Thursday, July 31, 2014

And now something from Corinthians . . .

Uh-oh, look up ahead! Is that what I think it is? YES!
The car that brought Ricardo Montalban and Ween together, this is a 1976 Chrysler Cordoba! This car was originally intended to be a Plymouth with the hilarious name Grand Era, but after the gas crisis Chrysler decided to give it the overly luxurious treatment and raise the price under its own moniker. Behold the only "malaise era" automobile to be a runaway success! 
Much like yesterdays Monte Carlo this car would eventually move to the stacked-square-headlight look, but as soon as it did the sales plummeted. From '75-'77 though the Cordoba sported the large round headlight + smaller round turn signal front that gave it a distinctive look. It looks gaudy now but this was just what the doctor ordered at the time. Grand Era indeed.
Let's take stock of the personal luxury coupe trappings on this bedazzled gangster; formal "tombstone" grill, Landau roof, opera windows, opera lights, pin striping, and dimensions that somehow justify the extra large government-mandated bumpers.
Now to the main event! You've heard all about it folks, and here it is; Fine Corinthian Leather in the flesh! 
Being a personal luxury coupe it needs to have an implied sporty edge to it even though the size is more Cadillac than Camaro. For this reason we see the center console with tough-looking automatic shifter, and full gauge package (not including that under-dash add-on).
Dig that font that actually looks like it belongs on a cologne bottle from the '80s more than a huge coupe from the '70s. Those taillights are dynamic at the very least. When dealing with rectangles and squares the use of angles at least adds something to the mix.
I just like this little 3 story chrome side marker light. Again, with the red glass set deep on one side it's almost like a vignette of Brutalist architecture than a running light.
That little opera light on the landau roof is where they go too far! The advertisements for this when it was new would always show these off though, and they would always be lit up (at least lit as the well-dressed folks being helped out by the valet in some fancy setting).
When naming your car after a city in the Spanish territory of Andalusia you need to add strong, very Spanish-seeming details to your design. I don't know if that was the point of having a faux coin with a faux coat of arms on this ride, but I can't think of any other reason!
Well there we have it; personal luxury at its finest, and a proper counterpoint to yesterdays failings from a car of equal size from the same year. Now quick; everyone look up the song El Camino by Ween and let's all sing the Cordoba verse together!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Great White NOPE

S.S.H.E. M.C.
Stacked Square Headlight Edition; this is how I refer to the cars built during the brief but horrible window of 1976-1979 when the last of them were made. It's just like it sounds; cars with 4 square headlights stacked on top of one another. For whatever reason this was a feature only on the wackest, slowest, and most bloated rides ever to come stumbling and wheezing out of an increasingly troubled Detroit. With the exception of the gutless Ford II this was also a feature exclusive to once great models that became shadows of their former selves. Without further ado:
 Ugh. What we have here is a 1976 Chevrolet Monte Carlo made out of cream cheese and unfulfilled dreams. You can tell it's a '76 as opposed to the '77 (also a S.S.H.E.) because there is no hood ornament. Happy Birthday America! This is your bicentennial Monte Carlo. When you press the horn on this ride it actually plays the Sad Trombone.
Why am I being so hard on this ride when I am the sort of person who gets excited about Pintos & Gremlins? Because to me this is the perfect example of a car whose design heads mostly in a certain direction but doesn't fully commit. 
Early on in this blog I featured the twin to this car; a '77 Pontiac Grand Prix. However, the Pontiac knew who it was and went for it totally; padded landau roof, goofy medallions all over it, and gaudy paint. This is a plain white barge with huge proportions and boring style. Those Cragar SS wheels look great, but they would look even better stacked up in the corner of some garage waiting for a better car to come along!
 Yes this is the first time I'm deciding to truly bash a car without mercy, and I couldn't have chosen a more deserving example if I do say so myself. This looks like a snowdrift parked on the street. You almost expect Danny from the Shining to escape out that little side window and run off into the Maze.
Of brother. To top it off it looks like the owner replaced a missing reflector with the sort of thing you stick in the ground near your mailbox so nobody backs into it!
 Those swoopy fender flare lines are about as sporty as painting flames onto an aircraft carrier. About the coolest thing on this car for me is the fact that the back window comes to a pointed V in the middle.
 Now we have the height of audacity! That little zit on the fender in front of the front wheel is a hood lock. What exactly are you protecting here? The engine choices for this beast ranged from slow to moribund. If you were to pop the hood you would see a big lazy engine so strangled with emissions equipment that it looks like an octopus is attacking it.
In 1976 if you were a Nascar driver who loved Chevys this is the car you raced. The most amazing thing about that era is that they still raced these as stock cars complete with chrome bumpers and grills! To watch those old races is incredible as the gargantuan rides really look like they're going way too fast and the crashes look like terrible real-car crashes as opposed to a roll cage dressed in a generic body. Richard Petty raced one of these and it looked pretty cool, but this plain white lump is just an awkward stage for Chevrolet during the low point in American automotive design.
Tomorow I'll be featuring: something cooler!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

No nonsense car for hit men

This is a serious car. I stumbled upon this black beauty near the Williamsburg/Greenpoint border recently and was struck at just how wide and long a 2 door can be. I was also struck by how evil a car can look, just by having a shiny black paint job and a very red interior. If you owe this car money I strongly suggest you find a way to pay it back.
What we have here is a 1961 Ford Galaxie (Club Sedan I believe). The Galaxie was a higher trim version of the base Fairlane. Above the Galaxie was the Galaxie 500 and Galaxie 500 Victoria editions, with appropriate increase in luxury doodads and glitz for each step up in price. The owner of this beast is taking it down a notch with the removal of some of the original chrome trim pieces. 
You want trunk? We got trunk. I mean look at that back end just hanging out over the road for several feet! The brochure for this car bragged about the 4 foot wide trunk opening being able to handle all your storage needs, and they're not kidding; Ford claims 30.5 cubic feet of space in the trunk, which is the equivalent of those huge reach-in freezers you buy 5lb bags of ice from at a store. 
Overall this is a very handsome car due to the many details sprinkled about. The roofline where it curves downward after the rear side windows is formal yet classy. The subtle concave shape of the rear window with the gently rounded top also helps what would otherwise be a perfectly rectangular brick.
With most of the side trim and all of the emblems removed from this mild rat rod it's hard to discern whether this is a Fairlane or Galaxie. This mottled metal panel running between the taillights is the clue as it was only on the Galaxie.
The small fins at the angle of cats ears is definitely of this era as the Big Three domestic automakers were transitioning from huge-finned excess to clean, sharp lines. The 1962 Cadillac had almost identical fins to these, but they were replicated along the lower quarter panel too.
In the brochure for 1961 Ford calls these the Big Circle taillights, and they pay homage to the more ostentatious versions of the top-of-the-heap Thunderbird. I just love how much is going on in this little corner of the car; faux rivets on that back panel which curves up to meet the round taillight housing, which itself is fluted inside while the red lens has its own lines radiating out from the revers light center. With the fin and the rumpled bumper this looks more like a close up of a grinning troll than a full size Ford.
Here we come to the bummer portion of this ride; big rust hole on the gutted wheel arch and a flat tire. Poor Galaxie hasn't been out for a cruise in a little while it seems.
This is one of my favorite moments on this ride; the door handle chrome becomes the chrome trim on the blade of the fin! Good job indeed.
The red interior is boss, as is that glitzy steering wheel. Factory radio is still representing!
Well it's time to say goodbye to these sleek black cruiser. That flat tire has earned it a parking ticket already so let's hope this gets some new shoes and starts rolling around town asap!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Show Car Sunday/Monday returns with something Special (if by special you mean cheap)

There's this little park and residential area way out amidst the miasma of industry along the Greenpoint waterfront that I somehow never noticed until recently. On my first ride past the park I saw this little emerald:
This is a 1969 Buick Special Deluxe in what I believe to be Verdoro Green. The wheel covers are an abomination, otherwise this is a great looking ride.
The lines on the '69 Buicks were great across the board, with every model besides the Riviera having a downward-swooping crease from the top of the headlights to the rear wheel. On the 2-doors such as this the line is replicated in the flow of the rear side window and the rear edge of the roof. Nice job Buick!
At the end of the 1960s (arguably the decade that produced the most perfectly square cars until the '80s came along) the automakers were playing around with different angles. An odd choice is shown here, where the center of the trunk bows inward towards the middle of the car. It certainly keeps it dynamic, and makes the cycloptic reverse one of the hardest to ignore in the business.
The taillights are very subtle under their mighty chrome brow. Buick taillights from the '60s are some of my favorites of all time. They're always wider than they ought to be! In fact, the full-size Electra and Le Sabre had a full-width taillight bar with no break for a license plate.
Special DELUXE means that this is the cheapest Buick you could get. The body is the same one as the more-upscale Skylark and the top of the heap muscle car Gran Sport. If you went cheap though the base engine would be a 225 V6, with a 300 V8 available as an option. The Skylark could be had with a 400 V8, a higher-horsepower version of which would be in the GS.
That chrome trim going over the rear side window and crossing the car under the back glass tells us that this once had a vinyl top. What usually happens is water gets underneath and rust bubbles start to appear under the top. This one probably got removed for a repaint and a replacement was deemed unnecessary. It is a fine color though.
Those three chrome rectangles on the front fender are a stylized version of the classic Buick portholes. The uppermost luxury Buick from '69 had four of them.
When this body style debuted a year previous to this it was polarizing. While it did sell in high numbers that swooping line on the side put many customers off. I think it's aged very well myself in an upscale Nova kind of way. Regardless it looks like the Greenest Buick in Greenpoint is getting plenty of love so I'm sure it will be rolling along for years to come.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The General at attention!

Good God is this thing gonna beat me up? You see beasts like this rolling all over the Sierra Nevada Foothills where I spent a good portion of my childhood, but in Brooklyn?
What we have here is a colossal 1978 GMC truck in a forest green not available from the factory.
This truck is in superb shape for something so obviously built to work for a living. It's dimensions are pure 1978; wide, tall, and heavy. In all seriousness though, this example is the long wheelbase model as they did offer a shorter version. We can see from certain angles that this is a 4-wheel-drive rig. If it came from the factory so equipped it indicates that this is the rare 1-ton chassis which would explain the brawny stance.
No drivers side mirrors? Merging into traffic with this mirror-less threat would be interesting.
For all its blocky simplicity this truck has some good lines. The wraparound taillights are a nice touch, as are the square wheel openings. No rear bumper because who needs one? It would be so high off the ground that it really wouldn't serve any purpose anyway.
I don't know what this hanging black steel panel is with the two rings, but maybe it's some sort of hook-up for a large trailer like a boat or something? If any astute readers know please chime in!
This truck most likely came with the 400 V8 which had plenty of torque even in the emissions choked days of the late '70s. Unlike the car version this would be geared low for power and wouldn't be expected to rev very high.
Well there we have it; the Arnold Schwarzenegger of trucks! I'd love to have seen who drives this thing as I figure it's either some bro who lives at the gym or a tiny chick with tattoos (hopefully the latter).

Friday, July 25, 2014

Is it a Jeep? A Willys? A Kaiser? Yes to all three!

Talk about running across a true rarity, especially in the perfect condition we see on display here! This is a 1962-1965 CJ2A (or more commonly Willys Jeep Truck, though it was first known as the Willys Kaiser-Jeep).
They were built between 1947-1965 with few changes other than the horizontal grill bars reducing in number from 5 to 3 in '53, and the split windshield becoming a single pane of glass in '62.
This hardy little trooper look eager and ready to climb into the deepest mountain forest for some thankless task, but here it is on the mean streets of Brooklyn. As you can see it is a living advertisement for a repair shop which explains it's phenomenal condition. Since it says "est 1959" on the rear side of the bed I suppose it's possible that this has been in the possession of the shop owners since new. The old-school phone number designation of EV4-4880 would corroborate this.
*I did some research and the EV stands for Evergreen, and was a Greenpoint exchange way back when. Today I would call this neighborhood East Williamsburg, but that's really splitting hairs.
There are colors called Peacock Blue in 1962, and Sierra Blue listed in 1963 that could be this shade, but with this many years gone by and looking so fresh it's probably just a handsome repaint. I love how it's 2-tone all over the place though; white sides, roof, bumpers, wheels, and side step, with the rest in blue. With that one bold chrome accent piece on the sides this thing looks like a toy!
The bed and tailgate are the sort of thing that would dissolve into rust with no replacements available anywhere, so it's lucky this is complete. The gas filler neck popping out of the passengers rear corner of the bed shows you how utilitarian this truck is; no need to hide anything behind a painted door. In fact, the entire taillight assembly is exposed and simply attached to the outside of the vehicle, as are the tailgate locking mechanism.
Sal & Mario must be proud of their little Jeep which is doing a fine job of making them look good. The fact that the bumper is a little worn is almost reassuring as it does seem that this gets used somewhat. However, this is further confirmation that if you want to park a car on the city streets without worrying about a ticket just leave the plates off and you'll be fine. This won't work in Manhattan with all the DOT & police tow trucks prowling for anything they can drag away, but in Brooklyn it means a cop has to stop what they're doing, call it in, and follow up so here it sits without issue.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Poor country boy in the big city

In the shadows of the never-ending construction boom that is North Williamsburg I found this:
A plain as day 1965 Chevrolet C-10 pickup. No fancy trim, or any trim at all for that matter! No reverse lights. Black window surrounds. This is the truck you got if you went into the dealership and stuck to your guns while they tried to convince you that you needed some options. This is the truck for the customer who argues for an hour about the "destination charge" built into every new vehicle price.
The chrome that does exist on this truck is restricted to the gas cap, the door handles, and the front turn signal surrounds because they couldn't be ordered any other way. The emblem and wipers aren't chrome per se, just some plain metal. I'm pretty sure that skinny tailpipe leads to the base 230 inline 6 cylinder, possibly with the three-on-the-tree manual transmission.
All this doesn't mean it's lacking style though! The trapazoidal window opening and overall roof treatment on this thing is great, as is that body length inward crease. The aftermarket wagon wheels are vintage and look cool on just about any truck.
Plain painted white bumper and grill that doesn't even say CHEVROLET across it like almost every other 1965 Chevy truck. It's almost like your cheapness reaches a point where the dealer says "Fine! We'll build it but we don't want our name on the front".
The location of this emblem is the only surefire way to identify this as a '65. The three model years from '64-'66 are identical on the surface except for this lone detail. That antenna is in the correct location for the year, so maybe there was a single option box checked off after all.
Well this makes hauling things a little inconvenient! It looks like this beast was given dual exhausts at some point, so maybe this is a super undercover hot rod with the bed removed to save weight? More likely the rusty metal was removed and is awaiting replacement.
The color on this rig is either Desert Beige or Fawn (I like Fawn because it rhymes with yawn). The tailgate hardware has been removed so I'm guessing it's either bolted or tack welded into place, not that there's currently any reason to lower it.
This economical choice will turn 50 next year which is a remarkable feat for any vehicle currently registered and on the road. It's simplicity certainly helps its cause as there isn't anything modern to break on it at all. Another factor in its decent current state is probably that whoever buys a truck this basic probably did so with frugality in mind. This is exactly the sort of person who maintains their vehicles and treats them with care. I tip my cap to whoever this original owner was, walking into some rural dealership in dirty overalls, reluctantly taking a couple hours out of a perfectly good work day to do so, because the results of their caution remain to this day.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Grabbing the Ram by the horns

Truck Week continues, this time from the North Side of Williamsburg where this shiny red donkey was hiding out.
What we have here is a 1980 Dodge Adventurer SE 100 in two tone White over Impact  Red. The hood ornament is the only clue telling us that this is an '80 as opposed to the otherwise-identical '79. Those were the only 2 years featuring 4 stacked square headlights, and even then only on certain models. 
The Dodge D-Series trucks were built between 1961 and 1980, meaning that this truck is one of the last of its kind (after 1980 the name changed to Dodge Ram which itself lasted through 1994). From the front we can see the last remnant of the Fuselage Styling first introduced by Chrysler in 1969. The term refers to the overall roundness of the body, which curved inward at the top and bottom of the sides. This grill on this Adventurer still has that shape which continues for the full length of the truck. In fact, those flared-out fender harken back to the '71 Plymouth Satellite (the police car from the should-have-been-a-hit show Police Squad!).
I like these trucks for their soft stying. Even the window openings are devoid of sharp angles, as is the roof. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find a single angle on this entire rig.
The wheel on the front is the correct one for this truck (and it matches the other 2). The interloper on the drivers side rear is correct for this era Dodge truck, just not the mighty Adventurer!
Adventurer was a special option package, with the SE being the absolute top-of-the-heap. It included some goofy extras such as wood trim on the dashboard, color-keyed seat belts, courtesy lighting, dual horns, luxury door panel trim(!), those special wheels, and the chrome with black center stripe running the lower length of the sides.
Around the top of the bed you can just make out the evenly spaced snaps that indicate that this might've had a bed cover at one point. Whether it was a factory or dealer option, or something added later on, I couldn't tell.
These trucks were built with seriously tough galvanized steel that prevented rusting better than just about every other vehicle from the era. Since there are spots of rust here and there on this truck it might actually have come from the Northeast originally.
We'll leave with this awesome ram hood ornament!