Category Archives: Volkswagen

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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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.



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.

Porsche panoply

One more than 911 but two fewer than 6

One more than 911 but two fewer than 6

We’ve defined feral cars as those which are, plausibly, everyday drivers.  We don’t seek them out at car shows or dealerships, whatever one might see here is captured “in the wild,” so to speak. We’ve never done a Porsche post because, face it, most of the older ones are locked in garages, in exotic car dealerships and taken out for events.  We’ve been collecting Porsches in our image bank hoping we’d achieve critical mass and that day has come.

This post was prompted by the discovery of a really nice, original 912 (that’s not a typo, the body is very much like the 911 but there are two fewer cylinders in the motor) that was parked just down the street from us.  While we were photographing it the owner presented himself and confirmed that it is, in fact, an everyday driver that is used for the same errands for which you might employ your Corolla, Accord or Jetta to accomplish..  OK, maybe not for Dominoes deliveries

Off to Costco!

Off to Costco!

Except this is a for real 1969 Porsche 912, the last model year for the four cylinder air-cooled motor and it’s most impressive.  The owner reported the paint is not original but the car had been wearing it since he bought it several decades ago.  His 912 was actually hauled out of a barn where it had been resting at the time of its purchase necessitated by the fact that his Volvo P1800 had just been demolished in a confrontation with a truck.  Apart from its overall originality, we were impressed with the pop out rear windows and the toaster slot hand cranked sunroof, both items of which are very important details in the car which isn’t equipped with air conditioning, nor, for that matter much of anything that’s electronic.

Last of the breed

How blue can you get?

We reached back eight years earlier in Porsche history for this ’61 Super 90 that was captured in Salt Lake City by Feral Cars Field Scout Bennett C. Sandick.  The body colored bumpers won our heart as did the tiny two-tone taillights.

Brothers under the skin

Brothers under the skin

We found a ’65 Porsche C, one of the last of the historic 356 “bathtub” cars parked next to a late ’60s Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia.  Under their respective skins lurk many similarities, e.g. swing axles, air cooled rear engines, torsion bar suspension.  Could this rendezvous between not-so-distant cousins have been planed or was it serendipitous?

Old school

Back in black

The black paint job gives this 356C a formal look but we’re guessing it’s hot as the blazes inside.  Open the damn windows!

Roadside attraction

Roadside attraction

We are grateful to Sean Grimes for this very artful shot of his ’71 911.  It really does capture the car’s stunningly fluid simplicity.

Wheel deal

Rubber dubber

We found a ’78 911SC parked across the street.  These were built when black was the new chrome.  The subtle wheel flairs accommodate tires wider than the actual body and those rubber bumper attenuators and black rubber rear bumper bumpers are there to comply with new U.S. federal low speed crash standards.



Feral Cars Field Scout Tim Merlis found a 911 “Whale Tail” on the streets of Montreal. These Frankensteinish cars were the fastest Porsche cars of the era (’75 – ’89) and that huge rear appurtenance served several functions: it channeled more air into the turbo charged engine, it created down force to keep the car from lifting at high speeds and it told the world the driver was probably trying to compensate for something lacking in his (never a her) personality or anatomy.  From the look of that raw red rear bumper, it looks like this one is dealing with the automotive equivalent of a hemorrhoid onslaught. Ouch!

Moby dick?

Moby Dick joke goes here


Headlight washers, a handy feature, especially in Quebec

While we’re on the subject of workaday Porsches, let’s not forget the front engine water-cooled variety. Here’s an ’84 928.  It’s powered by a V8 and is fairly hefty (about 3400 pounds) and is, to our way of thinking the least “porschey” car ever build by Porsche.

You coulda had a V8

You coulda had a V8

Scraping by

Scraping by

We found this 1988 944 Turbo the other day and were impressed with its <ahem> “patina.”  These were powered by a four cylinder motor that was, essentially, half of the V8 used in the 928.  This same trick was used by International Harvester for its 4 cylinder Scout. that motor was sourced from the company’s V8 of exactly twice the cubic inch displacement.


944:  924 plus 20

Porsche invented and patented the term Targa ®.  It’s really a full width hatch top with a fixed rear window.  The idea is it’s the best of both worlds — convertible and coupe — and that brushed chrome Targa ® band is a nice touch.  This one is a 911SC that we believe is a ’77 based on the look of the bumpers but your guess is as good, if not better, than ours.

Butterscotch Targa

Butterscotch Targa ®

Feral Cars Field Scout Amy Treco risked life and limb to capture this ’68 911. That California black plate beginning with an “X” is the giveaway as to the model year as are the side markers on the front and rear fenders.  Great to see an original car like this in actual use.


“X” marks the year

We like this Porsche propaganda film starring Dr. Ferry Porsche whose accent is straight out of Ludwig Von Drake.  We found a ’67 Porsche 912, not unlike our featured car, in nearby Beverly Hills, CA offered for $27,500.  Great for pizza delivery!

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.


Just buggin’: remembering when VW was about love, not hate

There was a time when Volkswagen was a harbinger of  good vibes, a touchstone of the counter culture and synonymous with idiosyncratic individualism.  That was long before the current era of cheating, lying and greed as typified by the scandal that has gross polluters on the road marketed as “Clean Diesels.”   Perhaps Volkswagen isn’t alone in this kind of no-holds-barred deception. Automotive journalist, pundit and renaissance man Jamie Kitman has written that  “the world’s carmakers have the long-range vision and ethical integrity of a roving band of rabid raccoons.”  While we think this broad brush characterization may be unfair to those masked procyonidae, it would certainly seem to apply to today’s VW where ethics were cast aside and the long-range vision seemed to be to continue cheating on the assumption they’d never be caught.

We all scream for ice cream

Georgia on our minds; we all scream for ice cream

We’re well aware of the marque’s Third Reich origins but in the decades after “the unpleasantness,” the VW Beetle was a cipher for free thinking and social responsibility.  Feral Cars Field Scout and Coachella Valley bon vivant Ronald Ahrens encountered such a free thinker recently.

His report:  That’s Georgia at the wheel of her ’65 Beetle. She wouldn’t step out and pose with her car. ‘I don’t know what your motives are,’ she said. But she did explain that she fell in love with Beetles after buying one new in 1966 and driving it 43 years. “I had this one standing by.” She says it has given her some problems because everything “went out of adjustment” at once, but she’s found an honest mechanic to put it back in adjustment. I pointed out the bag by her door and learned it contained ice cream she couldn’t finish. Then she asked if I’d throw it away for her, which I’ve done. It was 1.5 quarts of Dreyer’s chocolate.

Sunny bug

Sunny bug. Note: aftermarket pop-out rear windows

Inspired by Ronald’s encounter with Georgia and her 50 year-old Bug, we offer a range of images of similar Vdubs found in the wild, all of which make us nostalgic for the time when Volkswagens were thought of in the same terms as family pets rather than as polluting pestilence.

Eat your heart out Herbie

Beetle with juice

People loved their Volkswagens, they gave them names, decorated them and even raced them. They were fiercely loyal to the car whose basic shape remained the same over a span of 65 years.  Innumerable baby boomers learned how to drive behind the wheel and flat windshield of a VW and figured out how to shift for themselves with a real clutch and that rubbery gearbox.

Racy livery

Herbie’s cousin

Convertible versions, built for VW by Karmann, were especially cherchez.  The horsehair stuffed tops were folded down by hand and the resulting ‘top stack’ protruded over the back of the car creating a fabric spoiler. ..not that the VW ragtops actually need a spoiler in light of the fact they shared the same mechanical components with the standard Bug.

Vdub drop top

Topless Vdub

The number of surviving Beetles is quite remarkable since the last new one sold here dates back to early 1979 though they continued to be sold in Mexico and Brazil into the early 21st Century.

Nice rack!

Nice rack!

We’re kind of loving the roof rack on this early ’70s Bug; the white one below dates from around ’66 or ’67.

Refrigerator white

Wolfsburg white

We found an old Beetle that, based on the tiny taillights, fabric sunroof and pop-out semaphores in lieu of turn signals, would seem to date from the late 1950s.  How can you not love something as innocent as this?

Old school rules

Old school rules

Keeping score?

Keeping score?

We found this brilliant TV commercial for the ’65 Volkswagen, not unlike Georgia’s, that suggested that Beetles had a resale advantage over their domestic counterparts.  This glorious ’65, offered for sale in nearby O’Fallon IL confirms the point made in that commercial 50 years ago.  It’s priced at just under $16,000, about ten times what it cost new which, alas, is probably not going to be the case for one of those newly built “Clean Diesels” in 2065.

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.



VW’s dirty house of lies collapses

Dear Volkswagen,

You’re dead to us.

Not a clean machine but we weren't told otherwise

Not a clean machine but we weren’t told otherwise

When you write about cars it’s natural that friends and family ask you for advice when they’re in the market for something new.  Over the past few years, we haven’t hesitated to heartily recommend any and all diesel-powered Volkswagens because our experience with the current generation VW TDI diesel has been a very happy one since an ’09 Jetta SportWagen found its way to our driveway.

Dirty trucker

Dirty little trucker

That all ended a day or so ago when news broke that we’ve been duped in no uncertain terms. VW (and Audi) admitted that TDI-equipped cars (this so-called ‘clean diesel’ motor is available, for a premium, across many model lines including Beetle, Golf, Jetta, Passat, A3) have been fitted with software to deliberately violate Clean Air Act emissions laws.  

Oil burning bunny

Oil burning bunny

That’s right, VW TDIs passed emissions tests because “defeat” software was programmed to stifle emissions when the cars were tested but allowed them to emit up to 40 times the legally allowed amount of potential carcinogens into the environment under normal use. This is a literal “dirty trick,” if ever there was. We’re painfully aware that at least three people took our solicited advice and bought or leased a “Clean Diesel” VW.

When they were honest

When they were honest

Volkswagen was a pioneer in equipping passenger cars with diesels for quite some time as photos of surviving diesel Rabbits, an appliance white sedan and beige pick up, attest.  After some quiet years, VW’s US diesel program roared back to life for the 2009 model year with the launch of the TDI “Clean Diesel.”  While, perhaps, not as polluting as the superannuated Rabbits seen here, we’ve found out they’re far from “clean.”

Pre-clean but honest

Pre-clean but honest

We are disappointed that VW engaged in egregious deception and fear that the “fix,” once vehicles are recalled and software is recalibrated,  will diminish performance and fuel economy.  Overnight, we’ve gone from fanboy status to major haters, a consequence of VW’s cheating, snookering consumers and despoiling the environment.   It all makes us yearn for the “good old days” when diesels weren’t marketed as “clean” by a campaign of overt lies.

If you’d like to drive down memory lane, we suggest “the highest mileage car in America,” the Volkswagen diesel for ’81 when they, perhaps, told some semblance of truth.

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.