Sunday, April 27, 2014

Two Classy Beauties From 1968

Show Car Sunday!
I was walking a friend's dog in the Boerum Hill section of Brooklyn early one morning after a rainstorm when I happened upon 2 great classics parked right on the street. 
 First up; a 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback GT, 
or at least I think it's a GT from the faux side scoops and grill with fog lights. If the color (which is perfect on this ride) is factory-correct it's known as Candy Apple Red.  
The dual exhaust means any of the V8 options could be lurking under the hood which include the 289, 302 (1st year available), 390, or the 428 (highly unlikely as this would make it a famous "R-Code" car worth six figures!).Regardless this is one foxy example of the same car Steve McQueen made famous in Bullitt. I love the concave taillight panel on this year.
This sweet ride remains in great shape even though I've seen it parked on the street in this area for years, proving that it can be done if you're careful (and lucky) enough.

I continued my walk and was genuinely surprised when I found this waiting for me a few blocks away:
Also from 1968, a Cadillac Coupe DeVille convertible. A Devil in a Blue Dress!
The closest factory color choice to this example is "Carib Aqua Metallic" and damn does it look impressive.
Blue cars of this era with white interiors are a mild fetish of mine (as are ragtops in general) so this car hits all the marks for me. Take those damn cheesy dice off the mirror though - have a little respect!
'68 was the first year for these square side mirrors with Cadillac written out in script. They continued using these through the mid-80s on some models.
Forward-leaning shark-nosed styling. These was quite an aggressive stance for the fabled Cadillac marque. Very proud of itself with the teensy-tiny crest logo on the leading edge of that side marker light (which lit up on whichever side turn signal you selected in order to illuminate your way as you steer this barge into your driveway after several 1968-edition martinis).
This little chrome detail on top of the fender houses one of my favorite features of Cadillacs from the '60s and '70s; the "Lamp Monitor". Within that little pointed chrome roof are two triangles of colored glass connected via fiber optics to the turn signal and the headlight. When you turned on the headlights or clicked the turn signal and noticed that the corresponding marker failed to light up it let you know that your light was out and needed to be replaced. Such a brilliant and elegant pre-computer solution! I believe this is the first year for this feature which was limited to the option list of the top-of-the-line models only. My father's '74 Eldorado Convertible had them as well.
The gas cap was hidden away behind the license plate on these old Caddys. A decade before this one was built they hid the gas cap under one of the taillights themselves which flipped up on a discreet hinge! If you didn't know where it was you'd never find it.
Finding this beauty parked in front of some NYCHA buildings all lovely and untampered-with was a treat. I did run across another old Caddy on the other side of the courtyard in a much different condition, but that's for another post.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Frumpy Beige Budgie

Keepin' it on the GL
This poor car is just sad. It looks like it really didn't want to bother or offend anybody but it just gets bullied and picked on and beat up in the hallway. The principal doesn't even intervene.
What we have here is an extremely used 1983 Subaru GL sedan. My guess is that this was the rarest body style as the station wagons were ubiquitous, and the 2 door hatchbacks were somewhat prevalent.  This one has been through the ringer though; missing grill, dents and rust on literally every panel, rear wheel made of cocoa, etc. Even the tiny reflector on the side of the bumper is cracked right down the middle which seems more insulting than if it just fell off. The license plate looks like someone tried to pry it off with bare hands and gave up.
Classic taillight repair with whatever tape was laying around. Sweet aftermarket speakers on the back deck.
Usually I like to try and decipher which of the factory colors once graced the cars I feature, but in 1983 Subaru offered 2 different beiges! Such a complete surrender as to how boring and unexciting this car was even from the factory. Out of a 10 possible colors, 2 were beige (Astral Beige and Harvest Beige), one was Silver (which is almost a beige), one was Black and one was White. ZZZZZZzzzzzzzz.
After bagging on this poor car so much I need to point out that the 4 headlights on this model actually mean that this is the higher trim level than standard. Also, this vintage Subaru had the very first automatic pushbutton 4-wheel drive transmission of any Japanese car. It's still getting the job done for somebody!

Half Japanese, half British, stranded in America

Red Rover Red Rover
why did you come over? Why the British auto maker Rover would dress up an Acura Legend in English finery and bring it to the United States after failing to take hold here previously is anybody's guess. However it came to be, here is the result; a 1987 Sterling 825SL.

Very curiously this example is also badged ROVER on the left of the trunk as it would've been in the UK. Maybe that makes this one of the very first to come across the pond?
This footnote in automotive history is indeed an Acura Legend in chassis and drivetrain (and most of the body). The interior appointments however are thoroughly British with faux wood trim and fine leather seating. 
Not many came to the US between '87-'89 even though the Rover 800 series (as it was known in Europe) was hugely successful everywhere else. How this example soldiers on 27 years after it's arrival is anybody's guess! I love how very British the crest is on this faded beauty. 
My favorite part of this vehicle is that somewhere the owner managed to find a chrome dress-up kit for it!
So what if it's a mish-mosh of Burgundy, Purple, and Black? The fat chrome band with Sterling written only on the passenger side shows that it still has some pride left.
*I didn't realize that whatever finish is left on this car would reflect me so well, but with my phone giving me an almost-Devil Horns gesture I'm alright with it.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Road Warrior T-Bird

Googly-Eyed Black Beauty
At first glance this car looks like it's on the walk of shame after spending all night in a dark club; look at those big glassy eyes!

To me it also looks like the post-apocalyptic bad-guy car from the opening chase scene in The Road Warrior:
Regardless what we have here is a 1977 Ford Thunderbird in black. The '77s and '78s were extremely close, but you can differentiate the two years by the grill; the '77 is an egg crate style with chrome on all lines, while the '78 is still an egg crate, but has chrome on only the horizontal bars. Pardon my intense auto-geekdom.
The rusty paint on the front and rear sections of the roof (but not on the easter-basket-handle going over the middle) says that this beast once had the vinyl roof covering. Of course the tiny band of chrome trim along the bottom of the rear window post denotes this as well.
Dig those "Opera Windows" in between the front and back!
 I love the full-width taillight assembly on these models, complete with ultra-stylized Thunderbird logos on each side.

This is the only real dent on this 'bird, which seems to be in fully-functioning condition. These weren't the most powerful cars, being from the "malaise-era" of American Automotive Design. The gas crisis of the early 70s was still reverberating throughout the industry as the big V8 motors were saddled with seriously restrictive smog and emissions equipment, reducing horsepower to puny levels. While this year was over 1,000lbs less than the previous model the next generation was to be even smaller, and would be based on the same Fox platform as the Fairmont. 
Still, it looks pretty mean with the BQE looming overhead.

Junky Hoarder Nightmare

This "car" is in BRUTAL condition! 

I remember passing it with it's rear wheel at that crazy angle at least 2 years ago when close friends of mine moved nearby. My initial thought was "Wow that'll be towed away any minute now" Little did I know!
Somehow, astonishingly, this thing continues to move back and forth across the street in accordance with the NYC alternate side parking regulations even with its broken ankle! It seems truly impossible, but there it is. Since it has only 1 out of state license plate on it I don't know why they bother, as I regard 99% of the "1 out of state plate" rides in NYC as completely out of all DMV systems in the country. *I will do a feature on this phenomenon soon as the myriad 1-OOSP cars litter the Brooklyn streets and drive/park with impunity and no discernible penalty.
So what we're looking at here was once a 1989-ish Toyota Corolla DX in plain ol' white. It's obviously seen better days. In fact, it's "better days" might still strike fear in the hearts of most folks. 

Big props to the bagel cafe/deli who slipped a menu under the wiper of this wreck; those bagels aren't gonna sell themselves!
The interior is literally a pile of cardboard boxes and dirty blankets spilling over from the packed backseat to the front, but like I said it still somehow moves if only to cross the street which is remarkable. 

Deuce and a Quarter? Only in Length . . .

1962 Buick Le Sabre
Here we find the dressed-down version of the iconic Electra 225 for 1962; the Buick Le Sabre. Both cars shared the same overall full-size body, but the fact that this example has only 3 portholes on each side means it cannot be an Electra, and the fact that it is a 4-door with a post in between the front and rear doors as opposed to a hardtop means it cannot be the mid-market Invicta.
 *For those of you not familiar, the "225" in the Electra's name refers to the 225-inch length of the car (18.75ft!!), making this a true land yacht. 
The color on this Le Sabre looks to be "Fawn Mist", which is sort of sand/beige/metallic silver, though rust is really working it's way along the edges on this one. The original engine would be the wonderful 401 "Nailhead" that put out either 410 or 375 foot lbs of torque (depending on whether the owner decided on a 2 barrel or 4 barrel carb as a no-cost option). I had a 1965 Electra 225 with the 4 barrel version of the 401 and can attest to the fact that it made that gargantuan beast feel light on it's feet! There's something about a 2-ton car accelerating quickly that's exhilarating and slightly unnerving, as if it doesn't seem possible.
This angle really tells the story; WIDE white walls with no hubcaps, paint and chrome faded, dents on the quarter panel, and the lower skin of the rear door separating due to rust, but she's still up and running so we'll tip our cap accordingly.  

How '80s Can a Car Get?

Toyota Celica TRON Edition
THIS is the answer to the question "How '80s can a car get?" Look at the awesome angular styling on this either 1984 or 1985 Toyota Celica GT! Both Toyota and Datsun/Nissan loved their rulers and T-squares in this era. Seriously; try to find a curve anywhere on this "Light Topaz Metallic" ride.
In 1984 there was a two-tone paint option with Light Topaz on top and Brown on the bottom; this just may be an example of that bold combination (which would nail down the year as well).
I love the angry taillights on this model.
These are some of the last Toyotas with the classic front-engine rear-wheel-drive layout. The extremely durable 22R motor under the hood would still be breathing through a carburetor when this left the factory. Being a serious car geek I can't help but think that these wheels originally belonged to a Corolla, but I could be wrong. The wheels I equate to Celicas of this vintage are just as awesomely angular as the rest of the car.
 This little gem is holding it's own in Gowanus, though it's not passing anybody with the automatic transmission I spotted through the window. Great car that will run forever if you can keep the rust away as the owner of this ride obviously has.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Random Collection of Finds

Since I started taking shots of cars long before I intended to compile them in any fashion I have some stand-alone or double pics. This entry will be a Rogue's Gallery of orphan images.
First up is this 1961 Ford Falcon Ranchero in straight-up bargain blue, though remnants of a factory paint job may allude to either "Cambridge Blue Irid" or "Blue Metallic" according to the '61 paint chip references I found.
  I love the space-aged swoopy styling of this model in combination with the lack of fancy trim; the only chrome visible besides the bumpers and hubcaps is the windshield surround!
This baby is packing either a 2.4 or 2.8 liter 6cyl, the latter of which was rated at a very respectable 30mpg! 

Next up, another FoMoCo product:
Yessiree this is a 1978 Ford Fairmont 4-door with a vinyl roof! Dig those original hubcaps and historical plates. Now before you laugh this one off the stage realize this; under the skin this is 100% Fox Body Mustang.
Now who knows what engine this is packing but it did have a trailer attached to it when I rode by it near the Grand Central Parkway. 
When I was a kid my mother purchased a brand-new 4 door just like this one in dark green. It was a true lemon, but we traded Fairmonts with my aunt a year later (she traded our lemon in), and we ended up with the sleeper hit; a red 2 door with the 5.0 motor. One curiosity of the 2-door is that the large back windows don't go down. *Another curiosity of all Fairmonts of this vintage is that the horn is activated by pressing the turn signal stalk in towards the steering column! This basically ensured that any emergency went unchecked as you furiously mashed the inert steering wheel centerpiece.

On to a brief Celebrity sighting;
What can I say? Mid-80s (likely '86?) Chevy Celebrity whose most remarkable feature is that it still exists 28 years after it was produced. Heck, if you located some factory hubcaps and punched out that dent this is basically in mint condition. Another 28 years and you've got the oddball everyone gathers around at the car show.

Now allow me to bend my own rules by posting a rare absolutely beautiful classic in very fine condition:
Looks like a 1963 Pontiac Tempest in what may be the "Marin Aqua Poly" color of that year. This lovely car was built the year before the GTO was introduced, and may have an odd engine lurking underneath the hood. Since there is no "V326" emblem on the grill there is a slight chance this has the 1-year-only Trophy Inline 4, which was basically a 389 V8 split down the middle. A design flaw of inline fours is that they shake badly, so it was discontinued after '63.

Back to the more heavily-used rides I prefer:
Conventional Hot-Rodders rejoice! A '57 Chevy Bel Air 4-door sedan. They built tons of this iconic model, and this one is the top trim level for the year.
With so many engines and options available in '57 it's hard to know anything specific without talking to the owner, but I'm happy to see a non trailer-queen example still roaming the streets of Brooklyn, especially with some homemade-looking 2-tone paint, spinners, and chrome headlight eyelids. 

The same address offers some other automotive wonders:
Here we have what I believe is a 1940 Buick Super Sedan. This body style was shared by the Roadmaster, but the 3 porthole trim in front of the front door gives it away, as the RM had 4. These cars look so gangster in black with those honest metal hubcaps. The subtle red inside the grill, in the portholes, and in the lettering on the hubcaps is just enough accent. Nice job.

Crouched and ready to pounce in front of that majestic Buick is this little Alpha! Now I'm no expert on Italian cars, but my guess is that this is a 1969 Alpha Romeo 1750 GT, looking even more eager and athletic without it's bumpers. I'm never driven, or even ridden in one, but I hear they are an absolute blast to throw around twisty roads.

On to the X-Large & X-Small portion of the program:
Here is a 1962-1964 Chevy C60 BEAST of a truck slumbering in snowy hibernation with the Empire State Building in the background. Surprising truck to find in Greenpoint Brooklyn!

Now I do enjoy mopeds and scooters, and since a good friend of mine rode a Motobecane for years I thought I'd snap a few pics. Rest assured this might be the nicest 2-wheeled vehicle you'll ever see on this blog as I'm already remembering a beat-down half-stripped Negrini chained up outside that I need to snap.
This is the fabled 50 Series, which according to the Moped Army website is "probably the most refined and sought after moped manufactured by Motobecane".