Saturday, September 16, 2017

White brick in Red Hook

I was making my way past Sunny's Bar out in Red Hook when this slab of cream cheese presented itself:
This is a 1972-1974 Ford E-200 Super Van in Wimbledon White. This thing rules! the hood is so tiny because most of the engine is accessed from the inside. You can basically check the oil and top off the radiator only from the front.
Take a look at this plain-Jane face. This is the stripped down model with zero chrome or frills whatsoever. The entire grill would be chrome on the higher end vans as well as the bumpers. If you had a small business and needed basic transportation this was the ride for you.
Scrapes and scuffs are the hallmarks of a working vehicle. Having no window on the sliding side door means this is truly the base model.
I love these lunchbox rides. You know this thing doesn't live in a city because it would be tagged to high heaven. Parking it in front of a Red Hook bar for more than 20 minutes invites writers.
Super Van is written on that lower-right emblem. I believe it denotes a slightly more comfortable interior because there's nothing about the outside that says Super.
I've owned a few ford vans over the years from the 1988-1989 model years and from the rear they look the same as this one. In many ways the Ford trucks and vans were extensions of the Model T; basic and ready to work with great economy. 
This is basically a portable storage unit.
I love the plainness of this slab side. I wouldn't be able to leave well enough alone with so much canvas space but with the white bumpers and mirrors it looks pretty neat.
Econoline is just what it sounds like. The 200 designation denotes its hauling ability. There is a 100 (1/2 ton) and 300 (1 ton) as well as this 3/4 ton version.
This hardy beast has the 3 on the tree manual transmission mated to what is probably a straight 6 cylinder engine. There were 2 different sixes; a 240 and the 300. In addition a 302 V8 was available but when the van is this basic I figure it's a 6.
Just about the only styling on this entire rig is that eyebrow line that goes down the length of the side and under the taillights. 
Alright that's what I'm talking about! This box contains 2 bikes hidden within. You can conquer the country with this setup. *I dig how the construction of these is so basic that you can see where the windows would be in the sliding door had it been so equipped. 
Well that's where I'll leave this sweet beast. When I walked by a few hours after taking these pics I saw the couple that owns this ride sitting on folding chairs behind the open rear doors. They were barbecuing on a tiny camp sized charcoal grill looking like they might as well just head out across the country that moment. The Jersey plate seemed almost too close for people packing motorcycles and a grill but who am I to deny those who know how to live?
Hats off you flat faced brick! See you in the Hook.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

This is the tuned car.

This is the tuned car.
My friends have been outpacing me drastically with the automotive finds and today is no different! Robin of Omaha recently stumbled upon a brace of beautiful Buicks:
This is a 1966 Buick Riviera in what seems to be an aftermarket two-tone graphite over black with a fearsome red stripe dividing the colors. The reason we know this is a '66 as opposed to the almost-identical '67 is the fact that those angled square lenses on the sides do not have a horizontal bar going down the middle of them. Even though they're large those are just the turn signals on the sides. This ride has 4 headlights hidden concealed in the grill. When they're open they look a bit crowded in there to me.
This ride is largely the same as the Cadillac Eldorado and Oldsmobile Toronado of the same year. However unlike the others the Riviera is a traditional rear wheel drive car. This is the final year for the venerable Buick Nailhead motor, this one a 425 V8.
Obviously the lines on this ride are fantastic and dramatic! The rear roofline swooping down to frame the trunk makes this beast seem like it's moving while standing still.
*Notice the lack of little vent windows! This is the first year since the '30s that a Buick didn't have them.
This is an evil ride with the black bumpers (something I usually frown upon). The vents beneath the back window are where the air exits the cabin as a part of the fresh air system.
Right next to the '66 is this 1967 Riviera with its tell tale horizontal turn signal bars. This is a mild custom like its brethren so the chrome hood trim has been shaved. 
I couldn't find any proof of two-tone Rivieras from the factory but this is a pretty common restoration choice. The mirrors on this ride are later replacements (the other ride has the correct driver-only chrome unit). 
I dig this roofline without the vinyl roof too. The wheels on both rides work really well. Both of these have the optional bucket seat interior essentially making them 4 seaters.
Somebody added a little pin striping to this ride.
1967 saw a new engine for Buick; the 430 V8 good for 360 horsepower and a whopping 475lbs of torque! Even at a weight of over 2 tons it was enough to move this beast around with alacrity. 
Buick (and indeed all of GM) was riding high through the '60s and they were understandably proud of the Riviera. It was touted as the "Tuned car" in their literature. In fact the entire opening paragraph is so assured that I'm going to close it out with this quote:
"We regret to destroy (again) the old theory that great road machines always come from Europe. But this one comes from exotic, far away Flint, Michigan - home of Buick, home of the Tuned car."

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

2 scenes 1 car

I'm lucky to have amassed a group of friends who send me pictures of old/cool/weird cars when they encounter them. However this was a first for me; I was hurrying to catch a 1am ride home and only managed to snap a couple pics of this car before the bus was in front of me (they're rare after midnight so I couldn't wait for the next one). By happenstance Robin from Omaha took several pics of the same car weeks later to contribute! For that reason this ride is parked in front of a bank and then magically in front of some deli flowers. Behold!
This is a 1987-1988 Nissan Sentra XE Sport Coupe in Silver Frost Poly. At first glance this looks to be an anonymous import from the '80s/'90s like any of the millions on the street. However this happens to be a 2 year only vehicle. The grill treatment here is unique to the Sport Coupe as the regular Sentra had a very boring facade consisting of 2 rectangular headlights in a plain black grill. This is a little more sleek with the angled 2 opening grill flanked by running lights.
In the grand scheme of things this is a Nissan Sunny. The Sunny was built over many generations from 1966-2006 and sold all over the world.
"Power" (in air quotes) comes from a 1.6 liter inline 4 cylinder. Efficiency and sporty handling were trademarks while acceleration was not.
This quirky profile sets the Sport Coupe apart from the standard Sentra. Every body panel on this ride is unique to the Sport Coupe. Under the rumpled skin of our feature car lies front and rear sway bars, a tachometer, and remote mirrors.
The XE designates a mid-tier trim level. The base level was E for Economy, followed by the XE with GXE at the top. These cars are more about straightforward reliability than luxury though.
I think silver spray paint abounds on this ride but it's a forgiving enough shade to allow it. The shamefully cheap plastic hubcaps scream AUTOZONE.
There was a seriously innovative Nissan in this same era called the Pulsar. The claim to fame for the Pulsar was a removable and interchangeable rear roof section. Closely following the angle of the fixed rear quarter window on this ride would be where you had either a hatchback or the Sportbak which was like a mini station wagon. There aren't too many still out on the streets in 2017!
Well that's that for this little cruiser. Since these are front wheel drive cars they haven't achieved the sort of cult status that the RWD Japanese classics have. Now that they're at around 30 years old people will start noticing the cooler body styles like this and the Pulsar. In the meantime if you want a seriously reliable classic to drive around that anyone with a socket kit and a manual can work on a late '80s Nissan would be a fine choice.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

*May or may not have kept name intact coming through Ellis Island

I was biking down 2nd Ave in Sunset Park one recent morning when this beauty stopped me in my tracks:
Depending on who you ask this car has different names. What is absolutely true is that this is a Mitsubishi Starion from 1987-1989 in Mexican Red. However this was also marketed as a Chrysler Conquest during those same years in a classic case of badge engineering. I guess Chrysler chose the name because they took a car from a foreign power and renamed it as a spoil of their conquest? They should've called it the Chrysler ThankstoMitsubishiforthefavor.
Nevertheless these cars are (in my opinion) some of the coolest to come out of that era. The aerodynamic front with almost no grill and those angled hidden headlights make for an aggressive look. Those wide body fender flares are stock as is the well integrated spoiler.
There were plenty of Japanese sporty hatchback tourers from this era like the Nissan 300SX and Toyota Supra. The Starion/Conquest has some awesome '80s styling cues like the folded paper angles, blackout trim where there might have been chrome earlier (for instance around the windows and taillights), and geometric alloy rims.
Compared to how tall and rounded everything else is on the street this thing is like an arrow.
This guy is going for the classic Brooklyn combo of yuge coffee can exhaust mixed with one out of state plate. Pennsylvania? Sure bro I hear it's really nice out there.
This ride took a knock on the taillight corner which might prove kinda pricey as these cars are 30 years old now.
The U.S. versions of this ride got a 2.6 Liter turbocharged 4 cylinder with an overhead cam and fuel injection. This was a decently fun motor for a car so low to the ground with sporty suspension. Perhaps the most fun part is that they were still rear wheel drive.
*Dig that trapezoidal rocker panel below the door formed by the flared fenders.
Inside it is the 1980s all the way! A huge cassette deck with like 25 buttons rests in the dash. Climate control? Massive array of buttons. That seatbelt with TURBO TURBO TURBO written on it is in that position because it's the dreaded power-operated shoulder restraint that trundles back on a track when the door is closed. The fact that it's a 5 speed stick is great fun. 
Well there we have it; a car totally stripped of its emblems so we'll never know if it's been adopted or not. Obviously the spoiler has found a curb or two in its day but that flakey clear coat on the top of the fender is typical of the era.
Since this is the widebody version I figure it's most likely an '87 to '89 but there is a slight chance it's a 1986. If indeed it is it might be one of 3 Conquests as Dodge, Chrysler, and Plymouth all used exactly the same name for their rebadged Mitsubishi! When you achieve that level of anonymity it's hard to defend why you would even have different brands under the same Chrysler roof?
I did drive one of these back when they were just a few years old that belonged to a friends mother. It was fast enough and could out handle anything people my age were driving at the time. It was possibly my first experience driving something that wasn't either a prehistoric foreigner (like a VW Beetle or '70s Datsun/Toyota) or a domestic brick (any Oldsmobile/Ford/Chevy of the era). Ever since I've had a serious appreciation for cars that might not lay a huge strip but can tackle mountain roads. If one of these came my way I'd happily roll with it!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Strobogrammatic Savoy courtesy of Providence Pete!

Providence Pete has had incredible luck recently finding old rides. He recently sent me a couple teaser snaps of the car below and I begged him to head back for more. Behold this quirky spaceship from the most recent Strobogrammatic year!
This is a 1961 Plymouth Savoy with remnants of its original Mint Green visible amidst the rust/primer/patina ruckus. This car is awesome and you should show respect. Doff your caps!
Come on already! Few rides are as outlandish as the '61 Plymouths in the front.The grill, when taken on its own, is the shape of an anvil. Not only that but it curves rearward as it goes down. It has legit eyebrows and an eager (if kinda off putting) expression. The center of the bumper has that ribbed section drawing the air into its mighty maw. The movie car from Christine was a '58 Plymouth but this is easily sinister enough to have filled that role.
This golden emblem in the grill is a combination of hyper stylized images. The original logo for Plymouth was of the Mayflower (Plymouth Rock, get it?). By the late '50s it had become so abstract that you couldn't really tell what it was. Then the Valiant debuted in 1960 with a streamlined rocket emblem in the upright launch position. This looks to be a combination of the two, and a proper precursor to the Fratzog (a made up word for the 3 pointed emblem that would arrive later).
Look at this overhanging aggressive stance! The frowning eyebrows hang over the headlights, which in turn are leaning over the bumper.
The original parking brake; a log.
The rusty drippings on this beast make for crazy patina. Moments of Mint Green can be seen just above the wheel center and on the rocker panel.
The Savoy wasn't putting on airs. The dealership sales brochure from the era calls it "The economy line for 1961". Above the Savoy was the Belvedere, and above that the mighty Fury. That line running back from the eyebrow over the wheel well originally had a bit of chrome on it (only in the very front). The Belvedere had the same short chrome trim on the front fender but the rear chrome extended to mid-door. The Fury had an unbroken chrome line from front to back.
The rust pattern on the hood is so odd I figure it must have had a pile of leaves on the drivers side or something. I've also seen cars that spent years under a tarp for their protection completely rotted as any moisture couldn't escape.
 Give it up for Siddartha Guatama chilling on the front seat! A full width bench was the Savoy standard. The brochure bragged that the dealer could adjust the seat height and angle to perfectly suit the new owner.
The dashboard is stupendous! First of all the steering wheel has clear acrylic top and bottom, with that space age rectangular horn ring. The push buttons to the left of the wheel are the transmission controls (I'm 99% sure it's sitting in Drive). The buttons to the right are optional heating controls (below the furthest button is a lever for opening the vent). The white square below the speedometer is where the close would be had it been ordered. One amazing (not included) option that was available for this car was an under dash record player!
Even the smallest details are well thought out in this era.
This chrome spear would've continued further towards the front had it been a higher trim level.
From this angle you can see the huge reverse light on the back panel. This was an option in '61 with the sales literature going so far as to point out that it was a safety item.
This is the taillight housing for 1961. They just hung on to the side of the car like rocket boosters. It certainly looks cool when they're working properly but are very susceptible to damage.
A little more Mint Green remains on this side. The short roof 2 door with post is a Savoy exclusive. Both the Fury and Belvedere had a long, sloping roofline in a hardtop style.
Original poverty caps on Mint Green steelies complete the thrifty look. That tire with its dry rot and years of dirt in the flat crease says this hasn't moved in years.
Well there we have it; a super sonic space age slab holding down a driveway in Providence. Nothing beats the oddity of '60s Mopar design in my book. Every Dodge/Chrysler/Plymouth in this era had weird touches like square steering wheels, these overhanging eyebrows, pushbutton transmissions, and unique but equally crazy dashboards. These are unibody cars so tackling a really rusty restoration would be daunting. However the drivetrain technology is tried and true with everything easy to work on. Even the quirky pushbutton trans worked very well; it was only discontinued later in the '60s to save something like $1 per car. Some day I would love to own one of these. Pete - if you see a sign on this wreck one day hit me up!