Wednesday, May 29, 2013

San Jose Street Sighting - 1941 Dodge D-19 Luxury Liner

Prewar cars can still be found here and there on the roads of California, but one will often notice that they all seem to be Fords (or in some cases Chevys). Very rarely do you see Chrysler products of this era, particularly Dodges. Here we have a Dodge D-19 Luxury Liner sedan.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Pleasanton Street Sighting - 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu Wagon

I have a soft spot for Chevelle wagons, in no small part because my father learned to drive in a base-model '68 Chevelle Nomad wagon and adored it. Apparently other people have a similar soft spot, because while I was photographing this car a man came over and started checking it over for originality, remarking that he had once owned one just like it. Then he wrote a note to the owner asking to buy the car and left it under the wiper. You just don't see completely original Chevelles anymore. Even the wagons find themselves being built up into street machines these days, as the steel wheels and small engines are tossed in the trash for a GM Performance crate engine and whatever pro-touring wheel style is popular these days. Had this been a coupe I might have passed on it.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Santa Cruz Street Sighting - 1965 Mercury Comet Caliente

My love of the Ford Falcon does not always extend to its Mercury Comet cousin. The Comet had some iffy model years, but so do many models. For 1965, Mercury stylists worked pretty hard to differentiate the Comet from the Falcon, and they pulled it off. Whether the full package is attractive is open to debate. However, I do like certain angles of it, and it looks more modern than the '64 which was trying to be a Ford, Lincoln and Mercury all at the same time. The profile has a racy, forward-leaning look while remaining Falcon-practical for family use. The '65 adopts the stacked headlights that became so fashionable in the industry around that time, and in lieu of the Falcon's big round taillamps the rear features a narrow horizontal strip with little rectangular lights in it, beneath a heavy-looking rear panel. It also features more deeply sculpted sides that as far as I can tell, serve no purpose except to enable Ford to use Falcon doors on both cars. The Comet has a stout, mid-size look to it that makes it appear larger than the compact Falcon, though under the skin the two cars are very similar.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1960 Ford Thunderbird

It's been four years since I began documenting the collection of the San Francisco car collector I like to refer to as Fifties Guy. To date I've photographed over a dozen cars belonging to him or his friends who might share his hobby. Many of the cars have been sold over the years, and new ones appear as time goes by. The most recent one I've seen as of the time of this writing was this 1960 Ford Thunderbird. My friend and I were exploring the city after the California Mille car show and, as I frequently do when I'm in the area, I decided to stop by and see if there were any members of the collection present in the public domain.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1993 Rover Mini Cooper 1.3i

At this point I've featured a lot of classic Minis, and they pretty much all seem to live in San Francisco. What's easy to forget about these little cars is that while they look old, and the basic body dates back to 1959, these cars were built for over 40 years. The last "classic" Minis were rolling off the line when BMW was gearing up to build their all-new MINI Cooper for the 2001 model year.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Alameda Street Sighting - 1967 Mercedes-Benz 200 Diesel

It's almost hard to believe today in the United States, but decades ago a significant percentage of Mercedes-Benz vehicles sold here ran on diesel fuel. With diesel currently more expensive than premium gasoline in many places now, and Mercedes diesels having helped ruin their own reputation as time progressed, diesel has a long way to go. Even today, in many people's minds there's still a negative stigma of slow, clattering, stinking diesel W123s with the rear end blackened with soot. In today's era of modern clean-running diesels, that's not as much of a problem. They're also inherently more fuel-efficient than many gas-powered engines, so in many cases a diesel can be a smart buy if its fuel economy offsets the increased fuel cost per gallon.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Los Angeles Street Sighting - 1964 Dodge 880

The Dodge Custom 880 is one of those strange parts-bin special, stop-gap solution, forgotten footnote cars that just confuses me. It's also one of the few vehicles I can see on the street - when and if I ever do see one - that can leave me completely clueless as to what it is. Case in point, this 1964 example. I was down in L.A. with my friend to go check on his '79 Lincoln Continental Mark V which was being repaired. A few blocks away sat a well-used sedan that looked like nothing I had ever seen before. What the heck was it? I wondered as we drove past for the first time. A Mercury? A large Rambler? On second glance the greenhouse and door handles looked familiar, and something clicked.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Collector's Corner - Maisto 1999 Ford Mustang GT Convertible

As a casual collector of 1:18 scale diecast models, I have accumulated an eclectic mix of brands and genres. Growing up I had mostly kid-friendly Maisto models, because I received one either every Christmas or birthday as a gift from my ex-neighbor, Jesse, who used to live next door when I was young. He was a grandfatherly old man who was good friends with my dad and acted like an uncle to me. After we moved away when I was four, he continued the tradition until around 2000 or so, when my parents asked him to stop buying models for me because I was running out of space. This Maisto 1999 Ford Mustang GT convertible, while not my favorite or rarest or best-detailed model, holds a special significance. It was the last diecast he ever gave me. Jesse's gone now, but the Mustang is a reminder of him and his generosity.

Monday, May 13, 2013

San Jose Street Sighting - 1971 Chrysler Newport Royal

For a long time now I've had a "Fuselage" bodied Chrysler product on my list of vehicles to look for. I had one in mind: a beautiful copper New Yorker coupe with a black vinyl top that I once saw at a red light in San Francisco. I've never been able to catch it parked, so I will take what I can get.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

El Segundo Street Sighting - 1962 Ford Falcon Ranchero

Avid readers will already know that I love the Ford Falcon in almost all of its forms. Australian friends, that includes many of the Falcons sold down under as well. And speaking of Australia, the car-based coupe utility pickup, or 'ute', is virtually a way of life in that country. Here in the states, it's more of a novelty, but the Ford Ranchero is one of America's best known and most popular utes. I featured a 1968 Ranchero years ago, a larger version based on the redesigned Fairlane and new Torino. That version was more akin to the Ranchero's roots as a large Fairlane-based pickup from 1957 to 1959. For most of the 1960s, though, the Ranchero existed as a compact Falcon variant, and again as a Fairlane for 1967.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Oakland Street Sighting - 1947 Ford Super DeLuxe V8 Fordor

Some of the best cars only seem to appear when I don't have my camera with me. I had jury duty. No point in bringing my camera. The thing was, there were no trials scheduled that day, so the entire group was excused. I went to hang out with my friend in Oakland, and naturally there at the curb was the "old forties car" he had previously told me about next to the coin laundry place near his house. He loaned me his point-and-shoot and I pointed and shot.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Alameda Street Sighting - 1974 Volkswagen Type 181 Thing


There's something wonderfully silly about naming a car "Thing". What is that thing? Yes. That's what it is. Unless you're in the UK or some other country, in which case your VW Type 181 might be labeled a Trekker or Safari or what have you. Safari? Where I come from, that's a GMC van or a Pontiac wagon, not a Volkswagen. While that name may be just as apropos for an open-topped four-door car based on the WWII-era Kubelwagen that would look at home on the African plains, it doesn't sound nearly as playful as calling the boxy little vehicle the Thing.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Danville Street Sighting - 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396

One of my all-time favorite muscle cars is the 1970 Chevelle SS. It was an amazing year for General Motors, pretty much the climax of the muscle car era and there weren't a lot of cars that could be called ugly in GM's vast stable. The Chevelle was Chevrolet's everyman midsize offering and could be had in any flavor from a tame straight-six Nomad wagon to an El Camino pickup to an LS6 454 Chevelle SS convertible producing 450-plus horsepower. The one everybody remembers is the SS 454 coupe, usually decked out with a cowl induction hood and contrasting stripes.