Category Archives: Ford

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.

What should Santa drive?

Santa's 'stang

Santa’s ‘stang

As Boxing Day approaches we were taken with a pristine ’65 Mustang convertible in red with a white top. It struck us as the perfect vehicle for Santa Claus if he were to ever cut that flying sleigh and reindeer loose.  It’s festive, fun and sports the right color combination for the jolly one.

Santa's macho rig

Santa’s macho rig

Then, again, it doesn’t have a huge trunk so the question of where the stash the presents looms.  Perhaps this huge ’63 Dodge Power Wagon would be the right answer to St. Nick’s theoretical quest.  It’s red and white so the color combo fills the bill and the pick up bed would accommodate lots of loot.  It’s a lifted four wheel drive truck which means snow drifts could be successfully challenged.  The fact that it’s a crew cab means he could bring along some staff to help with the schlepping.

Wagoneering at the pole

Wagoneering at the pole

If he were to seek a bit more civilized conveyance he could try this terrific Jeep Wagoneer that dates from the days when Jeep was a product of American Motors.  The same basic truck, produced successively by Willys, Kaiser, American Motors and Chrysler, was introduced in 1962 and continued in production through the 1991 model year.  It certainly has more creature comforts that the Dodge Power Wagon but not quite the payload.  Unlike the Mustang, he wouldn’t be able to take the top down which leads us to this early ’70s International Harvester Scout finished in spruce green .  It’s got four wheel drive and the top comes off and the exterior color offers a nice contrast to Santa’s outfit.

Green machine

Green machine

But what of the little guys?  Yes, the elves need appropriate wheels and we’ve come up with a few suggestions for them.

Elves' pet Met

Elves’ pet Met

What about this Nash Metropolitan convertible we found at a light the other day?  The color combo is right up Santa’s alley and the continental kit means the miniscule trunk has that much more space.

Sprite-o!

Just buggin’

Or what about this Austin-Healey Sprite, a “bug eye” that dates from the late ’50s. It certainly gives the Metropolitan (with which it share the same motor, by the way) a run for the money in the cute department.  It would seem to compliment Santa’s Mustang very nicely.

Mini for the help

Mini for the help

Lastly, for the little folks, we suggest this very original Austin Cooper, the Mini that started it all.  The sliding windows saved British Motors, its manufacturer, money on the mechanics of roll down windows and created a tiny bit more space for stuffing presents in the door shelves.  BMC actually built the Metropolitan for American Motors as well as the Sprite and the Mini.  It’s a wonder they couldn’t stay in business.

Next year if you don’t hear the sound of hooves on your roof but, rather, a Mustang, Power Wagon, Wagoneer, Scout, Metropolitan, Sprite or Mini you’ll know why.

The Bug Eye Guy has lots of Sprites for sale and, yes, they all have human names.  With a face like that it’s only to be expected.

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.

Gift rack optional

Gift rack optional

 

 

Hooray FORD the red, white and blue!

Clue: blue

Feelin’ blue

This being the 4th of July we threw down the gauntlet to ourselves. Our aim was to find red, white and blue examples of the same basic car in celebration of our nation’s founding.  Our constraint was that it had to be a domestic brand and a major model therefrom.

Better than dead

Better than dead

Our algorithmic search yielded two separate but very much related Ford lines: Falcon and Mustang.  The fact is there would never have been a Mustang if Falcon hadn’t existed to donate its platform to the original pony car, introduced 51 years ago.  Falcon, an austere compact, had been on the market for four years prior to Mustang’s glamor play.

White but not uptight

White but not uptight

All of the examples we conjured up were found in ordinary circumstances, at the curb  in  supermarket parking lots. In short, these fine products of the Ford Motor Company underscore the indomitable American spirit.  It’s a wonderful country where a basic working class car can be transformed into an iconic, très cherchez, vehicle with sporting pretense   Mustang’s humble Falcon underpinnings were expertly obscured by the trappings of upward mobility.  Ain’t that America?

Falcon forever

Falcon forever

The blue Mustang is a ’68 and was a car Vietnam-bound conscripts dreamed of coming home to. The red convertible is a ’65, powered by a 289 cubic inch V8. It’s equipped with OEM fake wire wheels that didn’t really fool anybody but were, in some way, a gauche paen to old money. That’s a ’65 coupe in white and it’s wearing standard wheel covers that were more honest in their appeal.  Badging indicates it’s also powered by a 289 V8 though it could be had with the same humble inline six that was standard Falcon issue.

White flight

White flight

Our red (and white) Falcon is a ’63 Futura, the top-of-the- line bucket seat model that features a Thunderbird-inspired squared off roof.  The white convertible, is also a ’63 Futura.  The fact that the more costly trim package was so popular speaks to the fact that Americans are always looking to better their relative circumstance, even in ways that are, essentially, void of real content or quantifiable value. The blue ’61 “Tudor” (that’s Fordspeak for a two door coupe) is stunning in its mid-century simplicity and note that the roof line is more natural and flowing then that seen on the Futura so favored by arrivistes.

Blue bird

Blue bird

Feral Cars has something in common with Mustang and that’s not because we like to horse around.  We, too, began because of the existence of the Falcon.  Years ago, we noted more old Falcons in service than just about any car of equivalent vintage and coined the term “feral Falcon.”  The concept evolved to include other older cars found in the wild which brings us to this ongoing effort to chronicle these time machines as we have lo these many years.

Profile in courage

Profile in courage

Ford cleverly associated Falcon with Charles Schultz’ beloved Peanuts characters in a series of TV spots that killed us with cuteness.  Watch this one and you’ll soon be chanting “USA! USA! USA!”

OG 'stang

OG ‘stang

You will swell with pride when you watch this mini documentary about a ’64 1/2 Mustang that was the very first Mustang ever purchased (for $3400) in the USA. It’s still in the hands of Gail Wise, its original owner whose Chicago accent is also a treasure.

Wounded pony

Wounded pony

Because so many were built and survived it’s not difficult to buy a Falcon these days. We love the back story about this ’61″Fordor,” originally awarded as prize on TV’s “This Is Your Life.” It’s offered at only $4995 in nearby Aruendel, ME.  Why not make it a part of your life?

Simplicity patterned

Simplicity patterned

Let’s go back to a 1961 episode of “This Is Your Life” in which former heavyweight champion Joe Louis is profiled and his tax problems are actually noted.  Reality TV at its inception!

No looking back

No looking back

Like its Falcon donor, there’s no dearth of early Mustangs to choose from if you’re of a mind to add one to your stable.  We kind of love this very basic (6 cylinder, three speed manual transmission) ’64 1/2 convertible for sale in nearby Freeport, ME.  At only $16,900 you’d have to be insane not to buy it.

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.

Found! Flip top Ford from ’58

A better idea whose time came and went

A better idea whose time came and went

It’s funny, this business of scouting for FeralCars.com. Sometimes you start thinking that an early ’90s Camry station wagon might be an interesting subject and then — WHAM! – – you’re driving along Sunset Blvd. and there it is: a 1958 Ford Skyliner! You pull over into the first parking space you can find and run back to that big ol’ Ford.

Hey, it's gotta go somewhere.

Hey, it’s gotta go somewhere.

But maybe your mind is playing tricks with you?  Could it really be a super rare Skyliner, Ford’s pioneering effort to effort to build a convertible with a retractable folding steel roof? These were only built for a run of three model years — ’57, ’58 and ’59 — after which Ford threw in the towel.  These cost a significant percentage more than Ford’s far less oddly proportioned Sunliner canvas topped convertible.  Concerns about the top mechanism’s reliability — incorporating seven electric motors, eight circuit breakers, 10 switches, 10 relays and over 600 feet of wire — limited its sales appeal and sales were not as expected for the Skyliner which didn’t reappear when Ford debuted an all-new body in 1960. The market Ford thought was there wasn’t but the idea was later applied to Lincoln Continental convertibles whose soft top was stowed under the rear deck lid making for a smooth silhouette as those watching the Presidential motorcade through Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963 can attest.

Unlimited headroom potential

Unlimited headroom potential

Upon cursory inspection it’s confirmed that is, indeed, a Skyliner with the roof fixed in the “closed” position and highlighting the strange rear deck, stretched and boxed to open and swallow up the steel top.  And it’s a ’58, the second year model when the heretofore conservatively styled Ford line gave way to space race-inspired madness. Fins? Sure, we got ’em?  Quad headlights, “frenched” into the fenders atop which are decorative “gun sights”?  Sure thing! A faux air intake in the middle of the hood?  Check! Quad tail lights?  Uh-uh.  Wrap around windshield with “dogleg” knee basher? Right there!  Oops, almost left out the gleaming gold anodized rear fender insets that adds some metallic flair to the blue and white two-tone treatment.

This particular survivor is in delightfully un-restored conditon.  There’s rust through under the headlights and the chrome is pitted, providing a nice contrast to the pristine “trailer queens” that one usually encounters at car shows where owners tend to augment their display with all manner of ’50s kitchy accoutrements including poodle-skirted models and fuzzy dice.

Here's the scoop.  No, really, here is the scoop.

Here’s the scoop. No, really, here is the scoop.

The retractable hardtop convertible idea languished for almost 40 years when it was revived by Mercedes Benz for its compact SLK roadster in 1996 SLK.   Other manufacturers jumped on the folding steel roof bandwagon thereafter: Volvo, Ferrari, VW, Lexus, Infiniti, BMW, Mazda and even Chrysler with the woeful Sebring that also suffered with the same EPS (Embarrassing Proportion Syndrome) as those Skyliners.  And, talk about filling a need that didn’t exist, Chevy equipped the SSR retro hot rod truck thingie with one, too.  Ford never again embraced the idea even when top folding technology had been perfected and became somewhat commonplace in the industry.  The brain trust in Dearborn seems to have never fully recovered from the lack of public acceptance its corporate forefathers suffered  during the last years of the Eisenhower administration.

Top of the (Sky) line

Top of the (Sky) line

When the Skyliner was introduced for the ’57 model year, Ford hired Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz to star in  this commercial to ‘splain the concept of a retractable hardtop to the American public but no sign of Fred and Ethel.  By ’58, Ford had added a new, larger four passenger Thunderbird to its line up including a convertible version that had the same top stowing technology as the Skyliner, albeit the top that was stowed was canvas rather than steel.  We found a commercial from the era that highlighted both the T-bird and Skyliner as well as Ford’s conventional Sunliner, touted as “America’s lowest priced convertible.”

While you could reasonably expect price for Skyliners to have gone, ahem, through the roof, we found this really nice ’58 in nearby Worcester, MA for a shade under $30K.  Not cheap, to be sure, but a chance to own a massive hunk of mid-century technology that addressed a need that was never really there.

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