Monthly Archives: June 2014

Full retail: Cinqucento in-store appearance

Our Giardiniera gets planted

Giardiniera gets planted

Our vehicular mascot 1967 Fiat 500K Giardiniera baby station wagon is now serving as the centerpiece at Alchemy Works.  It’s the hippest boutique in LA’s burgeoning Arts District and we’ve loaned them our little friend to serve as FeralCars.com’s goodwill ambassador. Our particular Italian ex-pat replaces a delightful ’66 Alfa Romeo Duetto whose owner reclaimed it after a lengthy stay.  Love, love, love those headlights bubbles!

Predecessor paisano

Predecessor paisano

The 6.6 mile drive to Alchemy Works (826 E. 3rd Street) was uneventful, if somewhat noisy.  We avoided the freeway in favor of surface streets in deference to the little car’s somewhat limited performance characteristics.  With only 17.5 horsepower on tap —  the motor, mounted on its side under the cargo bed is just two cylinders, 499.5 cc discplacment — this routing strategy seemed only prudent.

Neat installation

Neat installation

Just before we drove it up the sidewalk and into the store something seemed amiss.. the brakes had frozen or the rear axle decided to become uncooperative, it’s unclear what the hang up was but it didn’t seem entirely feasible to turn it around in the store under its own “power” to face incoming customers.  That’s when we recruited the crew of guys you see here to pick it up and turn it around. The car weighs just 1200 lbs so that works out to 240 pounds per man but you can halve that since they picked it up from one end and then the other.  The car will be in the store for the next month or two so please stop by and keep it company if you find yourself in the oh-so-groovy nabe.

Manly men acted in a manly manful manner

Manly men acted in a manly manful manner

One this is certain: When it’s time to come home, we’ll do the flatbed thing rather than compound whatever the heck the problem might be.  Hey, do us a favor and spare us the “Fix It Again Tony” jokes.  Our mechanic is named Joe.

Check out this promo film heralding the introduction of the original Fiat 500 back in 1957.  Che bella la piccola macchina!

 

Corona Extra

Scooting through the decades

Scooting through the decades

Toyota is one of the best-selling automotive bands in the world and currently holds a huge 14+% of US domestic market share. It wasn’t that long ago that the notion of a Japanese best seller was something of an alien — on multiple levels — notion.  Toyota’s earliest inroads were made in Southern California so it was appropriate that our recent sighting of a 1967 Corona sedan took place on the 10 Freeway near the Soto Street exit in East L.A.  This little car was all right angles, in literal sharp contrast to VW’s standard-bearing Beetle but got the job done with 90 hp on tap.

Japanese cars?  They'll never catch on!

Japanese cars? They’ll never catch on!

This one seems flawless and formal in black but we’re delighted it’s used in the real world and not just rolled out for cars shows.  Those original California black plates would seem to indicate that this little number is ultra-original.

Holy Land Cruising

Holy Land Cruising

Much, much, much farther afield is this Toyota Land Cruiser FJ45 of similar vintage, shot by Feral Cars Field Scout Tim Merlis shot from — if you believe him — atop a camel in Wadi Rum, Jordan.  Tim notes that England’s Lawrence of Arabia may have liberated these realms from the Ottoman Empire but nary a Land Rover is seen these days.

Celica from hell-ica

Celica from hell-ica

Another Feral Cars Field Scout, Owen Husney, sent us this shot of a sad, ’73 Celica.  The cheesy landau style vinyl room betrayed the car by keeping moisture locked in and the result is this “corona” of roof rust.  This kind of neglect is not the benign kind.

Chased out

Fun in the Sunchaster or highway horror show?

Lastly, we offer a 1980 Celica-based Toyota Sunchaser, shot by Feral Cars Field Scout Rip Masters.  These were Sawzall conversions, authorized by Toyota, that turned Celica coupes into targa-topped quasi-convertibles.  It’s estimated that something like 2,000 cars got the pop top treatment but survivors are few and far between and it’s not clear this one is going to make it.

We love this TV spot for Toyota Corona where it drag races Art Arfon’s jet-powered Green Monster which held the world land speed record at 576 mph.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting please send it to us:    info (at) feralcars (dot)com                                                                                                                   Include your name, location of the car and some thoughts about the vehicle and we’ll look into getting it posted

Bronco bust: OJ’s wild ride

Ride 'em OJ!

Ride ’em. OJ!

I have a confession to make.  Despite the fact that it lasted almost two hours and was witnessed by 95 million people, I completely missed the legendary OJ Simpson “low speed chase,” the 20th anniversary of which is upon us.  Yes, I missed it all — OJ in the backseat with a gun to his head while his pal Al Cowlings drove his (Cowlings’, not OJ’s but he had one, too) ’93 white Ford Bronco an average of 35 mph over 60 miles of freeways, followed by an armada of police cruisers while dozens of helicopters covered from above. I missed it when NBC interrupted game 5 of the NBA finals and when thousands cheered OJ from overpasses.  I missed it when ABC News anchor Peter Jennings put an “eyewitness” on the phone who told him “I see OJ and he looks scared,” followed by “..and Baba Booey to y’all!”  My excuse:  I was more than 4,000 miles away on the island of Huahine, in French Polynesia. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time! I’m talking about me, not OJ because, as we know, he didn’t do it and was, himself, the victim of tiny gloves. 

He looks scared, doesn't he?

Worst product placement,. Ever.

I still have a whole lot of catching up to do so I hold my own in cocktail conversations.  To this end, we managed to find a Bronco that generally fits the description of the OJ non-getaway car insofar as it’s white.  It’s an XLT monochrome model with a body-colored grill as opposed to the gleaming chrome front end of the creepy OJ truck.

Cops' p.o.v.

Cops’ p.o.v.

These Broncos were bulky brutes, based, as they were, on a shortened version of Ford’s big ass F-series truck platform. They seemed kind of stubby in a fat guy way and offered just two doors so, presumably, OJ had to wiggle into the back of Cowlings’ when he played his starring role in that mobile theater-of-the-absurd. The spare tire mounted on the swinging arm behind the tailgate was the view scores of cops got when they gave halfhearted chase to OJ exactly 20 years ago.  With not a whole lot of sport and very little utility on tap, Broncos made some kind of anti-style statement on behalf of celebrities and other arriviste types who were attracted to their macho demeanor. They were, typically, driven to high end restaurants where diminutive valets would relieve their owners of their ungainly steeds in the hope of a generous tip or crust of bread.

Without a Scout

Without a Scout

First generation (’66 -’77) Broncos were almost three feet shorter as they had been built to compete with International Harvester’s relatively diminutive Scout and Jeep’s eternal CJ. We really like this pristine green machine wearing Nevada plates.  Coincidentally, Nevada is the state where OJ Simpson is currently serving time in that state’s Lovelock (we don’t make these names up, folks) Correctional Center after having been convicted of robbery at gunpoint and kidnapping charges stemming from ill-conceived efforts to retrieve sports memorabilia that he claimed had been taken from him.

They made at least one that wasn't white

They made at least one that wasn’t white

Irrespective of OJ’s notoriety,  white was the most popular Bronco color but we did find a well preserved maroon (which Ford called “Cabernet”) example wearing New York plates. Sad that the textured fiberglass top seems to have come down with a chalky rash.

A bit tiresome

A bit tiresome

Ford quietly stopped building Broncos just five days short of the two year anniversary of the chase by which time a jury had decided that OJ was innocent.  Glad we got to clear all that up.

How now rust brown cow?

Cabernet cowboy

There was a time when OJ wasn’t a pariah, in fact he was a much sought after pitchman.  Here’s a commercial he did for Hertz in which he suggests you rent a FORD truck!  What a coincidence!

And the one you’ve been waiting for.  Stay with it after the “Baba Booey” for Al Michaels’ “totally farcical” pronouncement.

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.

Post literate potpourri

NatLampCo car but certainly  NOT the "Family Truckster"

NatLampCo Vacation car but certainly NOT the “Family Truckster”

Based in Southern California as we are, we are sometimes overwhelmed, rendered fahrklempt, if you will, by the spectrum of feral finds accrued within the space of one day.  As an experiment in feral foraging, we collected some examples stalked within the last 24 hours.  No big narrative thread this time, just 7 unrelated — OK two are Italian and red — vehicles seen during a one-day period within the confines of a 5 square mile area.  Ain’t life grand?

Ford Econoline pressed into hipster servitude

Ford Econoline pressed into hipster servitude

Alfa Duetto makes the retail scene

Alfa Duetto makes the retail scene

Corolla FX: feral freeway flyer

Corolla FX: feral freeway flyer

Tempo topper

Topaz – costume jewelry from Mercury

El Camino sentenced to hard labor

El Camino sentenced to hard labor

Topless MBZ "Pagoda" motors on

Topless MBZ “Pagoda” motors on

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.

 

 

Land Cruiser: Toyota’s big, bad bruiser

Such a face!

Such a face!  Does this look like the top half of a ’61 Rambler set down on a parade float to you? Thought so!

Feral Cars fan and Field Scout Kendell Shaffer found this immaculate ’79 Toyota Land Cruiser Series 55 and couldn’t resist sharing.  It’s a 4 wheel drive, narrow gauge proto-SUV powered by a  reverse engineered facsimile of Chevy’s “Stove Bolt 6” that has an international cult following.

Speaking of International, check out this Travelall-esque look.  Roll down tailgate window, too.

Speaking of International, check out this Travelall-esque look. Roll down tailgate window, too.

We have some far-flug Feral Cars Field Scouts but never one checking in from Peru.  That’s where FCFS Andrew Keeler found this ’64 Land Cruiser FJ40 which he was told was assembled there.  We think the wooden bumper was an aftermarket-sourced addition.  Are you listening SEMA?

Machu Picchu choo-choo

Machu Picchu choo-choo

The 50 year old Andean runabout was encountered on the way to most mystical Machu Picchu and here’s the guy who keeps this half century old motorized llama on the Inca Trail.

Alpaca powered!

Alpaca powered!

The thing about Toyota Land Cruisers is that they seem to hang in for the long run — a value proposition? Perhaps a value proposition if frill-free utility is a priority for you. Prices for non-trashed examples have been trending upwards so there’s investment potential to consider, as well.   How about a later Series 60 Land Cruiser like this ’85 with all ‘mod cons’ including air conditioning and doors and windows and brakes and the like?  The buy-in price is only going to go rise so don’t procrastinate.

TLC of the 80's

TLC of the Eight-Tees

Upright everything's all right, outtasite

Upright everything’s all right, outtasite

We think this flame red example would be just the thing for today’s hipster fire chief.  Hey, you’d certainly be noticed on your way to extinguish the smoldering embers of an industrial juicer with a short circuit.

Where's the fire?

Where’s the fire?

We love this early ’60s commercial where the full line of Land Cruisers models are put through their paces. It’s downright enthusiastic, without a trace of irony.  That red FJ40 going 85 on the freeway is scary!

Our friends at Bringatrailer are featuring a ’73 Series 55 with a Chevy 350 V8 transplanted and a 4-speed manual transmission.  $23,900 gets 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.