Category: Curbside Classic
In Shanghai, you can see the latest cars, and the cars of the future with no future. You also can see a tiny bit of the past.
Citroen brought two classics. Read More >
You might think I’ve been taking pictures of old cars on the streets forever. Not so, actually. I’ve been ogling them, but I always saved my film for family. Probably not completely coincidentally, I started CC about the same time our nest was emptying. But there was one single exception, and today I stumbled on it: a photo of a 1951 Mercury that lived on the street a few blocks from our house in Santa Monica. Its dark blue paint was oxidizing into a divine shade of purple, and one day in 1979 on our regular walk to the beach, I had the impulse: to immortalize this aging neighbor before it disappeared. Technically, this wasn’t really an exception, because Stephanie is in it. That part has changed, mostly. Read More >
Too many Cubside Classics shot, not enough time to write about them extensively. So we’ll call it CC Jr.: heavy on the pics, light on the text.
The great import boom of the fifties involved everything from Europe; from Abarth to Zagato. And the Big Three got in on the act too, selling their European subsidiaries’ wares. The Opel Rekord sold particularly well, and they used to be easy to find, in California, anyway. And English Fords were mainly the smaller Anglia and the later Cortinas. But here’s a rare bird, a Consul, looking very much like a scaled down ’55 Ford. Read More >
Like cars, or even more so, the quest to find fuel efficiency in RVs has come and gone with the price of fuel. In the early eighties, when gas was around $4.00 in today’s dollars, the RV business crashed and desperately looked for a radical solution. One could say that the Winnebago LeSharo was the equivalent of the 1985 Cadillac DeVille: downsized to the extreme. Winnebago desperately searched for the solution, and found it in…France. LeSharo: the LeCar of RVs. Read More >
The Canadian car market has always been dominated by US makes. But the “special relationship” has also resulted in some curious efforts to maintain a sense of unique identity, or respond to the distinctive characteristics of the market. We had our Plodges (mixed styling of the Dodge and Plymouth models), Beaumonts (sold at Pontiac dealerships with Chevrolet engines and Pontiac style trim), Meteors, Mercury trucks, Fargo trucks, etc. along with various European makes including Vauxhall. In addition to selling its models under the Vauxhall brand, GM’s British subsidiary also created the Envoy name just for Canada. The Vauxhalls where sold by Pontiac/Buick dealers, and so as not to be left out, the Chevrolet/Oldsmobile dealers recieved the Envoy badged versions, like this Epic. Read More >
Our cavalcade of vintage Lincolns draws to a close (whew!) and the Lincoln file is exhausted, save for the finale. We’ve obviously plumbed the depths of Lincoln’s long decline, probably best typified by the Versailles. But hope was in the air, thanks to the remarkable Fox-body platform. The best example was the rather remarkable Mark VII coupe, which I didn’t do justice here yesterday, thanks to a sudden onset of late-afternoon chronic Lincoln-fatigue syndrome. My apologies. But even before the Mark VII arrived in 1984, there was a glimmer of hope already, in the Fox-bodied Continental sedan of 1982. One just had to squint (quite) a bit to see it. Read More >
Thirty-two years is a long time. That’s how many years the Panther chassis-based Town Car will have been made when the last on rolls off the line in 2011. And to what can we credit this remarkable longevity? Brilliant engineering; or insightful marketing strategy? How about a big helping of GM’s boneheadedness mixed in with equal dashes of Ford cheapness and stubbornness. Sometimes you just get handed things handed to you on a platter. Although in the case of the Panther TC, it took a couple of years of anxiety before Ford realized what had been given them: the keys to the last traditional American car. Read More >
Here it is, the last of the species autosaurus giganticus. Never again would beasts of this size roam our freeways and driveways with their EPA stickers (10/12) still freshly removed. It was the end of an era; the giant American land cruiser became extinct when the last 1979 Town Car rolled off the lines. And that last roll took a while: two hundred thirty three and seven-tenths inches of steel, chrome, vinyl and deeply tufted leather. No less than the visionary Buckminster Fuller, inventor of the geodesic dome and the very un-Town Car like Dymaxion Car lamented (and lambasted) the passing of the last big Lincoln. Given that he was all of 5’2″ tall, that seems a bit odd. But really big cars were such a part of the American psyche, that when they were gone, it left a gaping hole. You don’t miss your water ’till the well runs dry. Read More >
While I prepare the next full chapter of Lincoln’s (mostly downhill) roller-coaster ride, here’s a couple of shots of a 1968 Continental sedan. To my eye, the degradation of the original’s purity is now under way, although these ’66-’69 models still carry manage to convey a sense of dignity and exclusivity. That would change, all too soon. Read More >
The Greyhound Scenicruiser was iconic, and set off a rash of imitators world-wide. Based on a design of Raymond Loewy supposedly inspired on an earlier patent by Roland E. Gegoux, it was hailed as a stylistic and practical breakthrough. But it was anything but new or original, as this 1937 Kenworth bus illustrates quite well. It was used in the north west for a number of years. But was it original? Is anything? Read More >
You try finding an intact gen1 Eclipse; it took me months. And forget about it being a Turbo; they’ve all been riced, diced, sliced and mashed into oblivion. Was there ever more of a young guy car than this? I’ll go out on a limb and say that the turbo AWD version of this and its Plymouth Laser and Eagle Talon DSM clones were the closest thing there was to a four-wheeler crotch rocket in their day. It may be a bit on the young side for Curbside Classics, but I figured I’d better grab this Eclipse now, because it may well be the last in town, and its driver is a young guy. High testosterone levels lead to drives of several types, but not generally the one that pertains to preservation. The Eclipse is the victim of its intended demographic. Read More >
My stash of old car magazines fell off the shelf in the craziness of re-arranging my office. It’s not very large, but time always stops when I open a C/D from 1963, 1967 or 1971. In just a few minutes, I encountered dozens of cars I’d like to find for CC. Some of them I’m sure I will eventually; others not too likely. A Glas 1700 GT? I had zero memory of that being imported to the US, and I tend to not forget obscurities like that. Here’s a few quick ones; if you like, we’ll do it again sometime. Read More >
I’ve given it some thought over the years, and there’s only one truck that I’ve seriously considered as a replacement for my F-100, and this is it. In fact, it’s almost a perfect update on the Ford, with the benefits of modern technology. Don’t laugh, but I’ll take mine with the 2.7 liter four cylinder. It’s got more horsepower (150) than the Ford (129), and a pretty healthy dose of torque. It’s not like I’m planning on pulling 10,000 pound trailers down the road. Oh wait; I actually have done that with the Ford… Read More >