This week’s Silversides Bus and Tempest CCs were high on my wish list, and finding them motivated me to put in some serious overtime. So today I need a breather, say an urban hike from our house to Skinner Butte, the geographic focal point of Eugene. Now some of you have asked if you could join me sometime on a CC hunt in Eugene; of course you all have a standing invitation; just show up. In the meantime you can join me on a virtual tour/hunt of the Skinner Butte District. I’ll just point out the highlights of the neighborhood, and you just give a shout out when you see something that interests you.
Ever wonder where Eugenians get all those wonderful Curbside Classics I bring to you three times a week? After almost two years, it’s finally time to reveal the secret: the St. Vincent dePaul (a mere coincidence) Car Donation Sales Lot. Admittedly, the front row here facing Hwy 99 doesn’t sport a lot of heavy Curbside appeal, but those in the know quickly work their way to the side and back lot, where the really fine sixties, seventies and early eighties vintage iron is held for the true connoisseurs. This is where no less than TTAC’s Editor-In-Chief bought his first car, and returned it here in considerably worse shape a couple of years later. Recycling at its best. It might still be in the back lot where it sat for years; let’s go look.
Dodge trucks have gotten short-shrift around here. They do tend to kind of disappear in the background, especially this generation, even thought they were built almost forever. But this one caught my attention, given the love and effort that went into this home-built “gypsy-wagon” camper on back. Let’s take a closer look.
Welcome to Havana, Oregon. Back in the eighties, living in tony Los Gatos, I used to gaze longingly at photos of old American cars and trucks still hard at work in Cuba. But within days of moving to Eugene in 1993, I came across this very truck, hauling its daily cargo of recycled cardboard. And it planted a seed in me, to document the old vehicles still earning their keep, which finally came to fruition with Curbside Classics. Although we’ve strayed from the strict interpretation of that mission a few times along the way, no other vehicle more perfectly embodies the original ethos than this 1956 F-350.
Welcome to Eugene. Feel free to stay on the bus, either literally or metaphorically. If it’s the former, no hard feelings; Eugene is not for everyone, and we’ll be back in fifteen minutes or so. But if you’re “On The Bus”, then let’s step out here in the center of downtown, also known as Kesey Square. There is the statue of Ken Kesey, Eugene’s hometown cultural and literary hero, reading from his most famous book “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”. And what’s that across the street? How serendipitous indeed: a vintage VW bus, the official transporter of Eugene.
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.
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.
There’s a powerful sense of urgency in getting this Curbside Classic written. It’s to document the remarkable horde of old Mercedes W123 diesels hereabouts, most of them proudly sporting a biodiesel sticker. But the biodiesel fad was already waning substantially when I shot this car a year ago. And since the $1/gallon federal subsidy for biodiesel disappeared with the new year, biodiesel itself is at risk of becoming a CC (canola classic?). Congress is currently considering a renewal, but regardless, Mercedes W123s will still be around. In fact they may well be the last internal combustion engine cars running long after Peak Oil is a distant warm and fuzzy memory. Without being uncharitable, these cars are the automotive cockroaches: they’ll eat the grease out of your dirty frying pan, and you can’t hardly kill them.
Coming back to gray and drizzly Eugene after a week on the sunny coast of California can be a bit challenging. But then all the compensations make themselves apparent: no traffic jams, a familiar bed, and…K cars! Eugene is Kar heaven: every permutation of Lee Iaccoca’s Karmagination is on display, everywhere. Sometimes even two at a time:
I hate Christmas shopping. So when we walked down to the Holiday Market at the Lane Events Center, I told Stephanie I’d meander around the parking lot while she went inside to grab something. Forty-five minutes later, she had two presents and I had bagged eighty cars. This event runs weekends and a few extra days from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve, for exactly twelve days. So this is one short slice of one-twelfth of the potential Curbside Classics at the Holiday Market.
Each car’s identity pops up when the cursor touches the picture. Test yourself, and write down how many cars you got, or didn’t. There was one bike in the lot, and of course, it was a CC too! All eighty after the jump:
Update: I can’t get the identifying caption to not come up below each picture when it is clicked on to enlarge. If you really want to test yourself, put up a Post-It on the screen just below the picture. Sorry.
After being trapped six weeks in a 1971 time warp, I had the controls of the Curbside Classics time machine all set for the mid-eighties. But once again, fate interceded. Running some errands, I had my first encounter with no less than two 2010 Camaros. Then, on the way home, something called out to me as I tooled down Franklin Boulevard. I found it parked behind the old boarded-up Chevy dealer, and it had an important message for you and me: “beauty is not in the eye of the beholder; it’s in the object itself.”
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- ToolGuy "We’ll see what happens with Haas." I wonder what happened with Haas?