Thursday, January 30, 2014

Livermore Street Sighting - 1953 Hudson Hornet

On the topic of 1950s Hudsons that have been customized, we look at this 1953 sedan. On my 1950 Commodore and 1952 Wasp features I touched on the various details that identify the various models that shared the same body. It's hard to tell sometimes on a customized car because things get removed or changed, and the 1951-1953 Hudsons did not evolve very much. The 1953 model is identifiable by its hood ornament shaped like an air intake, and a new grille with no triangle. The 1953 also had optional reverse lights above the taillamps. The Commodore was still being offered in 1953 with the long-wheelbase Hornet body, but it was merely a leftover '52 with a new grille. This car has had most of its trim removed and the mounting holes filled with chrome spiky things, but the mounts for the Hornet-specific pieces are visible. The 1953 Commodore did not have the faux-air intake, and the Wasp was a short-wheelbase model. The wheelbase difference on these cars is most evident in the distance between the front wheel and the door.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dublin Street Sighting - 1952 Hudson Wasp

This week, in honor of Paul Newman's birthday, I'm featuring all Hudson cars. Newman, among many other things, was famous for his work in Disney/Pixar's Cars movie as the voice of Doc Hudson, a 1951 Hudson Hornet coupe.

Hudson is best known for the Hornet, a car that managed to win four consecutive NASCAR championships with a 308 cubic inch six-cylinder in a field of V8s. The famous Hudson Twin-H Power option debuted in late 1951 and bolstered the Hornet's reputation both on the street and on the track. It was one of the fastest, best-handling cars of the early 1950s.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1950 Hudson Commodore 6

Some of my readers may be asking, where are all the Hudsons? Four years and not one Hudson car featured. Well, we'll have to do something about that. Today is Paul Newman's birthday (a man famous for a few things apart from playing the voice of Doc Hudson in Disney/Pixar's Cars). In honor of him, I'm featuring all Hudsons, all week.

The first one we look at is this 1950 Commodore 6 sedan, found in San Francisco's Sunset District. This is a relatively pure and early execution of Hudson's famous 1948 Step-Down design language. Step-Down was an all-new philosophy for Hudson, with a perimeter frame and a much lower seating position. It also eliminated pontoon fenders for a modern appearance. As a result of this striking redesign, Hudson didn't have a lot of money left over for engines or yearly styling updates. The 1950 models received the first version of Hudson's upside-down V grille accent, a feature now widely associated with the brand, but few other changes. They were available with side-valve six-cylinder engines, or carryover straight-eights from the postwar cars.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Albany Street Sighting - 1967 Peugeot 404

This post marks my 404th Street Sighting feature on California Streets, so to commemorate that otherwise ordinary number, today we're looking at a Peugeot 404.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Santa Cruz Street Sighting - 1960 Peugeot 403

I've previously featured a Peugeot 403 here, but really, what better way to commemorate street sighting number 403 than with another Peugeot 403? This one is owned by the same person who has the grey 403 we looked at in 2012. Perhaps the best thing about it is that it's a one-owner car.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Berkeley Street Sighting - 1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertible

To me, car shops are like car shows. It's not because of the one-letter difference between them, but rather because both tend to have an interesting vehicle or two parked outside on the street. Is it cheating to shoot "street sightings" there? I hope not. Some of the coolest and most historic cars eventually break and find their way to the shop to be made right again. For many, that's the only time you'll see them outside of a museum or organized car show, unless you're friends with the owner or something. I don't have that kind of connections.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Alameda Street Sighting - 1966 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa Turbo Convertible

There are already a lot of Corvairs on here, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. The Chevrolet Corvair is a fairly unique car, and a customized Corvair is even more so. This one is perhaps the most unique factory specification as well, a turbocharged 1966 Corvair Corsa convertible.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Collector's Corner - Revell 1964 Glas Goggomobil T 250

I went through a phase a few years ago where I started speculating on diecasts, bidding on items I thought were a bargain that I might resell later on. Of course, I never did resell them, because I tend to get attached to things. One of my late-night eBay finds was this little oddball, a Glas Goggomobil T 250 by Revell. Growing up, Revell was that company that made plastic model kits and NASCAR racers. I didn't know they made 1:18 scale diecast display models, because when I was young that was Maisto, Bburago and ERTL's territory. I didn't even know there were other manufacturers out there. Revell has two distinct flavors in their diecast offerings. They have an American series, which handles the NASCAR stuff and cliched Mustangs, Corvettes and Thunderbirds. Then there's the German Revell arm, which makes a fascinating range of European cars from the Borgward Isabella to the Volkswagen Corrado and everything in between. If you need a replica of an obscure automobile from mainland Europe, they probably made it. Some of their offerings are limited to the European market in small quantities and thus are quite rare and expensive in America.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1966 Pontiac Catalina Convertible

You'll find a lot of cars named for places in California, especially in Southern California. Chevy Malibu comes to mind, named for the affluent beachfront community. Chevy Bel Air, the tony suburb of Los Angeles. Mercury Monterey, the coastal town famous for its Cannery Row. Chevy Tahoe, named for the big blue lake nestled among the Sierra Nevada. Chrysler Pacifica, the surfer town north of Half Moon Bay. And then there's the sunny vacation spot near Santa Barbara, Santa Catalina Island. The Pontiac Catalina began as a top trim line on the 1950-58 Chieftain hardtop coupes.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1968 Buick Skylark Custom Convertible

It's 1968. You're in the market for a new car. GM's just completely revamped its midsize A-platform offerings. So you have a choice to make: Chevelle, Tempest/LeMans, Cutlass or Skylark? You're young but moderately successful, so you want a vehicle that's not what your father drives but not what your neighbor's teenage son drives. You like a bit of luxury, some chrome here and there, but also a little power. You want a grown-up car to tell the world that you've grown up. So you get the Buick Skylark Custom convertible.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

San Ramon Street Sighting - 1966 Chrysler Newport Convertible

Car spotting is very much about luck. You can do all the planning and research you want, but ultimately a car is a mobile object and they tend to go places that aren't always the same place you go on the day you go there with your camera. I used to see a big old vehicle under a car cover sometimes while doing my delivery route. One day the cover was off. After work I stopped by and there it was, a 1966 Chrysler Newport convertible.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1970 Mercury Cougar XR-7 Convertible

It's winter now and much of the United States is gripped by frigid temperatures and snow. So this week, let's look at some convertibles!

Up first this week is a sunny yellow 1970 Mercury Cougar XR-7 droptop. I've long loved the '70 Cougars with their neat styling, athletic looks and performance to match. The 1969 front end left a bit to be desired in my opinion, and the '70 facelift gives the car a more aggressive, symmetrical look. The electric shaver grille with hideaway headlamps of the early Cougars is my favorite design element. Mind you, there is still a balance of performance and comfort shown here. The formal-looking "Lincoln-Mercury Division" badge on the taillight panel is there to remind you that this isn't your teenage son's Mustang.

Friday, January 10, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1978 Chevrolet Chevette

The economy cars of the 1970s and 1980s, particularly the American ones, have a bit of a reputation. And it's not really a good one. Among the lowest of the bottom-feeders during this time period was the Chevrolet Chevette.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Berkeley Street Sighting - 1979 Replicars Phaeton

For me part of the thrill of car blogging is trying to discover the model year of an obscure car and stumbling upon the history of that actual car. Rare cars tend to have well-connected owner's groups with a registry. I like to see what I can dig up to give myself and my readers a more complete picture of what they're looking at.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Livermore Street Sighting - 1930 Ford Model A Rumble Seat Coupe

The Ford Model A is surprisingly well represented among classic cars in the Bay Area. From time to time I'll see one on the road, or tucked away in a parking lot on the day of a local special event. At least one usually appears at a car show. Very rarely do they show up just on the street on a typical day.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Oakland Street Sighting - 1970 Volkswagen Beetle 1500 Wunderbug

I told myself I'd never feature a Beetle. Twenty-one million of the things were built and a goodly number of them are still on the roads in various conditions. The Volkswagen Beetle is still common, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area. And for that reason, the Bug was never that special to me. Some of you in the rustbelt who never see them, or VW enthusiasts, may feel otherwise. My father once owned a '71 Super Beetle and thought it was a wonderfully fun little car.

The Beetle is such a simple and versatile platform, it's excellent as a starting point for dune buggies like the Meyers Manx and kit cars ranging from fiberglass Porsche 356 replicas to the Bradley GT. There is a tuner culture that gave rise to the Cal Look, Volksrod and Baja Bug. And then there's this, a faux-1937 Ford coupe called the Wunderbug.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Danville Street Sighting - 1937 Ford V8 Coupe

Few classic cars in my area are daily drivers, let alone to the point of being a sort of local landmark. This very blue customized 1937 Ford V8 coupe frequently parks outside a sports bar across from my local In 'N Out Burger. The 1932 Ford roadster I featured back in March sometimes hangs out with it. Usually it's parked off the street or moving when I see it, so catching it stationary on Hartz Avenue in downtown Danville on an average day after work is rare.