Sunday, June 29, 2014

Alameda Street Sighting - 1957 Chrysler New Yorker

One of my favorite cars on the Island that Rust Forgot, also known as the city of Alameda, California, is this excellent 1957 Chrysler New Yorker four-door hardtop. Chrysler Corporation was really at the top of its game when Virgil Exner unveiled his Forward Look lineup of dramatic yet graceful new cars for '57. The fanciest four-door Chrysler that year (apart from the Imperial, which was its own luxury brand) was the New Yorker. We've already looked at a base-model '57 Chrysler Windsor pillared sedan, now see how the other half lived.

Friday, June 27, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1970 Mini Mk III

Oh dear, a Mini. Let's see what an ignorant fool I am about these cars. Readers from the UK, please be gentle!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Castro Valley Street Sighting - 1967 Buick LeSabre Custom 400 Sport Coupe

In fall 2006 when I began going to college in San Francisco, I commuted on BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), basically a regional subway/light rail. I always caught the train out of the Castro Valley station, and when there was no space left in the BART parking lot I'd park down the street. It was early on that I'd often see a huge old green Buick LeSabre parked on the same street. It came and went and after a while it disappeared. I never saw what became of it until two years after graduation, when I was exploring a different part of Castro Valley and there it was. This was one of the first cars I photographed in depth with my then-new Canon 60D, as my poor trusty Kodak Z980 had just died four days previously (the power switch broke while attempting to photograph this 1974 Chevy Camaro). So I apologize that the photo quality is a bit poor; I hadn't figured out all the camera settings yet.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Danville Street Sighting - 1994 BMW 840Ci

I must say, the 1990s were very good to BMW. There aren't many brands that consistently produced good-looking cars throughout an entire decade. I love the E34 and E39 5 Series, E36 3 Series and E38 7 Series. Even the aging E30 and E32 still looked decent into the '90s, the early E46 3 Series was all right, and like it or hate it, the Z3 was the Z3. But one of my all time favorite Bimmers remains the E31 8 Series.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1956 International Harvester SM-120 Metro Van

If ever there was a vehicle I should have posted on St. Patrick's Day back in March, it's this one. Either that, or the Irish community will be happy that I didn't force another stereotype of Irish culture on the holiday of their patron saint. This colorful International Metro with its manic-looking leprechaun and his disturbing mechanical friend are trademarks of O'Grady Plumbing, a business based in San Francisco. A small (I'm sure very small, only a few at most) fleet of these little vans serve as rolling billboards for the company, to be parked in visible locations in the city. I doubt that the Metros see much active duty given their age, condition and rarity.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Los Gatos Street Sighting - 1961 International Harvester Scout 80

I get a little tired of the joke that a rusted International Scout is its natural state. Maybe it's the result of living in California my entire life, but in my experience the Scout and other Internationals are still alive and kicking in decent numbers. On the other hand, in many other parts of the country the vintage International Harvester is nearly extinct. Scouts were tough trucks in their time but unfortunately quite rust-prone. If we're honest, though, most cars and trucks built in the past weren't rustproofed or sealed well and began to corrode after a short time, particularly in climate zones with salt air or harsh winters and road salt. Even an owner's washing habits and paint maintenance made a huge difference in an older vehicle's survival. Internationals were trucks and off-road vehicles, likely put away dirty and wet and having to work out in the elements year-round.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Seaside Street Sighting - 1964 International Harvester C-1100 Pickup

I don't see a whole lot of International Harvester trucks. Part of this is due to their proclivity to rust, and the rest is likely due to the existence of Ford, Chevy and Dodge. Oddly enough, in recent months the IHC faithful have come out of the woodwork and now I'm seeing solid old Internationals all over. This one, however, was actually spotted darn near two years ago in the town of Seaside, while my friend and I were heading to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. It's a 1964 C-1100 longbed pickup.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1965 Ford Fairlane 500

If you asked me to name a car from the 1960s that was so generic, that if you removed all of the badges the average person couldn't identify it, I would nominate the 1965 Ford Fairlane. I'm a big fan of most of the 1965 Ford Motor Company portfolio, and I love the 1963, '64, '66 and '67 Fairlanes. But the 1965 model has never done anything for me personally. Sure, it has that Big Three Detroit car look, is obviously an easy-to-handle midsize car, and is available with V8 power. However, there is nothing about the styling that really defines it as a Ford. From some angles, it could be a Dodge or Plymouth, or a Rambler.

Friday, June 13, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1955 Chevrolet One-Fifty Handyman

No, it's not a Nomad.

It seems like at car shows, at least, a lot of people don't know the difference between a 1955-1957 Chevy Bel Air Nomad wagon and the standard two-door station wagon. The biggest clue, aside from side trim, is the B-pillar. Nomads have a forward slant to the B- and C- pillars, and the rear hatch is also raked forward more dramatically than the regular wagons. As the Nomad was an offshoot of the fancy Bel Air, it carried special side trim and seven vertical chrome spears on the rear hatch. The One Fifty Handyman was the bottom-rung wagon in the Chevy lineup and typically carried no extra body trim at all except for a "Chevrolet" script badge on the front fenders, hood ornament and large red, white and blue Chevrolet shields on the hood and rear tailgate. Two-Tens had a simplified version of the Bel Air's side trim and more luxurious interiors.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Oakland Street Sighting - 1968 Saab 95 V4

Today there's much talk in advertising of crossover SUVs that seat 7 or more passengers. No longer satisfied with full-size V8 Ford Expeditions and Chevy Suburbans, many buyers want interior space, carlike handling and fuel economy at the same time. Funnily enough, that's not a new formula. The minivan has offered that kind of practicality for decades, but minivans are so passé. Early Saabs were always compact family cars with small engines, and the 95 wagon offered three rows of seating for up to seven people. Seven very small or very skinny people. The 95 wagon and 96 sedan were initially powered by a 0.8 liter three-cylinder, two-stroke engine. This engine made 40 horsepower and smoked too heavily to comply with rising emissions standards as the decade wore on. In 1967 a Ford-built 1.5 liter V4 engine became available, now a four-stroke design for more power and less smoke.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Wanted: 1:18 Beanstalk Group Ford F-150 Lariat

Some of my readers will know that I collect 1:18 scale diecast models and occasionally do a "Collector's Corner" feature here of some of my collection. I have a short list of "must obtain" models, and my holy grail among them is the blue 2004 Ford F-150 Lariat extended cab fleetside truck by Beanstalk Group, produced for only one year in very limited numbers. I believe it was some kind of promotional tie-in with Ford dealers or something, and unlike the 2006 F-150 by Maisto which was sized to fit inside Maisto's corporate box, the Beanstalk pickup is true 1:18 scale and also has four opening cab doors.

The biggest kicker is that the picture shown above is of a pair of models I actually purchased last year on eBay (seller's photo, not mine). A mistake by eBay's systems in processing the order caused the models to be shipped to a friend's former address in Pennsylvania, where the package was presumably stolen off the doorstep and has never been recovered. I have not seen a blue Beanstalk F-150 Lariat come up for sale since.

If anyone reading this post has one in good condition that you'd be willing to sell, please get in touch with me.



Monday, June 9, 2014

Pleasanton Street Sighting - 1967 Chevrolet Biscayne

The concept of building a performance car from a base model vehicle isn't a new one. The most basic trim level typically is the lightest. Today we expect even the cheapest new vehicles to have a complement of features. The base versions of older cars tend to be free of air conditioning, sound deadening and even a radio in some cases. All of that contributes to weight. Muscle cars are all fine and good, but those who want a fast big car would want something like a Chevy Biscayne two-door sedan with a four-speed and the biggest V8 they could order or build.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Berkeley Street Sighting - 1950 Plymouth DeLuxe Suburban

This was more or less the vehicle that got me started coming to Berkeley to shoot cars. I browsed Flickr for Bay Area classic cars and learned that there was a 1950 Plymouth wagon in Berkeley. Sure enough, it turned up, and I've been making the odd trip to the eclectic streets of Berkeley ever since.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1960 Cadillac Sedan DeVille

On Tuesday we took a look at a 1960 Cadillac Series 62 hardtop coupe that's survived life on the streets of Alameda without the benefit of a restoration. Now let's check out a 1960 Sedan DeVille that's withstood life in San Francisco.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Alameda Street Sighting - 1960 Cadillac Series 62 Coupe

It's rare that one finds a pair of matching street sightings in the same place, but once in a while one encounters two cars that go together well, even if they weren't in the same location or found at the same time. It seems as good a time as any to bring two daily-driver 1960 Cadillacs out of my archives. First up is a base-model Series 62 coupe from the city of Alameda.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

San Ramon Street Sighting - 1972 Porsche 914

When I was a kid I spent a lot of time playing Need For Speed: Porsche Unleashed. For some reason I painted all of the Porsches in my collection yellow with red and black rocker stripe decals. I was pretty poor at driving digital 911s with their interesting rear-heavy weight balance, but I loved the 914.