Category Archives: Rattles + Squeaks

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

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 2.02.17 PM

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!

 

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 2.03.01 PM

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!

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 12.51.24 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 12.56.51 PM

“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.

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 1.59.02 PM

Slant sixer

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 2.00.04 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 2.05.46 PM

Impish

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 2.04.02 PM

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

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 2.07.05 PM

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?

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 2.10.27 PM

Back in the high life again..

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 12.53.40 PM

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

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 12.54.40 PM

Veteran Vette

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 2.01.15 PM

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

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 12.52.42 PM

Ghia got gashed

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 12.55.58 PM

Bug needs love

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 2.07.47 PM

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.

It’s pronounced “Rruh-no”

You had me a Marchal rally lights

You had us at Marchal rally lights

A French strain of feral fever just struck close to home and, in the spirit of liberté, égalité and fraternité, we’re here to let you know that a 1968 Renault R10 has just joined the fleet.  It’s the damnedest thing when an off-the-wall purchase seems to make sense but that’s the basic story.

Moment of transition

Moment of transition

Air vs water

Air vs water

We had two rear engine cars in the paddock: a ’67 Fiat 500 (Cinquecento) Giardiniera baby station wagon and a ’70 Volkswagen Type III Fastback.  Both of these have air cooled motors stashed under trap doors in the back.   Both have trunks in the front and room for cargo above their respective motors.  The water-cooled Renault R10 is the last rear engine model that the #1 French builder exported to the US.  Their later offerings, the R5 (marketed as “Le Car”) and Kenosha, Wisconsin-built Renault Alliance didn’t really find a market here, especially in the face of the ’70s Japanese car invasion.  After Renault sold its controlling stake in American Motors to Chrysler, it was all over for the offerings of the Régie Nationale des Usines Renault as far as the North American market was concerned. Some Renaults, however,  were sold by Chrysler as the Eagle Medallion (in concept, a great car for Sammy Davis, Jr)  and Eagle Premier which sounds like the code name for a South American dictator. 

Respect pour les anciennes

Respect pour les anciennes

We’re now down to just the “new” Renault and the little Giardinera as the Volkswagen Fastback was quickly sold off to make room for the Gallic newcomer.  Maybe it was just too “normal” to make the final cut but it was the most powerful of the three pushers with a 1.6 liter motor developing a whopping 65 horsepower.  The Cinquecento is powered by a minuscule two cylinder motor displacing slightly less than half a liter, making freeway cruising mostly a theoretical endeavor.

Open skies all'italiana

Open skies all’italiana

The Renault R10 falls somewhere in the middle of these two with a 1.1 liter motor that produces 48 horsepower.  It’s vaguely competitive on the freeway — meaning it’s capable of 65 mph under ideal conditions.  The point of its acquisition was not performance but.. hmm.. what was the point?  Oh, yes, the point was that we hadn’t had a proper French car since dear mom’s 1968 Peugeot 404 and a recent visit this winter to the giant Rétromobile* vintage car expo in Paris fired up one’s inner Francophile feelings on a certain level.  There’s always a reason, isn’t there?

Giardinera = gardener, capice?

Giardinera = gardener, capisce?

At any rate, it’s fun to drive and gets more comments than the VW since it’s so unusual and, let’s face it, kinda cute.  So there you have it or, more appropriately, voici la voiture.  Fun to drive, fun to say:  we’ll call that a win/win.

Room for tous les copains

Room for “tous les copains”

Great speedometer font or greatest speedometer font

Great speedometer font or greatest speedometer font?

If you’re interested in acquiring your very own Renault, we wish you good luck.  There are very few for sale in this country, probably because they were thought to be disposable but we did find a doppelgänger — is it OK to use a German word in describing a French car? — in nearby Arudel, ME for just $8500.   Enjoy this commercial for the R10 from 1970 in which the car is favorably compared to a horse.

*Here’s our Rétromobile coverage for Automobile Magazine’s website.

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.

Automotive Eurotrash adds feral dash to the City of Light

We’re just back from a sojourn to Paris where Feral Cars participated in the 40th annual Rétromobile conclave.  Rétromobile is the vintage car event in Europe, if not the world, a  combination  trade show, exotic used car lot, movable museum, high stakes auction and grand bazaar of all manner of automobilia, auto-related emphemera but, mainly, cars.  Lots of car — over 500, mostly high end European makes spread out over two floors of exhibits.   It was, in a word, stupendous, thanks to cadres of professional installers, scenic designers and lighting experts doing their thing.  The result is that even the most pedestrian car takes on added aura with glamorous Rétromobile production values imparting that much more “car cred” to just about everything in the show.

La vie en noir

La vie en noir

While Rétromobile was stellar, our forays into the greater Paris metroplex juxtaposed us with quite a number of continental cruisers of a certain age.  Rétromobile may have brought some of these out of storage but it seemed that some were just les objets trouvés on a certain level.

The future departs

The future departs

We found a number of noteworthy German, Italian and French veterans that appeared to be in regular service and did our best to capture them for you. This being Paris, let’s start with two Citroëns that had us enthralled. That black sedan is a DS of later vintage (note the faired in headlight configuration).  Introduced in 1955, the DS with its air-oil suspension, revolutionary construction and aerodynamic design was truly the car of the future.  When it finally went out of production, nearly 20 years and 1.4 million examples later, the DS was still ahead of its time.

Promotion in motion

Promotion in motion

We’re glad to have seen some rolling examples, at least 40 years old, on the streets of Paris including a station wagon that was used to highlight events sponsored by Citroën Heritage, the forward looking brand’s backward looking promotion department.  We’ll forgive the fact that its rear bumper (le bouclier) was un peu cassee.

Le Truckster de la famille

Le Truckster de la famille

While adhering to a more traditional three box design than Citroën’s aerodynamically advanced line topper, BMW’s 5 series is the embodiment of German sports luxury.  This snow white example which we estimate to be an ’86 or ’87 is impressively pristine.

Beamer en blanc

Beamer en blanc

That sunshade in the back is a nice touch, n’est-ce pas?

White privilege

White privilege

Unlike the many of the Maseratis, Ferraris and Lamborghinis seen at Rétromobile, Italian cars parked on the nicely swept streets of Paris were of the decidedly non-exotic variety but still quite interesting. 

Micro muscle car

Micro muscle car

When was the last time you saw an Autobianchi parked at a curb?  The answer is “never,” of course, since this Fiat-derived compact never made it over here. We found two on the same street and both had parking tickets under the wipers so our assumption is they’re owned by the same obsessive person.   They’reAutobianchi 112s but the gray one is technically a Lancia A112 as Fiat slapped that badge on the car for sale outside of Italy.  We like the “70 HP” notice on the front hood as this is the hot Abarth factory tuner model.  We’re pegging this one and the less swanky (only 42 hp) white car to be from the early ’80s.

Abarth = performance

Abarth = performance

That'll rub right out

Think that’ll rub right out?

We noted a super clean dark green VW Golf Cabriolet, the choice of high school girls during the ’80s and ’90s, not far from those Italian anomalies. We’re guessing this is a ’90 or ’91 but it’s unimaginable that it’s parked outside on a regular basis.  This is one clean machine.

Cabrio for thee-o

Cabrio for thee-o

On the other end of the tidiness spectrum is this funky Renault Twingo, a car that could very well have been named after a candy bar.  The expressive headlights that are flat on the bottom make it seem like you’d be more prone to adopt than own it.  The design by Jean-Pierre Ploué debuted in 1993 and the intention was for the front end to resemble a smile. Seems like a tight-lipped one to us but we kind of get it.  We’re not sure what those three asymmetrically placed air intakes are supposed to conjure up. Maybe a set of face tattoos like gang members give themselves in prison?  Probably not.

Smile, darn you, smile!

Smile, darn you, smile!

This smiling, possibly smirking, Twingo seems to have suffered some abuse as indicated by:

  • A huge dent on the rear passenger side
  • The “Party Girl” sticker on the hatch
Party out of bounds

Party out of bounds?

We’ve got a bigger Renault to share but this one is most decidedly not cute.  It’s an early ’80s Renault 18i wagon that also wears a parking ticket under its wiper and, more importantly, more than a modicum of rust, especially under the lift gate.

Rusty wagon

Rusty wagon

These were actually sold in the US back when Renault controlled American Motors before selling it off to Chrysler. They could have called it Franco American Motors and offered promotional cans of spaghetti with the purchase of every car.  No, huh?

How do you say 'bondo' in French?

How do you say ‘bondo’ in French?

Lastly, we encountered a big Alfa Romeo sedan on that same street in the 15th arrondissement. Its official model designation is Alfa Romeo Alfa 6.  Seems as though the Department of Redundancy Department named the car which was Alfa’s top of the line sedan from 1979 – 1983.  Yes,  it’s a six cylinder car — and had a carburetor for each one of them — and was considered to be in the “executive class” just like that BMW 5 series up top.  Coming as it did when the price of gasoline was spiking, this Alfa found few buyers and was never officially imported into the US.

Big brown Alfa

Importata dall’Italia alla Francia

Booty

Smart/Smarter

Rétromobile attracts old car nuts from all over but locally based ones use the expo as an excuse to participate in ad hoc street rallies.  We had to rub our eyes to make sure we weren’t hallucinating when we shot this video of a mass of Fiat Cinquecentos, led by a an ultra-rare Ferves Ranger, one of only six hundred Cinquento-based mini SUVs like this ever made.  Only fifty survive and here’s one in spirited action.  No less an authority than Jalopnik named it “The Mostest Cutest Off-Roader Ever.”

And speaking of cute, you must click to see the introductory commercial back when Twingo was launched in 1993.

We found a breathtaking ’72 Citroën DS wagon for sale in nearby San Francisco, CA.  for a paltry $40,000 which is only around 35,000 so, dépêchez-vous and buy it maintainant!

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.

 

 

Repost: Car of future passed

In honor of Back To the Future Day,we’re revisiting a post of the past.

Stainless steel deal

Stainless steel deal

The year was 1981 and John Z. DeLorean, “Father of the GTO,” having gone rogue after an heroic career at General Motors, finally launched his dream car that he modestly named after himself.  Stainless steel body. Check.  Gull wing doors. Check. Mid-engine. Check.  What could possibly go wrong?  As it happened, most everything. Turns out that DeLorean’s Tuckeresque quixotic windmill tilt-a-whirl was squeezed out for numerous financial, technical and, perhaps, pharmacological reasons, coupled with his own hubris and the inclination of the entrenched auto makers to make life as difficult as possible for upstarts.

0 - 88 in 30 years

0 – 88 in 30 years

We found a well-used example in a “Doctors Only” parking space the other day that is, apparently, a commuter car for a “hipocrat.”  While the DMC12 was projected to retail for $12,000 it ended up costing more than twice that amount despite the fact that power was provided by a somewhat anemic PRV (Peugeot-Renault-Volvo) V6. The chassis, though, as engineered by Lotus, was on supercar par.

McFly with me

McFly with me

Despite that shortcoming in the propulsion department, an estimated 9,000 units were built at the factory in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland.  Actually, not too shabby in terms of failed indie car numbers — anybody remember the Vector W8?  Cizeta-Moroder V16T?  Bricklen SV-1?  OK, they built a bunch of that latter gull-winger but not even a third of DeLorean’s output.

Hoverboard on board

Hoverboard on board

Click here to go back to Back To The Future as Christopher Lloyd’s Doc Brown character introduces Fox’s McFly to the perks of DeLorean ownership.   Want your very own?  There are quite a few to choose from right here in nearby Bradenton FL.  Be sure to ask about the extended flux capacitor warranty.

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.

VW’s dirty house of lies collapses

Dear Volkswagen,

You’re dead to us.

Not a clean machine but we weren't told otherwise

Not a clean machine but we weren’t told otherwise

When you write about cars it’s natural that friends and family ask you for advice when they’re in the market for something new.  Over the past few years, we haven’t hesitated to heartily recommend any and all diesel-powered Volkswagens because our experience with the current generation VW TDI diesel has been a very happy one since an ’09 Jetta SportWagen found its way to our driveway.

Dirty trucker

Dirty little trucker

That all ended a day or so ago when news broke that we’ve been duped in no uncertain terms. VW (and Audi) admitted that TDI-equipped cars (this so-called ‘clean diesel’ motor is available, for a premium, across many model lines including Beetle, Golf, Jetta, Passat, A3) have been fitted with software to deliberately violate Clean Air Act emissions laws.  

Oil burning bunny

Oil burning bunny

That’s right, VW TDIs passed emissions tests because “defeat” software was programmed to stifle emissions when the cars were tested but allowed them to emit up to 40 times the legally allowed amount of potential carcinogens into the environment under normal use. This is a literal “dirty trick,” if ever there was. We’re painfully aware that at least three people took our solicited advice and bought or leased a “Clean Diesel” VW.

When they were honest

When they were honest

Volkswagen was a pioneer in equipping passenger cars with diesels for quite some time as photos of surviving diesel Rabbits, an appliance white sedan and beige pick up, attest.  After some quiet years, VW’s US diesel program roared back to life for the 2009 model year with the launch of the TDI “Clean Diesel.”  While, perhaps, not as polluting as the superannuated Rabbits seen here, we’ve found out they’re far from “clean.”

Pre-clean but honest

Pre-clean but honest

We are disappointed that VW engaged in egregious deception and fear that the “fix,” once vehicles are recalled and software is recalibrated,  will diminish performance and fuel economy.  Overnight, we’ve gone from fanboy status to major haters, a consequence of VW’s cheating, snookering consumers and despoiling the environment.   It all makes us yearn for the “good old days” when diesels weren’t marketed as “clean” by a campaign of overt lies.

If you’d like to drive down memory lane, we suggest “the highest mileage car in America,” the Volkswagen diesel for ’81 when they, perhaps, told some semblance of truth.

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.