Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Note To My Readers

Something to ponder... what exactly qualifies as a "street sighting"?

I know this is an odd question to ask on my own blog where, theoretically, I make my own rules of what I post. (However, I wouldn't mind it if people actually read what I post.) I don't want to dilute the core of my chosen subject - cars of historical significance found parked on public streets within the state of California - but at the same time I want to attract and retain readers. I'm not making any money off of this, so readership is the only payoff.

So what counts as a street-parked vehicle of historical significance? What's considered "close enough"? How does one decide what makes the cut? Let me run some examples by you which continue to vex me.

Cars photographed on the day of a car show. If the vehicle belongs to a person who is almost certainly visiting the show, but parked on a public street, would you say it's kosher for me feature it? How far away does it have to be?
If the car is almost certainly a show participant, which happens to be parked temporarily on a public street very close to the show, what is the ruling there? I have some full shoots in the archives which were taken less than one block from a show. Technically the cars were on public streets. Am I splitting hairs or is it dishonest in some way?

I generally subscribe to the rules set forth by blogger Murilee Martin of Jalopnik.com, when he was doing his "Down On The Street" weekend series. (He now blogs for The Truth About Cars.)

From the DOTS FAQ page:
"...vehicles must be on public property. That means no driveways or yards, unless you OK it with the owner first. Parked on the street is best, parking lots might be OK, and car shows are out."

So if I find, say, a 1969 Ferrari 365 GT outside the gate of the car show, parallel parked around the corner on a public street...is it fair game? Or does it violate the spirit of what this blog is about?

Also, how about cars parked right next to the street or in parking lots? I generally do not blog-shoot cars in driveways or parking lots, because parking lots are not streets and driveways are private property (as are most parking lots, albeit open for use by the public). My good friend who operates The Automotive Way, a blog dedicated to cars in Minnesota, Kansas and Idaho, sometimes features vehicles found off the street (which I assume were photographed with permission). He has a wider focus than I do, sometimes featuring diecasts from his collection and new car reviews.

Maybe I'm just thinking too far into this, worrying about violating an arbitrary rule made by someone I've never met. At any rate, I'd like to hear from you and get your feedback.


  1. Hello Jay,

    I am the owner of all the old cars that are parked near USF in San Francisco. While I have no control of you taking photos of my cars that are parked on the street please ask my permission if you see me by my garage if you wish to take photos of cars in my driveway. thank you. Owner

  2. Re "Street Sighting", I'd say, if YOU are on the street, and you HAPPEN upon a car in whatever context, it counts as far as my understanding of this blog is concerned.
    Say you're enjoying the weather and neighborhood of Nob Hill one sunny SF day and, walking by the Fairmont Hotel, you come across what you find out to be the start of the California Mille. (The assumption here is you didn't research/know it was happening that day.) That is a boon of a Street Sighting, indeed. I say, cite it a such, and snap and post away.
    As a reader, I'd be happy to see that in the context of the rest as I know you're sincere and interested. I understand the excitement of such a situation. And, most of all, I'd get a sense of it, too. How happy would I be on that given Sunday to look at your blog and see not one car, in maybe decent condition, but a dozen, or 40, of the world's best, in immaculate condition; not to mention they're all drivers, not strictly show cars. A neighborhood car club get-together works, too, especially as some particular aesthetic or unified appreciation for a given make, model, year, or "shape" would exhibit itself in your documentation, and worthwhile information in your reportage.
    As encountered by you, those are Street Sightings.
    Please do include such.
    One note regarding the comment above: As I understand it, it's already a guideline of yours, but yes, if the car is on private property (or even if not but you know the owner to be easily accessible) do ask for permission first. As I said, it's pretty clear to me that's already the case.
    And those are my 4 cents...
    I appreciate that you enjoy cars and your walks so much--even more so that you share it.

  3. Hi Jay,

    I find your question very interesting and I have given it consideration, but from a different perspective. I stumbled upon your website while Googling '60's Fords like the ones I remember from my early years. I really like your website because it shows real cars. Most of them appear to be unaltered from their original state. I live in New England, Vermont to be precise, where street sightings are not all that common. I don't consider cars on the street near a car show to be street sightings if they are clearly there only because of that event. Still, I like to see them. I am somewhat biased on this subject because I own some vintage vehicles, two of which are driven regularly in good weather. They are far from perfect, but they are genuine mechanically and in appearance. Both are fun to drive and I consider them to qualify as street sightings. You could readily see me parked on the street loading groceries into my '68 LTD or sliding 2 x 10's into by '72 VW camper at a hardware store. I own them because I love old cars and trucks. I guess they are also show cars in the sense that I want people to see them, touch them and ride in them. I feel that they have historical significance to people who remember them and to young people who have never experienced cars like them. I'll show my cars to anyone who is interested no mater where I am. I love to meet old cars and trucks on the road. Parking lots qualify. Cars which don't qualify; street rods and cars which are dolled up to the point where they don't resemble anything you would have seen on the road.

    1. Hi John, thanks for your feedback. I've thus far limited my posting of cars near car shows to one a month and no more. Basically if it's in the same general area, within about a mile of the fairgrounds or wherever the show is held, I consider it to be a spectator's or participant's car. I know how you feel about your own vintage cars because I occasionally show my dad's 1971 GMC pickup which is mostly original and has a lot of patina on it, and is still used regularly as a work truck. On the subject of parking lot cars, I'm iffy about those. I strive to only feature cars that I found on public property, namely public streets. I've found (and shot) a ton of interesting cars in parking lots, but many of those are part of shopping centers that are private properties which allow public access. Do you agree? Where does one draw the line as to what counts as a "street", let alone a "street sighting"?

  4. Hi Jay, It's taken me some time to reply. Everytime I thought I was ready, I found myself drifting away from the intended subject. I agree that you have to set some rules. Otherwise, the subject becomes too broad and your original idea gets lost. Cars found on the public streets, as you present them, are wonderful. They are unpretentious.They are not posing for the camera. For me, they raise many questions. How did it get here? Who owns it and why? How did it survive so long? They are a mystery. A good example is the 1968 Galaxie you posted. It's a plain four door sedan with small hubcaps. It's just there, parked on the street as if it's 1972 and it's just a used Ford. To me, that makes it special. It is the definition of what qualifies. As for the question of cars near a car show, they don't qualify. They are interesting, but you expect to see them there. If they are on the street in the next town and appear to not be associated with the event, then sure, they qualify. Cars in parking lots are iffy. It's not as though they're a find and you are straying from your intended setting. Apartment buildings have parking lots, but I suppose they can be considered driveways. I might photograph a car in a parking lot, but I'd ask the owner before doing so to a car parked in a driveway. I'm struggling with driveways. They're definitely not public streets, but what if you see an unfamiliar old car parked in a familiar driveway? Maybe not, but interesting still. As for historical significance, I believe all cars and trucks have it. The historical significance of some is widely known. For others, it's less apparent. I think that more often than not, the historical significance is on a more personal level.