Saturday, August 30, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1977 Citroën 2CV6

San Francisco is known for many things, good or bad, and one of those things is a high population of old French cars. To date, I've featured seven classic Citroëns, all of them spotted in the city of San Francisco. This '77 2CV is number 8. And there are more on the way in the future.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Alameda Street Sighting - 1964 Oldsmobile Jetstar 88

Few cars have carried as many marketing names as the Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight. Some have been straightforward trim levels, such as DeLuxe 88 and Super 88, but Oldsmobile has long been associated with rockets, so much so that their logo was a stylized rocket for decades. The Rocket V8 engine sparked a lineage that would include the Rocket 88, Dynamic 88, Jetstar 88, and more puzzling Delmont and Delta 88s. Delta was the most enduring nameplate, lasting more than twenty years. Jetstar, as seen here, was the cheapest full-size Olds and the name was only used from '64 to '66.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1969 MG MGB GT

I've always liked the early models of the MGB. The late ones made after 1971, hobbled by ugly black rubber bumpers and an aerodynamic plastic front end cap, just don't appeal to me. The roadsters are nice, but I really like the MGB GT 2+2.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Alameda Street Sighting - 1970 Dodge Charger

Ask a person about the 1968-1970 Dodge Charger in popular culture and you'll get three answers. Older people will probably say the bad guys' black '68 R/T in Bullitt's famous chase scene. Young people might say the black '70 drag car driven by Vin Diesel in a couple of the Fast and the Furious movies (he also drove a modified '69 Charger Daytona replica in Furious 6). And most everyone knows a certain gravity-defying orange '69 R/T with the doors welded up and a horn that plays Dixie. Incidentally, virtually all of those cars were destroyed in filming their respective roles. But this green '70 Charger has survived and lives a quiet life in suburban Alameda.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Oakland Street Sighting - 1959 Singer Gazelle Series III

This week we've been looking at Rootes Group cars, and already seen representation for the Sunbeam and Hillman brands. Now let's check out a rarely-seen Singer Gazelle.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1958 Hillman Husky Series I

This week we're having a look at some cars produced by the Rootes Group in England. Rootes is known in large part for the Sunbeam Alpine sports car, but the company also built a lot of down-to-earth family cars and utility vehicles. This is a late-1950s Hillman Husky van, produced in 1958 or '59.

Monday, August 18, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1965 Sunbeam Alpine 1725 Roadster

One of the more intriguing car companies for me is the Rootes Group from Britain, manufacturer of such vehicles as Talbot, Commer, Humber, Sunbeam, Hillman and Singer. The company actually began as a dealership network in 1913, and over the next few decades it grew to purchase a series of British automobile manufacturers. Rootes subscribed, more or less, to the General Motors school of thought: a brand for every purse and purpose, and clearly defined model ranges to fit each application and niche. Rootes was an early adopter of badge-engineering, another GM favorite, and was also an interesting early producer of compact luxury cars.

Rootes operated in various markets around the world with varying levels of success, in Europe, Australia, North America, South America and even the Middle East (the latter by local factories under license). In the late 1960s, Chrysler took an interest in Rootes, both as a captive import for the US market and to get itself a foothold in Europe where Chrysler's American-oriented cars were not marketable. Around this time Chrysler took over Rootes and French carmaker Simca, and made a fine mess of it over the next decade. What little was left when Chrysler was done with it was sold to Peugeot in 1978. In 2007 Rootes ended where it began 94 years earlier, as nothing more than a name on a UK car dealership.

This week we're taking a look at an assortment of Rootes Group cars. First of these is one of the best-known Rootes cars in America, the Sunbeam Alpine sports roadster.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Pleasanton Street Sighting - 1968 Chevrolet Van

I must say this is a new one on me.

General Motors turned out a fair number of Chevrolet and GMC vans in the 1960s to compete with Ford's Econoline and Dodge's A100. They followed the same formula: forward-control design with the engine located under or between the front passengers, rear-wheel-drive usually, and two wheelbase lengths. A cargo or passenger variant was always available. But I don't think the factory ever turned out anything like this.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

San Ramon Street Sighting - 1948 Ford Super DeLuxe V8 Coupe

When I was a kid I loved 1940s Fords. Heck, I still do. The '40 and '48 were my favorites, then I discovered the '49 and fell in love with that too. I even like the '42 to some extent. Every kid is fascinated seeing the DeLorean time machine in action in Back to the Future, but I cringe every time I see how they abused Biff Tannen's black '46 Ford convertible.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1990 BMW M3

It seems crazy to me that for 2015 the storied BMW M3 coupe will no longer exist. Yes, the M3 will still be offered as a sedan, and the M3 coupe has just changed its name to M4, reflecting BMW's new naming strategy of using even numbers for coupes. Whatever. It's all marketing. What the car does is what's important.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Collector's Corner - Welly 2001 Chevrolet Suburban

Some years ago I ran across a diecast website called Uncle Chester's Toy Trucks. They offered a black 1:18 scale Chevy Suburban, allegedly from ERTL with four opening doors. Now, ERTL did make a Suburban 2500 4x4 with four opening doors. The 4x4 was offered primarily in promotional series for Matco Tools, Outdoor Sportsman and Thomas Kinkade, and a metallic grey one with auxiliary lights and bullbars. They also made a lowrider version in their Fast and the Furious series. When ERTL was done with the casting, they sold or licensed the tooling to Welly, a brand known for producing good-quality budget diecasts often with old tooling from other companies. I never did get Uncle Chester's Suburban, as the mythical black truck sold out quickly. However, I did manage to pick up this blue Welly Suburban on the old for $8 plus shipping.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Pleasanton Street Sighting - 1972 Ford Galaxie 500 Coupe

It's taken a long time, but here it is. Street Sighting number 500. To celebrate, I picked a car with that number in its name. Here's a 1972 Ford Galaxie 500 coupe.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1964 Buick Riviera

Of all the Rivieras I've come across in my travels thus far, I think this one's the best. It's really tough to beat an early Riv in classic black on five-spoke Buick mags, and just enough whitewall to add a touch of formality without ruining the sporty-car image. You can see why these cars were called the banker's hot rod.

Monday, August 4, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1952 Kaiser Manhattan

When you're the little guy, you have to stand out or you disappear. By "disappear", either you end up blending in or you fail in your endeavor completely. Such is the case among independent car manufacturers and even the mainstream ones. The Chevy-Ford rivalry is well-known for decades as each takes turns trying to outdo the other with styling, interior or powertrain changes depending on how much money is available for the updates at any given time. GM and Ford usually have a lot of cash at their disposal for developing new cars, though. A small company like Kaiser-Frazer was on a shoestring budget and relied heavily on proven technology and a highly skilled styling team.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1966 Chrysler 300 Convertible

One of my very first street sighting posts on this blog, #6, was a 1966 Chrysler 300 two-door hardtop in San Francisco. Now we're approaching five hundred. Here's another '66 Chrysler 300 in San Francisco, but this time it's a drop-top.