Thursday, July 30, 2015

Danville Street Sighting - 1979 Chrysler New Yorker

The R-platform cars are not often regarded as a high point in Chrysler's history. To some observers, it's a miracle that Chrysler has survived this long, what with a long succession of great cars, terrible cars, apathetic cars and a lot of strange decisions in design and marketing. In the latter half of the 1970s, Chrysler was in deep trouble. General Motors rolled out an all-new fullsize car platform for 1977 that was shared across all of its core passenger car brands. Chrysler management often used a wait-and-see approach for market trends -- if something worked for GM and Ford, Chrysler would usually follow. In 1978, Chrysler dumped their Dodge and Plymouth C-body fullsize lines, leaving only luxury-minded Chrysler to peddle big cars. In '79 the R-body appeared, a reworked midsize B-body with smaller engines, a three-inch stretch and over a quarter ton of weight loss. The platform was old, the engines were old, but the company was on the verge of bankruptcy and did their best with a small budget. This car would serve as Chrysler's big sedans for all three divisions through 1981.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1964 Mercury Montclair Breezeway

I have a lot of respect for people who collect oddball classics, off-brand cars and base models. All it takes to own a fleet of shiny Bel Airs, Camaro and Chevelle Super Sports is money. Barrett-Jackson will be happy to peddle you any number of perfectly restored cookie-cutter showboats. But then you have the small-time collector with a two-car garage and ten old cars that all have to park on the street because his wife's car gets the garage, and she rates higher in his book than any of the cars. At least, she does if he knows what's good for him.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Danville Street Sighting - 1956 Chevrolet Corvette

Every month on the first Sunday morning, the Blackhawk Automotive Museum holds a Cars and Coffee meet in their parking lot. A lot of local enthusiasts show up, from car club members to nouveau riche exotic owners to some older gentlemen just looking for a good excuse to get their favorite classics out of the garage. It's always different and a nice little free show for a couple of hours. After one of these meets I ventured into downtown Danville and ran across a car I didn't see at Blackhawk, this black and silver 1956 Corvette convertible.

Friday, July 24, 2015

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1962 Fiat Ghia 1500 GT

This post marks my 600th street sighting feature. I thought that I might as well pick something truly rare and unusual, so here we have a 1962 Fiat 1500 GT by Ghia.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1966 Jaguar 3.8 S-Type

Do you remember the Jaguar S-Type sold between 1999 and 2008? It didn't sell all that well stateside, despite the retro styling craze that saw the success of the Chrysler PT Cruiser and 2005 Ford Mustang. Perhaps it was difficult for American buyers to relate to a retro-styled Jaguar that hearkened back to the days of the 1960s, and wasn't an E-Type. It was inspired by, and named after, this.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Collector's Corner - Cars & Co. 1989 Trabant 601S De Luxe

What's this? An East German Trabant in the United States? Well yes, and no.

I would absolutely love to find a Trabant as a street sighting -- and I know that there are some in California. But this is just a diecast, 1:18 scale replica. It's issued by "Cars & Co." and is a Sun Star casting first used in the late 1990s by Vitesse. From what little I can find, it appears that Cars & Co. is a German Sun Star diecast distributor. That would make sense given that both of my Trabant models were purchased from sources in Germany. This one is the 601s De Luxe Limousine, the two-door sedan model.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Danville Street Sighting - 1982 Jeep Cherokee Laredo

I think few auto manufacturers have gotten as much mileage from one vehicle platform as Jeep did with the Wagoneer. The proto-SUV made its debut as a 1963 model based on the J-Series Gladiator pickup truck, and served a long and distinguished career as a go-anywhere station wagon with four doors or two, a utilitarian panel truck and perhaps the first "luxury" SUV (Super Wagoneer/Wagoneer Limited/Grand Wagoneer). The SJ Wagoneer lasted until 1991, with the name appearing again periodically on special models of the compact Cherokee (XJ) and midsize Grand Cherokee (ZJ) through 1993. The two-door Wagoneer was always a slow seller, and only lasted from 1963-68. American Motors purchased Kaiser Jeep in 1970 and in '74 a two-door variant of the Wagoneer was back, now called Cherokee and sporting new side windows and standard four-wheel-drive.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Danville Street Sighting - 1967 Cadillac Coupe De Ville Convertible

It's officially the beginning of summer which marks convertible season. Warm sunny weather is perfect for top-down cruising no matter what kind of convertible you have. A big lazy V8 convertible is great for taking you and five of your closest friends to nowhere in particular. A '67 Cadillac De Ville would be a fine candidate.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Danville Street Sighting - 1949 Packard Standard Eight

This is Independents' Week, a recurring feature here on California Streets around the 4th of July, celebrating cars from independent American manufacturers. That means no Big Three cars from Ford, General Motors or Chrysler. This is a 1949 Packard Standard Eight Touring Sedan.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Oakland Street Sighting - 1973 AMC Javelin SST

This is Independents' Week, a recurring feature here on California Streets around the 4th of July, celebrating cars from independent American manufacturers. That means no Big Three cars from Ford, General Motors or Chrysler. This is a 1973 (or possibly '74) AMC Javelin.

I used to hate all second-generation Javelins made between 1971 and 1974. I hated the big flared fenders mostly, and they struck me as just strange to look at. This one changed all that.