand Marquis sedan. I found it somewhat by accident, the way I find many of the cars I feature, while walking in San Francisco. I frequently set off to find a particular vehicle I've previously researched and end up finding something completely different. In this case I ventured up Telegraph Hill and stumbled upon this exquisite Mercury.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

San Jose Street Sighting - 1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Landau

When choosing the 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass for my last feature, I noticed that my archives contain quite a few 1977-model cars. So, I have a new theme for this week: Spirit of ... '77.
Now, the late 1970s are referred to as the Malaise period for a reason. Big, bulky, slow cars with emissions-choked engines and the death of the muscle car. Sales of big personal luxury coupes were up, though, and this was one of the big players in that market segment. It's a 1977 Chevy Monte Carlo Landau.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pleasanton Street Sighting - 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass S


One thing I have to respect is an old family car that's been kept in cherry condition, or shown the love of a proper restoration. And few have gotten a better response from me than this, a very clean
1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass S sedan.