Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Orange Bucket Truck

I was walking along some industrial corner of Brooklyn when I encountered this orange bucket truck:
I love the plainness of this thing! It's really very orange and the bumper looks like it's had 3 more lives than the truck itself.
I don't know anything about this beast and am not inclined to research it. Hope you enjoyed this mighty orange bucket truck interlude, and thank you for your support!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

California and Japan join forces to show off again

I was visiting my mother at the Chico, California library where she works when this lovely little ray of sunshine entered the parking lot:
This is a 1979 Toyota Corona T130 Station Wagon in Yellow. We here on the East Coast can just stand back in awe of how utterly rust and damage free an everyday grocery getter from 38 years ago can be in California.
This righteous grill symbol is a C for Corona with some sort of star power emanating from the center. This is also the easiest way to discern the vintage; the year before had round headlights while the year after this one had a chrome horizontal bar running the width of the grill. Take a second to admire that factory pinstripe on the hood in brown!
This Corona is proud and upright with excellent posture and grooming.
There is a fantastic song named Corona by the Minutemen that most people know as the opening theme for Jackass. I highly recommend the Minutemen documentary We Jam Econo for anyone who digs that track. Corona is also a beer. Drink extremely cold when it's hot out ONLY.
About the most damage I can see on this ride at all is that the paint looks a touch on the faded side, but really! This thing looks to be wearing its original paint so I'll go ahead and call this a flawless original survivor.
The hubcaps are correct and pretty snazzy for a late-'70s Japanese car. They look a lot like a hybrid of old Ford Falcon hubcaps in the center and '80s Econoline caps around the rim.
This year straddles the line between the rounded '70s Toyotas and the angular boxy designs of the '80s. The lines are just barely softened but it makes for a friendly car.
Get a load of that checkered 1979 Toyota upholstery! Also this seems to have a green First Aid kit in the rear, probably offered as part of an AAA membership or gift for opening a checking account decades ago. It lends a wholesomeness to the whole scene that's so earnest I can't stand it!
The Corona was one step up in size and stature from the diminutive Corolla, but they're really very similar cars. The last car I owned as of writing this post was an '83 Corolla wagon (also in yellow). If you could whittle this Corona down on all sides leaving perfectly straight lines and reduce the 4 square headlights to 2 you would have my old ride.
Somehow I have no doubt that the rear window washing fluid still works from that black dot above the center glass. There's probably an AM/FM radio in the dash ready to read you the news at a moments notice.
In the Northeast when you bought this car the fuse was lit; you'd be lucky to make it to a year before the first spec of rust made itself known. Here in Sunny California the factory quarter panel yawns at another perfect day. Every time I post a car I snapped in Cali I'm reminded of how I ought to exclusively buy cars from the West Coast and drive them back.
We'll close this out as I notice the damage on the passenger side. Looks like a whiskey dent/scrape along the doors happened in some parking lot or garage along the way.
There is nothing flashy or particularly memorable about this wagon except for the fact that it remains on the road after almost 4 decades in such solid condition. Most older Toyotas have a cult following but somehow the Corona has been ignored by most collectors. It's not small enough for the Corolla set, not sporty enough for the Celica/Supra folks, and don't have anything to offer for the truck and Land Cruiser aficionados. The running gear is just as legendarily bulletproof as the other Toyotas of the era and its scale makes it a bit more practical than the smaller rides. If I saw this with a sign in the window I would have to contact the owner and give it a test drive. You could certainly do worse for a usable everyday classic set of wheels.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Representing Father's Day with the Car With Two Trunks!

My little sister from another mister Neen spotted this little Kraut roosting in the Empire Region and sent me some snaps. I'm glad she did because I love these rides so much!
This is a 1965-1969 Volkswagen Type III Fastback in Savannah Beige. This is the "car with 2 trunks" and it is in lovely condition!
*One amazing detail is the windshield washer fluid dispenser which is that little dot between the cowl vents. It is powered by an air hose connecting the spare tire to the fluid reservoir. That means that if you use the windshield washer with abandon and forget to inflate the spare you'll have a flat tire in the trunk!
The Type III was named as such because the Beetle was 1st and the bus 2nd in production dates. These came in Fastback and Squareback (known in Europe as the Variant) body styles in the States. Europe also had a 2 door coupe version with a proper little trunk lid called the Notchback. The Fastback was introduced to replace the Notchback but both turned out to be so popular that they sold them alongside each other (in the rest of the world anyway).
Those vents along the quarter panel bring fresh air into the engine compartment which was truly essential as this is an air cooled car. Unlike the Beetle this is a flatter "pancake" engine that fits underneath the rear floor. If you lift up the hood here you'll see a flat floor leading up the rear seat (that folds forward for extra storage). To access the engine you would move the rubber mat to expose a removable panel beneath. The front hood is the main trunk with the spare tire and gas tank too.
We know this is a '60s version because of these delicate chrome ringed lights and smaller signals. Starting in 1970 much larger lights incorporating both brakes and turn signals arrived.
In 1968 the Type III became the first car to have fuel injection as standard equipment. They ran very smooth, always started easily, and offered great gas milage. This may or may not have that setup but regardless I would love to roll around town in this little beauty.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The most historically significant car EVER

It's hard to heap too many superlatives onto the following ride no matter how altered it is from its original state. Behold this super rat rod parked right in front of my building:
This started life as a 1927 Ford Model T Tudor in (what else?) Black. More specifically Double Deep Black. When the Model T was introduced in 1908 it was available in Gray, Green, Blue, and Red. The famous policy that stemmed from Henry Ford stating that "the customer can have any color they want as long as it's Black" didn't actually start until 1914.
Yes that says FARMALL on the grill. This grill originally came from a late 1930s International Harvester Farmall tractor. All Farmalls were bright red in color when built. In addition this grill has been cut down a bit; there would have been a 4th bank of 4 horizontal openings on the bottom.
Rat rods stemmed from people cobbling together working hot rods from mismatched pieces of various cars that were wrecked, abandoned, or thrown away. However like a pair of $1,000 distressed jeans they are now high dollar, high concept approximations of true rats. Maybe this body shell was found in a Texas field but it's definitely had several dozens of thousands of dollars sunk into it since.
I have no idea which V8 engine powers this thing but those open headers must be extremely loud when it's running. This thing is a catchall of rat rod styling cues: German iron cross on the visor, aggressively chopped roof, channeled body where it's sunken down between the frame rails, keg fuel tank where the back seat used to be, exposed engine with unique grill, metal spider web details in the door openings, and a matte faux patina color body.
Those big Ford spoke wheels with the V8 symbol on the caps are great.
This is the last year for the fabled Model T which concluded a spectacular 18 year run. This is the car that put America behind the wheel. Henry Ford invented the modern assembly line to crank these Tin Lizzies out at an unheard of rate of 1 every 3 minutes. By the time this one rolled out of the Highland Park facility in Detroit Ford had built 15,000,000 of them.
Besides the roof height the body shell maintains most of its 1927 look. The Model T had these flat doors unlike the rounded ones of its replacement. That trim line that runs under the windows would curve up around the rear of the rear side window on the later Model A. This rat still boasts the original insanely charming taillights too.
"The Golden Rat" is the name of this beast (the quotations marks are theirs). With the body aggressively channeled and lowered and the fenders removed the wheels look pretty amazing.
Originally the roof was canvas stretched over a wooden frame. Most early bodies had wood frames as well with metal affixed over it for the shell. This roof has been replaced with a massive sheet of metal that has hundreds of louvers stamped into it. There is no window glass except for the windshield so having that many holes in the roof is moot.
This shot gives you an idea of how low this thing actually is. The highest point of the roof sits below the level of the hood of the truck behind it!
Ford produced 8 different models from their first Model A in 1903 until the T was introduced in 1908. Supposedly the Model T was so new in every way that they decided to start all over again with the Model A as its 1927 replacement. These final Model Ts had standard features that were impressive for such an everyman car at the time including a sun visor, windshield wiper, rearview mirror, and a dash light. Remember this was pre Great Depression when most of the roads were unpaved and in disastrous condition so niceties like a rearview mirror weren't taken for granted. The front seats even slid forward and backward to adjust for legroom!
The price for the cheapest Model T (the Runabout) in 1927 was a mere $360! That was less than half the cost of the first examples from 1908. Until 1972 when the VW Beetle usurped it the Model T was the best selling car in history (the Beetle topped out at 21.5 million while the Toyota Corolla is currently in the lead with 40+ million and counting). While it is true that the 1901 Oldsmobile Curved Dash automobile was the first car built on an assembly line the production was nothing compared to the Model T (a total of 19,000 of those Curved Dash models were sold between 1901-1907). This car changed the way Americans lived, where they worked, how they planned communities, and how most products were assembled in the future. Because there were so many produced they are still available in every level of condition. Within the past year I saw one advertised locally that was registered, inspected, and ready for daily use in its original factory specs for under $10,000. I've never driven one and only sat in a few that were parked but I'd love to one day. In the meantime hats off to "The Golden Rat"!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The sister of a girl I once knew

The following rides was inching along in heavy traffic past my shop recently. I knew it from the smallest glimpse in the distance:
This is a 1967 Oldsmobile 442 in aftermarket-but-looking-good red. The name stems from 4 barrel, 4 speed, dual exhaust (though by this year you could order an automatic). I know this ride front to back and top to bottom because I had a convertible version that was slightly more dusty:
Here is my Spanish Red baby in Dumbo circa 1997. More than bragging that I once had 1 of only 1,130 convertible 442s with a Hurst 4 speed built that year this pic shows a 442-only detail you can't see on the feature car. There are 2 rows of louvers cut into the hood up by the windshield that are unique to this model. Another detail is the 442 badge in the grill bar. If this were a non-442 there would be a grill emblem that says OLDSMOBILE
This hardtop is in absolutely perfect shape and with the exception of the wheels looks correct.
Power would come from a 330 or 400 V8 mated to either an automatic, or 3 or 4 speed manual transmission. Both manuals came with Hurst shifters from the factory and a console. Bucket seats were standard.
This was the same intermediate GM platform as the Chevy Chevelle, Pontiac Tempest/GTO, and Buick Special. This is the final year for the 1st generation 442 which was still an option package. In the beginning you could make any trim level of the Cutlass line a 442, even the lowly F-85. By the time this beauty was built you had to start with the top-tier Cutlass Supreme. Starting in 1968 the 442 would be a stand alone model (even though it shared 100% of its body with the Cutlass).
You can see another detail of the 442 in this pic; the taillights consist of all 4 square lenses on the sides, with reverse lights in the bumper. In the regular Cutlass and F-85 the lower squares were the reverse lights. Having 4 big red squares light up when braking makes this look like a spaceship.
This is a 1 year only car as the front and rear were totally different in both '66 and '68 (to be fair the entire car was different in '68).
I delivered a pizza to an auto detailing shop in Providence when I was in school and saw the front end of a 442 peeking out from the depths of their garage. The guy told me it hadn't been started in 9 years and hadn't been on the road in 13. When I asked if he'd sell it he said he'd need to ask at least $1,000 for it (this was 1995). I told him that if I could start it I'd give him his thousand.
After 10 minutes of tinkering and a new battery she fired right up! It had a J-code 455 in it and open headers so it was LOUD. I replaced the exhaust and the original optional front disc brakes and drove it away. I loved that car and it was as rare as can be. After bringing it to Brooklyn and then San Francisco the manual trans finally died heroically by being stuck in reverse. I sold it to a shady tow truck owner and have regretted it since. Maybe someday I'll find another but they have increased in value many many times over at this point.
So long 442!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Coulda been a Rebel!

Contributor Max encountered a film shoot on the island of Manhattan recently. Waiting for its cue was this sweet little jukebox:
Every car from the '50s should be a shade of aqua!
This is a 1957 Rambler De Luxe 6 in Bermuda Green. This was the lowest trim level, most economical car Rambler produced in '57. In fact the Rambler 6 boasted the highest MPG of any domestic car that year.
*In New York State you can register your classic ride with a matching set of license plates as long as they're from the same year as the car. Since the ride is wearing 1958 plates it must not have been titled until the turn of the calendar year. This is definitely a '57 as opposed to '58 though as the newer cars had quad headlights. 
This car is in perfect shape! Every inch looks like it just drove off the dealership floor. Those are the poverty caps you got if you went for the cheapest car they make.
The huge wraparound back window made visibility some of the best in the business. Dig that R gas cap! Boo hiss on the 1980s-era rear deck speakers.
This car was smartly designed in that it is a unibody. Unlike a traditional body on frame the unibody incorporates the metal shell into its structural makeup. The result is increased rigidity and (they claim) safety. Side impact crashes were helped by the door pillar being a part of the overall frame. The rocker panels were referred as Battleship Box Girders! Sounds safe anyways.
Everyone's always talking about the '57 Chevy but there was a hardtop version of this exact ride called the Rebel that was the fastest American production car that year! The Rebel was a lightweight 6 pillarless body outfitted with a 327 V8. Every one of them had a gold accented side trim piece and metallic paint. Being a big block in a mid size body meant that the Rebel makes a good claim to be the very first muscle car (I know you Buick Skylark and Olds 88 fans will say different but those were huge cars).
I love the unique frumpiness of the '50s Ramblers. To have a single car that claims highest gas mileage and top speed for the year depending on the engine alone is remarkable. The fact that there are no fins and barely any chrome made this perhaps the most subtle car for 1957 as well. To have a base model grocery getter in such spectacular shape after 60 years is just insane. Hats off Rambler!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Mustang up on the autopsy table

I was walking near the headwaters of the mighty Gowanus Canal when this horrific vision presented itself:
This is what's left of a 1967 Ford Mustang convertible in Wimbledon White. There are only 2 ways I know of to visually discern a '67 from a '68. The first is moot because it involves the letters F O R D being on the hood in '67, but there's no hood here at all! The second is that in 1968 they introduced front and read side marker lights of which this has none. 1967 it is!
This was the first redesign of the original Mustang. This is still considered the first generation Mustang but I can't figure why as the overall dimensions increased. For the first time you could fit a massive 390 or 428 big block V8 engine under the hood.
1967 is my favorite year overall for American cars and this is no exception. Of all the Mustangs I find this to be the most well proportioned. The rear bumpers are nicely integrated into the overall look. The concave real panel and taillights are more dynamic to me than the earlier ones that looked glued on.
If this wreck wasn't a convertible there would be zero chance of anyone bothering with it. However it will be worth somebody's while to restore a drop top every time. Since Mustangs were built on a massive scale you could get a disaster like this and a running parts car hardtop without breaking the bank too severely.
For as brutally ravaged as this ride is it looks like the rust happened while it was sitting somewhere as opposed to driving. The quarter panels are some of the nicest parts of the car which almost never happens. Being a convertible (especially once with the top & windows open) water easily gets in and works it's dark magic. The bottoms of the doors are rotted out which means they filled with water. I'm sure the floors are gone too. Everything is available from catalogs for this ride though.
Well that's where I'll leave this for some brave soul to conquer. Given the chance I would love to roll around town in a '67 convertible Mustang. While they're valuable the high performance Shelby versions are priced in the stratosphere with nice examples selling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars! There are currently a couple of nice '67 convertibles on ebay under 20 grand and one "easy restoration" candidate for under $5,000. If you saw one for a reasonable price snatch it up!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Brawny Bay Ridge Bumblebee

I strolled around the block from my house recently and this striking brute was waiting for me:
This is a 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle SS in Cream Yellow. This thing dead lifts more than you and has a tribal tattoo around it's bicep.
There are 2 simple ways to discern a '72 from the almost-identical '71. Those turn signals consist of a single lens on each side whereas they were split into 2 stacked rectangles previously. In addition there are 2 horizontal bars in this grill where the '71 had one. In the interest of overall toughness the owner has blacked out the chrome bars on this grill* (which is nothing compared to having a black hood and trunk I suppose).
*For the record there was a blacked out version of this grill as a part of the Heavy Chevy package. That was more of a base model Chevelle with the big engine than a true SS.
The Super Sport package had been available in some form on various Chevys since it was an option for the 1961 Impala (my favorite Impala for what it's worth). It has varied from a simple dress up package that adds stripes and badges to a legitimate performance upgrade. This year is thankfully the latter with front and rear sway bars joining that fire breathing V8 under the hood.
This ride is just beautiful in that delicate Cream Yellow. Chrome trim is very understated with thin moldings around the wheel wells, front and rear glass, and the drip rail above the doors only.
This was the final year for the Cowl Induction hood that brought fresh air directly into the thirsty 4 barrel carburetor. When it's hooked up properly it remains closed until you stomp your foot on the gas when a vacuum actuator pulls it open. When there is no vacuum in the system or it's not hooked up it stays open like this. As bad ass as this sweet detail is it added no horsepower to the car but who cares? COWL INDUCTION bro yes!
*Those functional hood pins are a part of the Cowl Induction hood package by the way.
This car is outfitted with the mightiest of the mighty for Chevrolet; the 7.4 liter Turbo-Jet 454 V8. The way horsepower had been rated had changed to net as opposed to gross in 1971 so the 454 was rated at "only" 270 HP (those are air quotes for effect you grammar nazis). The net HP was supposed to approximate the power at the wheels and the gross would be what the engine produced on its own. The gross HP for this engine was probably more like 365 but there is no disputing the torque rating which was a whopping 390lbs.
This ride is outfitted with the optional Strato-Bucket seats and a console mounted slap shifter for the automatic transmission. There's also a color coordinated Yellow Little Tree hanging off the dash which is Jasmin (I looked it up). Points for consistency.
This is the last year for the second generation Chevelle which debuted in 1968. While the body dimensions are the same the '68-'69 version looked very different in the front with a forward leaning grill containing quad headlights. For 1970 only there were quad lights with body color surrounds before switching to single headlights such as this ride.
I love the continuity across lines within Chevrolet for 1972. The Camaro had similar taillights as did the Corvette. Each taillight is actually different but they look identical to the layman. A single Michigan plate? Normally I would launch into a diatribe about how you'll never get a ticket in Brooklyn with one out of state plate on any car but this one is too nice so I think it's legit.
This is the mid size GM muscle car body which was shared by the Buick Skylark/Gran Sport, Oldsmobile Cutlass/442, and Pontiac LeMans/GTO. These cars sold spectacularly well overall, with the Chevelle being the 2nd best selling American car of 1972. Many consider 1970 to be the ultimate moment in the Muscle Car craze due to a combination of unbridled horsepower and lack of regulation. This generation Chevelle was square in the middle of the craze.
If I were smarter, more patient, or better prepared I would've saved this for my 454th post but too bad. My desires usually move away from such common cars as illustrated by my 1st gen Mustang takedown but I'm giving this one a pass. Why is that? The car above represents the final moments of the muscle car era with few exceptions (the Super Duty Trans Am from 1974 is, in my opinion, the very last remnant of the original MC era). The 454 wasn't even listed in most of the Chevelle brochures of the day. 1973 would introduce a new, larger era for Chevelle the likes of which can be seen in the movie Drive*. While those cars are cool enough it's a major departure from these more athletic rides.
*Heads-up music will play the moment that clip starts!