Wednesday, June 28, 2017

F for Fantastic, 85 for the temperature

I was lucky enough to find myself out at Jacob Riis Park in the Rockaways recently for some beach time when I spotted a glint of hot fire in the distance:
Yes! Roosting next to those poseur cars trying to share some limelight is a 1966 Oldsmobile F85 Holiday Coupe in Target Red. This car is 51 years old but looks like it just came from the dealership.
The F85 was the base trim level of the Cutlass line in '66. Above this ride were the Cutlass and Cutlass Supreme in the hierarchy (the 442 was still an option package and wouldn't be its own model until 1968).
This was considered an intermediate car as the full size rides of this year were truly colossal.
I love this generation which is very similar to the '67 442 I had. The sharp fender edges continuing on the bumpers looks mean.
In 1967 the headlights were spaced slightly apart with the turn signal nestled between each set in a barbell design. From this angle you can see the chrome hood trim is more of a blade than a hood ornament.
This was the most beautiful setting for such a ride. If I find myself needing to sell a car in the future I'm bringing it here to snap pics.
The hardtops such as this ride were known as the Holiday Coupe. If it had a pillar between the front and rear side glass it would be the Sport. The overall look is mid-'60s clean with the only side trim being down along the rocker panels and lower quarter.
This little emblem tells us the engine is the awesomely named Jetfire Rocket 330 V8. When I was a kid my favorite Transformer was Jetfire! The base engine choice was the Action Line 250 straight 6 cylinder. When equipped with an automatic transmission it was the Jetaway 2 speed. Gotta love those marketing names of the '60s rides!
While the dash and general layout are the same as the 442 there's a bench seat filling up the cabin. A column shift Jetaway auto trans is visible as is a radio. No air conditioning means these black seats will tear the skin off your legs on a Summer day if you're wearing shorts.
There is the slightest separation on the vinyl roof otherwise this car is absolutely perfect! The matte finish on the rear bumper makes me believe it's a recent replacement.
Each letter of OLDSMOBILE gets its own square! The reverse lights are subtle, small rectangles flanking the license plate. 1967 would bring a much different taillight pattern with 2 squares on the body and 2 square set into the bumper itself.
The rear window is set deep into those sail panels for the first time this year. Other GM coupes such as the Tempest/Le Mans/GTO sported this look as well. 
Well there we have it; a smashing ride on a smashing day. Whoever drove this to the beach is the winner of the Kicking the Most Ass in Summer award. The only thing that would make it better is if it were a convertible. I loved my 442 with its bucket seats but really; if you're going to shuttle the crew somewhere in cruising fashion those big bench seats rule.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Motor Trend Car of the Year for 1974

Some cars live strange lives. When we were getting ready to open our shop in Gowanus 5 years ago this was parked with a for sale sign in the window at a local gas station. I even had a friend who was considering buying it for $5,000 years ago (I told him it hadn't moved from the lot in years). The gas station where it lived is now gone and so here we find this little ride, 10 blocks to the north:
This is a 1974 Ford Mustang II in Bright Red. *This is a rare case of perfect timing with an all new design. Somehow the folks at Ford knew to start planning on a tiny version of their Mustang even as the trend was still bigger is better.
*All the more astonishing from the folks who brought you the Edsel!
From what I can tell these turn signals are the one clue that this is a 1974. That horizontal bar in the middle of the lens was a first year only detail for the II.
The sky was falling in 1974 for the domestic automobile market. From October '73 through March of '74 the gas crisis caught the public by surprise. In a land where plentiful cheap gas was taken for granted the cars were enormous and thirsty. In a cruel bit of timing this same year ushered in new efficiency and safety regulations that had automakers scrambling to make their dinosaurs compliant. Here comes the Mustang II in drastically scaled down fashion with a design that accommodated the larger bumpers nicely. It was an instant hit.
There isn't a single bolt on this car that was carried over from the previous generation. In fact the Mustang II shared a platform with the compact Pinto.
The wheels on this ride are from an '80s Mustang 5.0 a la Vanilla Ice. They look a bit oversized for my taste but whatever. Styling cues harken back to the original 1964.5 Mustang such as that simulated scoop on the door. This thing is very tidy overall.
They also produced a fastback/hatchback version of this car which looks plenty cool, but I like this notchback model. My babysitter had one of these when I was a wee sprite in the '70s. I can still clearly remember sitting in the backseat admiring the steering wheel with its circular openings on the spokes.
After all this time these have aged really well. The big taillight clusters look cool with their angled edges conforming to the body shape. Even the huge mid-'70s bumpers look justified with their red cladding.
Who needs plates? Park a car in Brooklyn with nothing on it and the cops will roll right on by for weeks or months (this has already been where I took these pics for at least a month).
As much as this looks like a hardtop there is a thin B pillar between the door and rear quarter glass. In addition the rear quarter is fixed in place and doesn't have a roll down mechanism. There was never a convertible either making this the only generation Mustang to lack one.
In this first year of production there was no V8 available giving it the dubious honor of being the only year Mustang without an 8 cylinder option in its entire 53 year (and counting) run. The base engine was a 140 Inline 4 cylinder. The sole upgrade was the German built Cologne V6.
I love white interiors and this one with the red dash and carpet is fantastic! This ride seems decently appointed as it has an am/fm Stereo (possibly with an 8 Track but I can't be sure from this view). Being an automatic means this ride is S L O W. Those 3 round gauges are all the basics with Fuel being on the left, ALT in the center, and the temp on the right. That little white nub on the door panel is the remote side mirror adjustment. If there was a/c there would be large vents hanging under the dash. This has the basic wheel but the sporty GT wheel was what I remember.
Where there we have it; the perfect mini placeholder for a marque while the 1970s sorted itself out. Lee Iacocca was responsible for the II and insisted that the overall fit and finish were of the highest order. He specified that the Mustang II ought to be "a little jewel" and as a result they're very stout little rides. 4 of the 5 years the II was produced are in the top 10 of all time for Mustang sales. There were stylish Ghia and sporty King Cobra editions too. If you like the looks of this beast just go get one as there are a ton of them out there!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Malaise Era Bow Tie in Revlon Pink

I was walking up towards Carrol Gardens from the mighty Gowanus when I spotted this little punk:
This is a 1974 Chevrolet Nova in some sort of aftermarket pink. Few cars are more difficult to pinpoint than the '73 to '74 Nova. From what I can gather the only differences are very slight alterations to the bumpers (though the most telling aspect is hidden from view; one year has shock absorbers connecting the bumper to the frame) and the painted extension between the front bumper and grill is plastic one year and metal the next. I've read that the Chevy Bow Tie grill emblem was introduced in '74 but it seems that not all were so equipped so who knows?
These are the ridiculously oversized bumpers that were tacked onto cars to satisfy the new federal crash mandate for '74. This body style is clean and compact if it weren't for these guardrails hanging off the edges.
This ride is wearing a set of Oldsmobile rims from the '70s/'80s.
These were available as hatchbacks as well as traditional trunk backs like this one. The option cost an additional $150 and were popular enough that I've seen a few. The hatch looked pretty much exactly like this if you can imagine the entire rear front the bottom of the trunk to above the window opening. The rear seat folded forward which made for a huge increase in storage for the hatch. There was even a factory tent option that would convert your open hatchback to a mini camper. I've only seen pictures of them as they are seriously rare.
Too bad that original material is feeling the full force of the CLUB Basic. This split bench was the bare bones standard.
Well there we have it; a somewhat neutered remnant of the muscle car era that was wading through waist deep federal emissions and safety regulations on its way out of the factory. I've gone full circle on Novas. I used to think they were cheesy and not very desirable but these days I find them great. They are nicely sized rides when compared to the smaller cars of today and parts are 100% available. If you want a classic you can work on yourself that won't break the bank a Nova is a good bet. Find one from the mid-'70s and they're genuinely cheap wheels. Who cares if they left the factory with smog equipment and a straight 6 cylinder? The engine bay was designed to accept the ubiquitous 350 which will move this car around with alacrity.

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"!