Wednesday, August 31, 2011

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1984 Excalibur Series IV Phaeton

One often-forgotten niche in automotive history is the Neo-Classic, a new car built to mimic the style of long, luxurious cars of the 1930s while employing modern technology in its construction. They were popular for a time, mainly in the 1970s and '80s, and were usually built using fiberglass bodies and parts supplied by various manufacturers from Detroit and abroad. Such small coachbuilders as Zimmer, Clenet, Spartan, Gatsby, Panther, Gazelle, Sceptre, Tiffany and several others came and went, their models often loosely resembling a 1920s or '30s Mercedes roadster and incorporating full fenders, fake external exhaust piping out the hood sides, wire wheels, external spare tire shells. Some utilized middle sections taken from such contemporary cars as Volkswagen Beetle convertibles (Clenet), Nissan 300ZX (Spartan II), Mercury Cougar and Ford Mustang (Zimmer), and MG Midget (Sceptre). One might call them the "retro" craze of their day, much like the factory-built retro cars of the late 1990s and early 2000s such as the Chrysler PT Cruiser and Ford Thunderbird. One of the original, and biggest names in neo-classics was Excalibur.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1966 Peugeot 404 Cabriolet

Of all the cars that have come out of France, there have been very few that I liked. This is one of my favorites, a 1966 Peugeot 404 convertible. It is also an important milestone, my 150th California Streets feature.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1952 Citroën 11CV Traction Avant

Every once in a while a car comes along that I genuinely don't know much about at all. I research the heck out of it to try to determine what it is. Usually it's an obscure European model that wasn't changed much during a long production run. Sometimes it's a car that was rare to start with in the American market and is only more rare now. And sometimes it's French.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Los Angeles Street Sighting - 1970 Toyota Corona Mark II

Rounding out this series of quote-unquote "Big Three" Summer Road Trip Wagons is one from the most recent addition to the top-seller podium: Toyota. For a few years, Toyota pulled ahead of GM in North American sales, taking the #1 spot. That lead, of course, imploded when the entire news media and blogosphere jumped on Toyota for its unintended acceleration scandal, and subsequent recall of just about every Toyota model sold in the US for some problem or another.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1959 Chevrolet Brookwood

Second in my series of quote-unquote "Big Three" Summer Road Trip Wagons is an example from General Motors. this Crown Sapphire Metallic 1959 Chevy Brookwood two-door wagon is one of a trio of cool '59 Chevys owned by a collector on Potrero Hill.
I first found out about the '59s via Flickr, scouting for old cars in the City. It seems a number of folks have photographed a green Impala coupe parked on Potrero, and I knew it was within walking distance of one of my drawing classes at the Academy of Art University, so one evening after class I headed out in search of it. What I found instead was this Brookwood.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1964 Ford Galaxie Country Squire

It's summer road trip season, so I thought I'd put together another station wagon special feature set. Last time it was "Big Three" wagons, one model each from Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. It was a formula which worked pretty well here - except that in today's market climate, Chrysler is no longer one of the Big Three and for a couple of years at least, GM was no longer #1. That, and I don't have any more Chrysler wagons in the archives at present.

So, at any rate, let's begin with Ford. Our specimen is a 1964 Ford Galaxie Country Squire in what appears to be Sunlight Yellow (or Phoenician Yellow) with the ubiquitous Squire faux-wood trim and Medium Palomino vinyl upholstery. Another of the many wonderful old barges earning their keep and testing their parking brakes in San Francisco, this Country Squire looks like it's lived an interesting life. While it was built one year before the introduction of the nifty dual-swing tailgate that could be opened using hinges on the bottom or the side, this wagon does have a rear hatch with an opening rear window that can be rolled down inside the door. That's something you can't get on a lot of new wagons or SUVs.