Monthly Archives: January 2015

Peugeot (qu’est-ce que c’est ?)

La vrai chose

La vraie chose

There was a time when France was a significant exporter of cars to these shores.  Consumers could choose among Renault, Citroën and even Panhard, if only for un petit moment.  Perhaps the most straightforward Gallic contender here was Peugeot which was described as “a French Mercedes.”  This was cipher for ‘vehicle suitable for the haute bourgeoisie’. Renaults were usually small, insubstantial rolling coffins and Citroëns — both the farm implement-cum-chariots des paysans 2CV (deux chevaux = “two horses”) and the futuristic DS — pronounced déesse = “goddess” — too advanced for a nation of shade tree mechanics met with shoulder shrugs at best.

Gallic oil burner

Gallic oil burner

FeralCars Field Scout Andrew Keeler captured this Peugeot 504, the no-nonsense workhorse of Africa, on the funky streets of San Francisco.  This particular Cinq cent quatre, as you’d expect, is diesel powered. Diesel durability, perhaps, accounts for its extraordinary longevity.  We’re fairly certain it’s a ’76; the 504  was in production for 14 years with three million copies produced.

Nice kitty

Nice kitty

Until just last year the company was controlled by the Peugeot family. The operation dates  back to the early-19th century and really got going when coffee mill and bicycle production kicked in sometime thereafter. Manufacture of motorized vehicles started in 1889, only three years after Karl Benz got his mellifluously named Benz Patent-Motorwagen rolling under its own power on whatever they used for autobahns back then. The Peugeot lion symbol, seen in bas-relief and rendered in rugged plastic on the grill of a 604 , was first applied to Peugeot brand saw blades indicating strong teeth, sharp tongue and swift cut claws. Ouch!

Super-sized "force de frappe"

Super-sized “force de frappe”

Bumpered car

Bumpered car

Peugeot was never a threat to the rise of Mercedes Benz in the luxury car field but fielded Pininfarina-designed contender just the same.  Here’s a E-Class size Peugeot 604, a Turbo Diesel according the the badge on the big square sedan’s derriere, the font of which could only have been applied to a car conceived in the land of Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.   It’s a quite a mirthful appliqué for an executive class car like this.  We took a look inside and noted the 5-speed manual transmission that could make driving this a truly Francodelic delight.

Font-astique!

Font-astique!

We think the Peugeot 505 is very reasonable proposition, a “just right” size sedan that was popular in college towns and places where fall foliage tours are undertaken.  This one, a gasoline powered (!)  STI,  is probably a 1980 model and appears to be headed to an entertainment locale called “Fully Exposed” although we recognize that the car wash just down the street could well be an alternate objective. Or, perhaps, tous les deux?  Clean and dirty in one handy location!

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 9.27.46 PM

We found a stunning 1980 Peugeot 504 online priced at a whopping $195000 but we’re starting to think it could actually be bon marché insofar as it has fewer than 8000 KM — kilometers, not miles!  Peugeot never sold cars in any significant volume in this country but they did roll the dice with this commercial that played on French sexual stereotype for the 505 Turbo that was shot on location — in the bedroom.  Here’s an earlier spot that emphasizes the brand’s heritage and legacy that’s actually quite informative.  Yes, there will be a midterm!

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.

 

 

 

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

 

 

Beetlemania!

Old Volks roam

Old Volks roam

Just a few years ago it wasn’t all that extraordinary to encounter an original Volkswagen Beetle on the street or highway.  While their heyday was the ’60s and ’70s, we continued to see them in significant numbers through the ’90s.  We recently looked around for Beetle infestations and found them few and far between.  Time has taken its toll on the car that first debuted back in 1938.  That 75 year old design is still idiosyncratic, a series of curves and bulges that delight the eye, perhaps more now than when this was the #1 selling import.  That was, of course, before the onslaught of Japanese and Korean cars as well as domestic sub-compacts.

Just buggin'

Just buggin’

We’re guessing this (mostly) white one dates from the mid ’60s.  One of the selling points of the car was the ease with which parts could be replaced.  Here’s a sexist ad from 50 years ago suggesting that changing out a crumpled fender would set you back less than $25.  We hope that the owner of this one — don’t you love the glassed in headlights and the bumper override? — paid far less for the red one that seems to have come pre-dented.

Obsolete logic: if it's broken it's the fault of a woman

Obsolete logic: if it’s broken it’s the fault of a woman

Little car, big(ish) tires

Little car, big(ish) tires

This black Beetle of somewhat later vintage (head lights aren’t covered, the rear windows are hinged, etc.) sits higher than normal — those tires look a little oversized which means they’re still fairly tiny by today’s standards.  If you read the message on the license plate frame you’ll come to the conclusion that the owner is not the kind who keeps a bud vase suction cupped to the dash.

This kind of hostility runs against type

This kind of hostility runs against type

We found another macho Beetle wearing lots of “go fast” decals but the buttercup yellow color would seem to undermine the testosterone-driven intent.

Herbie rides again?

Herbie rides again?

Feral Cars Field Scout Steve DeBro found this crusty Beetle a while back.  Some talk about patina while others go all in!

Inner beauty comes out

Inner beauty comes out

There seems to be an epidemic of passenger side front fender blight going around as evidenced by this white Beetle that sports aftermarket “eyelids” and a roof rack that increases luggage capacity by.. well, by the sky’s the limit.  Literally.

A tisket, a tasket..

A tisket, a tasket..

As noted, Beetles are not all that common these days so finding two “in the wild” was a rare treat.  Those reflective license plates sure mess up the mood though, don’t they?

Noir style x 2

Noirbugs

Volkswagens were among the first cars sold here that came equipped with sun roofs.  This one, perhaps a ’58 (as suggested by those tiny tail lights), sports a fabric slide-back roof, pre-dating the sliding steel sunroofs so common today.

Easy breezy

Easy breezy

Travel tip: visit this statue of a gorilla holding up a Beetle if you’re ever near Bristol, VT. It seemed like a good idea at the time, we’re supposing.

Monkey grip

Monkey grip

We kinda love this commercial from ’65 which contrasts the steep rate of depreciation or deflation, if you will, of domestic cars with VW’s in a graphic deflationary way.. and this one which emphasized that year-to-year styling changes were minimal although we’re not fooled: that small rear window indicates it’s from a model year earlier than ’58.

We are hugely impressed with the pristine condition of this ’59 Beetle that’s for sale in nearby Brea, CA.  Yes, the asking price is $32,500 — that’s not a typo.  Something like this cost about $1400 when new.  Seems like a great return on investment, doesn’t 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

 

 

Z28 Pursuit

The glory that was grease

The glory that was grease

Cruising (OK, not really cruising but racing off to dinner) south of the 101 Freeway we encountered an automotive echo of the fairly recent past.  We’re safely guessing it’s an ’84 – ’87 Chevy Camaro Z28.  That means it’s equipped with, at the very least, a 305 cubic inch V8 which was, in a way, de-tuned for the times.  Still if you can find a 4-speed equipped version you’ll be sitting pretty on the collector market in fairly short order.  Unless, of course, you drive it hard and have actual fun with it.

Hindsight seeing

Hindsight seeing

This view confirms it’s a for-real Z28 high performance model; note that dual exhaust action. Lookin’ mighty butch, n’est-ce pas?

1st gen sensation

1st gen sensation

We got pretty much the same “at speed” kind of shot when we captured this first generation (’68 – ’69?) Camaro a while back. Is that a pack of Luckies rolled up in your sleeve?

Bumper car

Bumper car

How about this ’73 Type LT?  That bumper could double as a battering ram but overall we find the whole package kind of ersatz Ferrari funky.  Yeah, we can dig it.

Scary stuff!

Scary stuff!

This flat black ’92 RS has a super sinister affect so it could be driven by a bad guy or a bad good guy (Vin Diesel?) either ironically or in refreshing bad taste.  This is where “tough” is spell “tuff”.

Shapely Chev

Shapely Chev

What about the Ferrari-esque silhouette of this ’72 Camaro?  This particular car is, perhaps, a bit tired in the shine department but the shape is as vital today as it was over 40 years ago.

'60 lookin' so very fine

’60 lookin’ so very fine

This ’69 coupe reflects the resurgence of AC/DC insofar as “Black Is Back” endures.  The dog dish hubcaps give this example an outlaw gloss.  Practice this line: “Which one of you is man enough to take me on?”

Do the exhaust tips and vinyl roof make it go faster?

Do the exhaust tips and vinyl roof make it go faster?

FeralCars Field Scout Matthew Reader documented this ’76 Type LT in the wild.  We’ve never been all partial to vinyl roofs, especially the swoopy kind, and can do without those cheesy wheels BUT, damn, it’s a fall harvest themed car if ever there was one.

When the Camaro was first introduced Chevy rented a volcano and let it rip.  The spawn of all this magma is a SS350 performance model.   That announcer could follow you around telling everybody how “with it” you really are.  That’s a great value.

We kind of like this ’83 Z28 so  why not add it to your personal fleet?  If you do succeed in snagging it you might consider changing your name to Vinny. Entirely up to you.

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