Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sort of a Twofer Tuesday featuring British royalty!

Yes indeed! I was riding along Bergen Street where the Bed Stuy, Crown Heights, and Prospect Heights neighborhoods all meet when I just about fell over from shock. Could it really be a classic Bentley holding down some industrial parking spot?
 Ladies and gentlemen what we have here is a 1959-1962 Bentley S2 Standard Saloon. This is a truly hand-built car produced at a leisurely pace by a team of expert craftsman.
I can only imagine the sense of disillusionment that this former member of the upper class is feeling here with a brooklyn phone number filling up its back window.
The S2 was introduced in tandem with the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II to showcase a new V8 engine. These are enormous cars, weighing over 2 tons (tonnes if you will) each. The V8 was a huge improvement over the straight-6 cylinder it replaced.
No matter how beat up this example is it maintains a dignity most cars can only dream of. Bentley was its own company founded in 1919, quickly earning a reputation for building some of the fastest cars of the day. The huge early Bentleys had the primitive looks of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang but tore up the racing circuit for a solid decade. The Stock Market crash of 1929 brought Bentley to its knees however, and in 1931 it was purchased out of receivership by a front company for Rolls Royce.
Bentleys and Rolls Royces of this era are 100% identical save for the badges and grill. The main middle section of the bodies were produced by the Pressed Steel Company (a British car body manufacturer still in existence; they produce Mini bodies for BMW these days). The rest of the car, including the fenders and hood, were produced by hand using traditional techniques. Each panel is signed by the craftsman who produced it so that there is full accountability should any flaws be present. On the other hand it is a point of pride to be skilled enough to build such a machine so the quality is superb.
The famous Bentley grill in its full form. They are extremely rare as you might've guessed. One was for sale recently for a cool grand.
Parking this behemoth in NYC is tough enough, but consider navigating the tiny streets of London in this ride! In person this is a car on an architectural scale.
These two winged B emblems harken back to Bentleys early racing history. The fact that the hood ornament retains its rightful position tells me that this probably gets parked inside at night.
All original hubcaps are present.
Such an insult to be appropriated as an advertisement!
Now we're getting real. Hand built or not that quarter panel is gutted with rot. The rub with cars of this stature is that maintaining them to a high standard is costly and requires somebody who specializes in your make and model. A $300,000 new Bentley very quickly becomes a $80,000 Bentley, and the slide can continue until it's just not worth it to most owners.

I love that the old European plates are still on the car. The AAA sticker on the left is relatively straightforward, but the DAS emblem on the right is a bit of a mystery to me. From what I can gather this car might have spent time in Germany as that's the closest I could find to a description of DAS. Looks like the bumper is partially held on with that blue vinyl strap.
The trunk is truly massive. If you're the owner of this car and you go on a trip it's expected that you won't be traveling lightly.
Hopefully this beast gets patched up at some point.
One last look at this piece of former royalty in its current setting. Now as soon as I rode off I found another black Bentley a block away!
Who knows if it's the same owner? I doubt it, but what are the chances that there are 2 black Bentleys of any vintage on a stretch of Bergen Street that looks almost entirely industrial? This is enough for me to declare it Twofer Tuesday; Bentley edition!
Next up; something definitely not handmade or terribly special I'm sure.

Monday, April 27, 2015

L.A. Rob once again shows us what Show Car Sunday/Monday is all about

There have been few cars on this blog as immaculate as the one being featured today (most of the other ones were provided by L.A. Rob as well actually). When one of these pics first showed up in a text I thought the car looked pretty good. After seeing the full size images I realized this is basically as if you stopped by the Ford dealership in 1966 and somehow warped into 2015. Without further ado:
This is a 1966 Ford Thunderbird in the extremely rare color Sauterne Gold. Somebody truly loves this car as it seems to have been restored to better-than-new condition.
Though it looks a bit like the '65 this is a 1 year only car. The '65 had a sort of catfish mouth compared to the clean, somewhat straightforward look of the '66. The year after this the Thunderbird turned into something so different it's hard to imagine they continued with the name! 1967 saw the addition of hidden headlights behind a full-width grill, and perhaps most surprising, the addition of a 4-door for the first time in T-bird history. To add to the craziness those 4 door rides had suicide rear doors that opened at the front. The lines of this 'bird are as crisp and clean as folded paper.
The original hubcaps are gleaming in their perfection. You can catch a glimpse of the leaf springs from this angle, letting on that this is still a 49 year old car.
That generous Cali sunshine really shows off the angles of this ride. Notice how there are no rear quarter windows on this glimmering beauty. The backseats wrap around a bit almost like lounge seating. When you're back there you have almost total privacy. It still wouldn't make the best spot for a liaison though as the console continues from the front all the way to the back, essentially making 2 rear bucket seats. 
I'm so happy L.A. Rob got this interior shot as one of the coolest and most unique features of this car is on display. See how the steering wheel seems slightly askew compared to the dash? This is the Swing-Away Steering Wheel where you could unlock the steering column and swing it towards the passenger seat in order to get out of the car with more ease. It was originally an option on the '61 T-bird but it proved so popular that they made it standard equipment starting in '62. The year after this car was built they redesigned this feature and renamed it Tilt-Away. It was discontinued after '69 as it could no longer meet safety regulations.
*It's interesting to note that you could start the car with the steering wheel disengaged, you just couldn't shift out of park until it was locked in place. There were no manual transmission T-birds in '66.
Here are the fabled sequential turn signals where the inner lens would light first, followed by the center, and finally the outer lens to indicate which direction you were headed. I love these loop bumpers housing the taillights. The whole rear of this car looks like a rocket ship about to take off into space. The fact that the body panel under the bumper is in that condition really brings home the show car vibe.
Finally we'll look this thing head-on! Notice the lack of a passenger side mirror on the door. This, along with reverse lights and seat belts were still options on most cars of the day.
 1966 was the only year for that enormous and very stylized chrome bird on the ice cube tray grill. Little details abound such as the 3 miniature chrome stripes on the front turn signals. This was the top of the heap for Ford back then, and the idea was that you could feel sporty while enjoying full luxury. If you wanted to upgrade from this point you would move up to a Lincoln which added luxury at the expense of any perceived sportiness.
Hats off to whomever is the lucky owner of this sweet ride, and to L.A. Rob for capturing it in the wild.

Friday, April 24, 2015

From the forest to the (concrete) jungle

I was out amidst the warehouses of Bushwick last summer when I rode past this hot tomato:
Talk about a fish out of water! This rugged beast has all the hallmarks of a truck meant to work hard in the countryside. No nonsense, brutish, tall stance, heavy duty wheels, serious trailer hitch, and a windowless cap on the bed all speak of an early life far away.
This is a Chevrolet truck from the '80s. I usually pride myself on being able to discern the year and model of just about any vehicle I encounter but the truth is that this basic truck body was introduced in 1973 and ran with almost no alteration until 1987! My best guess is that this is from 1980-1985 and is a 3500 series (which stands for 1-ton capacity; the most heavy duty of the small trucks).
This truck is still adorned with various badges and decals from its former life including this particularly ominous one (don't mind the shadow claw).
I'm a big fan of the fancy brushed gold-leaf lettering on fire department vehicles of this era and was happy to see it still here (though the name of the specific department has been removed). Whoever painted this door red went right over the door handle and lock because why not?
*Again with the scary claw hand from my nightmares
  B-1  is the designation of this ride, as loaned by the South Carolina Forestry Commission. What that means I have no idea! Loaned by? Maybe somebody can answer that one for me.
The dashboard has evidence of this being an official work truck; the spot where there would be a radio instead has the plastic delete plate over it, with a water temperature gauge installed right into it. No air conditioning either, and heavy rubber floor covering in place of any carpet ensures that this beast can be hosed out after battling a blaze in the muddy woods.
This is just as tough-looking as you can get. The brush guard is no joke, built to make your way through dense brush and probably small trees. Those wheels are super heavy duty too with 8 lugs and locking front hubs for the 4-wheel drive. No worries about being hit by a careless parallel-parker in this.
This brute stares danger in the face! I'm not sure what the two openings on the top half of the grill are for, but I'm guessing one is a spot to plug jumper cables into and maybe the other was a siren?
Changing the oil on this would only require you to get down there and do it; no jack required.
Here's a close up of that face. There were so many engine and transmission combinations available for this rig that I won't even hazard a guess as to what drives this thing. I know it's an automatic and that it has 4 wheel drive, everything else is up to debate.
There are some dents and scrapes around the body which seem totally appropriate. 
Looks like it might've battled a rock wall or stump in its forest adventures.
I've got to close this one out with a great image from the front page of Martin & Martin Auctioneers of South Carolina, which showed up when I searched for Forestry surplus from that fine state. These are relaxed, down home folks; not afraid to wear boots and a hat, or to pull their pants up to a very high level. Here's to you, good people of South Carolina!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Mopar Graveyard roundup!

Last year I was kicking around up north with an old friend when he mentioned that there was a gas station that sometimes had old cars laying around. It turned out to be the find of the year because they had the winged '70 Superbird roosting in the gravel lot (that post can be found here: http://nychoopties.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-holy-grail-of-nascar-vehicles-show.html). While the 'bird stole the show there were several other relics hidden about that I swore I'd get to eventually, so here's the Mopar treasure trove roundup!
This great burgundy behemoth greeted us when we first pulled in:
This is a 1976-1977 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham in Claret Red. Everything about this car screams excess.
This is basically the last dinosaur wandering the cooling Earth wondering where all its friends have gone, not realizing it was as good as extinct already. A full 4 years after the gas crisis that shocked the American public into mileage consciousness this beast lumbered off the assembly line. How Chrysler could feign surprise when on the brink of bankruptcy in '79 is beyond me.
Behold the sign of puffy leather sofa seating and leisure suit style!
Apparently this has a Hemi in it (which I seriously doubt). Most likely there is a wheezing and emissions-strangled 400 V8 lying dormant beneath its massive hood.
*It is a bit of irony that this car, while escorting its parent corporation to insolvency, was named New Yorker just a year after the famous "Ford to City: Drop Dead" headline regarding the presidents aversion to helping stave off NYCs own bankruptcy. 
This is a sad image indeed. We were told that this thing runs like a charm and was driven to this spot just so the owner could remove the front end. Here it sits beached with a perfect drivetrain, dead.
The New Yorker was the higher-end version of the Newport. However in this year the New Yorker inherited the front and rear treatment of the mighty Imperial which had just been discontinued. Somehow this registered with the general public, making the '76 model a minor hit. This probably added to Chryslers delusion that they ought to continue building 5,000 lb cars that got 8-12mpg.
Too bad the front end of this yacht was in demand as the body looks cherry.
With all the windows down cruising along in total cushy silence I bet this would be the ultimate cruiser. Fred from the B-52s probably had this ride when he was about to set sail in Love Shack.
Now let's do some exploring around the property . . .
Righteous! This is a 1966 Plymouth Belvedere II 2 door hardtop in Dark Blue Poly. This is a wonderful car identical to one that a close friend of mine drove in high school.
Engine offerings in the brochure went from the 225 Slant 6 all the way up to a high performance 383 V8. However 24 were known to leave the factory with the mighty 426 Hemi under the hood. If you didn't mind special ordering such a thing, almost doubling the price of the car, and agreeing to forgo any warranty they would build one for you in those days.
Beneath the junk and dirt this car seems straight and restorable. The squared-off lines of the '66 model year always looked great to me, especially with this roofline and that circle of brushed metal on the rear edge of the side trim. Cool car but there's more to explore!
I know this is getting a bit ridiculous but that is a 1974 Dodge Charger peeking out from beneath a massive pile of parts (which includes that white grill bar to a '55 Ford Truck). This model year is identical to the 1973, but the Frosty Green Poly color choice identifies it. This was the final year for Charger which went from the General Lee in 1969 to a personal luxury coupe here. The Cordoba took over in '75.
It wasn't just Mopars in the yard; here lies a 1962 Mercury Comet in Jamaica Yellow. The '62 differs from the '60 and '61 by having a chrome spear running along the top of that concave body line. The chrome is missing but the holes where it was attached remain.
Another Chrysler from the "Fuselage Styling" era is on hand without its front clip. This one is a 1971 Newport in Honeydew (though if I ever saw a honeydew melon that color I'd probably pass it up).
Two more '71 Newports are lurking in the back, one in Evening Blue Poly and the other in April Green Poly.
Finally, another '71 Newport being reclaimed by nature, this one in Glacial Blue. *That piece of rusty cocoa on top just past that tire is actually a front fender for a 1971 Plymouth 'cuda with the front gills or louvers. This is a '71-only part for the high performance 'cuda, not available on the base Barracuda. Even in this condition it's worth more that the car it's resting on!
Finally this tragedy is a barely-discernible 1966 Dodge Coronet in Bright Red. Obviously the grill, hood, and drivers side fender are all missing but I'm 95% sure that's what this is. We're deep into automotive junkyard fetishism here but this sort of archeology is right up my alley. I used to clamber around the hills and woods near my house in high school taking pictures of junk cars in the woods so nothing's changed really.
Next post will include real, drivable finds I'm sure.