Category Archives: Valiant

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.

‘Vairs so rare and, yes, we care

 

Drought resistant

Drought resistant ’65

This discovery of a beautiful 1965 (second generation) Corvair Corsa got us to thinking what might have been if things hadn’t gone so terribly wrong .  Chevy’s Corvair seemed like the car to beat back when GM, Ford and Chrysler all introduced their respective compact cars in 1960. Ford’s Falcon was a scaled-down big Ford, strictly dullsville and there was nothing innovative about it.  MoPar’s Valiant wasn’t even designated a Plymouth, its tag line was “nobody’s kid brother,” perhaps, because the radical Virgil Exner styling was ‘challenging’ to mainstream consumers.  Corvair, like the wildly successful Volkswagen, was powered by a rear-mounted air-cooled motor.  The Chevy back burner was a 2.3 six  vs. VW’s 1.2 liter four.   What could possibly go wrong?

As we now know, GM cheaped out on the  suspension, neglecting to install an anti roll bar, the result being that, in less than capable hands, first generation Corvairs were prone to oversteer, a condition where the back end seems to be trying to catch up to the front.  This game of catch-up could cause the car to loose traction and spin out of control. That boring Falcon and wacky looking Valiant started to seem like better choices and GM, faced with lawsuits, put in a fix a few years later.  Ultimately, GM redesigned the suspension as on our lovely Corsa  but when Ralph Nader jumped in with his Unsafe At Any Speed bestseller consumer confidence ran into a virtual ditch.

The business end

The business end

Corvairs today do have their adherents and we’ve found a few examples on the road that are most noteworthy.  The top-of-the-line Corsa was turbo-charged and really had more in common with Porsche than VW but Ford’s Mustang, really a Falcon adaptation, had taken the spotlight by this time so only the cognoscenti were hip to its enthusiast bona fides.

More air

More air

Corsa represented the sporting side of Corvair and the Corvair 95 line of vans and trucks were about utility.  We found a seldom seen Rampside pick up the other day and just love the “work around” necessitated by the fact the motor housing intrudes into the load bed.  Instead of a tailgate in the back, Chevy installed a side ramp so you could roll your lawnmower right up from the sidewalk.  Necessity is, truly, a mother.

Corvair ramps up

Corvair ramps up

Patina to spare

We think the wooden railings are a nice folk art touch that compliment the patina, don’t you?

Early Corvairs, such as this ’62 Monza coupe, captured by Feral Cars fan Peter Andrews, present an attitude of hope and promise.  America had met the compact car challenge head on with its own rear engined, air-cooled, compact car head on which, as it happened, was the kind of collision you might face if you had the misfortune to loose control when the rear end decided to do its swing thing.  Feel free to insert JFK analogies here.

Spinthrift

Spinthrift

We do want to offer a shot of the earliest Corvair we could find.  It’s a 1960 four door sedan that proudly wears an oversize winged Chevy emblem on its (front) trunk.  It’s a car used for everyday transportation in Cuba.  Feel free to insert Fidel Castro analogies here.

Suddenly, it's 1960!

Suddenly, it’s 1960!

When the redesigned ’65 Corvair was launched it seemed that GM did harbor some hope of a comeback as evidenced by this commercial heralding it as “the new international beauty.”  The comely blonde seen admiring the car on the sand hammered home the point in a shapely way.

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.