Since the 1946 Continental was missing its eponymous spare tire, I meant to add this shot as evidence that the Conti’s influence is not yet finished (will it ever?). This may be a familiar sight in some parts of the country, but finding this in Eugene?? Either someone took the wrong exit and kept going for a very long time, or someone inherited grandpa’s car and couldn’t resist shocking/amusing the drab Toyota-driving locals. This gets my nomination for the most un-Eugene car to date. Oh wait…I have another contender for that crown somewhere:
I feel like I’ve become the godfather to hundreds of old cars around town, so when one or more disappears from its usual spot, I usually suspect the worst. And for the second time, I’ve actually witnessed the event, and this time documented it. This Regal Coupe has been a faithful resident near our house, but the other day we stumbled on this sad event. From the long faces of the owner and his fellow mourner, it looks serious. And I have not seen it return since. But fear not; I had already shot it long ago, and it will (re)appear on these pages post-mortem in full CC glory. The other two victims will not:
Plenty of ’69 – ’69 Mustangs around, but the seventies’ B-Body Mopars are might scarce, except for the restored garage queen Chargers and the like. This Plymouth wagon particularly caught my eye, because it’s the closest thing I’ve seen to ’73 Coronet wagon that replaced my mother’s ’65 Coronet.
It’s a slow news Friday, and I have way too many of these random street scenes, so let’s keep busy for a while identifying and praising these old timers. We’ll start with a real easy one I just shot a few hours ago, and increase the challenge factor. And BTW, one or more of these cars is a future CC, so fear not if you feel it’s getting short shrift today.
Since today’s theme is the rapidly shrinking offering of genuine off-roaders available in the land of the free, here’s one that’s not on the list. That didn’t keep this owner from getting it registered in Oregon, along with several other “illegal aliens” I’ve nabbed so far.
OK, I know there are a lot of American car lovers all over Europe, and finding a Mustang and Corvette is not that big a deal. But seeing American cars out of context never fails to make an impression on me, as it did when I was a kid in Austria: they just look out of place here. This early Corvette looked like it was a 12/10 version, fighting to make progress through a sea of little hatchbacks. I could see the driver sawing at the big wheel, and the burble of the V8 would makes this a ’55. A handsome beast among the natives, and a refreshing change. Unlike the other one:
I may eventually get around to writing up my epistle from the Paris Auto Show, but then it was incidental to our (first) vacation to the City of Lights. It’s a bit challenging to think of staying inside writing in the midst of this endlessly stimulating, charming and superbly beautiful city. We rented a 6th floor apartment (no elevator) in one of the most colorful old neighborhoods on the Left Bank, St. Germain de Pres. Many of the streets, like ours, is closed to cars. And when there are cars, they’re inevitably small. Suddenly, the Smart seems brilliant. It’s not uncommon to see five or more of them on any given block. And all of them have dings and tears on the their “fender” corners, thanks to the “parking by feel”. They should just put bumper-car bumpers on them all. BTW, that’s a Ligier micro-car in front of the Smart.
Last minute shopping before a trip; where do I head? Walmart, of course, because of the Curbside Classics in the parking lot. No time for a full-on Walmart Concours today, but I do need a cart. Oh here’s a nice one that should do the job. And there’s another…
EAW is either just a ploy for me to burn off some of my overflowing files of obscure cars I’ve shot, or to document the history of this storied vehicle. The gen2 Econolines don’t exactly get a lot of interest, and they’re rapidly disappearing from the street scape. There’s two places to find them still: in the parks, and on certain streets in industrial areas. They’ve become prime real estate for the wandering underclass. Everybody needs at least an Econoline to call “home”.
Some folks around here seem to think that I’m just not getting into the Panther spirit this week. I’m trying, honestly! Well, there just aren’t very many here, except for what the cops drive. And I’m not going take pictures of them; our police is quite Taser trigger-happy. This is just not Panther country, but then that’s pretty much the case for the whole West Coast. Panthers tend to have a certain regional appeal, as well as political. But I did snag one yesterday, and a Family Truckster, no less.
I’m a team player, and I can get into the spirit of Panther Appreciation Week, even if it’s not the result of deep-rooted father imprinting (can we have an Opel Kadett Appreciation Week sometime?). That is, with the right Panther. And there is one that did manage to stir my blood in its time:
The Mitsubishi Vanup turned out out to be surprisingly popular: Fark picked it up and gave our servers a bit of a workout. Well, we have more where that came from. Here’s a very well executed domestic version on the same theme, right down to the “Chevy Vanup” tailgate logo and VANUP vanity plates. But unless the owners (UO students) do something about it quick, this thing is headed for the impound yard. And how will it be described by the police?
We spent Labor Day doing what we like best: driving into the mountains and hiking to a remote lake. The wild huckleberries and blueberries at Vivian Lake were ripe, and there was a hint of fall in the crisp dry air and brilliant blue sky. And on the way back, we made the obligatory refreshment stop in Oakridge. For years, that was at the DQ, right on Hwy. 58. Now that the kids are gone and our tastes have changed, we meander into the mostly boarded-up downtown to the recently-opened Brewer’s Union Local 180, for authentic English-style beer from their own casks and excellent food. And of course, the Curbside Classics that line the side streets.
The reason there was no Curbside Classic last Tuesday was this: our camping trip to the coast was unexpectedly extended. We take our ’77 Dodge Chinook on deserted US Forest Service roads, and find hidden camping spots miles away from the nearest person, camp ground, and cell phone coverage. Depending on the mood, we can enjoy the dead quiet, or play the Dead as loud as we like. There is a certain risk to these back road jaunts, and I always calculate how many miles I would have to walk in case Old Faithful died unexpectedly. Folks perish regularly on these back roads, mainly in the winter. On Tuesday morning, having spent a serene night at the Cummins Creek trailhead, the “Hamtramck Hummingbird” starter sang and sang, but there wasn’t even the faintest sign of an explosion. Had be an ignition problem; the 360 always starts instantly, even if it doesn’t always keep running on a cool morning. Fortunately, this time we were a short jaunt from the highway. “I’ll just hitch hike to Florence, pick up an electronic ignition module, and be back in a jiffy”. My wife said “call a tow truck”. You already know who was right.
Well, the Canadians might not be too big on hybrids, but (surprise, surprise) Eugene has embraced them fully. But when I first ran across this sign, even I was a wee bit surprised. What’s next? Hybrid Massage? Hybrid Organic Market? or will it jump to Plug-In Acupuncture? To get a better picture of what I mean, take the (full) hybrid jump:
As we were walking home through the Lane Events Center parking lot, where a Tattoo Convention was in high gear, I noticed the 1970 Caddy in the distance, and as soon as I saw the big dubs, I kept walking. They generally just don’t do it for me. But then I thought, what the hell, it might mike a good Outtake. And as I walked around the other side of it and raised my camera, I realized I’d stumbled into another two-fer. With matching dubs, no less.
There was a time when Cadillacs were all really big, way bigger than a Chevy Malibu. But in the mid eighties, the natural order of things was turned upside down, with predictable results. Oh, and do you remember when a Civic was just a speck compared to a Caddy?
Nothing very out of the ordinary here, except sometimes the ordinary is somehow actually noticed, like when all the cars are about the same vintage. In 1992, all of these could have been bought new, except the CRX, which was just one year past being replaced by the del Sol. Close enough. The other direction follows:
Did this old Mack ever bring a smile to my face when it pulled up next to me in traffic at a light. Macks of this vintage were my favorite trucks during my east coast years, as they predominated the truckscape back in the day. This B77 has the bigger radiator. The more common and classic B61 had the more delicate curved radiator that would have looked right at home on a classic car (see below). But my smile got even bigger when the light changed to green and he took of in his utterly un-muffled, un-sanitized hard working Mack, belching the kind of black cloud that used to be ubiquitous in the good old days. Did you know Mack trucks could shoot flames too?
Since one of the the themes today seems to be around old Ford trucks, with a minor in Communism, I present to you the living proof that Ford and Lenin did meet.
If politics is not your thing this beautiful Sunday morning, then maybe a more random curbside shot is:
True confession: I finally got stumped. It went by in front of me at the intersection, and I wasn’t really paying attention. A big bland boxy SUV; my subconscious identifying mechanism probably categorized it as a gen 2 Trooper. But then it rejected that, and sent a message back saying that impression didn’t fit with the memory banks, and I should wake up and notice what just drove by. Upon doing that, my only response was “that doesn’t belong here”. Well, it does, but it didn’t just then, in the momentary blank spot I was drawing. How about you?
Enough of VW hippie buses and the counterculture. What we need is an antidote, the polar opposite of the VW bus: genuine Detroit iron, slathered with some less genuine vinyl applique. A Buick Roadmaster wagon, an All-American icon, will do the job nicely. These aren’t exactly common in Eugene, but one of our more prominent citizens drove one of these before he died; in fact this might be his very car. And who might I be referring to?
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.
Since we’re hanging out in the seventies with Ford, I remembered this truck I shot a couple of weeks ago. It sports the Free Wheelin’ decor package, that was quite the hot item in 1978. The splashy graphics made their way across a whole palette of Fords. It’s been quite awhile since I saw one. You? Hey, let’s go free wheelin’…
I always have an eye out for two-fers, especially when they share such a close range of age and manufacturer. We’ll do both of these significant cars justice in future Curbside Classics, so consider this a preview of coming attractions. Oh, but its not just the late eighties on this side of the street!
In our Mitsubishi Eclipse gen1 CC, it was noted that few have survived a certain process of modifications that I have now dubbed being “Eclipsed-Out”. This gen2 example seems well on the way, but it certainly hasn’t arrived at its end-state yet. Interestingly, I have found several more stock gen 1 Eclipses, but hardly an stock gen2s.
Creativity means to explore new avenues of expression. In the thirties, forties and fifties, old cars were the clay that inspired new forms of creativity for the hot rodders and customizers. By its nature, creative expression was always changing, and 1953’s hot ticket was stale bread by 1958. The sixties were the blowout, led by crazies like Ed Roth. But by the seventies or so, the truly creative period was over, and it soon became a big-bucks business dominated by the Chip Fooses of the world. Glitzy eye candy, but don’t try this at home kiddies! No wonder there was a revival of rat rods, and the art car scene blossomed. Younger and/or artistic folks have always needed to test the sensibilities of the establishment, so if the goading words on this bumper have done their thing, and this turns you off, it’s been a roaring success.
In another of repeated examples of stumbling on a variation of the same car twice in an outing, this Ram Van (later called Caravan C/V) was shot about thirty minutes before today’s featured CC. Caravan C/Vs were never that popular, probably because Chrysler preferred to build more profitable loaded passenger versions. Or was there another reason? After all, this is the Transit Connect of another era.
Despite being pretty rare nowadays, I can’t quite summon the inspiration to pound out a proper CC for this 1978 Datsun 310GX (Cherry/Pulsar). Seeing as it appeared three years after the first Golf, the general resemblance is not coincidental, especially the front grill, a virtual dead ringer. It has some historical significance, since it marked the light at the end of Nissan’s tunnel of bizarre styling. This 310 replaced the F-10, which we titled as “The Ugliest Car Ever?” Although this hatchback looked fairly conventional, the coupe still had vestiges of F-10 ness in its rear quarters.
All right, I have a thing about short cars. I haven’t spoken to a therapist about it yet. Perhaps its just a reaction against the obesity crisis in modern cars and trucks. But where did they all go? There were once so many of them. Well, I’m going to collect all of them: Have the Suzuki Samurai, X-90 and the shorty Kia Sportage. That leaves as few to still find:
All the recent photo-shops and today’s shortened Vista-Coupe made me think of the car that most looks like it can’t have been designed to be the way it actually came out. The longer you stare at the Suzuki X-90, the more bizarre and surreal it becomes. It looks like what Micky and Minny Mouse would drive now days. Well, I’m mighty thankful for the little Suzuki’s existence, because it certainly breaks the monotonous waves of hand-me-down Camrys and Accords parked near the campus. Anyway, I have a thing for eccentric and short cars.
The gen 1 Infiniti Q45 (G50) deserves a full-on CC. But when I stumbled unto these two together in CA over the holidays, I realized how incredibly rare the gen2 Q45 (FY33) is. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in Eugene. Well, it was a sales bomb, and from an enthusiast’s point of view, a well deserved one. The original Q45 (’90-’96) was such a remarkable beast, one of the best things to ever come along in its era. It had a killer motor, rated conservatively at 278 hp, which put the big German sedans to shame at the time. It had a fast steering ratio, and its suspension tuning was all about the right stuff. But except for the (limited) enthusiast crowd, it never broke through in sales like it Lexus LS 400 competitor. And then it went downhill.
[Eugene culture alert] It’s sunny and warm outside (and Saturday) , so I’m going to have to skip a long-winded essay on the joys and artistry of this beautiful 1970 Montego. Instead, you can just enjoy this color-coordinated Montego montage, and hopefully fill in some of the blanks. Let’s just say its not every day one finds one of these, especially in the front yard of an artist’s house. It’s his contribution to the colorful streetscape of Eugene, and now you can enjoy it too. I sure did. perhaps I should start a monthly Eugene art-car walk.
In today’s 1962 Corvette CC, I made reference to the racing successes the Corvette had, beginning in 1957. I have vivid memories of reading about Dr. Dick Thompson and his successes with his ’57 fuelie that had more than a hint of factory behind-the-scenes support (this was during GM’s racing ban years). A number of special options turned the Corvette into a credible competitor, such as the sintered metallic brake linings and heavy duty springs and shocks. A quick pit stop at one of my favorite “refueling stations” blog.hemmings turns up this exquisitely restored vintage racer, fully documented from that era.
This CC Outtake is not about the Valiant per se; I’ve got the ultimate A-Body in the works for that (and we did a Duster 340 already), and it’s coming soon too. This is about what cars are worthy to be considered a Valiant successor. From the looks of this photo, this household thinks highly of the Mazda 626 to supplant the now rarely-used Plymouth. Well, they’re in good company; the 626 cultivated a rep for reliability, right from the beginning. In the eighties and nineties it was held in particularly high regard in Germany, and was the best selling Japanese car for a few years there, in part to its excellent showing in the ADAC Pannenstatistik. It was at the top of that list in 1994 and 1995.
These are not the kind of cars that normally get me to pull over and shoot, but something about them called to me. I came up with three reasons to justify their occupying memory space in my camera. One: their sloping roofs, clean noses and high tails suggest excellent aerodynamics. Sure enough, with a Cd of .33 for the Monte Carlo and a .30 for the Intrepid, they’re definitely on the slippery side of average.
This Legacy wagon is ready for snow (how do they do that?), if only there were any, here or in Vancouver. While the East is inundated, we’ve had the warmest January on record, and Stephanie is out planting in the garden. But its good to be ready, even for the unexpected:
No, there’s no Mark III, V or VI to be found here, at least for now. Just as well. But I’ve been sitting on this Mark VII for almost a year, from the looks of the daffodils blooming (and they are, hereabouts). But the Mark VII was a different animal altogether. Quite the radical break, but then Ford had more than hit the end of the road with the ugly, boxy wallowing stuff they’d been pushing out the door for decades. Their near-brush with bankruptcy in 1980 resulted in a whole new regime and approach: headed by the pragmatic but car enthusiast Donald Petersen. But development money was tight, so the Town Car became immortal. But a relatively low-budget solution to the dead-end Mark VI was handy in the form of the new aero-Thunderbird.
We can get ourselves in a tizzy about the defects and quality issues in new cars, but it’s sometimes good to have a little perspective. How would like to try to keep this Maserati Quattroporte stretch limo running? No e-pedals on this baby, but look at that bank of Webers to keep tuned and synchronized.
“Pedalgate” has kept me a bit busy, at the expense of Curbside Classics. But that and the “ lawyergate” story kept our servers running as hot as the flames on this Cutlass, and we smashed TTAC’s recent page view record yesterday, with 114k page views. And the NY Times is using our pictures of pedal guts. Well, I’m getting a little tired of looking at pedal insides; how about a whole, (or almost whole) car? And to keep on the theme, how about one that broke records as well as jumps, literally.
Now here’s a well-preserved flash from the past. VW kits of every possible permutation were the rage in the seventies and into the eighties. The Beetle’s construction lent itself superbly to the task. A few bolts released the body from the platform, which could also be quite easily cut and shortened. The resulting short bed pickup variation makes the perfect little hauler, like this one. Ride and handling? Don’t ask. Although this profile shows off its best side, there’s a bonus or two or even three in the other shots:
In Eugene, you learn to expect the unexpected; anywhere, any time. Like this bicycle-RV, for instance: no biggie. We have lots of pedal-powered delivery bikes and trikes in town, including rural organic farmers who pedal their produce into town regularly on trikes like this. And they’re even made here in a small factory in Eugene, so that they can be delivered by pedal-power to their pedaling buyers. OK; this RV is different, and it really is kind of big for a bike; 800 lbs, to be precise. And it’s grown over time; I saw it a year or so ago, before it sprouted the rear upper-level addition. And the owner actually takes this on the road, having recently made the trip back from an extended visit to Portland (110 miles away). I tried to get more information from him about details, and the solar-assisted electric motor, but I forgot one important thing:
It’s time to use up some of the leftover shots from the recent trip to the Bay Area (not that I’m running low; no worries). I admit that the ’68 Chevy truck caught my attention first, although I have several of that vintage and they’ll be coming soon to TTAT. But then I noticed the white coupe hiding behind the truck wasn’t just any old boring Beretta, but a pretty hot little piece…
At TTAC we take the “fair and balanced” slogan seriously; just not necessarily in any given post. I do tend to go a bit off the deep end, especially after a long week. We’ve had three small cars and one big one this week; the Camaro is in a special category of its own. So we need some serious counterbalancing at the last minute, lest we offend some of our more “big iron” oriented readers (it seems like I’ve managed to offend pretty much every camp this week). Folks; CC is meant (hopefully) to have a modicum of entertainment value, so don’t take anything I say too seriously, ever. Here’s my peace offering: an ex-military machine with a cryptic symbol on the door. Does anyone know what it stands for? Are chicks attracted to it?
I’ve just returned from one of the most fruitful CC hunting trips ever; nabbed some awesome vintage finds. But I’m always scanning the road for anything of interest, increasing the likelihood that I’ll eventually rear-end someone. Would anyone else find interest in these three cars parked by the U of O? But repeated patterns like this somehow grab me: same maker, similar vintage, all of them spoiled. Am I losing it? My wife wants to know, because she has her doubts.
If the stereotypical driver of a red Grand Am is a blond beautician who lives in a trailer with an unemployed boyfriend sporting a mullet, what is the stereotypical profession of the drivers of Sunfire and Cavalier coupes? Hint: what’s that behind the fence?
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- ToolGuy Real Subarus are green and coated with dust from at least three different National Parks (Gateway Arch doesn't count).
- ToolGuy Good for them.(And their customers. $2500 first-year subscription on top of the system cost? That ain't me)
- ToolGuy T E L L U R I D E is not on this list(I can keep my poster on the wall)
- ToolGuy My impression is that Honda has been coasting on its reputation for awhile now.(To Honda's credit, they aren't standing on the Self Destruct button like Toyota seems to be)
- Fred I owned a 2001 MR2 for 15 years nothing ever went wrong with the vehicle. It was always exciting to drive most people thought it was a boxster. The only negative was storage and legroom considering I'm a little over 6:4 the only reason it was sold was as a second car and a grandchild on the way we needed something more practical.