09 September 2014

Car Stuff: Sunday Cruise-In

There are a few big car shows scattered through the summer calendar, along with weekly themed events at the Museum of Transportation in Brookline, but there are also a number of less formal events, called cruise nights or cruise-ins, where owners of vintage cars gather in predesignated parking lots for a period of time. There is a list of them organized by day of the week here (light type on black background alert), and I happened to catch one on Sunday afternoon.

There were perhaps a total of two dozen vehicles, and about a quarter of those were late-model Mustangs all parked together off to one side, but the rest were worth seeing. I didn't take pictures of every car, but some shots have more than one car in them.
I think this nice-looking GMC pickup is a 1970. This body, shared with Chevrolet pickups, looked especially modern when it was introduced for 1967. There was another GMC pickup of the same vintage at this event, which was surprising because they always sold in lower numbers than their Chevy cousins. (I was kind of excited to see the '65 Chevy II next to it until I saw the silly motor sticking up through the hood; I've never been much for hot rods.)
This is a 1954 Ford Crestline "Sunliner" convertible. I'm not as much of a fan of Fords as I am of other old cars, but I have always thought that the 1952-54 models were very nice-looking. The wire wheels are a nice touch. Hey, that gray Mazda in the back looks familiar. (For those of you who don't know me personally, it's ours.)
So... I've never been that good at pre-World War II cars. I know it's a Ford pickup. The bumper and grille surround match images of 1930 and '31 models I found on the web, so I'm going to go with Model A. However, the suspension has been lowered somewhat, and those wheels look like they came from an Oldsmobile 4-4-2, an interesting choice.
Here's a two for one shot: the convertible, a 1967 Oldsmobile 98, was probably my favorite of the cars I saw at this gathering. At the time these cars were just as nice as their Cadillac cousins, for people who didn't want to proclaim their prosperity quite as loudly as a Cadillac did. The deep burgundy interior looked great with the silver paint. The Corvette is a '66; I'd never seen one in this color, and I learned from PaintRef it was offered only for this one model year. I don't care for the side pipes, but otherwise this is probably my favorite generation of Corvette (though I prefer the convertible).
I was certain that this 1950 Ford had been customized, but in fact only the side pipes are add-ons; Ford offered this "Custom Deluxe Crestliner" decor package consisting of two-tone paint (yes, this was a factory color), fender skirts, and a vinyl roof covering, more than a decade before they started to become common. It turns out the package was to distract car shoppers from the fact that, unlike General Motors, they didn't yet have a two-door hardtop body style to offer. It is distracting, though no one is going to mistake it for a true hardtop. (Behind it is the other GMC pickup I mentioned, a high-trim Sierra Grande model.)
It's unfortunate this car was in the shadow of a building, but I'm still glad it was there. It's a 1975 Buick Regal, one of the midsize personal-luxury cars that sold by the hundreds of thousands in the 1970s. The Buick version is less commonly seen than its cousins, the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Pontiac Grand Prix, and Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, so it's an even better find, plus the members of the Brown Car Appreciation Society will be happy it's wearing one of the most exemplary color schemes of the period: brown paint with a tan vinyl top and interior. The VW Beetle is from the 1960s, based on the bumpers and headlights.
I don't know why I didn't take a closer picture of this 1964 Pontiac Grand Prix, a front three-quarter shot like the others I took. Maybe I just liked the appearance of it in profile. I'm pretty sure I had a Matchbox version of this car; one was definitely offered. I do think those wheels come from a later Pontiac, but they look fine on this car.
You aren't going to see a lot of 1961 Fords at any given car event, and it's even less likely that you'll come across a Galaxie Starliner hardtop, which was a variant introduced on the 1960 Ford (which had the same basic body structure) in response to the swept-roof styling and large rear window design on GM's 1959 two-door hardtops. At the same time, Ford was offering Galaxie hardtops with a more formal roof design (which I prefer) derived from its very popular Thunderbird, and curiously enough by 1962 GM's hardtops were mimicking that design. A few years later the roofs on both Ford and GM hardtops got more slanted and fastback-like again, before again getting more upright on the way to the Broughamification of the 1970s. (By the way, there's a nice 1962 Chevy Bel Air off to the left there that I meant to take a separate shot of but didn't.)
And finally we come to this sweet 1966 Chevy Impala Super Sport convertible. (Apologies for the chair.) Up close it looked like it had been repainted; even if it had managed to avoid any fading in almost 50 years, it still seemed brighter than whatever red Chevy offered that year. But otherwise it appeared original. Some people like to take "basic" models and enhance them to whatever the high-performance variant of that year was (Belvederes become Road Runners, Tempests become GTOs), and the availability of reproduction parts for everything from bucket seats to hoods with scoops to exterior badges makes this easy enough for some to be drawn in. Some do it but admit it, calling their cars "tributes" to the originals. I choose to believe that this car is original, that it left the factory as a Super Sport; something about it just gave off the right vibe.

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