Saturday, May 31, 2014

Lost City of Gold

I've said it before and I'll say it again; the streets of Brooklyn are littered with Cadillacs. I was riding along a particularly harrowing stretch of 3rd Avenue for bicycles when I noticed this shrouded brick:

A closer look revealed it to be a 1971 Cadillac Eldorado convertible in the midst of some ongoing repairs.

Take a moment to examine the motley assortment of items holding this 5,000 lb beast up off the ground; a small floor jack, a scissor-jack that looks like it came out of a Japanese compact, and a jackstand. Would you climb underneath this as-is to work on it? Let alone the fact that it's perched on some of the most oil-soaked polluted real estate in the city!
Oh man from this angle you almost want to believe! It looks like there's a possibility of this thing starting up and driving away on it's flat tires. Amazingly it has a matching set of plates, as well as both registration and inspection stickers present. It's a safe bet that the top is mostly missing along with the back window due to the tarp & bungee cord action.
The more I look at this thing the more I feel like we're seeing a car that's at it's lowest point in life but actually isn't a lost cause. This is bald Britney Spears attacking the camera with an umbrella. I'm sure in a summer or two she'll be all dolled up again ready for a world tour.
This model year has some surprisingly aggressive body lines for such a huge ride; the upper and lower fender lines tighten up in a Coke bottle shape as they fade towards the back. Just behind the rear edge of the door there is a missing band of serrated chrome that would normally be filling up that vertical opening. Also missing of course are the fender skirts which would add to the factory-lowrider look.
 We'll finish up with this sad image of faded class. At least it's an actual spoke wheel as opposed to a faux-spoke hubcap, but still; it's not helping the cause at the moment. Good luck Britney!

Friday, May 30, 2014

NYC's still got it!

Keepin' it Real
Here's a little bonus post for those of you who think NYC's lost it's edge completely.
 Yes it's still possible to find stolen & stripped wrecks dumped on the streets of the city. This was out near the Flushing World's Fair site.
Civics are certainly as popular as ever, and this one's given up just about everything. Not just the seats but the entire carpet was yanked out of this one!
 Every light, the entire wiring harness, doors, trunk, etc. Basically if your late '90s Honda got flooded in Hurricane Sandy and you needed to rebuild it you'd probably need all of these parts. I'm surprised 4 out of the 6 original windows are still in it.
Next time the new Times Square bums you out go for a ride in the outer Boroughs and keep your eyes peeled; the late '70s is still out there if you look hard enough.

Town Ace vs Space Van

Today we have 2 very different sides to the same coin; the Toyota LiteAce is the basis for every van they've built since 1970. In the good old U.S. of A. these were known simply as the Toyota Van. However, in Europe, and casually in the States, it was known as the Space Van. I present our first example:
Blammo! This poor thing calls for some 1960's Batman POW!! exclamations complete with trumpet blasts for the treatment it's received.
This veteran of the city streets was once a 1986 Toyota Van. It's obviously been some run-ins with various buildings or other vehicles or who knows what. Remarkably it seems to be driven regularly. The beauty of having the engine mounted over the front wheels is that you can have a massive front end collision and it might start the next day.
This Medium Blue Metallic example has some sort of camper style windows on this side, but that's nothing compared to the other.
As if there aren't enough cargo vans in the world to choose from the owner has elected to spot weld pieces of metal over the window openings on the driver's side! Not only that, but they decided to seal up their handiwork with some chartreuse spray paint. Finally "Nothing Wild Loves U" was written in marker on the side. Take that as a warning!
Next up we have a cool and capable oddity that tries to answer the question "How many words can I put on a vehicle?"
Seriously, from the top: Toyota Town Ace Super Touring 4WD Diesel SEA with Skylight Roof. This is a 1989 Japanese version of the Town Ace in highly decorated trim.
The Max Headroom background to the words TOWN ACE in that awesome font let us know that Toyota's gonna squeeze every bit out of the '80s before the decade ends.
I'm not sure what I can say or point out about this sweet ride thats not already written on it. You see that there? That's the Skylite Roof. It has a total of 4 of these little pop-up sunroofs.
Oh dear. It looks as if someone will be trying to convince their Oregon insurance company that they need to order a rare window from Japan for a 20+ year old vehicle that was never imported to this country.
Actually make that 2 windows! Something about the crosshatching of the window tape tells me that they fully expect to drive at highway speeds for quite a while before the glass cavalry comes through.
Despite how out of place this Space Cruiser Town Ace is on the streets of Brooklyn I still love it. Go forth Town Ace and continue exploring the galaxy!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

What do you get when you combine a fox and a bird?

There I was, riding along Ocean Parkway, when I felt a stinging in my eyes. It was this:
Ugh. The holy grail of missteps in automobile design. A 1980 Ford Thunderbird wearing the extra-cost optional color Medium Blue Glow.
 Built on the new Fox Body platform, Ford got rid of this entire design after only 3 years in hopes that the public would forget about it. Even with the leather seats and landau roof it's impossible to deny the fact that this car is a dressed-up Ford Fairmont.
From the front the upper and lower sections of the grill match up visually, but from this angle you can see the severe underbite of this wide-eyed sickly beast. This detail, however, is the only way to identify the year accurately as the lower grill texture was dropped from the bumper in the years following this one.
This is what happens when you take an economy car and slather personal luxury gaudiness all over it; vacuum operated power headlights, faux cornering lights (you can see from where the lens broke off that they were just big wrap-around reflectors), and wire wheel covers (spoke hubcaps as opposed to actual fancy wheels).
To top it all off this example is in horrendous condition! If this were a super-rare car from the '60s someone might attempt to conquer this rust and restore it, but this car is on death row and has exhausted all appeals. The Governor will not be calling at 11:59 to offer a reprieve.
One feature Ford held over from the '70s T-Birds is the full-width taillight housing, which I actually like. Unfortunately as this is the first Thunderbird to come with a 6 cylinder standard as opposed to a V8 I don't think many people saw the rear end at all.
That trunk lock replacement tells me that this thing has been living a hard life in the city for quite a while.
You see those 5 smudgy rectangles above the door handle? That is the very first keyless entry system offered on a production car! You punch in your code and the reward is being able to climb inside this car and be seen in it. Bizarrely the numbers on the pad (which are long gone on this one) were doubled up; the first button was 1-2, the 2nd was 3-4, etc. I don't know who that would fool or why they would bother but I guess it would make a 5 digit code seem twice as cryptic?
That forward-leaning landau roof and larger rear 3/4 window means that this 'Bird was ordered with the Decor Group package (which also included the keyless entry). This added $359 to the cost which is more than this one is currently worth. Regardless, someone's still driving around in it so I guess they got their money's worth.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Older Immigrant Gentleman With New Shoes

Lurking in the hills of the Greenpoint/Williamsburg border is this little toughy:
This is a 1978 or 1979 Datsun 620 pickup. Along with the Toyotas of the day this was the picture of durable utility. With it's rugged 2.0 Liter 4 cylinder it would gladly toil away forever (or until the rust monster came to take it away) and return great gas mileage in the process.
This one has obviously received a questionable tribal tattoo along the way, but that would make sense on a 37 year old bro with a Napoleon complex. I like how it took one good sock to the jaw and still looks determined.
There is a little bit of an identity crisis happening with the Datsuns of this era as they start to ease in the name change to Nissan. This schizophrenic badging started in 1978, and continued on up into 1983 when Datsun was finally dropped. In reality the company was always Nissan, but they had used the Datsun name for their export vehicles. 

The 2 handles that open the tailgate are so basic and utilitarian that they could've come off a truck from the '30s.
I love the era of stamping the truck's name HUGE on the tailgate! Everybody seemingly did it, but the Japanese were the most literal, with the clearest fonts. Mazda had a pickup truck that wins the tailgate game by having MAZDA ROTARY POWER spelled out, filling the back end completely!
Look how practical Datsun by Nissan is with all the tie-downs affixed to the bed; 11 in total! For me the small styling cue that showed they cared is the body line above the door handle which incorporates the leading edge of the bed into the overall design. As for the flamed mudflaps? They go with the tribal tattoo.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Great Car Terrible Cover Syndrome
I love running across a covered challenge to my auto-geekery! Identifying a covered car scratches an itch that only a few people will admit to. I am that person.
So what have we here?  
First of all, this car cover is terrible! If you're going to go through the trouble of covering it why would you use something that needs to be tied up on the ends like some sort of 1950s holiday roast? No fewer than 3 lengths of bungee cord are wrapped around this thing. The bungee cords aren't even extra long or anything; each one is fabricated from several like a prisoner tying bedsheets together to escape. This car wants to escape!
*Special shout-out goes to the RV behind it with one entire side replaced with plywood.
It seems to be a convertible due to those lines under the tarp that look like the bows for the top. This would also be the only acceptable excuse for using such a sad cover.
 This one eye peeking out identifies this car for me immediately, as only one car had this treatment for a single year. We're looking at a 1966 Mercury Comet!
The signature feature of the '66 Comet were the stacked round headlights that were surrounded by the body color. Both '65 and '67 had the stacked headlights somewhat incorporated into the overall grill (though '67 was close to this). You can just make out the aggressive, forward-leaning angle of the front end.
 It looks to have the original hubcaps too which are a bit odd as they look very formal on what is trying to be a youthful, sporty car. Still a Mercury as opposed to some downmarket Mustang!
These Comets are some of my favorite Mercurys of all time, and this one looks to be wearing it's original Jamaican Yellow paint. Hopefully I'll catch it cruising around without it's tatty cover some day.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day CST10

Two Tone Beauty
Riding by Prospect Park this morning on my way to work a short Memorial Day shift I caught a glimpse of this:
A 1970 Chevrolet CST-10 pickup! Looking good with that original two-tone Orange and White paint job. Incidentally those are the official names of these particular colors for GM trucks in '70, which is mildly surprising. No fancy catalogue color descriptions for the working man!
 Somebody has a real show truck on their hands. Everything looks flawless.
Some nice details are to be discovered when inspecting this Chevy; the blue tinted glass with reflective louvers set inside the bow-tie logo really pops in the sunlight.
 There's a lot of information on this mouthful of a badge; CST/10 8 350.
Officially this is a truck from the full-size C/K series which counts for the first C. The ST following it means it is the top of the line, which includes such fancy upgrades as the two-tone paint and the upper and lower side moldings. The 10 means it can carry a half-ton, and the 8 350 of course means that it has the 350 V8 motor.
Easily the coolest part of this vehicle for me is the woodgrain hidden within the lower molding running along the entire truck. If you were going for a highfalutin vibe in the '60s and '70s it usually meant fake wood whether on your truck or in your seedy basement home bar.
This truck is so perfect that I can't imagine it works very hard for a living these days, but it certainly could with it's long bed, heavy-duty bumper with trailer hitch, and handy exterior lamp over the back window. This would be the perfect rig to haul a boat or a camper with.
One more shot of this Gentleman Farmer's ride. Happy Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Show Car Sunday returns!

Big Green in Fort Green
On a recent beautiful morning I was passing dozens of police cruisers parked sideways across the bike lane in front of the station when I happened upon this:
The 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix in original Berkshire Green Poly! A massive testament to the bygone malaise era tastes of the day.
 The surefire way to pick a '77 out of the crowd is the front headlight arrangement; only the '77 had the turn signal placed between the two mammoth square headlights on each side.
 Looking down at the front of the car it looks like an entire speedboat is trapped inside the hood! You've gotta love the overabundance of jewelry this thing is wearing too; a stand-up hood ornament, the Pontiac symbol on that schnoz, and Grand Prix by Pontiac written above the far right headlight. Fuzzy dice too? Why not at this point.
 The LJ designation means top-shelf, and in 1977 that meant gaudy trappings such as velour interior and pinstripes were included. The model SJ was the sportier version with the slightly higher horsepower engine, but in this era of woeful performance it didn't impress anybody.
Let's take another gander at this long hood/short deck style. This car shares much of the body and underpinnings with it's cousin the Monte Carlo from the same year. You can barely see it in the pics but this does have the massive sunroof option. T-tops were available in '77 too!
The back window wasn't left out of the design process either, gaining a crease right down the middle. Replacing that piece of glass would be a bummer!
 Here we get a good sense of just how gargantuan those federally-mandated bumpers are. The car is already huge, and the bumper is just this angular chrome slab basically wrapping around the furthest edges. It looks like the piece of protective styrofoam you immediately discard when unpacking new electronics.
"GP" tangled in a nest of Celtic filigree within a Stop Sign octagon. They just couldn't stop with the faux luxury details once they got going on these beasts.
One more time y'all' this time on the opera windows nestled within the Landau top. No matter how much I might be bagging on this car I bet it's amazingly comfortable to cruise around in, and it is in immaculate condition to boot. Hats off GP! See you at the gas station soon.