Monday, December 31, 2012

Alameda Street Sighting - 2008 ZENN LSV

We now live in a world where the electric car has gone mainstream. Unlike the small leased fleet of GM EV1s or the smattering of electric-converted Ford Rangers and Toyota RAV4s of the 1990s, people are now rushing out to buy Nissan Leafs and Chevy Volts (the latter actually a gas-electric hybrid of sorts). Luxury and performance electrics like the Tesla Roadster and Fisker Karma sedan now exist and can command six-digit prices. The Tesla Model S just won Motor Trend Magazine's 2013 Car of the Year award, a first for an all-electric vehicle. But it's been a bumpy ride for electric cars, and the road to mainstream adoption is littered with small upstart companies that hoped to make a difference. In a blog that features all manner of cars from A to Z, it seems fitting to end the year with ZENN.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Oakland Street Sighting - 1987 Yugo GV

I've wanted to write this post for a long time. Think like three years. Basically, ever since I started California Streets I've wanted to feature a Yugo, and today it comes to light. It shouldn't be too surprising when I tell you they are hard as heck to find!
The Yugo has a horrible reputation in the United States as the worst car in history. Is it warranted? Probably not. People love to hate cheap cars that are terrible. Even I like to hate terrible cars. But at the same time I find myself coming to love cars everyone else hates. I'm one of those people whose fantasy garage includes a Ford Pinto and an Edsel and numerous AMC products. Meanwhile I frequently loathe cars that are rock-steady reliable, popular and yet so ungodly boring I can't understand why anyone buys them.
The Yugo came to market in the United States when Malcolm Bricklin decided there was room in the market for a cheap hatchback at the very bottom of the price spectrum. Bricklin had already brought us some stinkers in the form of early Subaru imports (the 360 as a VW Beetle competitor) and the fiberglass Bricklin SV-1 "safety sports car" with its unusual gullwing doors. Now he set his sights on the little Fiat 127-based hatchback built in Yugoslavia by Zastava Automobiles.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Santa Cruz Street Sighting - 1973 Volvo 1800ES

If I asked to you name a Volvo sport wagon, chances are you'll come up with the 850 T-5R wagon, or perhaps the later V70R. But the first sporty Volvo wagon was actually more of a shooting brake, a two-door affair intended as a send-off for the aging but much loved P1800 sports coupe. I've previously featured a P1800 coupe and even done a "Best of the Rest" post on five others. But this is the first 1800ES wagon I've had the chance to shoot in detail. Given the rarity of the ES, of which only 8,078 were built between 1972 and 1973, I'm glad I did.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Oakland Street Sighting - 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III

For years now, Mercedes-Benz has been running holiday season commercials depicting Santa Claus driving a red Mercedes as his Christmas sleigh. An SL roadster? How pedestrian. Santa's too pimp for that. A fat man who dresses in red and white fur and gets little people and animals to help him do his work needs something big and classy. And in proper pimp car fashion, the car should match Santa's favorite wardrobe. The jolly old elf also has to make his rounds delivering toys to millions of kids in one night, so he needs something powerful and fast, with a large trunk for the bag of gifts.

Enter the 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Santa Cruz Street Sighting - 1934 Ford V8 Pickup

It's late December, winter has officially begun in the northern hemisphere and for many of you, a look out your window yields a view of snow. As you don your foul weather gear to go shovel the front walk and scrape the ice off your windshield, think of how lovely California is this time of year. Ha! It's storming and cold as I type this. But I digress. Let's pretend the weather's still nice and take a look at this 1934 Ford V8 pickup from Hula's Island Grill in Santa Cruz, photographed on a beautiful day back in October.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Alameda Street Sighting - 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale Holiday sedan

Rounding out this week's trio of beat-up 1970s Oldsmobiles is a 1973 Eighty-Eight Royale Holiday four-door hardtop. If you're familiar with the work of director Sam Raimi, you may know that he owns a yellow 1973 Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight sedan. The car featured rather prominently in the Spider-Man film as Uncle Ben's personal vehicle. This is not that car!
I have to ask: why aren't big family cars offered in cheerful colors like this anymore? If anything, it would give more people reason to refer to their car as the Banana Boat. There aren't many ordinary cars that wear the color yellow very well, but I actually like it on this one. Most family cars these days are beige or some greyscale tone between white and black. It's boring. Then again, the last custom-painted yellow late-model Honda Accord I saw looked stupid.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1972 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale Holiday coupe

This week we're looking at early 1970s full-size Oldsmobiles in less than concours condition. As I said in my previous feature of a 1970 Ninety Eight sedan, the more luxurious-sounding the name was on these cars, the worse they tend to look now. This one is a 1972 Eighty-Eight Royale Holiday coupe.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pleasanton Street Sighting - 1970 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight LS Holiday sedan

I don't know what it is about vintage full-size near-luxury sedans. The more ornate their ornamentation, the more optimistic the name, the more trashed they tend to be. This one is a 1970 Ninety Eight LS (Luxury Sedan) Holiday four-door hardtop, the top model in Oldsmobile's lineup. The 98 came with a 455 Rocket V8 and was available with a host of convenience options befitting a luxury cruiser, including standard power seats, power windows, power steering and power front disc brakes, available tilt and telescoping steering wheel, 8-track tape player, and of course a luxury vinyl roof. Rear fender skirts were standard.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Collector's Corner - ERTL & Yat Ming Shelby Cobra 427 S/C

There are certain cars which are so important in the history of the automobile that it's virtually required for true enthusiasts to own a model of one. One such vehicle is the car Motor Trend magazine once called the most important vehicle of the last 50 years. Mind you, that was in 1999 and they were talking about the very first 260 V8 powered Shelby Cobra, known as CSX2000. The Shelby Cobra 427 S/C was a much different kettle of fish. A handful to drive, a blast in a straight line, and uncomfortable and unsafe for most everyone. The concept of a lightweight sports car with a powerful engine resonated with enthusiasts and continues to this day. The Cobra has been replicated in scale by a number of companies, and today we look at the two from my collection.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1969 Chevrolet Corvair Monza

Some of my readers by now might be getting sick of Corvairs. Honestly, I've seen a lot of them in San Francisco, and the vast majority to date have been the higher-spec Monza edition. Most have been convertibles, primarily second-generation models made after 1965. So it makes me very happy to see something different. In this case it's a Monza coupe, but not just any coupe. It's a 1969 model. Only 6,000 Corvairs were built in the final year of production, of which 2,717 were Monza coupes.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Alameda Street Sighting - 1977 Chevrolet Monza 2+2

I never would have guessed that people collect obscure and unloved GM compacts, let alone the H-body Chevy Monza. Someone in Alameda apparently does just that. This one's a 1977 Monza 2+2 hatchback.