Tuesday, July 26, 2011

San Francisco Street Sighting - Fiat Giannini 500 TV

I noticed I've featured a long streak of American cars with very few imported vehicles sprinkled here and there. So here's something utterly, undeniably Italian: the venerable Fiat 500. Fiat's "Cinquecento" (500) city car is one of the more recognizable designs to come from the country shaped like a boot, up there with the prides and joy of Maranello and Sant'Agata. Produced from 1957 until 1975, the 500 was perfect for the narrow alleys and congested streets of Rome and Turin. Outside of Italy, in cities all over the world where parking space was at a premium, one could probably find a Fiat 500.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1964 Mercury Comet

While we're on the topic of modestly sized, moderately priced cars slightly more prestigious than their bargain-brand brothers, let's take a look at this 1964 Mercury Comet. Based on Ford's mainstream Falcon, the Comet offered a more stylish variation on the theme using the same underpinnings and powertrains. If that sounds familiar, you're right. The new-for-'64 Mustang followed a similar formula.

Friday, July 15, 2011

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1965 Buick Special

Following the 1964 Olds F-85 Cutlass is a similar car from its sister division, Buick. This is a 1965 Buick Special. I've always found it unusual that Buick would name their lowest-priced model the "Special", since that name would connote something, well, special about it. Perhaps what was special was that the cheapest car offered buyers a modest mid-sized platform which could then be tailored to the buyer's needs and desires after the fact, without charging extra for all the bells and whistles of the fancier Skylark or larger luxury models. Buyers could make the car special on their own.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1964 Oldsmobile F-85 Cutlass

It's easy to note that throughout American automotive history, most buyers have favored bigger cars. Value used to be determined by how much sheetmetal you got for your dollar. Cars were advertised based on how much longer, wider and heavier they were than the competition. So you got cars like this 1964 Oldsmobile F-85 Cutlass, an "intermediate" that's the same length as a new, full-size 2011 Ford Taurus. It was bigger than earlier Cutlasses, and more powerful to compete with midsize cars like Ford's Fairlane.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1965 Rambler Classic 770 Cross Country

Rounding out this "Independents Week" grouping is another American Motors product, a 1965 Rambler Classic Cross Country 770 wagon.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1972 AMC Hornet SST

Second in this "Independents Week" grouping is an American Motors product, a 1972 AMC Hornet SST two-door sedan. For the past few years now, I've been a big fan of the Hornet and the various models it spawned since its introduction in 1970. The Gremlin, Spirit, Concord and Eagle can all trace their roots back to the Hornet. The first Hornet I fell in love with was the red 1974 Hornet X hatchback coupe James Bond drove in The Man with the Golden Gun. Since then I came to appreciate later-model cars like the 1977 Hornet AMX and 1980s Eagle Sport 4x4 wagon. Most recently, though, the early Hornets are growing on me. The Sportabout wagons are my favorite body style of this era.

Monday, July 4, 2011

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1963 Studebaker Lark Daytona R2

Last year I celebrated the Fourth of July with a feature I called "Independents Day". The subject was a 1964 Rambler American, a car made by the last great American independent automobile manufacturer, American Motors.
This year I have a few more independents to share, so in lieu of fireworks (they're illegal in my county anyway), let's begin.