Monthly Archives: February 2016

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.

 

 

Magic location for motion pictured cars

Movin' Malibu

Chevelle: so swell

Our aim is always to capture and dissect, in a manner of speaking, vehicles seen in the wild but we never shoot or accept photos taken at car shows, auctions or used/classic car lots.  As a result, we do tend to ferret out featured feral finds when they’re parked. It’s one thing to nail ’em when they’re at a standstill as opposed to documenting them in motion.

There she goes

Movin’ Malibu

We’ve found that two corners right near Feral Car’s international HQ in Los Angeles have yielded a disproportionate number of very interesting, very notable cars in full flight.  We’re talking about the intersection of Rosewood Avenue and Rossmore Boulevard and, just three blocks to the east, the intersection of Rosewood and Larchmont Boulevard.

Do we have to spell it out? Cadillac means l-u-x-u-r-y.

Do we have to spell it out? Cadillac means l-u-x-u-r-y.

These are the crossroads where we’ve seen lots of vintage VWs, Valiants and the like as well as some more esoteric conveyances.  We’ve gone back into our image bank and sorted out a few shots of cars in motion captured at these locations that really underscore just what a phenomenal breeding ground this area happens to be.

Fender skirts standard, of course

Fender skirts standard, of course

We were most impressed with the bone stock ’71 Chevelle Malibu encountered at Rossmore and Rosewood just the other day.  You just don’t see these as untampered with as this one.  Our guess is that this unrestored California car wears its original 45-year old factory Antique White paint job.  Kudos to the owner who resisted pressure to change out the original wheel covers.

Actin' chill: big ol' Coupe DeVille

When it absolutely, positively has to get there in style.

Over at Larchmont and Rosewood we found a similarly unmessed-with Cadillac DeVillle, also a ’71.  We find the juxtaposition of the sky blue padded top over the Brittany blue body calming and reassuring on this,  a pristine enthralling example of traditional American luxury in motion.

Junk or punk in the trunk?

Junk or punk in the trunk?

At the same intersection we came upon a ’76 Cadillac Coupe DeVille that seemed raked, the front end higher than the back, perhaps due to a heavy load in the trunk.  We’ll refrain from theorizing on just what might have been weighing this magnificent Caddy down except to suggest that Good Fellas is available on Netflix.

Pretty Poncho

Pretty Poncho

Now it’s back to Rossmore and Rosewood for a gander at a super clean ’66 Pontiac LeMans.  It has the same bearing as the higher performance GTO but this one is equipped with a 326 cubic inch V8 rather than the 389 found under the hood of “The Goat.”  Yes, those wheels  and everything else appear to be totally stock and that’s the way we like it. You really can’t improve on perfection, so why try?

Near perfect "Pon-ton"

Near perfect “Pon-ton”

At the other end of the spectrum is this ’79 Buick Skyhawk that is completely intact but appears to be suffering from an advance case of benign neglect.  That brushed chrome band running up the b-pillars and over the roof may be perceived as a “lipstick on a pig” concept but we find it charming in a gauche sort of way.  The spoiler is a nice, touch, too.

Not entirely sure we'd rather have it but will certainly consider

Not entirely sure we’d rather have it but will certainly consider

Banded baby Buick

Banded baby Buick

These fecund intersections yield more than just GM-built transients.  Take, for example this stunning ’61 Rambler Classic.  While it’s true that Rambler ran third to Chevy’s #1 and Ford’s #2 on the sales charts back then, there are very few survivors built during the time of the (George) Romney administration of American Motors.   It’s paradoxical that upright Rambler sedans like this often doubled as eastern European cars in limited budget spy shows like Mission Impossible, Get Smart and The Man From U.N.C.L.E.  while Romney and AMC were on the front lines defending American capitalism from godless (and unprofitable) socialism.

Ramblin' man

Ramblin’ man

Remnant from the first (and last) Romney administration

Remnant from the first (and last) Romney administration

Lastly, we offer our pièce de résistance. We, too, thought we might be hallucinating but we shot this fantastic Citroën SM around 9 AM and hadn’t had any mushrooms for dinner the night before. 

L'avenir est arrivé dans le passé

L’avenir est arrivé dans le passé

The car was the product of Citroën’s acquisition of perpetually floundering Maserati in the early ’70s.  The hydropneumatic suspension was all French, derived from the system that kept the groundbreaking Citroën DS (literally) afloat since 1955. Power was provided by a Maserati V6 that was mounted backwards (!)  aft of the front axle; the transmission out in front of the motor.  The design is breathtaking, the interior exquisite and but the Franco-Italo alliance advanced Citroën’s march into insolvency and ultimate acquisition by rival Peugeot.

Allons enfants avec grâce à puissance italienne

Allons enfants avec grâce à puissance italienne

If you find yourself in Southern California you really should make it a point to amble down Rosewood Avenue between Larchmont and Rossmore Boulevards.  We’d love to know if you encounter any of these inspiring full motion relics.

We found this well-priced (under $80K) ’72 CitroënSM for sale in nearby St. Louis and urge you to consider its purchase.  We predict you’ll double your money if you sell it ten years hence, if you don’t factor in the cost of maintenance — some contend that “SM” stands for exactly what you’re thinking it does. Ouch!

Less, exotic, perhaps is this TV commercial for the ’71 Chevelle.  Dinah Shore-approved!

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.