Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A quick shot of America and a landmark chapter in the Muscle Car craze

Lets start off this post with the most patriotic thing I've seen in a long time:
YES! Every once in a while you need an Eagle-Hawk-Bear-Wolf-12-point-Buck reminder of just how great this country is!
Now on to the star of the show which was almost entirely hidden from view;
I was across the street when I caught a quick glimpse of a taillight behind a wall of vans and meter maid trikes out near Sunset Park. Even though it was brutally hot and it meant leaving the shady side of the street I had to investigate. I'm glad I did!
This is a 1964 Pontiac Tempest wearing remnants of either Marimba Red or Sunfire Red. It can park on the sidewalk without fear of towing or reprisal of any kind simply because it has no plates. DO NOT try this in Manhattan, but in Brooklyn you can just leave a car wherever you want for as long as you want as long as there isn't a NY plate on it and nothing will happen.
Show some reverence, people because this is it! The one that started it all. The official start of the muscle car craze was a 1964 Pontiac Tempest with the GTO* option. Even though this one is not equipped as such it is a milestone in the American automotive history, not to mention a sweet ride.
GTO stands for Gran Turismo Omologato which was the name of a Ferrari at the time.
This car has seen some wear and homegrown repairs but seems remarkably complete otherwise. Still, riveting a piece of metal to a rusty section isn't really gonna cut it at the car shows. The original and simple hubcaps are nicely understated. She's sitting nice and high on new tires so someone's got plans for hooking this beast up.
The patina is great. 
Those three chrome accent lines would be replaced with vertical gills if it were a GTO. This was overlooked sometimes in the past by people trying to pass off a Tempest or Le Mans as a GTO when selling. However, real GTOs are worth so much these days that nobody would ever get away with it (especially since everyone has the internet on their phone and can search the VIN on the spot).
I thought this fender was wearing a different color but I can't tell if that's the case or not. If so the entire front end may have been replaced.
The seats are in pretty nice shape, the dash is solid, and it looks clean throughout. That original radio with PONTIAC written on it is sweet. The horn ring is a weird shape from the factory with a flat lower half. WHY with the dice people?
This is the base model 2 door coupe as opposed to the much more popular hardtop. At first glance with the windows rolled up it looks like it could be a hardtop, but the fact that the chrome window surround goes over the vent window on the door means it is a post car.
I think these tidy mid-'60s midsize cars are some of the best looking ever. They aren't too huge and have great proportions. The trademark Pontiac split grill with the beak gives it a tough look.
If this were a GTO those 3 letters would be sitting where PONTIAC is on the left. The following 2 years would feature stacked headlights. The 1967 is arguably the most popular year for the Le Mans/Tempest/GTO line with the split grill being shorter in the middle than on the ends.
This is the famous Pontiac emblem. The name comes from Chief Pontiac of the Ottawa Tribe, a war chief that battled the British in the Great Lakes region in the 1760s. Originally the logo was a stylized silhouette of the chiefs head in a circle, and later within a shield or arrowhead design. Finally the likeness of the chief was dropped entirely and this arrowhead became the logo.
This is all I could get of the drivers side since it was jammed against the wall of vans. This is the sort of ride that's still within reach price-wise, but can be souped up or restored to original very easily as most parts remain available. The Chevelle, Cutlass, and Skylark are all essentially the same car under the skin so any number of upgrades or engine swaps are possible too. I would love to just get a hold of this beast and drive it as-is, patina and all!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Twofer Tuesday returns with Two Twos

These Twofer Tuesday posts usually happen after I encounter a vehicle and remember that I took pics of a similar one months before. However this time I passed these 2 rides within days of each other. Without further ado;
High up on the hill in tony Park Slope I ran across the least expected vehicle ever for its surroundings. This is a 1977 International Scout II in Fire Orange. 
International got its start back in 1902 making agricultural equipment such as tractors and threshers. Soon after it began manufacturing trucks for farm and commercial use. Finally in the '60s it came out with the original Scout, meant to compete directly with Jeep. This is the larger, second evolution.
I owned a '79 that looked identical to this, save the color and condition. They are fantastic trucks!
These trucks want to rust so bad that it's almost impossible to hold it off. This one is pretty cherry and obviously well loved by someone.
No "shift on the fly" 4-wheel-drive here! To engage the 4x4 you need to get out of the truck and manually lock each front hub before jumping back in and using the separate transfer case shifter to select either 4 High or 4 Low. I only engaged 4 Low once in my old Scout to make sure it worked but it was basically undriveable with a top speed of something like 20 mph. Good for pulling stumps maybe.
This entire roof comes off making for a hilarious summer vehicle. The roof is metal and weighs plenty I can tell you from experience.
These beasts are super basic. From this angle you can see the front door glass is just a flat square.
The drivetrain on the Scouts is bulletproof, befitting a company that made its reputation building tractors. The engine blocks are some of the heaviest ever produced at 800lbs! They never bothered with any technology to lighten the motor so it never wears out. Scouts are known to go 300,000 miles as long as their body holds up.
Looking bizarre in a neighborhood of brownstones and mansions.
Inside we can see that this is a manual 4 speed like mine was. This one also has air conditioning as shown by the vents under the dash.
The ride height is only a touch higher than factory. Combined with the larger tires you can see how this towers over the Honda behind it.
The "Town of East Hampton" sticker on the bumper goes a long way in explaining why some colossal beach cruiser is parked in Brooklyn.
I had to get a close up of the winch, not because I know anything about winches, but because you never see one in NYC.
Now on to a more laid back version . . .
Sweet! This beast is dressed down and ready for action. What we have here is a 1976 Scout Traveler in Winter White.
You just saw how East Hampton rolls, but this is what an honest Scout is supposed to look like; rusty as hell, topless, and parked just anywhere without a single thought to security.
The Traveler is a full 18 inches longer than the Scout II. You can see the extra space between the door and the rear wheel well. The top for the Traveler is fiberglass with a slanted hatchback but who needs that on a hot week like this?
My Scout came with a full roll cage built into it and it's rare to see one without even a roll bar. They are so capable off-road but if you manage to flip it over only the puniest of windshield frames will be there to try and save your head.
There is a backseat in this ride but it's basically a flat bench with zero headrests. 
I'm confused by something on this rig which maybe somebody can help me with. From this angle it looks to have 2 gas tanks; not uncommon on a truck from the age of very low mpg. However, the front gas cap is mimicked on the passenger side as well. While there were a few trucks built in the '70s with a 3 gas tank option I couldn't find any reference to it in Scout literature. This is the sort of thing you want if you're going on some mammoth off road adventure and you need a 500+ mile range. Were the fronts actually antennae mounts or something? Who knows!
Straight-up basic Scout interior with no radio and an automatic trans. This, too, has the air conditioner though. The passenger is lucky as they get the only visor.
"Better than the floor" is how you'd describe this seat if you were in it. 
This proud donkey was flouting the law out in Red Hook where parking is such a non-issue that only sheer absent-mindedness gets you a ticket. Then again, whoever owns a convertible with no roof in sight must be pretty relaxed.
That about does it for the Scout roundup today. It is almost impossible to discern the vintage of Scouts except for the grills, which changed almost every year. the Traveler was introduced in '76 so this is the first. In 1979 International went through a debilitating strike lasting over a year which brought the company to its knees. By the time it was over they basically assembled the 1980 Scouts with parts they'd already made and closed their light truck division for good. If you see a Scout with square headlights you're looking at a rarity as it is the fabled 1980 model.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Show Car Sunday returns with the true king of 1957

What else is new? I was driving along some street in Alameda with an old friend when we passed this majestic beast, long-extinct on the East Coast:
I mean really California, do you have to be so smug about how your cars don't rust? This is a 1957 Cadillac Series 62 Sedan De Ville in Tahoe Blue. An amazing and luxurious beast of a ride!
When I was a kid the '57 Chevy was the most iconic of all the classics (these days they've been toppled by Muscle Cars and European Sports Cars). This is the vastly superior older brother of the Chevy, being the top of the GM heap. This car is dripping with ostentatious styling.
The front is just beautiful in my opinion. The hooded headlights are similar to those of the Chevy from that year, but just about everything else is unique. This large conical points jutting out of the grill are referred to as Dagmars after the stage name of the rather busty first female star of television Virginia Ruth Egnor. The wraparound mesh detail between the headlight and the bumpers are strictly for show. The dual round light on the lower bumper corner are the turn signal and running lights. Sedan de Ville is written out in full, though de Ville would be combined in the '60s to become DeVille.
Everything is swoopy and ready for launch in this Jet Age cruiser. The Sputnik was launched in October of '57 which heralded the Space Age, making this the last gasp of Jet Age design. Styling cues abound from the wings and chrome spear on the side to the full-on jet hood ornament. Notice that this is a true hardtop, meaning that with all the windows rolled down there is no pillar between the front and rear opening.
A rip on the seat is about as much damage as this car seems to have sustained in its 58 years. The interior looks much like interiors would through the end of the '70s with that clean speedometer, column shift automatic, central radio with ashtray below, and clock on the far side. However since this is a Cadillac there is a fancy bit of lined chrome trim adorning the footwell!
Classic Jet Age action; chrome spear and a faux vent with chrome gills. Looks like 3 of those gills have gone missing and good luck finding those!
Not only does this Caddy have all its original hubcaps but she's rolling on vintage look wide whitewalls complete with the old Firestone lettering. Cool! 
This car is enormous but manages to keep it together in a tidy package. The dynamic rear window shape goes a long way I think.
Look at that Caddy symbol which is as stylized as the Batman symbol in Frank Millers Dark Knight. These fins are pronounced but still nothing compared to just 2 years later when the Ecto-1 was built.
I really love everything about this car which is unusual for a 4 door. My ultimate favorite "if I actually won a hundred million Powerball jackpot" car is a 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible which shares many of the styling cues of this ride. 
The way to fill 'er up on the '57 Caddy is amazing; that little red reflector between the round lights is actually a button. Press that button and the chrome housing that holds those 2 lights swings up on a hinge, exposing the hidden gas cap inside! Had I thought of it at the time I would've taken a shot.
By the way the exhaust comes out of those vents on the bumper corners!
How much could you fit in the trunk? Probably a full size Weber gas grill no problem, or a mid-size refrigerator on its side.
*That's my buddy Daves unbelievably sweet Scout sitting up there at the stop sign. I jumped out on the spot and ran around this Caddy while he idled.
When you take a step back and see some other cars parked near something like this it makes them all look so terrible. The Scout is definitely holding its own, but that Dodge crew cab? Puh-leeze! The Caddy's standing around the party in a tuxedo while everyone else is wearing shorts.
This long hood contains a 365 V8 mated to a 4-speed Hydromatic transmission. Cadillac had the same mission for the entirety of the last century; the engine should be powerful enough to do whatever you asked of it but do it in a silent, effortless manner. They succeeded. 
Air conditioning became an option starting with the 1953 Cadillacs, and this one most likely has it assuming it was originally sold in California. The a/c unit was built by none other than Frigidaire. 
We'll leave with a close up of the mighty Caddy schnoz. The 2 tall chrome spears standing tall on the hood are meant to mimic the tails of a jet. The crest refers to the family coat of arms of the Cadillac division namesake Antoine de Lamothe-Cadillac, a French explorer who landed in Detroit which at the time was located in New France. When the emblem was redesigned in 2002 the small ducks sadly disappeared. The large V under the crest generally refers to cars powered by V8 engines.
Next up; something less luxurious!