Category Archives: Chevrolet

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.

Magic location for motion pictured cars

Movin' Malibu

Chevelle: so swell

Our aim is always to capture and dissect, in a manner of speaking, vehicles seen in the wild but we never shoot or accept photos taken at car shows, auctions or used/classic car lots.  As a result, we do tend to ferret out featured feral finds when they’re parked. It’s one thing to nail ’em when they’re at a standstill as opposed to documenting them in motion.

There she goes

Movin’ Malibu

We’ve found that two corners right near Feral Car’s international HQ in Los Angeles have yielded a disproportionate number of very interesting, very notable cars in full flight.  We’re talking about the intersection of Rosewood Avenue and Rossmore Boulevard and, just three blocks to the east, the intersection of Rosewood and Larchmont Boulevard.

Do we have to spell it out? Cadillac means l-u-x-u-r-y.

Do we have to spell it out? Cadillac means l-u-x-u-r-y.

These are the crossroads where we’ve seen lots of vintage VWs, Valiants and the like as well as some more esoteric conveyances.  We’ve gone back into our image bank and sorted out a few shots of cars in motion captured at these locations that really underscore just what a phenomenal breeding ground this area happens to be.

Fender skirts standard, of course

Fender skirts standard, of course

We were most impressed with the bone stock ’71 Chevelle Malibu encountered at Rossmore and Rosewood just the other day.  You just don’t see these as untampered with as this one.  Our guess is that this unrestored California car wears its original 45-year old factory Antique White paint job.  Kudos to the owner who resisted pressure to change out the original wheel covers.

Actin' chill: big ol' Coupe DeVille

When it absolutely, positively has to get there in style.

Over at Larchmont and Rosewood we found a similarly unmessed-with Cadillac DeVillle, also a ’71.  We find the juxtaposition of the sky blue padded top over the Brittany blue body calming and reassuring on this,  a pristine enthralling example of traditional American luxury in motion.

Junk or punk in the trunk?

Junk or punk in the trunk?

At the same intersection we came upon a ’76 Cadillac Coupe DeVille that seemed raked, the front end higher than the back, perhaps due to a heavy load in the trunk.  We’ll refrain from theorizing on just what might have been weighing this magnificent Caddy down except to suggest that Good Fellas is available on Netflix.

Pretty Poncho

Pretty Poncho

Now it’s back to Rossmore and Rosewood for a gander at a super clean ’66 Pontiac LeMans.  It has the same bearing as the higher performance GTO but this one is equipped with a 326 cubic inch V8 rather than the 389 found under the hood of “The Goat.”  Yes, those wheels  and everything else appear to be totally stock and that’s the way we like it. You really can’t improve on perfection, so why try?

Near perfect "Pon-ton"

Near perfect “Pon-ton”

At the other end of the spectrum is this ’79 Buick Skyhawk that is completely intact but appears to be suffering from an advance case of benign neglect.  That brushed chrome band running up the b-pillars and over the roof may be perceived as a “lipstick on a pig” concept but we find it charming in a gauche sort of way.  The spoiler is a nice, touch, too.

Not entirely sure we'd rather have it but will certainly consider

Not entirely sure we’d rather have it but will certainly consider

Banded baby Buick

Banded baby Buick

These fecund intersections yield more than just GM-built transients.  Take, for example this stunning ’61 Rambler Classic.  While it’s true that Rambler ran third to Chevy’s #1 and Ford’s #2 on the sales charts back then, there are very few survivors built during the time of the (George) Romney administration of American Motors.   It’s paradoxical that upright Rambler sedans like this often doubled as eastern European cars in limited budget spy shows like Mission Impossible, Get Smart and The Man From U.N.C.L.E.  while Romney and AMC were on the front lines defending American capitalism from godless (and unprofitable) socialism.

Ramblin' man

Ramblin’ man

Remnant from the first (and last) Romney administration

Remnant from the first (and last) Romney administration

Lastly, we offer our pièce de résistance. We, too, thought we might be hallucinating but we shot this fantastic Citroën SM around 9 AM and hadn’t had any mushrooms for dinner the night before. 

L'avenir est arrivé dans le passé

L’avenir est arrivé dans le passé

The car was the product of Citroën’s acquisition of perpetually floundering Maserati in the early ’70s.  The hydropneumatic suspension was all French, derived from the system that kept the groundbreaking Citroën DS (literally) afloat since 1955. Power was provided by a Maserati V6 that was mounted backwards (!)  aft of the front axle; the transmission out in front of the motor.  The design is breathtaking, the interior exquisite and but the Franco-Italo alliance advanced Citroën’s march into insolvency and ultimate acquisition by rival Peugeot.

Allons enfants avec grâce à puissance italienne

Allons enfants avec grâce à puissance italienne

If you find yourself in Southern California you really should make it a point to amble down Rosewood Avenue between Larchmont and Rossmore Boulevards.  We’d love to know if you encounter any of these inspiring full motion relics.

We found this well-priced (under $80K) ’72 CitroënSM for sale in nearby St. Louis and urge you to consider its purchase.  We predict you’ll double your money if you sell it ten years hence, if you don’t factor in the cost of maintenance — some contend that “SM” stands for exactly what you’re thinking it does. Ouch!

Less, exotic, perhaps is this TV commercial for the ’71 Chevelle.  Dinah Shore-approved!

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.

 

Savoring aged ‘burbans

Three's company

Three’s company. We’re pretty sure this is a ’71

It’s a fact, Suburban is the automotive nameplate that’s been in continuous use longer than any other model designation.  The name debuted more than 80 years ago with the introduction of the Chevy Carryall Suburban.  Ultimately, “Carryall” was dispensed with but the Suburban name was also applied to a GMC badge-engineered clone that became known as Yukon XL back in 2000.

Nobody forgot to close the barn doors. Note: Yukon plates

Nobody forgot to close the barn doors. Note: Yukon plates but it’s not a Yukon. (photo by Feral Cars Field Scout Tim Merlis)

In recent years, with the explosion of SUV sales, these behemoths have been transformed from the utilitarian vehicles they had been to luxury barges that are used in lieu of limousines and have supplanted minivans as the vehicles of choice for soccer moms.  The current, squared-off Suburban could easily double as a hearse and weighs almost three tons and manages to squeeze 16 paltry miles out of gallon of gas in city driving.  So much for sustainability!

Three to go

Just one for the road (side).

The point of this post is not to disparage the current Suburban (and Yukon XL) — which we kind of just did — but to celebrate earlier iterations which were, admittedly, huge but, somehow, more appropriate sans all the luxury accoutrements — like multiple doors.

Barn doors or tail gate? The choice was yours.

Barn doors or tail gate? The choice was yours. Note: iconic midcentury Eichler house in b.g.

Yes, earlier generation Suburbans came with one door on the driver’s side and two on the passenger side, the logic being that you didn’t need a door to get into the back because the vehicle is typically loaded from the right side.  This format lasted for 38 years plausibly,  because nobody cared all that much.  By the middle ’70s the idea of truck-based SUVs used as private passenger vehicles started to take hold and GM saw fit to cut another door into the driver’s side.

Pre-Yukon GMC

Pre-Yukon GMC

Speaking of doors, there was a time when you had a choice of a tailgate or panel doors (we like to call them “barn doors”) in the back.  That era of choice ended ten years ago with current models equipped only with tailgates.  Talk about bait and switch:  “Look, here’s that door you wanted. Oh, the ones in the back?  We don’t have those anymore.”

"Charp!"

“Charp!”

While we don’t, typically, do many posts about trucks we’ve decided to make an exception in the case of the Suburban in a salute to its ultra tenured status and the fact that we think old ones are much cooler than current ones.

Brick house on wheels

Brick house on wheels

Suburbans have been sold in many parts of the world including Australia where they wore Holden badges, the Middle East and Mexico.  Here’s a great commercial for the ’87 Suburban from our not yet walled-in neighbor to the south. “!Si, es lo más práctico!”

There are lots of older Suburbans out there that can be yours for the right price but not all that many with 3-doors for people and barn doors for cargo.  This one in nearby Seattle WA is offered for a buck under $17K and has been “pimped” to some extent.  Not sure what it would take to de-pimpify it but whatever the figure would be money well spent because we like to “keep it real.”

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.

Nova: GM’s UAW-built Japanese car made in California

Bowtie in front, Japanese guts

Chevy bow tie up front, Toyota parts everywhere else

Let’s give an almost-Labor Day shout out to the UAW members who worked at NUMMI in Freemont, California between 1984 and 2010.  New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. was a joint venture of GM and Toyota on the site on an old GM plant.  The idea was for GM to learn the ways of Japanese manufacturing efficiencies and for Toyota to put together pick ups without having to pay the famous “chicken tax” on imported trucks.

A Corolla by any other name..

A Corolla by any other name..

GM revived the Nova name for its badge-engineered version of Toyota’s home market Sprinter, which was, essentially, a Corolla variant.  From 1985 to 1988 Americans could buy a Chevrolet that was designed by Toyota and built in California by 4,700 UAW workers.

Profilin' but not stylin'

Profilin’ but not stylin’

It’s axiomatic that cars that were expensive to begin with have more longevity than those that were cheap to buy in the first place.  We’re guessing that a combination of factors contribute to this phenomenon.  A cheap car is usually not cherished as an indicator of success; if anything, it’s a marker of disappointment to those for whom upward mobility is only theoretical.  With this notion in mind we found it surprising to come across quite a number of superannuated NUMMI-built Novas in recent days.

Toyota guts!

Union made

While they’re dull as dishwater, lacking that “wow factor” in just about every regard, we salute these survivors of a noble experiment.

Alternate spelling of "Corolla"

Alternate spelling of “Corolla”

In some ways, that experiment continues. After the plant closed following the dissolution of the GM-Toyota joint venture, it was acquired by Tesla Motors and was gutted, rebuilt and renamed ‘The Tesla Factory,’ and is where every all-electric Tesla Model S is built with the aid of the most advanced robotics in the business..  While GM and Toyota produced nearly 8 million cars and trucks over that span of 25 years, Tesla projects it will have produced 100,000 cars by the end of the year.  The question remains if we’ll spot any Teslas a quarter century from now and write do post about them for Robot Day 2045.

Newly registered!

Newly registered!

“Absolutely right!” was Nova’s introductory slogan as seen in this commercial from ’85.  Nice perm, too.

Cush!

Yes, it reclines, just like in the Toyota version.

Novas from this generation, unlike their US-designed predecessors which are likely to have been turned into hot rods, were far from aspirational objects at the time of introduction. For the most part, that still holds true but we kind of think that this not-so-perfect ’88 Nova offered on Ebay Motors for a mind-blowing $1000 buy-it-now price is worthy of consideration.

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.

 

 

 

Radical revelation: first generation Corvair.. later for Nader

Top down at sundown

Top down at sundown

Around dusk the other evening we were fortunate to encounter a truly nifty looking ’63 Corvair convertible at speed heading towards the heart of LA’s too groovy Korea Town. K-Town is where  kimchi connoisseurs congregate, the soundtrack is K-pop and Roy Choi sets the culinary agenda so you know this is one hip car.  The cool driver of this first generation top-drop ‘Vair was clearly delighted to be behind the wheel.

Chet Baker, your car is ready

Chet Baker, your car is ready

The picture perfect bane of Ralph Nader’s existence (and Al Gore’s) is finished in Ember Red and sports full wheel covers. Like the bulk of Corvairs (80%) sold that year, it’s a sporty Monza model.  Chevy stylists emphasized and embraced the horizontal, reflecting the  “populuxe” design aesthetic of the mid century in a measured, restrained way. More than fifty years later we think the design has aged exceedingly well.

The way it was

Outtasite!

While this one is not a top-of-the line turbocharged Spyder, it showed that it still has plenty of “get,”  rocketing out of sight after pleasantries were exchanged. Everything about the little roadster speaks of optimism, the jaunty runabout spawned during America’s shining, yet painfully brief, Camelot era.

Lemon squeezer

Lemon squeezer

Everything came crashing down after JFK’s death and the Corvair was thrown to the dogs, primarily as the result of a conservative public more comfortable with less radical, more traditional, compact offerings from Ford (Falcon, Comet), Chrysler (Valiant, Dart) and American Motors (Rambler American).  Even GM hedged its bet and fielded the very uncontroversial Chevy II and let the Buick, Pontiac and Oldsmobile divisions get into the compact car fray.  Only Corvair was powered by an air cooled aluminum, horizontally opposed motor coupled to a transaxle with four wheel independent suspension and unit body construction. Corvair had more in common with Porsche, Volkswagen, Tatra and even Tucker than it did with an Impala or Bel Air.  It was “too hip for the room,” in many respects.

Business end

Business end

We dig the “dog dish” hubcaps on this less than pristine ’63, finished in Adobe Beige. The crossed flags on the rear deck lid indicates it’s powered by a 2.3 liter motor which sounds a lot smaller when expressed as 145 cubic inches.  That little pepper grinder developed just north of 100 horsepower but the car only weighed 2600 pounds so it’s comparatively quick.

It was extremely maneuverable, perhaps to a fault as Ralph Nader reminded.  One person’s definition of nimble is, perhaps, another person’s definition of deathtrap. Nimble Deathtrap = great band name!

Euroshtick

Euroshtick

Dog dish detail

Dog dish detail

To some extent Corvair got a bum rap.  It was only dangerous if you didn’t know how to skillfully drive it to get the most out of its, shall we say, idiosyncrasies. Fun for some but perilous for others.

Corvair is gone but hardly forgotten.  Corvair people  are a loyal lot and one of the biggest owners groups, among all vintage car clubs, is CORSA — Corvair Owners Society of America.  Why not join them by acquiring one of your own?  We kind of love this 4-speed ’64 teal convertible in nearby Springfield, OH, offered at just under $18K.  It’s half the price of what you’d pay for a Porsche but almost all the fun plus it has an actual back seat!  Don’t let this one pass you by!

Michael Landon, Bonanza’s “Little Joe Cartwright,” hosts this punchy commercial for the high performance Monza Spyder. Did we mention that Chevy was Bonanza’s sponsor?

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.