By on April 11, 2010

Why do I love old cars? And Eugene? There’s nothing better to answer that question than a week spent away from them both of them. Visiting parents and family in Towson, MD, I didn’t see a single worthy Curbside Classic, except the tail ends of a couple of interesting cars safely tucked into the colonial-style brick garages that perfectly match the house, or the one next door, or every house in the neighborhood, since they’re all essentially alike  sitting shoulder-to shoulder in a green sea of identically planted and perfectly groomed lawns, with all the dogwoods in bloom, and the predictable silver or beige Camry in the driveway. The typical Eugene streetscape above is truly a sight for my sore eyes (can you identify the vehicle in the driveway?). Without judging, to each their own. And I’ve found mine.

Thanks to an endless round of visiting, perusing old family pictures, hikes, a brief overnight to NYC, and finally a dead hard drive in the lap-top, the immersion was complete, as was the cutting of the TTAC umbilical cord. Just as well, as it will quite likely be the last time we all gather with my parents under their roof. It was a time to rediscover one’s roots, with stories going back numerous generations.

There was the one about my great grand uncle Fritz, who hid a saw in his coat when he had to serve detention at school, and cut off all the legs of the classroom benches and tables. Or the obvious disappointment my grandfather felt about my father being a skinny little nerd instead of a swashbuckling über-male like himself, with big scars on his face from the fencing duels he reveled in. Most families have their dysfunctionalities, and without dwelling on ours here, it’s probably pretty obvious to me that my intense passion with cars from my first days was a way to form alternative bonds. Or am I over analyzing?

We can’t choose our family, but we can choose where we live, and our friends and cars we surround ourselves with. I need to live in a place where old cars are abundant, and not hidden away from sight. Because they are my friends too; just as they were when I was a toddler on the streets of Innsbruck. I miss them sorely when I’m away from them, and can’t imagine living in a place devoid of their presence.  Maybe it’s social dysfunctionality, or maybe not, because where there are old cars on the street, there are usually interesting folks nearby too, not hidden out of sight.

A week separated from Curbside Classics and TTAC has both renewed family bonds as well as my passion for my work here. I’ve never been happier in my life, as Stephanie will attest. To be able to share my finds and old friends with you, my TTAC friends, as well as to write and talk about the current happenings in the car world is incredibly fulfilling, and a dream come true. I’m brimming with ideas for articles; the challenges is to find the time for them all. And thanks to Bertel Schmitt for helping to pick up the slack in my (and Edward’s) absence. Aren’t there any old The East Glows sitting on the curbs in Beijing, Bertel?

Enough emoting. I’ve got a full week’s worth of Curbside Classics and other articles to get started on. And as long as I find old cars of interest and random scenes like this man painting a van with a brush, with his bicycle laying at his side, I will be inspired and motivated (don’t ask why). I know Eugene isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and I’m more than ok with that ( I wouldn’t want it to get crowded here). But I’m hoping that the glaring absence of any Towson Edition Curbside Classics makes Eugene a bit more palatable for those of you.

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31 Comments on “Curbside Classic Outtakes: There’s No Place Like Home Edition...”

  • avatar

    Just last night I was watching Lethal Weapon. Danny Glover’s character drives a Ford LTD station wagon, almost identical to the one in the first picture, out to the desert, where it eventually is shot up. It made me sad to see such a cool old car get destroyed. I’ve always thought those big Ford station wagons, with the hidden headlamps, are neat.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m with you on that! My dad had a 73 Mercury Marquis Colony Park wagon, neat ride. With a 600-700hp 460,an overdrive trans, and some suspender work, a guy could have one heck of a sleeper….with the A/C on…

  • avatar

    Jensen-Healey Shooting Brake??

    • 0 avatar

      IIRC, they were just called a GT. (Though, obviously, they were probably referred to as SBs in the UK…)

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, yes it is, with a pretty nice looking TR-4 behind it. That’s when you know you have the sickness – a casual glance tells you “I know what that is!”

      The only up side for me is that I only get that feeling with European cars – not having spent most of my youth in the USA, despite being an American by birth, all those slabs of Detroit Iron fail to turn my crank.

    • 0 avatar

      Definite request for a fast tracked CC on that Jensen. Will happily tolerate the TR-4A, too.

      Secondary request on the art car Subaru Loyale.

    • 0 avatar
      Uncle Mellow

      That is a rare bird , most were roadsters.

    • 0 avatar

      “Definite request for a fast tracked CC on that Jensen. Will happily tolerate the TR-4A, too.”

      The red car is a TR4 not a TR4A.

  • avatar

    The car in the driveway wouldn’t be a Peugeot 504, would it?

    There aren’t a bunch of old cars where I live outside of car shows, but on I-80 on the way to Iowa City yesterday, I saw a ‘56 Studebaker Golden Hawk, and about 20 minutes later, a ‘68 Mustang GT or GTA fastback, in the Illinois-bound lanes.

  • avatar

    In the words of former Oregon Governor Tom McCall “We want you to visit our State of Excitement often. Come again and again. But for heaven’s sake, don’t move here to live. Or if you do have to move in to live, don’t tell any of your neighbors where you are going.”

    Mr. N., I love reading your waxings about Eugene, having spent a great deal of time visiting there during my youth. But… shhhh!

    • 0 avatar

      And damn do Oregonians hate Californians…

      I remember the cultural hostility when California Pizza Kitchen opened it’s first unit in Portland. (Which it eventually closed.)

  • avatar

    Well, I love Eugene for the same reasons you do, even though I’ve barely ever been there, and TTAC is my primary exposure to the place. (I think I landed there by plane in ’84, and then took a bus trip straight to the coast, from whence I road south to SF.) And Towson, well, Maryland is not exactly Mecca for old cars, so I’m not surprised you saw nothing, nor does most of the state hold any attraction for me, except for Mt. Rainier, right outside of DC. I saw only one classic there in late Feb, my first stop there since I left the DC area in ’99, and Mt. Rainier certainly was a Mecca for old cars in the ’90s. It still has that Eugene funkiness, including an absolutely wonderful food coop called the Glut.

    What is the little wagon behind the two ’70s Fords? It looks a bit like a squareback, but not quite.

    @tklockau — I do’nt see any Peugeots anywhere in any of the above photos.

    I really love the paint job on that Loyale.

    • 0 avatar

      David – it’s on the far left of the picture-looks like someone turned it into a panel truck/El Camino hybrid. All you can see is the rear quarter panel. It’s really modified, so I’m not positive. It could be a mid-70’s Datsun or Mazda too.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    The one in the back looked like a converted 240 wagon from the late-70’s / early 80’s.

    As always, I love what you write. Here’s wishing a kindred soul the very best.

  • avatar

    Locally advertised DeTomaso Pantera for sale. The critter with the 351 Cleveland Ford engine.

    Supposed to be all original and running properly.

    I saw it in front of a local business a couple times but did not have time to stop and peruse.

    $41,000 asking price and been in the newspaper for three weeks, at least.

    This is not an area to obtain top dollar due to few folks making much more than a minimalistic wage.

    Still sends a warm fuzzy feeling through the carcass to view the critter while passing by.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    my guess is that you have the perfect old car climate. No snow so there is no salt, and no sunshine so there is no sun damage. It is probably very good for your complexion as well

    • 0 avatar
      H Man

      I thought all the TTAC “you never see any old Toyota/Honda/Datsuns here due to rust” was just myth til I temporarily relocated to Colorado. It’s like night and day. I was almost drooling at an 80 or so Corolla in good nick I saw on a walk earlier today. The few vintage Japanese cars you do find in the area are mostly rusted quite badly. So you are correct, Oregon is a haven for old iron.

      And dangit, Paul, you’re making me homesick! I knew you’d use those beasts on 5th Street sooner or later.

  • avatar

    “Or am I over analyzing?”

    For God’s sake, you’re Austrian, you can’t help yourself!

    (and I, for one, am very glad for this…)

  • avatar

    The Country Squire is almost exactly like my first car, a ’78, except that mine was pale blue. This one is missing the hood ornament (some asshole broke mine off one day) and some of the fake wood trim. The headlight covers were vacuum-operated and the lines leaked, so unless the car was running or had just been shut off the covers would retract.

    Great first car. Big, slow, ugly, old, and loud. 10mpg with a tailwind, but gas was cheap. It was a car that was pointed more than it was steered. Rear bumper covered with stickers picked up over years of family vacations. My high school girlfriend refused to ride in it. It finally threw a rod somewhere north of 230,000 miles.

  • avatar

    As a former regional airline Captain, I’ve done many an overnight in Eugene and Medford. I personally preferred Eugene. Our crew always stayed at the Red Lion next to a large grocery store (forgot the name) that had a great grill, salad bar, and bakery inside. The Red Lion was not far from the river walk trail. I used to spend lots of time jogging and walking that trail. The wet lush greenery sometimes reminded me of…well, wet lush greenery. The overnights in Eugene were certainly better than in Wichita, KS. And it was fun knowing that Animal House was filmed in Eugene.

  • avatar


    It’s conceivable that thing is a Peugeot 403, but I doubt it. It’s definitely not any other Peugeot.

  • avatar

    “I miss them sorely when I’m away from them, and can’t imagine living in a place devoid of their presence. Maybe it’s social dysfunctionality, or maybe not, because where there are old cars on the street, there are usually interesting folks nearby, not hidden out of sight.”

    Oooh spooky…

    I hate to say it (or actually write it), but I thought I was the only person who felt that way. I would be so bored if I weren’t involved in the life…

    BTW, the Eugene CVB should hire you. Or, you could have a second career. Get a double decker bus and do neighborhood old car tours…

  • avatar
    SOF in training

    All right, I’ll go out on a limb on this one… but is I’m correct, it should have a curbside classic of its’ own. A 1971 mazda 616? Wait a minute… did the RX2 come in a 4 door? I only remember the 2 door, which is why the 616 guess.

    • 0 avatar

      RX2 most definitely was offered as a 4-door sedan. I had one for several years in the early 80s.

    • 0 avatar

      Fuel filler is the right shape and in the right place. Door shutline is in the right place. Marker light cutout is in the right place. And the slight downward curve of the fender is right. I think you may have nailed it.

      Cummon Paul. What’s the scoop?

    • 0 avatar
      SOF in training

      All right, I’m stumped. The side light is not in the right place for the RX2 – too low, it doesn’t look like the fuel filler door has a lock, and the wheel arch doesn’t look rounded enough. The tire looks big like a 78size ‘merican, and the back end is high enough off the ground to have a cat sitting under it. I just can’t come up with an American car that fits.

      So, I don’t think it is an RX2-616, but I can’t come up with a better guess.

  • avatar

    What a great article. To paraphrase: the more I know people the better I like my cars… You’re not alone out there Mr. N. There’s nothing like old cars or the people who love them.

    That 67 Mercury 2 door hardtop has got to be the most beautiful car Mercury made during that era,aside from the Cougar. The styling is just right, the tail lights are perfect [albeit slightly 64 Pontiac Bonneville like]and of course that front with the Lincoln like power bulge in the center really helped the car maintain it’s link to a more expensive class of vehicle rather than a common Ford.

    It’s what happened when Ford spent the money and took the time…

    BTW: that Mercury is wearing an Earl Scheib paint job. The 66 Mercury Caliente I had was re-painted the same shade. That year’s shade of green/gold was more gold than green.And the fading is the same as well.

  • avatar

    That Jensen GT is a rare find indeed – only five hundred some of those ever made.

  • avatar

    Is it a Borgwarg (Borgward?) -amino? It has the shape of one of those old German bizarro cars (DKW or 3wheeled BMW,anyone?), but I cannot remember if the coupes had a fender that long. When I was a lad, our trips to relatives in Canada allowed me to see many unusual cars that weren’t common here- even before DOT or NHTSA. Hell, they sold Lada’s new until about 1988- there was a dealership on Edmonton Trail in Calgary that I passed every day on my commute. When I was up at Christmas, I actually saw an operational Renault Dauphine driving in near zero (Fahrenheit) weather.

  • avatar

    We just drove through Eugene twice on our way to and from Canada on our vacation. Having read so many TTAC columns about the place, when coming back I had to get off the freeway to see Eugene/Springfield in real life.

    It was just a quick glimpse. But it is an interesting place. Now I’ll enjoy future columns even more.

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