Thursday, February 27, 2014

Alameda Street Sighting - 1969 AMC Javelin SST

My friends know that in addition to being a big Ford fan, I love American Motors products. And one of my favorite AMCs ever is the 1969 Javelin. The Javelin was AMC's entry in the pony car market in the 1960s and '70s, with flavors ranging from six-banger economy coupe to tire-smoking muscle car. If that formula sounds familiar, it should. AMC was late to the party but the Javelin - particularly the short-wheelbase AMX - could party as hard as most of its competitors.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Oakland Street Sighting - 1968 Austin-Healey Sprite Mk IV

In this era of political correctness it seems like the word "midget" is considered derogatory to little people. So what does that make the MG Midget? A Midget by any other name... is an Austin-Healey Sprite.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Collector's Corner - Maisto 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300S Cabriolet A

I shall never understand some of the color choices some model manufacturers make. Mercedes-Benz has always been that luxury brand that made formal, traditional cars in formal, traditional colors like black, silver and white. Maybe dark blue. So Maisto went and sprayed this one a very un-German metallic green.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Danville Street Sighting - 1967 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super

In my previous post about an Austin Princess limousine I discussed how difficult it is to date a European vehicle that didn't change much visually. One of many such cars is the Alfa Romeo Tipo 105 Giulia sedan. This one is a Giulia Super, and if the license plate is original, it is likely a 1967 (or early '68) model. I saw it well over a year ago, parked near the Danville D'Elegance car show in front of the now-demolished Danville Hotel strip mall. Perhaps it's cheating, but it was a very fine example of a classic Alfa.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Berkeley Street Sighting - 1956 Austin A135 Princess Limousine

Oh, sure, it looks like a Rolls-Royce. It has the upright Parthenon grille, the Spirit of Ecstasy, the general proportions of a classic British luxury car.
But look closer. The grille is indeed a Rolls unit, probably from a Silver Cloud. The rest of it is an Austin A135 Princess DM4 limousine. As with a number of British cars, dating the exact year and even the exact model name is difficult because so few visual changes were made over the production run. These limos were built from 1952 to 1968, yet are exceedingly rare with only 200 made. What did change, was the name. If pre-1957, it's an Austin Princess. If late 1957-1960, it's a Princess IV. If post-1960, it's a Vanden Plas Princess.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Danville Street Sighting - 1940 Ford DeLuxe V8 Coupe

Every now and then I get lucky and something cool turns up on the road, then it happens to park nearby on a public street. Such was the case with this 1940 Ford that rolled past me while I was driving through Danville one afternoon following work. I'm not typically a fan of brown cars, I'm a fan of the '40 Ford and this one definitely spoke to me, brown and all.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Alameda Street Sighting - 1966 Datsun 411

This was one of my most anticipated scores for the blog, at least within the city of Alameda. Everyone knows the Datsun Z-cars, and a fair number are familiar with the Fairlady roadsters, but the early mainstream passenger cars are much less often seen in the United States today. The Datsun Bluebird is a model best known to Americans as the 510, sold from 1968 to 1974. But before that, Datsun was a bit player in the compact market in the US, selling small pickup trucks and dowdy little economy cars. In late 1963 Datsun brought out the Pininfarina-styled 410, a car that made a Datsun sedan a little more interesting to look at in one's driveway. The 411 was added in 1965, which traded the 1.2 liter four-cylinder for a 1.3 liter unit producing 67 horsepower.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

San Ramon Street Sighting - 1992 GMC Typhoon

All-wheel-drive. Six cylinders. Boxy wagon styling. Turbocharged.
By that description alone it sounds like some kind of mythical Volvo. But it's actually a GMC Typhoon, and twenty years ago an SUV based on the Chevy S-10 pickup was one of the fastest performance vehicles on the market.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

San Ramon Street Sighting - 1972 GMC C1500 Stepside Pickup

The 1967-72 GMC stepside pickup truck has a special significance to me, because my father owns one. His is a 1971 1500 Custom with a 307 small block V8. This one is a far cry from that, but the two pickups have crossed paths on the road before.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Berkeley Street Sighting - 1957 Fiat 600 Multipla

Can we all agree that specialized repair shops are awesome? One hidden gem in the odd, anti-car People's Republic of Berkeley is an unassuming little corrugated aluminum building with no sign, located next to a creepy-looking old house with the word "eternal" painted on it. This is Conrad Stevenson Restorations, a treasure trove for lovers of vintage Alfa Romeos, Fiats and the occasional classic Ferrari or Lancia. This is a man who builds race cars and races them, too, whether it's for the 24 Hours of LeMons or the Monterey Historics. But he has an eye for the unusual as well. Naturally, he has a Fiat 600 Multipla. Scratch that, he has at least two.

Friday, February 7, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1971 Volkswagen 411 Wagon

I've been doing features recently that correspond to certain odd-numbered milestones, such as street sighting features #403 and 404, which looked at a Peugeot 403 and 404, respectively. So as this is feature number 411, let's look at a 1971 Volkswagen 411 Wagon.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Berkeley Street Sighting - 1962 Chrysler 300

Sometimes when searching for cars I'm very lucky, and sometimes my timing is very poor. I happened upon this 1962 Chrysler 300 on a day when the owner was about to meet with a prospective buyer. As in, literally within minutes. He walked outside shortly after I began photographing the car and we chatted for a while. Then the buyer arrived and I decided it was time to let them discuss business.

The 1962 Chrysler 300 is a mixed bag of car design. The '61 cars had received slanted headlamps and a trapezoidal grille, which continued into 1962. The new cars lost their tailfins for a more modern look. It also marked a partial decline of the 300 letter series begun in 1955 with the NASCAR-winning C-300. The 300 was now available in non-letter form as a mass-market coupe, convertible or even a four-door hardtop with an options list that included most of the formerly exclusive 300 letter-car content. This heavily eroded sales of the 300H. Even the 300H's 413 cubic inch "Wedge" V8 was optional on the regular 300 in place of its standard 383 engine.

I seem to recall that this was a Wedge car. It had had an interesting life, including but not limited to a replacement right front fender to fix crash damage (the paint was a different color on the inside when the owner opened the hood to show me the engine). Much of the trim still had blue painter's tape covering it as evidence of a quickie spray job, and the owner told me that almost all of his cars had recently been attacked by some hooligan breaking windshields. (Note the Mercedes W123 behind it.) The Chrysler had been fortunate to escape further damage. The car also employed an anti-theft device - a purposely deflated right front tire when not in use.

The interior was in surprisingly good shape aside from worn and torn leather seats. I think this car has the push-button automatic transmission. The body was still a bit beat-up and rusty, but I'm hopeful that whoever ultimately purchased the car saved it. I hate seeing complete and running vehicles parted out.

Note to readers: This car was photographed in July 2013. Please don't ask if it's still for sale; I don't know but the answer is probably not.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Oakland Street Sighting - 1954 Ford Mainline Fordor Sedan

I'm not sure what the odds are of finding a Yugo and a '54 Ford on the same block, but interesting coincidences do happen. This 1954 Ford Mainline Fordor sedan has beaten the odds and endured city life.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1954 Hudson Hornet Special

Rounding out this week of Hudson automobiles is the last of the Step-Down Hornets, and really the last true Hudson.