Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Alameda Street Sighting - 1973 Cadillac Superior Hearse

Last year I marked the occasion of Halloween with a car named after the Spanish word for 'devil', a Lamborghini Diablo. This year I have no Dodge Demons or Rolls-Royce Silver Ghosts or monster trucks. What I do have is a vintage Cadillac hearse.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Collector's Corner - Polistil Morgan Plus 8

You're looking at one of my first large-scale models, if not the very first. This is a 1:16 scale Morgan Plus 8 by Polistil, an Italian model company that forged an unlikely alliance with Tonka to sell diecast toys here in North America. It didn't work out so well and Polistil went under in 1993.
According to this blue "hill climb" edition Morgan was first released in 1987.

Friday, October 19, 2012

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1963 Lincoln Continental

This isn't the first time I've stumbled upon a 1963 Lincoln Continental sedan. In fact, this is the second one I've found in San Francisco. What surprised me, is where in the city it lives. This giant boat parks on a very narrow, winding street on a steep hill - not its natural habitat by a long shot. This is why parking laws tell drivers to curb their wheels. You don't want an out-of-control, unmanned '63 Continental barreling down your street.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Alameda Street Sighting - 1973 Mercury Comet

I usually prefer to go my own way in choosing what appears on my blog, but the inspiration for it remains Murilee Martin's Down On The Street series of posts on Jalopnik. He confined his focus to cars parked on public streets on the island of Alameda just south of Oakland. When I began blogging, I stayed out of Alameda because I didn't want to invade a fellow car blogger's turf. I got lots of good stuff in San Francisco because I was going to school there. Since Murilee Martin now lives in another state, I enjoy making the occasional trip to Alameda in the hope of finding something new. In some cases I stumble upon one of Murilee's old finds.
I was driving through town with two friends who wanted to see the Pacific Pinball Museum (I've told that story before; it was the day I spotted the green '55 Chevy 210). It was late in the day and we wanted to get there before the place closed, so I bypassed an apparently clean red Ford Maverick. As I got closer and then drove past, I saw that it was actually a Mercury Comet. I've only seen maybe five of these 1970s Comets in the last several years. The next time I was in Alameda, I managed to find the car again and take pictures.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Danville Street Sighting - 1959 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II

All my life I considered it sacrilegious to cut up a fine luxury car like a Rolls-Royce or Bentley, particularly a classic one. It was one of the things you just didn't do. So of course, someone did.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1979 Cadillac Coupe DeVille

I'm not a huge fan of Cadillacs. Growing up, one of the most common and stereotypical Caddies was a 1977-1992 Fleetwood Brougham. It was traditional American luxury in the chintziest way. The body was big and old-fashioned, sitting on a full frame with super-floaty suspension and wire hubcaps and a padded landau top, all driving home the belief that this was a luxury car. Inside you got your typical complement of leather and fake wood in a color that tried to match or compliment the exterior paint. Top it off with whitewalls and color-contrasting pinstriping and you have the perfect car for the senior citizen of the '80s. By the time I was growing up, many were reduced to faded, broken second-hand daily transportation or pimped out cars for ballers on a budget. Cash For Clunkers killed off a slew of these cars, making them less common now.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1974 Kent Cortez motorhome

Imagine you want to go into the motor home business. What formula will you use for your vehicle? How will it be constructed? Will you use a donor chassis? What powertrain will you employ? These are all things to consider and they can make or break the resulting camper. Probably for that reason, most RVs are conventional rear-wheel-drive and are often built on an existing truck or bus chassis with a gas or diesel engine powerful enough to propel the big vehicle up a grade with several people and their gear on board.
Now imagine that it's 1963 and you're the Clark Equipment Company. You make forklifts. You want to make a foray into the growing RV market. Where do you start? Well, forklifts are made of steel and have front-wheel drive. The Clark motorhome was designed with an all-steel body from the ground up, and front-wheel drive to maximize interior space with a low, flat floor free of a transmission and driveline hump. Early models were powered by a heavy-duty Dodge slant six hooked up to a manual transmission. The RVs eschewed a truck's ladder frame in favor of unit-body construction and employed four-wheel independent suspension for a smoother ride. What was this new vehicle called? Why, Clark named it after one of the greatest mass murderers, I mean explorers, in history, the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés.

Monday, October 8, 2012

San Jose Street Sighting - 1949 Ford Tudor

I'm a big fan of the "shoebox" 1949-1950 Fords. They were not the first all-new cars following World War II; that distinction goes to the 1947 Studebaker line. However the 1949 Ford was almost completely new with the exception of its old six and flathead V8 engines. It made the previous model look antiquated overnight.
My love of the '49 Ford began years ago. I found a picture of one in a magazine that was a mild custom in light blue with frenched headlights, and I drew it as part of a project I was then working on. Then Hot Wheels came out with a '49 Ford in pearl white and I bought it. I pestered my parents for a Testors-branded (actually produced by Motormax) 1/24 scale die-cast model kit of a green '49 Club Coupe for Christmas.

I assembled it in an hour and have loved it ever since.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1983 Honda Civic Wagon

Sometimes when looking for cars I end up photographing something entirely unexpected. For some reason I'm drawn to station wagon versions of Japanese economy cars, because they're rarely seen compared to the sedan and hatchback versions of the same models. One day I was in San Francisco with two friends who are huge fans of the atrocious Tommy Wiseau film The Room. This 1983 Honda Civic wagon happened to be parked across the street from a pizza parlor that was used as a flower shop in the movie. I had my camera with me so I decided it couldn't hurt to shoot it. On a normal day I'd want nothing to do with Honda Civics, not even an early one, just because I see so many of them. But this wagon spoke to me for some reason, a combination of the body style and the patina.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Santa Cruz Street Sighting - 1963 Rambler American 440 Convertible

It was a cold, dull day in Santa Cruz and my friend and I had nothing to do. We didn't feel like blowing money at the Boardwalk so we hopped in my car and drove through town. I always love finding off-brand cars, so when we passed this Bahama Blue 1963 Rambler American 440 convertible, I stopped and grabbed my camera.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1971 Ford Maverick

It's interesting how certain car models become icons. The Ford Mustang, the Volkswagen Beetle, the Corvette. Meanwhile, in the United States the Ford Maverick has nearly reached the realm of obscurity. It's the nondescript old beater on the corner with the missing hubcaps, or a budget V8 muscle car for people who can't afford a Mustang. I've seen them kicked around, daily driven, junked, restored, preserved, even one with a Toyota Supra turbo powertrain set up for autocross. The fact is, though, the Maverick was always considered sort of an economy car in North America, the replacement for the Falcon, and it always played second fiddle to the Mustang as a performance option.
In Brazil, though, there are very, very few Mustangs. Locally built Volkswagen Gols and Fiat Unos rule the streets. In that part of the world, the Maverick is a muscle car. And one of the most sought-after Mavericks in Brazil is the 302 GT.