Friday, March 30, 2012

Pleasanton Street Sighting - 1963 Buick Electra 225 convertible

Few cars have a reputation built on sheer size. The Buick Electra - the real one, not the silly post-1986 FWD version - was one of those cars. It was affectionately called the "Deuce and a Quarter" for its massive 225-inch length. These cars were luxury boats, loaded with chrome and convenience features, as well as what passed for "safety" items in those days like extra padding and warning buzzers in case the two-ton car's inertia proved too much for the drum brakes to stop in time.

Friday, March 23, 2012

BART Cars - Corollas

The Toyota Corolla is the most produced car in history with over 40 million sold. So one might assume that the Corolla is a common car, and not very special. However, some older variants of the Corolla are now rare and considered desirable. General Motors had some Corolla-based joint-venture cars from the '80s onward, which included the Chevy Nova and Geo/Chevy Prizm and later, the Pontiac Vibe. (The former two were available in limited numbers as 'high-performance' versions using the famous Toyota 4AGE four-cylinder engine.) Here are the top five Holy 'Rollas I found in the BART parking lot over five years of university commuting.

1977 Toyota Corolla SR-5 Sport Coupe

1982 Toyota Corolla SR-5 Coupe

1985 Toyota Corolla AE86

1988 Chevrolet Nova Twin Cam

1991 Geo Prizm GSi

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1958 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

Old European cars frustrate me. I hate when I can't correctly place a vehicle's year, or sometimes even the decade of manufacture, because it doesn't have little superficial details so commonly employed on American cars to keep them fresh year after year. Volkswagen used to pride themselves on how little they altered the styling of their cars, and that brings us to this early Karmann Ghia.
The VW Type 14 Karmann Ghia was produced for 19 years, beginning in 1955 and ending in 1974. Like all Volkswagen products of this era, the Ghia was changed just enough to comply with safety regulations and make the car function better. And rightfully so - the car was penned by Ghia and hand-built by Karmann, with a level of style and quality that earned it praise from a number of sources.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1969 Plymouth Fury III sedan

Several days ago we looked at a 1969 Plymouth Fury III convertible. Now let's check out another Fury from the same year, but this time it's a big old four-door in an interesting sort of caramel brown color (could be Honey Bronze). This vintage American barge has the same lines as the convertible, but somehow it looks a bit less prestigious despite the luxurious padded top. What do you mean, padded tops aren't luxurious?

Friday, March 16, 2012

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1966 Ford Fairlane 500

Readers may notice that my photo quality and quantity have gone down a bit this week. I'm using up some archive material, much of which was photographed in 2007-08, long before I even started this blog. In fact, the reason I photographed this 1966 Ford Galaxie 500 sedan as much as I did was because my friend was making driveable virtual vehicles in the online community SecondLife and was interested in textures for his models. Basically he needed a good front, side and rear shot, as well as a wheel photo, which could then be mapped onto the 3D model to make it look more realistic and detailed. Only one of my sets of textures ever made it into SecondLife, but that's beside the point.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1987 Suzuki Samurai JX

While we're on the topic of supposedly unsafe cars whose sales someone went out of their way to destroy, let's take a look at the Suzuki Samurai. I admit, normally I wouldn't write about something like this, but it seems appropriate and these little 4x4s aren't especially common anymore. Consumer Reports pretty much ruined the Samurai. It was a cheap, capable personal SUV that happened to have a high center of gravity and a short wheelbase. And to Consumer Reports, that equals flip hazard. Never mind that video evidence exists of them doing everything they could to force the truck to go up on two wheels. A photo in a print magazine doesn't capture the voices offscreen of staffers cheering when they get the results they wanted, rather than the results the vehicle would give under regular driving input.

Monday, March 12, 2012

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1965 Chevrolet Corvair Monza convertible

I have a certain fondness for cars with terrible reputations. Maybe it's something about the way that dependable and safe cars tend to be boring. That's probably why, to date, I've only featured one Honda. And so, we take another look at a favorite automotive whipping boy, the Chevy Corvair.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1969 Plymouth Fury III convertible

A lot of people today will easily recognize the 1969 Plymouth Fury, but not necessarily because it's a collectible classic. The fact is, a two-door '69 Fury is a common background prop vehicle in many levels of the popular zombie-shooter video game series Left 4 Dead. There are certainly more of them lying all over the place in that game than there are in the real world.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Best of the Rest: Lost in the 50s

1951 Mercury sedan, Merced

1956 Ford Fairlane, Petaluma

1956 Oldsmobile 88, San Jose

1959 Edsel Corsair, San Francisco

1959 Pontiac Catalina, San Francisco

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1968 Ford Falcon

It's a funny thing about the American Ford Falcon, that a lot of people forget that it was still produced after 1965. Of course our Aussie friends will tell you that the Falcon never went away, but in the US it's getting harder and harder to find the late model 1966-70 Falcons. Perhaps it's because in the rush to modernize while minimizing cost in the mid-sixties, the Falcon lost what style it had. I suspect that a little thing called the Mustang had something to do with it. Why eat into the sales of a cash cow? The Falcon was still around at a lower price point, and last I checked, it wasn't possible to buy a four-door Mustang at the time (unfortunately a four-door Thunderbird was available, ugh). Lord knows how many of these nondescript econoboxes rolled out of the factory over the final five years of production, but the vast majority of them seem to have been used up and scrapped long ago.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Danville Street Sighting - 1976 Buick Estate Wagon

Ahh, America. There is just something uniquely American about a gigantic station wagon slathered in fake wood. What you're seeing here is one of the last of the truly huge wagons, the 1976 Buick Estate Wagon.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

BART Cars - Sports Cars

Five years ago I began attending classes in San Francisco at the Academy of Art University. Driving into the city wasn't a practical option, so I took BART, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system. Over the years I came to notice a surprising number of interesting cars that would show up in the parking lots at BART stations. Now, normally I wouldn't post vehicles from a parking lot, but BART is a government-owned entity, so maybe, just maybe, their parking lots count as public property? Since I'm not sure, you won't be seeing any "Street Sightings" that are actually BART cars. But I do plan on sharing some of the best of BART every now and then.

For our first round, let's look at some older sports cars.

1977-78 Datsun 280Z
1978 Porsche 924
1979 Fiat 124 Spider
1979 Mazda RX-7
1987 Chrysler Conquest TSi