Friday, April 29, 2016

Shiny 62 from 62

Flashy Wrapper Got His Eye Knocked Out
For those of you who haven't seen it, that is my wine shop with the burgundy awning on the corner behind this ride. After seeing this shiny beast parked a mile away for the past year it showed up one day while I was looking out the window! Time for a tune up I suppose as that's no body shop.
What we have here is a 1962 Cadillac Series 62, otherwise known as the Sedan De Ville. The entire body is wrapped in a chrome-look advertisement for vehicle wraps, but I remember a time when it was what I believe to be Newport Blue.
This poor Caddy took one hell of a knock to the front, and I think it happened where it's been parked for the past year. When I first saw this car it was blue and for sale for under $3,000. Before I could talk myself into trouble it was sold and repurposed as a billboard. Since then it has been parked on busy 4th Avenue in front of a gas station. It's hard to tell which direction this damage came from.
I will be inadvertently plugging their company even though it's a damn shame this sweet ride was taken out of circulation. This is a true hardtop sedan, meaning that when the front and rear windows are down there's no pillar in between.
Cadillacs were spectacular spaceships from around '57 through the end of the '60s, with each year sporting some design change. Grills, taillights, and fin treatments all evolved annually.
I was only able to get a faded glimpse of the interior due to the limo tint. Seats remarkably intact, dash and gauges all present, coat hangers and wire cutters in the house.
The fins would remain on the rear ends of Caddys long after their competition forfeited. The one thing I've always loved about the '62 (and '61) Cadillac is that there was a lower set of fins to match the uppers! I was surprised to learn that those lower fins have a name; they are called steegs.
This is ready to launch into outer space!
I believe the brakes light up both the top and bottom lights on these (with red bulbs behind clear lenses below). The turn signals may only be on the top.
Before getting smashed up this car was in fine shape. 
At this point in history Cadillac was at the top of the luxury car market with few peers (the Imperial and Rolls Royce being a couple). This beast has 3 ashtrays in it, each with its own lighter! One in each rear door armrest, and a large center unit in the from with the lighter in between 2 individual receptacles, all in one pull-out drawer. Each would also have a small metal tab for extinguishing your smoke, and the lighters were cigar sized (of course).
I suppose we'd better get the trunk portion of the conversation out of the way. It starts somewhere between the rear wheel and window, going all the way back to the bumper. Massive and deep, this thing carries a full size spare tire on the rim without getting in the way of whatever it is you need to haul around. 8 adults, a bank safe, dining room table, etc.
This poor old girl is still wearing her original hubcaps and fat white walls. I'm hopeful that someone will actually fix it up before rust creeps along the damaged parts.
That lens between the bumper and fender is not a turn signal, but rather a cornering lamp. When the turn signal was used the corresponding cornering lamp would light up the area where you were turning, something very handy in a massive ride. Probably saved a lot of garage corners.
My guess is that the pieces of wrapping material they were using weren't quite vast enough to cover the hood and trunk in an unbroken stretch, so they used these black edges. Likewise the stripes on the hood make me wonder if they're covering up a seam.
A 390 V8 lurks behind this grill, along with enough sound deadening insulation to make you forget you're driving. Likewise the suspension for these cruisers is akin to a ship on moderate swells; speed bumps can be seen but barely felt. Power steering was famously so sensitive that you could drive with a single finger on the wheel.
I've said it before and I'll say it again; the streets of Brooklyn are littered with old Cadillacs. However this is the first '62 I've seen so after ignoring it for a couple years I figured it needed its due.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Twofer Thursday (?) comes through with a Grand Prix Fixe

Well it's been a beautiful spring week here in Brooklyn and the cars are starting to roll out of their winter hiding spots, rubbing their eyes and shaking off their hibernation. This first ride arrived on a block near my home recently:
Here we have a 1970 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ in Baja Gold Poly. This is an interesting car, as the Grand Prix was Pontiacs full size luxury coupe throughout the '60s before the name was transferred to this smaller midsize platform in '69. This change, along with the fact that these were still the days of huge free breathing engines, made the GP a luxurious muscle car.
Even though it's midsize this car has the distinction of having Pontiacs longest ever hood.
This thing looks like a bully with the back jacked up and some dents.
This car doesn't give a shit about mouthing off in the bar! No, this thing wakes up with the occasional black eye and just heads right out to work. The bumper guards are doing their best so far but this beast has been around.
As usual the grill is a great reference point when assessing the year of a '60s to '70s GM product. In '69 the grill inserts were horizontal as opposed to these vertical slats. This prominent schnoz was aped on the 1971 Thunderbird.
The standard engine was the very capable 400V8, though a 455 could be ordered for the first time this year. Emissions equipment like catalytic converters and smaller ports within the engine were still years off so this thing could get up and go.
This car dwarfs everything else on the block. The hinges for that hood needed to be extremely robust.
This small series of faux gills replaced the Grand Prix nameplate in '70. The wheels are stock originals, but missing the red center which said PMD for Pontiac Motor Division.
Lots of little rumples all over the body. Scrapes along the side. This thing has been driven and parked on the mean streets of Brooklyn since new.
Curiously enough this was where the faux gills were the year before.
The interior looks pretty good when considering the amount of damage sprinkled about the exterior. That wrap-around cockpit would continue on through the '70s, with a similar steering wheel and gauges as well. Too bad it's not a stick shift!
These door handles are a bit of a novelty; press in on the grooved left side and the handle pops out to the right.
These slotted lights are pure Pontiac. The turn signals on the larger Grand Prix from '67-'68 and the first iteration of the Firebird had a similar treatment.
Gold car = trunk full of gold! At least that's what somebody was thinking when they mercilessly tore the lock off of the trunk.
From what I can gather the taillight on the left with the chrome lines is correct. The right side seems to be a replacement from a '69.
From what I could find Atlantic Pontiac was located where a huge auto parts store now resides between Grand and Classon Streets. Being that that's around 2 miles away it doesn't seem that this car has left the vicinity in 46 years!
Time to move onto the younger sibling of that gold bruiser:
What we have here is a 1972 Grand Prix in Starlight Black. After the '70 model year outlined above the front was changed from quad headlights to a pair. The '71 looked much like this one but didn't have that crosshatched grill pattern.
Something about the single headlight bulging out of the hood on each side gives this car a menacing air. Black is the right choice for this beast. I like how Grand prix is written between the grill and the right light. It's pretty uncommon to see a name placement right on the face.
This was parked a block from my shop at a combination fix-a-flat and rim shop. Occasionally cool old rides will show up.
Very thoughtful to leave the vinyl around the lettering on the roof. Tearing off the material is actually a smart move as any moisture trapped under the vinyl will rot your roof out completely.
*Nice to see an old police sticker on the window. I remember when common belief was that if you had any sort of police sticker on your window your chances of getting a warning rather than a ticket went up dramatically. 
Much of the body is similar or identical to the '70. The trunk now has that V prominence mimicking the hood, but the quarter panels are the same.
Another clue that this is a '72; the triple taillights were added this year after only 2 per side the year before. The lines on the trunk allude to its larger cousin the Buick Riviera Boattail of the same year.
Here is the red centercap missing on the gold car.
Everything is the same inside as the gold car with the exception of this bench seat.
This was the final year before a redesign that added size and weight in concert with lowered horsepower. You can just see the beginnings of the Malaise Era in this ride; personal luxury coupe, vinyl roof. long hood/short deck combo, etc. It didn't really take hold until the following year, which is roundly accepted as the beginning of the end for American automotive design.

Monday, April 25, 2016

L.A. Rob returns with a Venetian delicacy

Usually if I get a series of pics from L.A. Rob they consist of the worlds greatest classic cars in museum condition. Not this time! Behold this surfers hooptie from the streets of Venice Beach:
 This is a 1958 Ford Thunderbird wearing remnants of its original Regatta Blue paint. We're in serious hooptie/rat rod territory here people; patina for days, rear window off the track, and backyard repairs left half finished contrasting a new set of wheels and what looks to be a new exhaust. Being California this car remains straight and not rotted out even in this shape at age 58.
Just look at this mouth breathing, leering freak! Terrible acne scars tell of a neglected childhood, and yet this car started out as Fords top of the line flagship. The T-birds from '55-'57 were sexy little 2 seaters, but the management thought sales were restricted due to their limited passenger ferrying capabilities. 1958 introduced this catfish-faced colossus, larger in every way and fitted with 4 seats.
*The grill had this hexagonal pattern only in '58. The following year brought horizontal bars in the same opening.
 I once had a '59 Edsel that had very similar chrome details on the leading top of the fenders. This is smack dab in the middle of nonessential decoration in auto design.
 This was built on the meridian between the end of the Jet Age and the beginning of the Space Age. The Russian satellite Sputnik was launched in 1957, heralding a new fascination with space. Being that this car was already being manufactured, Jet Age elements such as this mirror can still be found.
The steering wheel looks really beat and the dashboard rusted. I bet this thing sat without a windshield for a while.
Love it or hate it the looks of the '58 T-Bird are bold. We've got some of the most literal Jet Age styling cues ever on this rear end. The fins are restrained for the year, but the dual rear bumpers are totally bonkers.
Those dual exhaust pipes are connected to the 352 V8 in its first year of production.
 I appreciate how they kept the wheels in the family, as these come from a recent Mustang. The Thunderbird emblem in chrome script looks so sweet.
What are the chances that this would be parked at (5)58?
Take a good look at this mug before the police drag him away. This car has no plates which is a scenario that can't last for long. I like the lines of this era 'bird a lot better than when I was younger, though every year of the following decade is superior in my own opinion. This is actually not an enormous car for the vintage, and sports lots of swooping awesomeness and relatively restrained chrome. Whoever's driving this beast these days is going full rat as illustrated by the leftover evidence of a sloppy repair. My guess is that this got smashed in the front pretty good and the owner got a replacement bumper and just pulled out the top panel.
 I was informed by Rob that the sticker on the front here is Dogtown as in the Z-Boys as in The Birthplace of Freestyle Skating.
Thunderbirds are GO!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Show Car Sunday returns with the Corvallis Comet!

I was visiting my sister in Oregon last year when we drove past this astonishing little anomaly:
This is a 1972 Mercury Comet in White. The reason I call it an anomaly is that it is a compact car wearing a luxury nameplate. This is an in-the-family case of badge engineering (where a car company puts their own name on another brand of car and sells it through their dealership). With the exception of the grill and taillights this is 100% Ford Maverick.
Kind of quirky, kind of frumpy, with a Coke bottle body and staggered door handles, this ride sums up the awkward period between '60s and '70s design. Most domestic cars of this era were gargantuan so I have to hand it to Ford/Mercury for their timeliness in producing this just in time for the gas crisis.
The seam below that side marker light has just the faintest of gentle wear leading me to believe this car is totally original. The condition is flat-out incredible!
Inside looks just as perfect as the outside, with the original Manston Cloth and Vinyl seats letting us know that this is the Deluxe Comet. By the way that's Corinthian Vinyl according to the brochure, years before Ricardo Montalban was crowing about Fine Corinthian Leather in the Cordoba. Wikipedia claims that Corinthian Leather was a made up term from an ad agency in 1974 for Chrysler, but I'm reading it in a 1972 Mercury brochure so who knows?
 Gotta love the insanely optimistic 120mph speedometer!
Oh yeah baby this is white tie all the way! That class you're sensing through the screen is due to the Exterior Decor Group option; fancy hubcaps, chrome trim around the windows and vinyl roof, shiny rocker panels, and a "deluxe gas cap" are all included. I have zero idea what is special about the gas cap.
It is pretty well proportioned, and claims to be able to ferry 5 adults and a pile of luggage no sweat.
I was half convinced that this car was a faint green, but I think it's just the indirect lighting messing with my eyes. It is a warm white, as far as whites go.
I love these trapezoidal taillight pods! These could be found on other Mercurys as well; the Montego and mighty Cyclone both shared this taillight treatment. Ford did this too, with taillights from the Maverick being identical to the Pinto, pickup trucks, and vans of the '70s.
Chances are that this car is equipped with an inline-6 cylinder either in 170cc or 200cc sizes. The smaller engine put out a woeful 82 horsepower while the larger of the sixes was rated at 91. There was a 302 V8 option but even that was only good for 138hp!
Just like its Ford cousins this compact looks like a shrunken version of its full-size siblings. The large LTD and Montego both had the swooping body lines and read door handles higher than those in front. If anything the 4 doors are more balanced as the 2 door versions were all hood.
Witness the luxury of the superior Mercury trim! That bright metal headlight surround, target turn signal in its own housing, and chrome horizontal grill bar are exclusive to the Merc.
This is what your additional $203 got you. Brand new the sticker price for the Comet was $2,398 vs $2,195 for the Maverick. Good luck getting your transmission fixed for that much these days!
Well that's about it for what might be the nicest '72 Mercury Comet on the planet. The moderate Oregon climate helps preserve cars somewhat but this must've been in a garage most of its life. I'd happily drive it even though it looks like a child dressed in a suit. As slow as it is though you'd be forced to lay back and cruise, but that's what Sundays are all about.
*Last but not least I had to include this old ad featuring the Gay Space Craft!