Sunday, July 30, 2017

Zero to sixty in never

I was strolling somewhere around the Gowanus Canal general area when I noticed this little bike chained to a sign:
I don't know motorcycles at all. Identifying this off the top of my head was out of the question. The one detail that made me notice it at first was that big rectangular taillight. To me it immediately looked like late '70s/early '80s Japanese, but that's it!
I made my way past it and saw why this little punk was abandoned; the entire drivetrain is missing! I dig those mag wheels though. A housemate of mine once owned a Honda Shadow and it had the same rims.
I'm going to take an amateur guess and say that this is a 1980 Honda CB750F. From my fumbling through the darkness trying to identify this from scratch I noticed the elongated gas tank that curves down at the rear with the front of the seat matching the angle. That subtle wing is cool too. 
If it is a CB750 it is missing a 4 cylinder air-cooled engine. The CB750 enjoyed a glorious run from 1969 to 2003. Somehow it took me until now to notice that it's not chained to the sign at all actually. 
This Honda has been around long enough to not only garner some tickets, but for the color of those tickets to fade. I doubt this little pony will be up and running anytime soon.
Well that's it for a rare 2 wheeled interlude. When this blog was new I featured a few abandoned scooters roosting in the Williamsburg area but this doesn't happen often. Something about the cool stripes and massive brick of a taillight made me stop and appreciate this little ride.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Ford Mustang BLECH edition

I was a few blocks up from my apartment recently when a nauseous feeling came over me in waves. Reeling a bit and clutching my gut I knew what it was: a 4th gen Mustang!
This is a 1994-1998 Ford Mustang convertible in Medium Seafoam Poly. It has achieved full Hooptie status with an array of beater calling cards. 
This thing looks like an old prizefighter trying to smile through the pain.
The Fox body Mustang that preceded this era had a monumentally successful run of 15 years so a revamp was way overdue. Ford supposedly spent a cool $700,000,000 on updating every aspect of the car. Reigning in noise and vibration were top concerns but really the update was comprehensive.
Oh yeah this is where we get into the serious NYC action! In one glimpse we have the following: scrapes, dents, a Bond repair, a missing light (with another held in place with tape), different color fender, and front wheels so riddled with brake dust that they may as well have been steeping in a bucket of tea.
You know what though? The top goes down when the weather is nice so all is forgiven. I've purchased and flaunted some truly forlorn buckets simply because they were convertibles.
Believe it or not this is actually an updated version of the Fox body and is listed as FOX-4 in Ford company literature. As a vehicle platform the Fox body was one of the most successful in modern history with 26 total years of use (if you allow for adjustments over the years).
I recently rewatched E.T. for the first time since seeing it new in the theaters. Imagine my surprise when every government agent in the movie is driving a Ford Fairmont! Original Fox Body action!
Looks like this ride lost its trunk lid mounted wing at some point. Offering zero in performance the wing was cartoonishly curvy and plump. 
From this angle it looks like any rounded '90s car. The Chrysler Sebring wasn't much different. The rounded body reduced drag in a big way when compared to previous models.
Well that's where I'll leave my least favorite Mustang of all time. As I said before I will forgive just about any convertible on its top down merits so this will be filed under acceptable transportation. However a hardtop V6 version of this would interest me about as much as a Taurus. Still, I'm duty bound to give it up for anyone repairing their car with tape. Hat's off FOX-4!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Kevin McHale's sweet limo? Obviously

Contributor Max recently sent the following pics from the corner of Avenue C and 14th Street in Manhattan. The backdrop of the first pic is the Con Edison facility that found itself completely submerged during Hurricane Sandy, causing everything below 34th Street to be without power for almost a week. This hooptie represents the last remaining damage:
Gawd look at this beat down Frankenstein ride. The grill is red with the blood of its enemies! The bumper has been painted black and fitted with some fog lamps. As far as the flat black sections between the grill and lights and the hood, and along the top of the fenders I can only imagine this has been in some front end collisions and repaired as needed on the cheap. the CELT 32 plate means this is definitely owned by "one of the NBA's 50 greatest players" Kevin McHale of the Boston Celtics. Nobody said life after basketball would be easy, player!
I'm late with the information but this is a 1993/1994 Lincoln Town Car. Anyone who's been anywhere near NYC knows that these were ubiquitous as the T&LC black car limos. While they started out more luxurious than the yellow cabs they were driven just as much, routinely clocking 500,000 miles or more before either being cannibalized for parts or sold at auction. The upside for buying a vehicle like this is that you can get parts anywhere in the city and even major repairs like a transmission change can be done on the spot by dozens of 24/7 taxi repair shops.
Shout-out to the half landau roof and big sunroof! 
The back has been curiously bedazzled with a wolf head above the Flag of Ireland flanked by red stripes on the window. Red tape striping has shown up above the taillights as well as the lower trunk lip. This bumper was also spray painted black (as was the entire lower half of the car it looks like!) except for the bottom which is bright red. Quad exhaust tips and triple antennas round out the mayhem.
Well that's that: a New York City icon repping a Boston icon by way of Ireland by way of New Jersey. If there were ever a hooptie you could park anywhere in the 5 boroughs without worry this is it. Like anything used ruthlessly and discarded they may indeed become rare as time goes by. When was the last time you saw a Checker?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Almost the Heartbeat of America

I was walking around some area of Brooklyn that looks like the pics below (Dyker Heights? Bensonhurst? My own beloved Bay Ridge?) when this '80s Bro-mobile presented itself:
Yeah Bro!
This is a 1983-1985 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS in White.
I know this car well because I went to high school in Carmel, New York from the late '80s through the early '90s. The Monte Carlo was ubiquitous with the gold-chain-over-your-black-sweater crowd. 
The Super Sport got this nifty aerodynamic front that incorporated the bumper and grill/headlight surrounds as one piece. The standard Monte had a chrome bumper below a stand-up grill and headlights set flush into the facade as opposed to these inset ones.
This shape is familiar to anyone who drove a Buick Regal, Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, or Monte Carlo from 1978-1988. This is the G-Body platform (though from '78-'82 they referred to it as the A-Body even though it is the same). The G-Body cars were some of the final front engine, rear wheel drive domestic rides produced en masse. Sure the Taxi & Police stalwarts like the Crown Vic, Caprice, and luxury 4 door sleds from Buick & Cadillac continued through the '90s, but the nameplates that used the G-Body all went front wheel drive after '88.
The Chevy Bow Tie emblem sitting above the trunk lock is nicely understated. Our feature Monte was built moments before the Heartbeat of America ad campaign came out (which ran from '86-'93). While I couldn't locate a commercial for this exact car I did find a vintage Motor Trend review that surprisingly extolls the high performance capabilities of the '83 SS! Never mind that a basic Honda can outperform everything but the top speed these days. *Bonus campy faux moonshiner acting really makes it a groaner to watch.
That little spoiler/wing didn't do much but it was standard with the SS. Dual exhaust was also a part of the SS option package, as was a special "race-blue" interior (according to their brochure).
Since I'm featuring a car for sale I figure I ought to include the number in case a Monte Carlo fan is looking for a clean '80s SS. Those 6x9 speakers on the back deck could only be made more period correct if there was a Bazooka tube in the trunk hooked up to an Alpine deck.
For a while in the early '80s you could get bizarre combinations in your Monte Carlo. Diesel engines were available from '78-'84 (there were only 168 diesel Montes built in that final year!). Both 3 and 4 speed manual transmissions were optional from '78-'80. The Buick turbocharged V6 was a rare option in '80 which actually became a 1 year only model in '81 called the Monte Carlo Turbo. The famous Buick Grand National was essentially a G-Body Regal with that turbo motor and it was briefly the fastest American production car available, even beating out the Corvette!
From the side this thing looks capable and mean with its aerodynamic front and rear spoilers. This body style was very effective in Nascar during the late '70s. To try and retake some checkered flags in in 1987 they introducing the Monte Carlo Aerocoupe. The main difference between the regular and the Aerocoupe was that the back window was angled from the roofline to the rear of the trunk for greater aerodynamics. It is rare today (the Pontiac version was called the 2+2 and is even rarer).
Well that's that for this G-Body ride. My very first car was an '83 Cutlass Supreme Brougham that looked just like this (except for my sweet burgundy landau roof). When I was in my teenage years and people around me were getting their licenses these were some of the most common cars around. If I had a parking space I would consider another as a daily driver. If you like to work on your car this is the last gasp for old-school technology so they're easy and simple. If you do pick one up do yourself a favor and acquire some Z Cavaricci gear so you can come correct!  

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Freak show in the Rockaways

I was making my way to the beach at Fort Tilden in the Rockaways on a brutally hot day when I happened upon a minuscule car show!
It was a motley lineup to be sure. I only snapped a few pics due to it being a humid 92+ degrees and the beach a few hundred yards away.
On the end of this brace of classics we have a 1961 Chevrolet Impala Bubble Coupe in Twilight Turquoise.
One step closer is a 1958 Ford Ranchero* done up in the sort of Kool Kustom So Cal Hot Rod pinstriping action that made Von Dutch famous. The mini whitewalls and vintage mag rims are a nice touch too.
*The El Camino is by far the most famous car/truck combo but the Ranchero actually beat it to the marketplace by 2 years. Hudson had a truck with the front of a sedan back in the late '30s-'40s but it had a separate bed unlike the integrated Ford & Chevy.
And then there's THIS!
I'm guessing this is a 1928-1931 Ford Model A Club Wagon Woody with a homemade replacement body from the cab back. In addition they mounted the headlights onto what seems to be correct fenders (the headlights would be mounted on a metal bar spanning the space between the fenders in front of the radiator). 
Now that I'm really looking at it it also seems to be widened so perhaps it's all mounted on a more modern chassis? Who knows? I like it in its weird half-finished look. The running boards are just too wide as are the rear fenders for it to be from the era of the front clip. Yes those are tiki torches mounted to the rear corners folks! Fire up some Martin Denny and bug out!
I wanted to drive this rig away with the hat I'd borrowed.
On the other side we have a 1950 Ford Tudor Bullet Nose that calls itself The Jade Grenade. I've always like the center bullet on the grills of the '49 and '50 Fords. The Tudor literally stands for two door (there was a Fordor too). For whatever reason they have rear quarter windows that make them look like 4 door sedans. The next car is much more interesting as far as I'm concerned:
This ferocious beast is a 1970 Buick Electra 225 convertible in rattle can Black. The chrome front bumper is either a primed replacement or the owner just wanted less brightness in the world.
The black front seats and chili pepper hanging from the mirror let everyone know that this ride is no longer the plaything of the gentry, but rather a rough and tumble beach cruiser hell bent on ruining reputations. I would love to fire up the mighty 455 that lies under the hood of this tank and roll through the city at night.
Well there we have it; a slapdash gathering of classics in a hot beach parking lot. Maybe if this was a blog named something like "honoring the timeless classics" (The tag line of Dennis Gage in My Classic Car) I'd feature some of those flashier paint jobs you might've noticed in the lineup. However this is NYCHoopties people so the tattered, battered, duct tape adorned, and spray painted get preferential treatment here. Hope you enjoyed this interlude, now get to the beach stat!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Lipstick on a Pig, or one of the hardest naturally occurring minerals

The more common the car the easier it is for it to go extinct before anybody notices. Think of the Passenger Pigeon being hunted to oblivion without any public outrage. Here's the final pigeon:
This is a 1992 Mercury Topaz in Cayman Blue Poly. I took these pictures because I was surprised to see one at all in 2017.
The Topaz is the twin sibling to the Ford Tempo. Both were built from 1984-1994 and picked up where the Fairmont and Zephyr left off. This is one baby step above the basic transportation of the Escort/Lynx. The full width front light bar is much like that of the larger Sable so you have to give it up for design continuity across different models.
This is a GS; the commonest Topaz. It is the mid-tier trim level with nothing remarkable about it. There were a few interesting variations including the GL-AWD which was all wheel drive, and the XR5 and LTS; both high performance versions with the former being a coupe and the latter a sedan.
This ride is similar to several smaller cars built around the same time that weren't quite as popular. The Dodge Shadow and Plymouth Sundance look very much like the Topaz even though they come from a competing company.
The Ford Taurus is widely regarded as being a watershed, game changing design. It heralded the arrival of a bulbous, rounded shape in which the windows and doors were integrated seamlessly for a slippery drag coefficient. The Tempo/Topaz line shares many of those traits and is a transitional shape from the boxes of the '80s to the bubbles of the '90s.
I was feeling a bit too exposed to really press up against the glass but suffice it to say you're not missing much. 2 things are on display in this pic that are very much of the era; stereo and cruise control buttons being located on the steering wheel, and that automatic track-mounted shoulder belt. Anyone who's experienced the shoulder belt automatically trundling back until it pinches your neck hates it. Thankfully they disappeared when airbags were deemed standard equipment, but they reigned in some regard from 1975-1987, and on all new cars from 1990-1995.
Topaz the gemstone is one of the hardest naturally occurring minerals. The Topaz has a MOHS hardness of 8!
Oh yeah this little punk has been around. I was happy to see at least a little tape repair to liven things up. Being on the passengers front corner I'm gonna go ahead and blame the driver 100% for this one. Taking a corner a bit wide or not quite noticing how close the parked cars are can do this easily.
Well there you have it; an utterly forgotten luxury version of a car that might as well be called BASIC TRANSPORTATION.
Mercury as a brand is no longer with us in 2017, which is kind of a shame. From its beginnings before WWII through the 1970s Mercury built so many amazing cars. They were always a luxury offshoot of Ford but they even managed some unique and awesome muscle cars with the Cougar and Cyclone. By the time this little Topaz was sold new Mercury was relegated to only producing cars identical to Ford but with slightly better trim. Their last big hit was the Grand Marquis but the demographic buying them grew older and died off (if that sounds harsh I assure you that their own internal research found that this is how it went down!). In the very end a gussied-up Ford Explorer called the Mountaineer was the first called to the chopping block. Within a year all other Mercury products followed suit, bringing the 72 year old nameplate to a finish in 2011.

Sunday, July 16, 2017


I was walking along ha ha hahaha never mind LOOK AT THIS VAN!
This is a 1988 Ford Econoline conversion van in what is probably Twilight Blue. It is sprinkled throughout with aftermarket doo dads like this air horns above the drivers seat.
A "HONK IF YOU'RE HORNY!" sticker is sitting on the dash because why not? You see these red windshield wiper arms and you know they mean business.
Look I know the deal; you grow up but still in the back of your mind you want a full size Hot Wheels car to drive around. No shame in that!
As this was parked facing down a hill it was hard to show just how jacked up this thing is in the rear. The front wheel is close to stock but this rear tire is absurd. Besides Big Daddy Roth style cool points  you get absolutely nothing from raising up the rear of your ride. If you had a high horsepower drag racer it might help keep the front wheels on the ground but this slab isn't pulling wheelies anytime soon. Shout-out to the mud splatters behind the wheels though!
There are so many different companies and sub contractors that carry out these conversions that I wasn't able to find out which one this is. Usually they have some goofy graphic wording on them but this one has had all identifiers removed during its enhancement. 
Aww yeah baby! Iridescent trim fills out this once boring cove along the sides.
The interior is appropriately obscured through a combination of tint and curtains.
It wasn't until I took this shot that I noticed the front and rear rims are actually the same. It looks to me like they bought those massive rear tires and had them installed, with the wheels getting a polish in the process.
That single step under the door is another example of the owner sitting around with a catalogue just looking for trinkets to spend on.
I love Ford Econoline vans from the '80s and have owned 2 myself. Here they are in order:
This is a 1989 E-150 that had been a Southern New England Telephone van before I bought it. It had the ultimate combination as far as I was concerned; a straight-6 cylinder mated to a 5 speed manual transmission. The stick shift was like 3 feet tall coming up from the floor to armrest height. I painted the stripes and the grill before moving with it to California with it. Even filled to the brim it got over 20mpg on average. I wish I had it now! Sold it to some brat for Burning Man.
 This is a 1988 Club Wagon XLT that I bought to move back from Cali with 10 years ago. This ride had a V8 and automatic with overdrive. The bigger engine drank a lot of gas and the overdrive blew before I left the state causing me to drive cross country at about 55mph max. It did have a full compliment of swivel chairs and a bench that folded into a bed in the back, as well as power windows. I liked it fine but preferred that white 6 cylinder.
On display here is a genius aftermarket addition that I wish I had on my vans; a sun, wind, and rain shield that allows for the windows to be open during all weather. The door glass goes so high up that it's impossible to crack the windows in the rain without getting soaked.
I like the top on this beast as it has a couple of skylights.
Well that's where I'll leave this slab to terrorize the tender cutlets of Park Slope.
When I moved back to NYC in the Club Wagon it was mid 2007 and gas prices started shooting through the roof. I has the most difficult time selling it even with a rebuilt engine and zero rust, finally unloading it for $850 (I paid $2,000 for it just a few months earlier). For the 6 months or so I had it I was parking on the street in the Lower East Side. If you think you have parking woes just try to parallel park a 20 foot long monster in one of the densest parts of the city! Given the space I would definitely own one of these again though as they are simple and fun to operate.