Monday, March 31, 2014

Collector's Corner - Sun Star 1959 Pontiac Bonneville Convertible

As a diecast collector with limited space in which to display and store my models, I have to make a list of priorities. It's mostly a wish list and I jump on the ones I want most when I find a good deal. One such model was this 1959 Pontiac Bonneville convertible from the Sun Star 1:18 scale Platinum collection. I love Sun Star's higher-end diecast offerings and when the Bonneville was first announced, a two-door hardtop in Canyon Copper Metallic with a white roof, I was smitten. But the first-edition copper hardtop is extremely hard to find and now usually trades for over $100 without a box. When a convertible variant was offered in several colors, the Vanguard Blue Bonneville was my favorite and I put it on my must-have list.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Danville Street Sighting - 1948 Pontiac DeLuxe Torpedo Convertible

This was easily one of my favorite cars to photograph so far this year. Which is funny, given that the 1948 Pontiacs have never been on my short list of favorite cars. There are just so many cool Art Deco details on this beast, I couldn't help myself.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1963 Oldsmobile Starfire Holiday Coupe

Corporate internal competition is a funny thing. When GM wanted a piece of the burgeoning personal luxury sport coupe market in the early 1960s, they brought out the Oldsmobile Starfire to compete with the likes of the Ford Thunderbird and other sporty, two-door luxury cars. But there was a problem. See, GM's once-orderly brand hierarchy had dissolved in the interest of being all things to all people. Now they had half a dozen divisions all competing, in many cases, for the same market segment. When this Olds Starfire rolled off the assembly line in 1963, it was competing with the new '63 Pontiac Grand Prix, Buick Wildcat and sexy new Riviera. Even the higher-spec Chevy Impalas (particularly the SS) and similar Olds Dynamic 88s probably stole sales from the Starfire.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1952 Kaiser DeLuxe

Henry J. Kaiser made an indelible mark on America in the mid-20th century. His shipyards built thousands of Liberty cargo ships to keep Allied forces supplied during World War II; and his healthcare company, Kaiser Permanente, saved thousands of lives and continues to do so today. Many people might forget that Kaiser also ran a car company.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1969 Fiat 124 Sport Coupe

I'm hesitant to photograph Fiats most of the time because all I ever come across are the Fiat 124 Sport Spiders. They're cute little cars and all, but they're common enough that I really just don't care (The same is generally true with the Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce). Then once in a while something different pops up and here we go. This is still a Fiat 124, but it's the unusual 124 Sport Coupe.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Oakland Street Sighting - 1964 Dodge Dart 270

I don't often do a full shoot of Plymouth Valiants or Dodge Darts unless they really call to me. They're some of the most plentiful "old cars" in my area and they're tough. Many exist in "beater" condition with bulletproof slant sixes and stick shifts or the dependable Torqueflite automatic. Others are well-kept originals, mild customs or have received a budget restoration. Many are post-1967 models but a fair number of earlier cars exist as well. This one is a 1964, the last year of the push-button automatic, and the first year of the optional 273 cubic inch V8 engine and a new four-speed manual with Hurst shifter.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1970 Ford Torino GT Convertible

Typically when I go to write about the cars I encounter on the street, some research is involved for data about the vehicle. Sometimes I have no idea what I'm looking at and need to look it up to determine the model year or other identifying information. Some cars are obscure variants of well known models or are modified in such a way that IDing them is hard. Did you know that Ford made a Torino GT convertible in 1970? Weirdly, though, this one doesn't have many of the sporty touches associated with the GT.

Monday, March 17, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1974 Triumph TR6 Roadster

What color do you associate with an English sports roadster? British Racing Green, for sure. Red, perhaps. White or black, maybe. But how about purple?
For two years, 1973 and '74, the good folks at Triumph offered the TR6 sports car in this color, called "Magenta", in addition to a range of blues, greens and earth tones worthy of any mid-seventies home refrigerator.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1966 Ford Galaxie 500 Convertible

I've gotten word from friends back east that another late-winter storm has been dumping tons of snow and frigid temperatures on them. Fear not, friends, spring is coming. In the meantime, have a classic red convertible.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Berkeley Street Sighting - 1937 Plymouth P4 DeLuxe Touring Sedan

In the mid 1990s some of the best-selling models made by Chrysler Corporation were the Chrysler Cirrus, Dodge Stratus and Plymouth Breeze, collectively known as the "Cloud Cars". Well, here's a cloud car, and while it isn't a Cloud Car, it is still a Plymouth. It's a 1937 Plymouth P4 DeLuxe.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Alameda Street Sighting - 1965 Rambler Classic 770 Coupe

For some reason nearly every Rambler Classic I see is a Cross Country station wagon. The sedans must all be parts cars or daily drivers for old ladies in the upper Midwest or something. I've come across one '63 four-door sedan, one '62 two-door sedan, and one '65 convertible. And then there was this handsome 1965 Classic 770 hardtop coupe.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Pleasanton Street Sighting - 1977 Mercury Monarch Coupe

I've always kind of thought that blatant rebadge jobs were a bit silly, when a vehicle is sold under two different names in the same market with only minor differences between them. It works great if you're the manufacturer and your two models have simple bolt-on pieces to differentiate them; it's a cheap way to create a luxury variant. That's the formula Ford used for the Ford Granada and Mercury Monarch. The Lincoln Versailles was the ultimate form of the Granada, and had some of its own unique sheet metal. But the Monarch was a Granada with a slightly different front clip, slightly different taillights and a Mercury hood ornament and badging. Inside, the Monarch came with special parts like a center console taken from the Versailles, and ... um... Mercury badges. There was a fancier Grand Monarch Ghia from 1975-76, but I assume it didn't sell well enough to continue production beyond that. Engines and transmissions were the same as the Granada, two straight sixes and two V8s.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Alameda Street Sighting - 1973 Toyota Corona Mark II

If you're a fan of old Hong Kong action movies, you've probably seen
some Toyota Corona Mark IIs ramping through the air and getting smashed into other nondescript Japanese compacts as collateral damage from a car chase. Or perhaps you spotted one of these as highway traffic in an episode of CHiPs. But apart from period TV footage, these cars don't appear to have survived in significant numbers. I was pretty excited to see this one on what Murilee Martin (of Jalopnik and The Truth About Cars) called the "Island the Rust Forgot", Alameda.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Oakland Street Sighting - 1963 Mercury Monterey Custom Breezeway

I have a bit of a soft spot for the 1963 Mercury Monterey. An acquaintance of mine owns one, a two-door with the Breezeway rear window that was a daily driver and occasional autocross car until it met a concrete barrier at an event. As of this writing, it awaits restoration.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Hayward Street Sighting - 1973 Buick Electra 225 Limited

The word "Limited" connotes a variety of different things. Limited production indicates exclusivity, limited options indicates few available extras or choices, limited capability indicates that something is not very good at what it does, limited top speed means governed so it cannot go any faster. In every case, there is a limit which keeps there from being too much or too many of something. It makes the term popular for use on the most luxurious trim level of an automobile whose intent is to at least make you think your neighbors won't all have one.