Thursday, September 10, 2015

3 legged pony

Something caught my eye while I was riding past a little side street the other day:
Aww look at this hobbled punk! This is a 1965 Ford Galaxie 500 LTD in Caspian Blue Poly. She's certainly seen better days.
The Galaxie was named during the Space Race craze when it was introduced in 1959. By 1965 it had all the typical styling cues of the day; boxy, straight-line design, stacked headlights, very reserved amount of chrome, etc.
There are crests and badges all over this car. The one above is a stylized version of an English crest from the 18th century. Why? Who knows?
The hood ornament consists of 3 royal-looking lions that were also gleaned from that crest. Curiously these emblems were only on cars intended for North America. Fords throughout the rest of the world had no logos whatsoever!
Big car with a big engine but drum brakes is all you got back in '65. There's a pretty substantial shiny spot under the rear of the engine too.

The 390 V8 was an option this year and it put out plenty of power. This emblem has a stylized Thunderbird in the middle of it to denote that this was the same motor that came in the T-Bird.
Even though this is just a 2 door hardtop it weighs 3,700lbs. With the 390 it was still good for 125mph but you really needed to plan your stops with those drum brakes!
The vinyl roof was torn off of the rear I suppose to address any rust that was starting. The patina on the trunk is pretty righteous.
This was the first year for the LTD which was a top-of-the-line trim option for the Galaxie before becoming its own line in '67. I always thought it stood for limited, but it seems a good percentage of the Ford community thinks it means Luxury Trim Decor.
The interior is a disaster. The entire dashboard has been ripped out and the horn is missing, not to mention wires are visible everywhere. We can see however that it has some options such as air conditioning, pushbutton radio, and the Safety Convenience Control Panel. That last one is the small box hanging under the dash above that radio lying on the floor. It consisted of 5 idiot lights to warn you when your door was ajar or locked, fuel was low, seat belts weren't in use, or flashers were on.
Single Georgia plate on the back is all it takes to park this on the street with 3 freaking wheels and never get a ticket.
Ford had great continuity across all of its lines in the '60s. This taillight looks much like that of the Thunderbird and Falcon of the year.
Just sitting there near the curb, it's all good.
I applaud this little piece of trim for sticking it out! Pretty soon it's gonna look like the kickers helmet in the NFL.
Up close every inch of this beast is rumpled.
I couldn't resist taking a couple more shots of the inside.
I like this choice of wheels as it does make the car look tough.
This car was a massive hit when it came out. The years previous were lower and seemed wider due to the side by side headlights as opposed to the stacked ones. Since it's an LTD 2 door with the 390 it's certainly worth restoring.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Big Brooklyn Buick

I was riding the old bike out in Bed Stuy recently when this I came upon this mighty vision:
Sweet! Here we've got a 1955 Buick Special convertible in Temple Gray. To find a 60 year old car of any variety parked on a Brooklyn street is pretty surprising, but a convertible? Impossible!
I featured a Buick of this vintage once before (a dirty lump crouched beneath the BQE). This one seems to be in daily use.
That frowning grill opening with those chrome points jutting out of the corners remind me of a bigmouth catfish. This whole beast look like it could be trawling along the ocean deep.
In person this car is enormous, weighing in at around 2 tons. It was able to get up over 100 miles per hour though thanks to the 264 Nailhead V8 introduced the year before. Those three trademark portholes on the front fender would be four on each side if this were the top of the line Century. That chrome side trim spear that angles downward in the back would be present on Buicks all the way through the late '70s.
I dig the eyelid! Too bad it's missing the passenger side.
I believe this cowl vent below the windshield provides fresh air for those days when the roof and windows need to stay up.
I didn't want to take too much time taking pics of the interior on this quiet street so all I got was this crummy reflective shot. It's enough to let us know that this ride came equipped with the clock and a radio. The seats actually looks salvageable since all the tears are along the seams.
Hey this girl's been around! Who knows what caused this damage but if it was a modern car I'd hate to see the other guy.
That single hole below the fuel filler door originally held the side trim which continued its downward angle to the front of the rear wheel well before swooping up along the opening to the top where it continued straight to the rear of the car.
You could easily get in the trunk and sit cross-legged.
Those bumpers are so massive that they look like architectural detail rather than auto trim.
From this view you can just make out the dotted line where that side trim would've been.
That swooping accent above the broken Special emblem looks like a detail left untouched from the designers original clay model. That and the hump above it are like a shout-out to the separate fenders and bodies from decades past.
Even though this thing is a huge brick it looks classy. It's in great shape for such an old ride. 
The trim was screwed back onto the body over they years but it still wasn't enough! At least we get a glimpse of the non-faded paint color beneath.
The Special was below the Century in stature but this car was still well appointed when new. Buick was the car GM wanted you to buy just before you were able to afford a Cadillac, so the overall comfort was well above Chevy and Pontiac, and slightly above Oldsmobile. With the top down cruising around this thing would be fantastic regardless!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Long winded breakdown of full size GM offerings from '66 through '75

The dog days of summer have me relaxing as opposed to posting so I figured I'd drop a whole handful of rides that are close siblings. Without further ado;
What we have here is a 1967 Chevrolet Caprice in what might be Madeira Maroon Poly. While this is a sweet classic now it was one of the most popular cars of its day when built. Over 124,000 left the assembly line in this year alone!
Here she is parked on busy Bedford in Williamsburg. The forward-leaning style of the front end was a one year only design. The year previous didn't have those running lights on the outer edge of the grill (the turn signals are actually located down in the bumper), and the top of the grill was lower than the tops of the headlights in the following year.
The venerable 327 V8 powers this beast but it could have just as easily been a 283, 350, 396, or 427 (a mere 50 of the 427 equipped Caprices were built though so if you see one rotting away somewhere let me know!). Transmission options were also many, with 3 and 4 speed manuals and 2 different automatics all available.
This was the first year for the Caprice as a stand alone model and it represented the top of the heap for the full-size lineup.
I love the old dealership emblems they used to produce for cars. A decal is usually present now (or the phoning-it-in license plate frame) but the ones where they gave some effort to ape the chrome script of the factory emblems really stand out now. As is often the case this one has a couple of screws going directly through it to hold it in place.
Fit and finish is slightly wonky and scrapes and scuffs abound, but this is a solid and really good looking driver. If it were a show car you probably wouldn't want to park it on a busy street.
Look at all that trunk hanging out past the rear axle! In the '70s the trunk would shrink and the hood would grow to enormous lengths. This car is pretty huge by todays standards but it is somewhat balanced in its proportions. 
Well we'll leave this eager punk where it sits looking ready to pounce. Now on to a more sedate, later example:
Ahhh yes, here is the serene 1973 Chevy Impala in yawn-inducing BEIGE. This color looks so gentle that it looks like it came from a hospital. If your psychologist is suddenly unavailable they could let you sit on the big bench seat inside this ride and you would feel calm.
*By the way, the only way I know of discerning an Impala from a Caprice in '73 is the grill. The Impala has twice as many horizontal and vertical lines in it as the Caprice.
This is pretty darn close to immaculate which is shocking for two reasons; first of all it's a 42 year old car in New York with no rust! Second of all this was the car of choice for lowriders everywhere. So many of these got used up with 100 spoke Dayton wheels, upholstered steering wheels, and hydraulics that encountering a stock version is almost impossible.
There's some faint rust at the lower edge of the concave rear window but that seems to be the extent of the damage. The trunk lid has what seems to be a mock hood scoop which is something I haven't seen on any other car.
The federally mandated bumpers were introduced in stages. This year is on the cusp where the huge front bumpers ready to withstand a 5mph crash are already in place. This is the last gasp for rear bumpers that incorporate the taillights before the regulations for the rear came due in '74.
The stock hubcaps are nice enough, and the lower body crease helps temper the dimensions of this beast. The 350 V8 was standard in '73 but you could also order a 400 and 454. Now lets lose the roof:
Here we have an EVIL 1972 Impala convertible in Tuxedo Black. This is the last year for an Impala drop-top as it would move to the upscale Caprice the following year.
The grill has been spray painted black (for extra toughness I suppose). Those cheeseball plastic mirrors are not original and I'm calling the owner out on it! The originals were square brushed stainless steel examples that fit a large car.
You can see the lineup I was presented with on this block! We'll see those other rides in a minute.
The hubcaps on this beast are Chevy, but they come from an early-'80s Suburban.
A white roof on a convertible is a stroke of genius since it helps keep the interior cool in the sun. I had a convertible with a black top and interior once and even though it looked great the seats were 1,000 degrees no matter what.
Next we'll flip-flop color schemes:
This is a 1974 Caprice convertible in Antique White. It's very easy to date this car because it's the last year for the headlights being tucked in behind the leading edge of the fenders and the first year for the huge rear bumpers. This basic design would continue through '76 but the final two years had the a flat grill out front with the headlight pods on an angle leaning back. The overall impression of that look is a fainthearted attempt at making a square slab aerodynamic. 
Here's that ridiculously huge rear bumper hanging off like a park bench. It also gives the impression of squinting or lazy rear taillights to me. Why you would need those additional little bumper guards on there is a mystery to me.
This was the first year for a Caprice convertible. The name on the hardtop was located on the sail panel behind the rear side window. For the convertible you can see the emblem located on the leading top edge of the quarter panel.
Now on to an interloper:
Here we have a 1975 Buick Electra 225 Limited in Arctic White with a Maroon vinyl landau roof. We can pinpoint the date because this is Buicks first year for square headlights and the following years would see the turn signals directly under the headlights instead of down in the bumper.
Buick was above Chevy, Pontiac, and Oldsmobile in the GM hierarchy but still below Cadillac in luxury. Some of those extra touches exist here though like the stand up hood ornament and the cornering lamps on the sides. Under the skin however this car is the same as the Impalas and Caprices from the same year (along with the Olds 98, Caddillac Coupe de Ville, and Pontiac Grandville for that matter).
The plastic bumper extensions missing here are easily the weakest link for all GM cars of the era. Most Buicks and Cadillacs need them replaced at some point. This car is a true hooptie with the trunk lock missing and dents, scrapes, and rust all over it.
Well there you have it for GM full size beasts from '66 and '72-'75. I've ridden in at least one example of each of these yachts and they all ride nicely with plenty of power and cushy comfort. Parts for them are readily available too since all were made in vast quantities. These days one can still be had at a reasonable rate and would be a breeze to maintain.