Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Emeryville Street Sighting - 1971 AMC Hornet

One of my favorite annual traditions on this blog is Independents' Week. Not coincidentally, it falls on the week of July 4th, America's Independence Day.

It's an opportunity to look at some classic American cars not produced by Detroit's Big Three, Ford, General Motors or Chrysler. First up this week is a 1971 AMC Hornet sedan.

I've featured a few Hornets previously, including one four-door sedan, a hatchback coupe and a two-door sedan. This one is an early model, one of the oldest Hornets I've seen. I love the AMC Hornet and this is a refreshingly simple, honest example in factory stock form. There is a utilitarian look and feel to the Hornet, particularly on non-SST base models such as this one, featuring dog dish hubcaps and a single side mirror. The styling is so Spartan, the cool tri-color contrasting pinstripe seems almost like an extravagance. I like the detailed bee emblems on the front fenders and the fuel filler cap, the former of which was dropped on 1972 models presumably to cut costs.

Condition is decent, not mint by any means but a good solid daily driver. I'd expect a 3.8 liter straight-six under the hood and either a three-speed manual or the three-speed Shift-Command automatic. I actually really like it with the black steel wheels and stainless/chrome dog dishes. It gives the car a sort of 1970s government fleet look. At this point, a lot of the low-spec basic family cars that were prevalent on the roads decades ago have gone by the wayside, so it's great to see a basic Hornet sedan that hasn't gone to Pick 'n Pull.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Berkeley Street Sighting - 1985 Mercedes-Benz 409D Trueblood RV

There are a lot of old motorhomes on California's streets and roads, and a fair number of them are fascinating machines from long-defunct manufacturers and conversion companies. Unfortunately, a lot of them are also decrepit, parked in terrible areas and/or serving as permanent shelter for people down on their luck. For that reason I tend not to shoot such vehicles. But this oddball conversion van intrigued me. It's a 1980s-vintage Mercedes 409D van built into a camper by Trueblood RV GmbH of Frankfurt, Germany.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Livermore Street Sighting - 1951 Plymouth Concord

One of the curious things about the 1950s to a modern observer is the complete market dominance of the full-size car in the U.S. To many in that era a large car represented space, safety, stability and status. Oh yes, and value. Some drivers favored the little foreign jobs like the early Volkswagens or some of the British MGs, Triumphs or the odd Austin or Morris that were popularized by returning military servicemen after WWII. The Japanese were still a few years away from attempting a toehold in the United States with diminutive Toyopets and Datsuns. Even such American small cars as the tiny Crosley, prewar Willys Americar and postwar Aero, upcoming Hudson Jet and Nash Metropolitan would prove to be little more than bit players in their respective times. Large American cars owned the roads and if you could only afford one car for the whole family, you might as well get the biggest and best car in your price range.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Livermore Street Sighting - 1965 Buick LeSabre

I could have owned this car.

In 2009 the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association chose a light blue '65 Buick LeSabre as their annual giveaway car for their Northern California shows. I entered to win it, but it was not to be. I enter most of the giveaway contests and have been a finalist twice (red 1965 Mustang notchback and yellow '69 Chevelle SS 396), but have never gotten lucky. This is the car they gave away.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Alameda Street Sighting - 1976 Morris Mini Clubman

It's been a little while since our last car feature so here's a little feature on a little car. I don't recall ever seeing a Mini Clubman before I spotted this one on the streets of Alameda, California. Okay, I've seen a lot of the modern MINI Clubman, the extra-long variant of the MINI Cooper. But this is the original Clubman, an effort to modernize the classic Mini whose original design and styling dated to 1959. Clubman was a more expensive car than the regular Mini and featured a longer front end with improved crash safety and easier service access.