Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A sleek black beauty from the tailfin era

I was driving around the tiny and very secluded enclave of Mill Basin, Brooklyn when this rocket ship presented itself. Forgettaboutit!
This is a 1959 Dodge Royal in Jet Black. This car is powerful and evil. This is for the hitman who works alone. Christine was a '58 Plymouth Fury but you could just as easily picture this smooth ride mowing down Arnie's enemies while on fire.
There was just no way to get a pic of the front which is a shame. The front has 4 headlights nestled under slanted, angry chrome eyebrows. The grill looks like a metal monster clenching 2 swords in its teeth. I wanted to reach out and touch it but I was afraid of the consequences. *Time Bandits spoiler alert! Even the hubcaps double as roulette wheels to take all your money.
Royal is written out so innocently on that electric razor trim. In fact, look how subtle and perfect that trim is at the starting point. The chrome follows the exact shape of the fin, framing it.
I even dig the door handles on this ride.
The rear end of this thing is straight-up science fiction! Four rockets form the taillights and the fins look like they help keep this thing on its course while engaging light speed. Its very hard to miss but the door hiding the gas cap is unceremoniously placed right on the side of the fin! Any less dynamic of a car and it would stick out like a sore thumb, but here you barely notice it.
If these fins look outrageous consider this: 1959 was the year of Ecto-1 and the other tallest-fins-ever Cadillacs. These are actually somewhat reserved!
This Royal is playing a neat trick as it is truly a large automobile. The trunklid remains flat as a table before coming down at almost a right angle from the end of the fins. The space inside is colossal! However with the Forward Look design of the late '50s Dodges it exudes an air of athleticism.
Well that's where we'll back away from this black beauty that just wants a moment alone. Mill Basin is a unique little pocket of folks who definitely don't like the idea of outsiders rolling through their hood so I made a quick pit stop to take these pics. A few blocks later we passed an unmarked but extremely obvious cop waiting on a side street. The thing is there is ZERO traffic in the dead-end cul-de-sac of Mill Basin in the middle of the day. I got the impression that anyone suspicious would be stopped and sent their merry way stat!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Diabolical Rat!

    '48 RAT!   
Gotta love walking your normal routine and encountering a ride that blows your mind. Behold this bucket of bolts crouching like a tiger with braces ready to pounce!
Hells yes! This is a 1948 Dodge Business Coupe wearing at least a few panels of Windward Green. This thing has been transformed 6 ways to Sunday in true rat rod fashion.
Like the other domestic automakers Dodge had to cease automobile production in 1942 to help with the war effort. When the war stopped demand for new cars was at an all time high while automotive design had been ground to a halt for years. In a panic the Big Three released cars that were basically the 1942 models that they still had all the tooling for. The first all-new cars didn't roll off the assembly line until 1949 or so.
First of all this beast has been thoroughly chopped, and a nice job too. With such a curved roof and rounded window openings lowering the roof by several inches takes serious skill.
In true rat rod fashion there are no wipers and just a scraggly bit of wire for an antenna. The hood is a 2 piece hinged in the middle. With both sides up it looks like a V from the front.
The wheels are an interesting choice. They look like they came off of a semi truck (only in design as they're definitely car wheels). It does lend a sense of power and capability to this crouched puma.
The Business Coupe body style was prevalent from the early days of the automobile through the 1950s. It meant the car was a 2 seater with either a removable or no backseat. Most such as this sled had a small roof only suitable for a front seat. Traveling salesmen would use all the additional room for their products and demonstration items.  
Looks like there's a spot for either a frenched exhaust or taillight on the bottom of the rear fenders. When something is frenched it's inset into a recess.
The patina is great on the hood and trunk. It reminds me of this ride I featured over a year ago. Since this is also a Dodge from just 2 years previous I can't help but wonder if they share an owner or at least have knowledge of each other.
I had a '47 Dodge way back when. I drove by the car sitting by the side of an East Providence road with "$850 - runs" written on the door glass. I owned it briefly and drove it only a handful of times before acquiescing that I was in over my head. I lost the brakes once (pedal fell to the floor like I dropped it off a table) and gently coasted through a red light and up the hill to the friends driveway where I was keeping it. Sold it immediately to a grateful local guy for the same money I'd paid.
I have nothing good to say about this at all. In fact with such a cool car I find this flat-out offensive! WHY would you replace your awesome 1948 door handles with these sad rounded-rectangular ones that look like they came off an '80s Corvette? I didn't pull that out of a hat; I'm 99% sure these are from an '84-'96 C4 Corvette. My guess is that they lifted the drivetrain from a 'vette and just started grabbing other things they might need, but THESE awful door handles? For shame!
Indeed the steering wheel, gearshift, and seats all look like they were pulled from a C4 Corvette. The C4 ran the gamut in its lifetime from anemic and terribly underpowered to powerful and quick. Who knows what iteration drivetrain this has? Regardless the inside door handle is from the same 'vette.
Originally that large chrome expanse in the dash center was a speaker for the tube radio hidden behind it. 
This is a rat detail I dig; steel mesh in place of a vent window! Chances are excellent that modifying the glass during the chopping of the roof was simply too much so they did this. No matter though I think it's pretty tough.
On display here are a couple of the welded seams where the chop took place; the windshield pillar and vent window both show their wounds. Of course the chrome trim had to be snipped too.
Not only has this been chopped but it's been seriously dropped too. My '47 was a very tall car that climbed up into. Overall the roof has to stand a foot and a half to 2 feet lower than factory.
I've always loved this grill. The square turn signals were originally covered with beautifully pattered heavy glass lenses. The headlights on mine were super dim but I'm guessing the electric has been upgraded to '80s Corvette status.
Well there we have it; the twin to the only car I've ever owned that had a starter button. To start the car you would turn the key to "run", pull the choke, pump the gas a few times, and press the starter button. Mine always started and idled smoothly. There wasn't really an E brake as much as a parking brake; when you pulled the under dash trigger-shaped handle for the brake it grabbed the driveshaft! Very effective in holding the car on a hill but nothing that helped me when the brakes went out.
As of the last days of November this is still parked on the street in Brooklyn. Who knows if it will remain once the snow falls?

Monday, November 21, 2016


I was out in some distant corner of Queens in Ozone Park or Woodhaven when I passed this tough beast with the ridiculous tagline (more about that later):
This is a 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle in flat black. We know it's a '72 because the '71 had one single horizontal bar in the grill as opposed to the 2 shown here. Another difference is that the turn signals were broken up into 2 individual rectangles on each side while these are solid.
What can I say about a Chevelle that hasn't already been said? Like every Chevy from the '60s and '70s the Chevelle was hugely popular and could be ordered with any number of configurations.
This is obviously the body of choice for the muscle car crowd. However the Chevelle could be ordered as a 4 door sedan, convertible, and station wagon as well. The sporty hardtop look of this coupe is accentuated by the omission of the little pop-out vent windows which still adorned the front of the doors on the sedans.
There was a 4 tier hierarchy in the Chevelle lineup. At the bottom was the 4 door sedan. Next up was a 1972-only curiosity called the Heavy Chevy. Above that and somewhat splitting the difference was the luxurious Malibu and the musclebound Super Sport. If you wanted cushier seats with headrests, hidden wipers, chrome trim, or a convertible you went Malibu. If you wanted the earth shattering 454 V8 you went with the SS.
Here we see the sweet '72 vintage NY plates the owner's using, but else is that on the back?
I was gobsmacked by this when standing before it. When I searched the term I found that these are lyrics from the 1966 Al Wilson song The Snake. Unfortunately I also discovered that the President-Elect gave a dramatic reading of these lyrics back in March. He went on to explain something about how we knew he was a snake when we let him in. Yeesh. BACK TO THE CAR:
So this beast looks mighty capable with its tough paint job and Rally wheels. The law of averages would dictate that this has a 350 small block V8 in it just because they produced so many and they remain immensely popular.
There's a big aftermarket tach on the column and some gauges under the dash so this is meant to run hard. We can just glimpse the original radio. As far as that column shifter goes there is a slight chance that this is one of the last 3-on-the-tree manual Chevelles but most likely it's the stalwart TH350 auto.
Looks like somebody added a pop-up sunroof at some point, most likely in the '80s when this car was worth peanuts. The thing about Chevelles is that they built so many of them in each model year that you need a rare combination of options, engine, or the highest level of originality for it to be worth a lot. You could go out and buy beautiful Chevelles for $20,000 or under all day long.
This is how I prefer them; ready to be enjoyed and used daily. Good luck Tender Woman!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The cutest vehicle in Brooklyn!

Please remove your hats and show a little respect as the winner for Cutest Vehicle in Brooklyn is here. I mean really, look at this thing. This is basically anime come to life!
This is a 1966 GMC Handivan in Light Green. If this thing doesn't put a smile on your face you're dead inside.
Can I get a quick shout-out for that mini window between the side doors?
This is known as either a Cab Over or Cab Forward design due to the fact that the front seats are basically on top of the axle. The engine is sitting in the cab between the seats in what's known as the doghouse. To work on it you have to go inside the vehicle and remove the large doghouse cover.
This close up shows everything you need to pinpoint the vintage. The perfectly flat windshield means it is the 1st generation which spans 1964-1966. In '65 that extra 2-hole slot appeared between the bumper and the grill behind the license plate. In '66 the antennae was moved to the drivers side from the passengers.
I always assumed that this was the original Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo. Most people online feel that it is a Chevy Van (which was identical to the GMC versions) but perhaps the 2nd generation; '67-'70. Then I read somewhere that there is an episode where the Mystery Machine overheats and the gang goes around back to the check the engine which would mean either a VW Bus or a Corvan (the van version of the Chevy Corvair). However again (!) both of those are air-cooled so any steam arising from the overheated engine cancels those out. Mystery Machine indeed!
Those classic rims are known as Kidney Bean wheels due to the shape of the openings.
Supposedly reverse lights were added to the rear of the 1966 lineup. With the antennae placement that of a '66 I guess this could be either a late '65 or early '66 model. This is first and foremost a utility vehicle like a truck so yearly changes sometimes happened whenever an old part ran out or a new one arrived even if it was mid-year.
The chrome bumpers are somewhat deluxe as the base model would have white painted ones. The fact that this is loaded with windows means it was originally a passenger van as opposed to strictly a work truck. Choosing GMC as opposed to Chevy for a passenger rig is curious as the Chevy is generally more passenger oriented and the GMC more for work. As a result this is probably a pretty rare ride.
Even though it looks like a little toy check out how Handivan is looming over that wack minivan. It actually seems like a bit of a bully!
Leaning forward in all caps HANDI-VAN is up to the task! The door handles are lovely '60s style.
Here we can see the doghouse in the middle with some sweet vintage wooden cupholder scenario. Air conditioning and power steering simply weren't available on the 1st generation Handivan so the options are limited to the radio (an obviously terrible '80s replacement shown here) and the automatic transmission. If it were a manual trans it would look very similar to this setup as a 3-on-the-tree, but that column mounted gear selector window wouldn't be there.
Well that's where we'll leave this indescribably charming little lunchbox.
The Ford and Dodge vans of this era are equally cute and share many of the same features as or hero here. I would love any of them and feel that if I ever got a hold of one I'd never let go. I'm sure that when you're driving one of these down the road you're basically on parade. Hats off lil' Handivan!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Glatte schwarze Schönheit bereit zu stürzen!

Glatte schwarze Schönheit bereit zu stürzen!
I was sleep walking down my block for some coffee one morning when I noticed this sweet German waiting patiently for its owner:
This is a 1985 Porsche 911 Carrera in Graphite Black Poly. We know it's a Carrera as opposed to the standard 911 because of those clear fog lights mounted into the lower valance under the bumper. This car is totally amazing in its looks and performance! It is also as '80s as cocaine on Wall Street.
This sweet 911 has more in common with the classic VW Beetle than most other cars; they are both powered by air-cooled engines placed in the rear over the drive wheels.
For the 2 year span of 1984-'85 there were no Porsche 930s available in the States. The signature look of the 930 was that huge tail and wide fender flares. To fill this need Porsche offered the M491 option (known in the UK as Supersport and simply Turbo-Look here in the States). That super-badass whale tail means business!
It was early in the morning when this was sitting with its hazards on in front of a hydrant.
Under the center of the wing just above the reflector bar you can just see where it says Turbo in script. These cars lend themselves to upgrading better than most due to the longevity of the basic design so who's to say if it's original? With the Turbo-Look on an actual turbo 911 it's extremely close to a 930. The color, sunroof, and great wheels make this thing about as desirable as it gets.
I didn't want to explain myself to an angry owner so I snapped a very quick pic of the interior.
The oil cooler for the engine is up front which necessitates a lot of oil for the entire system. When you change it you'll need somewhere around 9 and a half quarts!
I detailed cars back in school and as a result got to drive tons of different cars very short distances. The big surprise for me the first time I sat in a 911 was that the clutch pedal doesn't hang from under the dash like most cars, but rather goes forward and down flat to the floor when pressed. Like the Beetle the accelerator and clutch cables run under the floor to the drivetrain in the rear.
The 911 went on in air-cooled style from 1963 to 1998 (obviously with tons of changes along the way). In 1999 Porsche broke the heart of the 911 purist by switching to water cooled engines.
The values of these stalwart 911s have skyrocketed lately which was frankly overdue. These cars combine pure athleticism and engineering with sexy good looks. The top speed of this car when new was around 150mph which puts it in supercar territory. The Lamborghini Countach claimed 183mph as a top speed in '85 but that was a much more expensive, less reliable, and much less comfortable ride. The Lambo would run you $100,000 in '85 while this Porsche was a measly $32,000!
With that we'll leave this for Gordon Gecko to jump in and drive away. Few cars are as immediately recognizable and classic as the 911. If you stumble upon one in decent condition for not too much money I suggest grabbing it quick!