Friday, February 24, 2017

NYC in the '80s & '90s

I was walking along the forlorn stretch of 3rd Ave that languishes in the permanent shadow of the Gowanus Expressway when I fell into a time warp. What year is it anyway?
What we're looking at is a pair of Chevrolet Caprice Classics done up in vintage guise most likely for filming purposes. It's always remarkable when a period piece is being filmed in the city because you might stumble upon a block populated by vehicles from the '60s, '30s, or even the horse and buggy era. For more recent 1980s and 1990s productions these beasts might be rolled out.
This cab looks picture perfect (and I'm sure it is and would stand to serious scrutiny). The military N.Y.C. TAXI stencil on the rear doors and the sweet $1.50 base fare echo the 1987-ish feel. There are no license plates on this ride and I think it would be illegal to attempt registration with that vintage medallion on the hood.
Behold the 305 V8 workhorse looking like it was dusted with cocoa. 
Specifically this is a 1987-1990 Chevrolet Caprice. Previous to '87 the Caprice sported 4 square headlights as opposed to these larger composites. The collector and donk market refers to this era as the Box Chevy because it's squared off completely unlike the following:
This bloated bathtub is known as the Beached Whale Chevy to some and Shamu to others thanks to its round appearance. Motor Trend awarded the 1991 Chevy Caprice the Car of the Year award and that's the last positive thing anyone has ever said about it. We know this is a 1991-1992 as those were the two years that had these rear wheel openings. In an immediate response to withering criticism Chevy opted to open the rear wheel wells to mimic the fronts in an attempt to make it look trim.
If this indeed was an NYC cruiser this would've seen some serious action. The Crack Epidemic was still taking its toll and violent crime was at some of the highest levels in history. The police package meant this beast came with the larger 350 V8 engine. In line with the Box Chevy this is known to aftermarket customizers as the Bubble Chevy.
Of course it would be beyond illegal to register a car with red flashing lights on the roof so you know this is strictly a drivable prop.
In the late '90s when I lived in Brooklyn I made a brief attempt to sell my beloved '67 442 convertible. It was pre muscle car craze and these rides weren't terribly valuable. One guy who was interested asked me to drive him to his buddy who he thought might buy it. We drove down to this area in Gowanus and it turned out that the potential buyer ran a movie car company! I got to walk into a massive warehouse bursting at the seams with dusty cars from every era including at least a dozen taxis. They didn't take it after all but the experience was awesome for me regardless. I'm sure these cars are being prepped for that very business.

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