Catching up with Great Autos of Yesteryear’s Casual Concours

We’ve made a point out of not covering car shows or auctions.. cars in that circumstance are curated and not feral as we choose to define the term. Our focus is veteran cars of note found alive in the wild.  Nonetheless, we felt a tip of the Feral Cars kufi, fedora, boater, derby, skid lid, etc. was in order for Great Autos of Yesteryear’s tenth annual Palm Springs Casual Concours.  Great cars, fun people and for a very worthy cause (Sanctuary Palm Springs providing teens in foster care an environment of health and kindness) so we figured it would be OK to break format and display some of the “goods.”

Palm Springs has long been a haven for old cars and their owners. The traffic, for Southern California, is bearable and the weather – except in the oppressively hot summer – is tepid, conducive to round-the-clock top-down motoring. The Desert Princess Resort there was where Great Autos of Yesteryear, the largest LBGT car club on the west coast and with that acronym there’s nothing not “out” about this group of enthusiasts.  Casual Concours is the unofficial start of the Palm Springs “season” that runs through May; it took place back in October so apologies for not posting this earlier. Dubbed “the desert’s most fabulous midcentury car show,” Casual Concours is, in fact and indisputably, fabulous. It’s a truly brilliant showcase for the owners and their cars, running the gamut from full boat luxury to quirky JDM curios. We had a chance to peruse the cars, schmooze with their owners and, as the Flintstones theme intones, “have a gay old time” while celebrating automotive diversity.

Some of the highlights..

“Just beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it..
No one wants to be defeated..”

Scott King and Sandy Edelstein’s 1991 Honda Beat won in the Best Foreign Open category. It’s a Japan domestic market Kei-class (under 650 cc) mid-engine roadster that bears the slogan “MIDSHIP AMUSEMENT” on its rear flanks. Isn’t that what happens when an aircraft carrier docks in Yokohama? One can’t really grasp how tiny it is in a photo but suffice it to note that it weights just 1,675 lbs.

Orange you glad to see this?

Accessories (and we don’t mean the J.C. Whitney kind or a string of pearls) are always in evidence at the Casual Concours: the owner of this ’73 Volvo P1800 found a set of period Samsonite luggage matching the color of his shooting brake from Gothenburg. The Porsche 356A sports a hat box mounted on a luggage rack over the boxer motor. Hatbox, boxer: get it?

Air cooled hat box

There’s a Rolls-only class at the Concours and, wouldn’t you just know it, the Best of Show was one of those selfsame Rollers. It’s Bill Stewart and Joe Gyori’s 1965 Silver Cloud III Drophead Coupe by Mulliner Park Ward. It’s just one of 101 built of which 52 were left hand drive. The presence this car has is astounding, even in a field of astounding cars. David Hemmings drove one to all kinds of rich hippie psychedelic mischief in the film Blow Up, some RR-oriented highlights of which are here.

Dennis Duca and Dean Peck’s ’75 “Hang Ten” Dodge Dart (don’t you dare call it a Duster) took top honors in the 1970 – 1979 Closed Car category. Yes, the shorty surfboard came with the Hang Ten trim option. No one is quite sure how many were sold over just two model years but it’s a safe bet most were wiped out by the crusher.

It’s not clear what the story is behind the bloody “Jerry Mahoney” ventriloquist dummy resting in the back seat of a 1957 Ford DelRio, FoMoCo’s too little/too late response to Chevy’s Nomad. Actually, we don’t really want to know that story but can assure you that the jaunty green and white two-door wagon is otherwise non-creepy.

Brick, the little dog who put the “boss” in Boston Terrier, seemed enamored of this fantastic 1963 Studebaker Wagonaire done up for a mid-century camping trip. The fact that the rear portion of the roof slides forward so one can transport a refrigerator upright seems not to have affected its eligibility as it went on win in the 1960-1964 closed category.

Doggone clever idea from South Bend

Here’s a clip of a commercial highlighting the Wagonaire from the Studebaker-sponsored Mr. Ed TV series.  Yes, Studebaker spent the first part of the 20th century trying to disassociate itself from the equine realms in light of its history as American’s preeminent builder of horse-drawn vehicles. Towards the end of its corporate existence, Studebaker made it possible for a horse to come into your living room. Go figure.

Wood is good! There is always a fair representation of wood-sided (real and otherwise) station wagons at Casual Concours and the winner in the 1980 – 1995 category — open to any car built during those peak malaise years — was, in fact, a woody. It’s a 1980 Chrysler Le Baron Town & Country with glorious fake wire wheels and tufted upholstery that would be the envy of Little Miss Muffett.

Timber!!

The plate on this 1952 Packard 400 Patrician reads SDNFEAR, an homage to the woman-in-distress film noir classic that starred Joan Crawford and Jack Palance. Sudden Fear, for which Crawford was nominated for an Academy Award, was set in San Francisco but Bagdad by the Bay’s steep grades were no match for Packard’s 327 cubic inch straight 8.

You oughta be in pictures..

Here’s a clip from Sudden Fear in which the Patrician is featured gobbling up a Frisco incline and disgorging Palance with no problem.

While the focus of Casual Concours is elegance and originality at least one overt muscle car was present. And, of course, it was a Rambler muscle car, not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s a wild 1969 AMC Hurst SC/Rambler, utilizing the Pontiac GTO formula: stuff the biggest motor you have — in this case a 390 cubic, inch V8 — into the lightest body: a Rambler American. Sprinkle some Hurst <<ahem>> fairy dust on it and you’ve got a neck snapping factory-built drag racer. The bold graphic arrow, indicating the motor’s displacement, pointing to the over the top air intake recalls the slogan, “nothing succeeds like excess.”

Mke mine Scrambler’d

Heavy breather

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If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes.  If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[photo of AMC SC/Rambler]

 

 

 

Bittersweet Hershey Scene

Malaise Era Buick Reatta and a Brass Era Model T

A visit to the Antique Auto Club of America’s annual fall meet in Hershey PA presented this site’s gate keepers with a dilemma.  Our focus has long been to highlight cars as they are — uncurated, so to speak — in their natural environment.   That means that auctions and car shows are removed from our consideration set.

’60 Olds wears a full body condom

Just the same, we’ve decided it would be OK to offer a look at some of the sights experienced at  Hershey. On the day we were there rain fell in torrents and the setting was one of poignancy that compelled us to share the resulting photo essay.  Both gleaming show cars and beaters under plastic sheeting or left on their own to endure the elements offer, at the very least, a soupçon of feralosity (feralousness?)  There’s a real sadness in this circumstance: works of rolling art and heaps, alike, are vulnerable. Indeed, as are we all.   The sun will eventually shine again and melancholy will ultimately turn to joy.  That’s certainly our hope.  Have a look…

Rainy day sale and it even “runs and drives”

If have to go to the hospital, go Packard style or “ask the man who is prone in one”

Don’t call it “Hank”

If the shoe fits, drive it.

We’ve never seen a dry Kurtis before, let alone a wet one.

Bird sanctuary

So nice, they had to do it twice

Styled by Pininfarina in Turin, built in Kenosha by American Motors

Big ol’ wet kitty from Coventry

Back to the past

Best guess is Mustang or a big hunk of roast beef

Even wet it’s better than the band of the same name

One piece at a time..

Drenched Sport Fury is still freaky and fabulous

“Help! I’m stuck on the hood of an old Cadillac and drowning.”

Moist Cosmopolitan

Like a private railroad car but tracks are not required

Isetta got wetter

You call it rust, we call it patina

Packard didn’t make a pick up but somebody did

Speaking of pick up trucks, there’s not much to talk about here.

Yes, we can all get along

“Needs some work”

Race called on account of rain

“Heckflosse” in chains

Upright elder

Mix ‘n’ match

 

 

FAKE WOOD IN THE REAL WORLD OF TENNESSEE THOMAS AND NAF

There goes the neighborhood

There are three raffishly attired, ravishing young women and a 16-month-old baby boy named Loren, lollygagging about in a 1986 Chrysler LeBaron Town & Country GTS convertible with the top down. It’s one of those fake wood-sided cars recalling the vibe of woody station wagons of yore. But those didn’t have a folding top and The Shangri-Las blasting on the o.e.m. stereo cassette unit that includes a graphic equalizer and joystick-controlled balance.  Yes, the women are a band that’s called Nice As Fuck, NAF, if you prefer. Loren is their tiny roadie.

Jammin’, MoPar style

Nice As Fuck is Tennessee Thomas on drums, Erika Spring on bass and Jenny Lewis, vocals, and they are, in fact, nice as fuck. In a way it’s a super group insofar as each of its members have come from highly regarded bands including The Like (Thomas), Au Revoir Simone (Spring) and Rilo Kiley (Lewis). They were active during the 2016 Presidential campaign with a much-lauded appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert plus an album release back then. They went their separate ways around the time Erika gave birth to Loren.

Signs of the times

This particular Town & Country, like most built over the course of four model years, is finished in an eggy white with contrasting brown hued ersatz lumber on its flanks. It’s also equipped with a “Continental kit,” an extension on the rear bumper that carries a metal shell that replicates a spare tire. We’re guessing this was an aftermarket appurtenance as it’s hard to imagine that the MoPar gang would have offered its customers something so silly looking and fundamentally pointless. On second thought, maybe Lee Iacocca was pandering to a questionable aesthetic with this add-on “feature,” no matter that it serves no actual purpose save to add gratuitous length to the car, thus making parking a tad more difficult. Did we mention that there’s no tire in there? It is a design item perhaps best appreciated by those for whom more is, well, just more. Persons equipped with an enhanced sense of irony — not the snarky kind of irony but, rather, the loving kind with which the LeBaron’s NAF occupants appear to have been blessed — appreciate it on multiple levels.

“By the way, where’d ya meet him?”

The Town & Country convertible is one of the most exalted K-Car-based vehicles and this particular example has been named “Joy De Vivre” by NAF, a sweet exercise in anthropomorphy, if ever there were. The actual Town & Country name dates back to the 1940s when Chrysler offered both a real wood sided convertible and eight passenger sedan, using shipbuilder’s craft to construct these iconic classics that had the termite population collectively drooling.   There’s one seen in the 1951 Franco-Italo co-production Les Miracles N’ont Lieu Qu’une Fois starring Jean Marais.

Shangs within and without

As the “Shangs” delightfully warble their version of Jay & The Americans’ “She Cried,” (retitled “He Cried”), we find Tennessee behind the wheel, adjusting the volume control on the stereo, sharing the great girl group gestalt with the rest of the neighborhood. Tennessee and Joy reside in LA’s Echo Park neighborhood, arguably one of the longest reigning hip enclaves anywhere. This version of the Town & Country, one of just 3,725 built, was introduced in 1983 with production continuing through 1986, the same model year as the one that Tennessee does her best to park in front of The Deep End Club each day. It’s her store/community center located at 1546 Echo Park Blvd. in Los Angeles. It’s just a bit north of Sunset Blvd. on the east side of the street, down the hill from the Chevron station where the road forks right to Morton Ave. Tennessee, when made aware of the T&C model run made sure to point out that the year of her birth, 1984, was within the same time frame.

“Are you ‘wheely’ goin’ out with him?”

Tennessee sells a range of items, mostly apparel, that makes a statement that underscores her belief that it’s really cool to try to make the world a better place. It’s also a community center and meeting hall, very much woven into the fabric of the community. The Town & Country parked out front, serves as a beacon to truth-seekers, peaceniks, resisters and advocates for human rights, economic equality and women’s empowerment. Joy is serving the cause most elegantly.

It’s not a gang, it’s a club!

You just can’t “beat” a great daughter/dad relationship, especially in this case

The name of her enterprise was appropriated from the personal history of her dad, the famous drummer Pete Thomas of The Attractions as in “Elvis Costello and The..” He, along with band mate Steve Nieve, in their early days on the road, made something of a habit of jumping — or falling — into swimming pools fully attired. Tennessee’s own name is derived from the state where her dad had recorded an album (Almost Blue) and “had some kind of Jack Daniels-inspired epiphany in the Great Smokey Mountains.” She was born in Great Britain but is now an exemplary American Citizen, fully documented, thankyouverymuch.

Attire that encourages

Puffy shirt inspired by the late, great Brian Jones

Baby Loren seems to dig the LeBaron’s Mark Cross leather interior and electroluminescent dashboard. Sadly, the odometer’s electroluminescence has left the building; so to speak, making it anybody’s guess as to how many miles Joy D.V. has traveled since she left Chrysler’s St. Louis Assembly Plant in Fenton, MO thirty-two years ago. Still, everything seems to be in better-than-passible shape. A 2.5 liter transversely mounted fuel-injected four cylinder motor powers Joy’s front wheels through Chrysler’s ubiquitous TorqueFlite 3-speed automatic transmission. It’s a proven combination applied to literally millions of K-Cars, including minivans, branded Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler.

After 32 years, still in there swinging sideways.

When Tennessee moved from New York to Los Angeles, (read that again: in pure terms of geography, it’s a mind-blowing concept), she knew one of the first steps she’d have to take to make the transition would be the acquisition of a suitable vehicle. On the day Tom Petty died, she saw a Chrysler T&C. She took it as a sign and decided she had to have one and immediately started Googling. Two caught her eye: one in the nearby San Fernando Valley for sale as well as another in Minnesota. She checked out the Valley car and came away unimpressed (“It could only go 40 miles an hour.”) A friend in the Midwest checked out the one in Minnesota and was impressed with its rust-free condition, the goofy continental kit and the fact that it was able to keep up with traffic. In light of the fact that it was priced lower than the local one, the cost of schlepping it half way across the country was amortized. Joy has had some problems, like the time Tennessee drove it to Santa Monica where it hemorrhaged power steering fluid a/k/a “red stuff” and when she came back from a month-long visit to India (“recreating George Harrison selfies”) and found the car while parked in her parents’ garage had relieved itself of its transmission fluid. But, for the most part, the car has lived up to its name. Besides, Rubin, an immigrant like Joy’s owner, the ace mechanic at the Union 76 station on Hyperion is nonplussed, having dealt with leaky K-Cars for decades.

Giving the drummer some

Everybody smiles when they see this preposterous car with its top down, the Shangri-Las’ “Give Him A Great Big Kiss” on the sound system parked in front of a store that features “Give A Damn” t-shirts and urges “All Power To the Imagination.” This is especially the case when a cute baby and three super talented rocker chicks are in the more-than-OK K-Car on Echo Park Avenue.

Better combustion than premium unleaded

While we were snapping photos of the car, the members of Nice As Fuck, theorized that the title to their long awaited follow up album should be Joy De Vive. “All we have to do is write the songs and record them,” says Jenny. Seems like it’ll be a piece of cake if they cede “all power to the imagination,” as is urged as a matter of policy at the Deep End Club.

Reading is fun-da-mental for Ms. Thomas

Exclusive yet inclusive

Bonus: enjoy this video treatise on the greatness of the T&C hosted on Hoovies Garage.  This one’s Continental kit seems to be quasi-functional. Enjoy!

Want to buy a faux wood Chrysler T & C like Tennessee’s?  Here’s one  in nearby Calgary, Alberta that seems to be a bargain and includes the much coveted Continental kit.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes.  If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.

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Feral finds abound on the streets of America’s Hippest Neighborhood®

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First of the day’s three ’64 Imperials.

We’ve been focusing on the Instagram and Facebook versions of Feral Cars of late but a recent find mandated that we go full blog post to do the subject matter justice.  This kind of abbondanza needs to be chronicled with more than just a photo and some hashtags!

 

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Eliot Ness, your car is waiting.

In search of comidas Mexicanas muy auténticos,  we recently had occasion to visit LA’s Highland Park area, a/k/a “America’s hippest neighborhood.” Apart from the record stores (vinyl only, please), hipster beard trimming emporiums, tattoo parlors and artisanal cocktail dispensaries (and the other kind of dispensaries), we were pleasantly surprised to encounter a cache of feral finds on the street and decidedly in the raw.  One block of Avenue 57, just belowFigueroa, was populated with scores of oldies but goodies, all of which carry current registrations and need to be moved, per regulation, at least once a week.  Our deduction is that all of these are fully capable of running under their own power.  The collection, consisting of American iron as well as a smattering of European and Japanese rolling stock seems to have no unifying theme — just a random aggregation of vehicles that have endured against all odds.  Inspiring!

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As we know all too well: “Cadillac means luxury.”

Our best guess is that this grouping belongs to a single visionary as these disparate (desperate?) vehicles do share something in common: massive patina.  It’s not rust in Southern California but, rather, “distressed” paint.

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“From a Buick 6”.. a ’48 to be specific

On display were a ’64 Cadillac, a ’65 Imperial Crown, a ’48 Buick, two VWs (a Bug and a Karmann-Ghia), a first generation Mazda RX-7, a ’57 Chevy tow truck, frozen in tableau, hoisting a ’47 Cadillac (original California black plates which appropriately read ‘SAD326’), a Smokey & The Bandit era Trans Am, a Fargo-worthy and very woeful Corvette and something very unexpected.  Yes, a ’36 Nash in better shape than any of the other cars seems to occupy a special spot at the top of the street. That machine, built in Kenosha at least 81 years ago, presented much better than quite a few half its age though a ’63 Valiant convertible was surprisingly fresh looking, too.

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Slant sixer

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Tow, tow, tow your boat..

Later that day, en route to El Hurache Azteca on York Blvd. for an infusion of gut-busting goodies, we came upon a fix-it shop (“Bernie’s Transmission”) where we found still more feral treasures though it’s not clear how roadworthy some of these are.  Yet another Imperial of the same vintage as the one we had seen on Avenue 57 was in repose as well as a ’64 Ford Galaxie that had seen better days.  We were taken with a seemingly perfect ’64 Pontiac and a gorgeous green ’56 Ford wagon.

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Impish

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There’s a Ford in your future but it’s probably not this one

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That Pon-ton is a clean machine, same goes for the Ford wagon

Remember those two ’65 Imperials?  We ended the day with another MoPar line topper of the same vintage in our sights.  It was being transported aboard a car carrier down the 101 Freeway and we implored Wendy Abrams, a certified Feral Cars Field Scout, who had been riding shotgun to shoot a snap of it.  What are the chances, right?

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Back in the high life again..

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Fireturd / “if it’s brown, flush it down”

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Veteran Vette

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Two tone rotary; yes that’s a ’55 Chevy (non-Nomad) wagon in the driveway

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Ghia got gashed

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Bug needs love

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As close to a Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta as it gets in Highland Park

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:  info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes.  If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.

Feral treasure found in Tucson

 

SAABaritic sports car

SAABaritic sports car

A hot weekend visit to Tucson, gem of the Sonoran Desert, yielded a diverse array of feral finds, kissed (well, maybe “baked” is more like it) by the sun.  Cars that don’t have to endure humidity and snow, not not to mention body corroding road salt, last longer and we found some excellent and rare examples parked all over that spread-out ‘burg in southern Arizona.

Open the window, no trunk lid required!

Open the window, no trunk lid required!

A yellow SAAB Sonett III was truly an exciting “get” during our desert sojourn.   It’s powered by a German-built Ford V4 that seems to be trying to pop out of the hood.  The federally mandated protruding bumpers peg this one to be a late run ’73 or ’74 and just one of 8,368 made over a four year model run.   Haven’t seen one of these in the “wild” for quite a spell — maybe 40 years.

Springtime for.. (you know the song by now)

Springtime for.. (you know the song by now)

Less uncommon but still most noteworthy is this VW Thing, the civilian iteration of the World War II Wehrmacht Kübelwagen adaptation of the Beetle platform. The Thing was introduced more than 22 years after the “unpleasantness” concluded in 1945.   Those ribs in the body work are not for pleasure but, rather, to provide a modicum of structural rigidity.  Despite the off-road look, Things were not four wheel drive vehicles so being stuck in soft sand and/or mud is a distinct possibility if you insist on straying from the pavement. On the road or off, the look is as funky as you could possibly want it to be.  While safety regulations put an end to US sales in 1975, VW of Mexico continued to build these, under the model name Safari, until 1980.

Letting it all hang out back

Letting it all hang out back

Both more mainstream and more sun baked is this ’64 Ford Thunderbird.   The paint seems past the point of rubbing it out to restore the shine but we think it looks menacing in a Breaking Bad sort of way. We leave it to your imagination to guess what might be stored in the trunk, aside from the missing wheel covers.  Scary!

'Bird, man

Big, bad ‘bird, man

We were glad to happen upon this ecumenical tableau in an open car port.  Housed together were an upright sedan for formal occasions and a smart pick up for work, from GM and Ford, respectively.  The sedan is, of course, a 1989 Oldsmobile 98 Regency, a conservative conveyance, swathed in velour that is a reflection of the era when George Herbert Walker Bush lived in the White House, declared a war on drugs and the Exxon Valdez hemorraged 12 or so million barrels of crude oil that had just been extracted from Prudhoe Bay onto the shores — and far beyond — of Prince William Sound.  Ah, what a glorious time it was!  The truck is a ’66 Fairlane Ranchero, a melding of Ford’s mid-size car of the time and a pick-up, long a favorite of pool service guys over the ensuing fifty years.

Yes, actually it is your father's Oldsmobile (and your pool man's Ranchero)

Yes, actually it is your father’s Oldsmobile (and your pool man’s Ranchero)

We like the juxtaposition of this 1968 Pontiac Bonneville and late model Honda Civic.  Both were common family sedans in their respective time and dramatically underscore how the definition evolved over the decades.  That big ol’ “Pon-ton” tips the scales at more than 4100 pounds and measures just shy of 19 feet in length; the Honda is 14+ feet long and weighs under 3,000 pounds.  Not sure what the point of this exercise is except to state the obvious: times sure have changed.  The motors?  The Honda is powered by a 1.8 liter 4 cylinder unit driving the front wheels; the Bonneville is powered by a 6.5 liter V8 powering the rear wheels.  Apart from the fact that they’re both painted blue, there’s very little else in common.

..and they said Edsel looked funny?

..and they said Edsel looked funny?

Remember that ’66 Ranchero that is bunking with the Olds 98?  By the late ’70s, it had evolved into this strange thing that’s finished a tasteful shade of Halloween orange with matte black accents.  If the hood isn’t as long as the pickup bed, it’s damn close.  This “only in America” beast is powered by Ford’s “Boss 302” V8.  We know this because we can read.

"Orange" you glad you saw this?

“Orange” you glad you saw this?

Lastly, we encountered a very pristine Mazda RX7 rotary-powered sports car parked on a busy street.  This one is an early ’80s example wearing — how to put this?  — a see-through bra.  Yes, the RX7 of this era had pop-up headlights which necessitates the bra being roll up-able.  Sexy? Not really.  Ridiculous?  You be the judge.

Peek-a-boo

Peek-a-boo

We sincerely enjoyed the time spent in Tucson where the saguaro grow tall and the cars just seem to last forever.  It’s kind of a low humidity paradise in some way.

We found a really sharp 1974 SAAB Sonett for sale in nearby Tallahassee, Florida for a mere $12000 here.  It’s orange, too, like a certain Ranchero we recently encountered.

We thought you might like to check out this Olds 98 commercial from ’88.  It’s lack of any real content is stunning but it does take a moment to disparage the imports that ultimately seals Oldsmobile’s fate.  Well done, Olds!

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:  info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes.  If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.