Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Dos para el martes vuelve con dos Impalas!

I was rolling through the decent-Mexican-food-oasis-within-NYC that is Sunset Park when I ran across this boxy blowhard:
What we have here is a 1979 Chevrolet Impala 2-door "Glasshouse". The reason Glasshouse is in quotes is because it was never an official name, but rather a well known nickname for 2 different eras of Impalas. The earlier Glasshouses were the Colonnade styling of the mid-'70s due to the ratio of glass to window pillars of those years. The second iteration consists of the 2 door models of '77-'79 featuring a 3-sided sloping back window.
The Impala was originally introduced all the way back in 1958 (the car driven by Ron Howard in American Graffiti was a '58). Todays feature cars hale from the 6th generation of the Impala, which ran from '77-'85. The factory color on this ride is Carmine.
This little beater has definitely been around the block a few times, and gives the impression that it's been within the city limits its entire life. Sometimes a city car will only have a range of 20 blocks for most of its existence, accruing less than a 1,000 miles per year. When I lived in Greenpoint in the late '90s it seemed everyone on my block had at least one car. A couple of the guys would wash theirs weekly but never venture further than Long Island City.
Random Bondo patches and touch-up paint in completely the wrong color are scattered about the surface of this Chevy. Someone loves this car even if they are colorblind.
Here we have a curious display of needless flare! The owner replaced the original Impala badge with a metallic sticker in cursive, added a Chevy bow tie logo decal to the reverse lights, and stuck the wrong year on the back! I mean really dude, the vintage is written on the title. It's even on the registration sticker stuck inside the windshield! I suppose if the original owner bought the new '79 model in '78 they could declare this the appropriate year, but man.
This is definitely the era that introduced the boxy style that continued through the '80s. Above the license plate you can see another calling card of the lifetime city cruiser; the reinforced replacement trunk lock. It looks like the thin chrome of the era was flaking off the bumper only to be touched up with some gray spray paint. Both bumper guards gave up their life for the cause over the years leaving only their stubby anchors.
This little replacement piece would be somewhat tough to find these days. I can only guess it was a much different color when it was acquired because it seems to be the exact hue of that mismatched touch-up paint that covers most of the opposite quarter panel. 
Here we have the Glasshouse rear window on full display. While wraparound windows were all the craze in the late '50s it wasn't until '77 that the sharp-edged glass came into use. This is a comparatively subtle example. The Oldsmobile Toronado XS of the same '77-'78 era featured a "hot wire bent" glass rear window with perfectly straight side edges but the sides continued for an additional foot or more. My guess is that GM had the technology and wanted to show it off. However the realities of production and replacement costs halted their use. The last-gasp for this style rear window happened in 1986 when special editions of the Chevy Monte Carlo (Aerocoupe) and Pontiac Grand Prix (2+2 Aerocoupe) appeared for 1 year only. 
Terrible picture I know, but it does highlight a fetish of mine; a white interior!
Once an ubiquitous sight on the streets of America this coupe now stands out from the crowd. Just look how uninteresting all the surrounding rides are compared to this beast!
Since this blog is a collection of needless minutiae that doesn't deserve notice I'll highlight a little more! I'm particularly fond of the staggered headlights on this car. The entire front comes to a point in the middle like the prow of a ship which necessitates the outer headlights to be placed slightly behind the inner set. Who cares? Someone made off with the hood ornament too which is about as unsurprising as the trunk lock needing replacement.
Now we'll move onto a more heavily used and abused example:
Oh yeah now we're talking! Hanging on for dear life is this rugged and beat-down Impala from 1 year earlier. We can tell it's a '78 from the horizontal bars on the grill in concert with the running lights being tucked under the headlights as opposed to wrapping around the corners.
Looks like our hero has lived through some battles and has the scars to prove it. That corner piece would be tough to find a replacement for as well, but wait a minute! That's not a factory part!
Ah yes here is a bodywork solution you rarely see on the outside of a car; riveted hand-bent metal scraps! I've seen many the floorboard replaced in this fashion with carpet or at least a floor mat laid over it, but this is downright frugal. I can only imagine the bargaining that took place.
"It's gonna cost you $350"
"But I can't afford that!"
"Maybe we can get away with a quick fix that's not perfect but still looks good for $250"
"I really don't have even close to that!" 
"Well what can you spend?"
"I've got $14, a slightly used pair of Vans, and 3 Millers left out of a 6-pack"
I don't mean to hate on this ride though because I actually love what it's becoming. There are so many different shades and colors on this car that it's basically rolling artwork. It started life wearing a coat of Light Blue Poly, though the front fender on this side came from a Silver Poly donor vehicle.
This Impala is loaded with additions and decorations including this aftermarket roof rack festooned with mini flags and silver visors for the side windows.
We've got all kinds of causes and threats on display here! You can take heart in the fact that even though the owner knows plenty of cops and has installed an alarm on this ride (!) they're united in their determination to stamp out breast cancer. Here here!
*I cannot for the life of me figure out why that lighter patch of blue exists.
There are also chrome aftermarket fender flares and mud flaps installed, but everything pales in comparison to one of my very favorite '70s automotive trends: the rear window mini blinds!
Maybe this car was parked on the sun for a while, or maybe it received a coat of primer that was later sanded off with regret. Regardless it gets my vote as one of the most beautiful patinas on any surface. By the way that is green shag carpeting on the rear deck! 
I mean look at this thing! It's basically an Impala made from acid-washed denim. I wish I'd paid more attention to the faded bumper stickers on display here so I could pass along their messages.
The building directly behind this hooptie is giving off a similar vibe. 
I dig these wheels and have seen them before but have no idea what they are or where they're from. The center cap has a Chevrolet bow tie logo on it, but my guess is that they are aftermarket rims from a catalogue such as JC Whitney where you could select your automaker when ordering. Also, can I get a shout-out for the fancy finish to the pin striping on the front fender?
That right headlight has the unnerving gaze of a blind eye. There was no hood ornament from the factory in '78, just that bow tie above the center of the grill.
From the front the overall shape of the car is of a trapezoid which looks a little husky from this angle. However I have to give it up for this beast as it continues its existence on the mean streets of NYC.
I forget exactly where this was parked but that overpass in the distance is the Prospect Park Shuttle; a 2-car subway stub that trundles between 4 stops in Brooklyn on a single track. It is my favorite line in the city as it toils away unnoticed and unloved by 99% of NYC residents. I choose to highlight it briefly here because I lovingly consider it the Hooptie of the MTA.

1 comment: