Saturday, July 28, 2012

Santa Cruz Street Sighting - 1968 Mercury Cougar XR-7

One of the great things about Santa Cruz is that someone, somewhere, always has their old car out for the day. They're rarely concours examples, but usually a decent driver. I found this 1968 Mercury Cougar XR-7 while looking for a parking space near Marianne's ice cream shop. The shop is extremely popular and has a tiny parking lot, so we had to go down the block and around the corner to find parking. I was with a friend who's a huge fan of early Cougars so this was a good sighting for both of us.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Santa Cruz Street Sighting - 1968 Lincoln Continental coupe

Over the years on California Streets I've featured multiple Lincoln Continentals and a couple of Mark series coupes. Most have been sedans, but the regular Continental was also available as a coupe for part of its production run. This practice continued from 1966 until the early 1980s when the Town Car was also offered as a Town Coupe. I almost never see Continental coupes like this, which made this one that much more special.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

San Jose Street Sighting - 1968 Ford LTD Country Squire wagon

It's still summertime, and summer is the season of the road trip. Unless you're me, in which case my road trips usually seem to occur in winter. But that's another story.
Back in the good old days, road trips were the domain of the family station wagon. I could of course wax romantic about traveling hundreds of miles in the back of a big station wagon with no air conditioning, the rear hatch window rolled down to let in all the exhaust fumes, and the sun magnifying its rays through the untinted windows in an effort to fuse the children to the vinyl seats. Why? Because I'm 24 and that was before my time. My family road trips happened in a 1985 Pontiac 6000 STE, a 1994 Ford Taurus GL, and later a 1999 Buick Regal GS. All had air conditioning and some kind of music player, but they pale in comparison to the infotainment systems available today to keep kids occupied on long journeys. Honestly, I'm not really a fan of TVs and video game systems in cars. In my youth I'd look out the window and try to enjoy the ride, provided it wasn't all just Interstate 5 for six hours straight. I'd usually arrive at our destination with a sunburn on one side, a neck ache and a severe case of boredom. Road trips have gotten a little less boring in the years since I got my driver's license and a digital camera.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1985 Subaru BRAT GL

In the world of coupe-utility pickups the names Ranchero and El Camino are well loved and widely known. Utes are a way of life in many countries, where the Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore and even Fiats and Peugeots are offered in car-based pickup versions in certain markets. There is another ute that was sold in the US market which a lot of people forget - the Subaru BRAT.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1970 Morris Minor 1000 Van

I've seen a number of unusual cars cruising down the streets of San Francisco over the years, and occasionally I've been lucky enough to turn on my camera and snap a picture or two as they drive by. Three years ago I was walking through the Haight and this Morris Minor van puttered past. Needless to say, I was excited, but after two photos I figured I'd never see the little van again. And for a while I didn't see it, until this April when it showed up parked on Nob Hill.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Santa Cruz Street Sighting - 1968 Ford F-100 pickup

When it comes to old trucks, I don't just photograph every pre-1980 pickup I see. The subject has to grab me visually. It has to tell an interesting story.
I can only guess at the story told by this late-'60s Ford F100.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Collector's Corner - ERTL American Muscle 1973 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

ERTL has long been a big name in the diecast business, and one with a reputation for marketing the same few castings with infinite variations of colors and wheels. Virtually their entire business was based on their American Muscle line, endlessly releasing the same Camaros, Chevelles, Mustangs and what-have-you in different colors. This one is a 1973 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am from their 10 Fastest Muscle Cars series.

Monday, July 9, 2012

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1941 Packard One-Twenty convertible

When I search for cars to feature, my holiest grails are long-defunct nameplates with great histories. One such brand is Packard, known for its luxury cars. Packard was founded in 1899 and lasted until 1958, when a merger with Studebaker went awry and destroyed the brand. Packard was lucky to have made it that far; the Great Depression killed off many storied luxury nameplates such as Auburn, Duesenberg, Cord and Pierce-Arrow. In order to survive, Packard had to create a more affordable product. That product was the One-Twenty.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

San Ramon Street Sighting - 1965 Ford Mustang

I dug deep in the archives for this one. I love early Mustangs, but I never wanted to feature a first-generation Mustang, especially not a 1965 notchback. Why? Because it's one of the most cliched "classic" cars. Everyone knows it, knows someone who has owned one, or owns one themselves. They're cheap, practical, quick and good looking. They're everywhere in California. Most of them seem to be resale red with chrome wheels and I don't give them a second glance.
So why am I featuring this one? Because I can. These are old pictures - look at the registration tags, for crying out loud, they're 2007. I happened upon this car while taking a walk over five years ago and decided to photograph it for a friend. Two years later I got a silly notion to start blogging and remembered I had these pictures. So here they are.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Best of the Rest - BMW E24s

I've long been a fan of the E24 BMW 6-Series. Built from 1976 to 1989, the E24 was BMW's flagship luxury coupe. It's one of my favorite BMWs and one of my favorite cars of the 1980s. Here are some of the ones I've found parked on the street over the years.

1983 BMW 633CSi, San Francisco

1984 BMW 633CSi, San Francisco

1985 BMW 6 Series (635CSi or M635CSi), San Francisco

1985 BMW 635CSi, Castro Valley

1985 BMW 635CSi, San Francisco

1985 BMW M635CSi, San Francisco

1987 BMW L6, San Francisco

1987 BMW M6, San Francisco

1989 BMW 635CSi, San Francisco

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1953 Studebaker Commander Starliner

It's become a tradition here at California Streets to celebrate July 4th with a car not built by the Big Three, but by an independent American automaker. This year, we celebrate Independents' Day with a 1953 Studebaker Commander.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Santa Cruz Street Sighting - 1977 Dodge Aspen Custom coupe

The Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volare are two nearly identical cars with a certain reputation as ... well, absolute crap. They were intended to replace the popular and dependable Dodge Dart and Plymouth Valiant, and by all accounts they should have been perfect. They had the same trusty slant-six and V8 engines, and an options list a mile long with variants from a 4-door sedan to a coupe to a wagon, and various luxury or performance packages. They were designed for aerodynamic efficiency, better fuel economy and more luxury. For a short while the formula worked. They sold over half a million Volares and Aspens -- of which more than 66,000 were Aspen coupes -- in 1977 alone. So what went wrong? Where did they all go?