Carspotting 2012

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8 minutes

As a certified car nut, I love to come upon old cars still on the road. After realizing last year that I’d photographed several, enough to make a blog post about it, I decided this year to make a point of photographing the old cars I see.

I had no idea how many old cars are still on the road until I decided to stop and photograph all of them! Get ready, this is going to be a long post!

I’ve arbitrarily decided that a car has to be 25 or more years old to be included here, which makes 1987 the cutoff. Here they are, in the order I found them.

1987 Ford Thunderbird TurboCoupe

1987 Ford Thunderbird TurboCoupe. Or maybe an ’88; hard to be sure. But you don’t see them on the road much anymore, especially not in winter weather. And this one is in such nice external shape, except for the missing side mirror. This photo was used in a post by my favorite old-car blog, Curbside Classic; read that post here.

1973 Chevrolet El Camino

1973 Chevrolet El Camino. I spotted this one after parking my car at Meijer on my weekly grocery-shopping trip. It  looks like a solid original daily driver. I’ve seen it in that lot a few times this year; perhaps an employee drives it.

1967 Mercury Cougar

1967 Mercury Cougar. Springtime brings the garaged classics out to play. Clearly this Cougar has had a tender loving restoration, though the back end looks to be higher than stock and those Cragar wheels aren’t original. I would have liked to hear this car’s engine burble.

1969 Ford F-150 Ranger

1969 Ford F-100 Ranger. This sat for several days in a Kroger parking lot in Fishers near where my sons live with their mom. I knew it was from the late 60s, but since the ’67, ’68, and ’69 Ford truck all have similar grilles I had to do some research to pin the year down. It turns out that the ’69 grille has a groove in the middle horizontal slat, and that groove is always painted red on Rangers. Groove = 1969; now you know. Most 43-year-old unrestored trucks wish they still looked this good. Sure, there’s rust and faded paint. But except for a couple missing wheel covers, all the bits are still present.

1962 Studebaker GT Hawk

1962 Studebaker GT Hawk. I spotted it in front of a restaurant at about 10 pm one spring evening, All I had on me was my cell phone, which doesn’t do well in low light. No matter; Brooks Stevens’s heavy facelift of the original 1953 Hawk body looks good in any light.

1955 Chevrolet

1955 Chevrolet Two-Ten. This car appears frequently in a shopping center parking lot I pass sometimes on my way home from work. I stopped here one spring day to pick up something at the grocery store and there she sat. She looks a little too non-stock for my taste, though.

1940 Ford four-door sedan

1940 Ford. I spotted this one in Centerville, just off the old National Road. Those tires and wheels look all wrong on this car โ€“ could this be another resto-mod?

1969 Plymouth Barracuda

1969 Plymouth Barracuda. I spotted this one a block away from my childhood home in South Bend, and it’s in fine stock condition.

196x Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

196x Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia. These didn’t change much year over year and so are hard to date, but I recognized the tail lights as being from the ’60s. There’s no fuel door on this one’s body, either. You had to open the hood to gas up this car! An exterior fuel-filler door was fitted to this car starting sometime in the late ’60s. I also got a nose shot of this car with my Kodak Monitor Six-20.

1987 Plymouth Caravelle SE

1987 Plymouth Caravelle SE. Plymouth made Caravelles on a stretched K-car chassis from 1985 to 1988.  This Caravelle has the ’86-’88 front clip so I’m guessing it’s an ’87. I think the Caravelle is the best looking of the classic K cars.

1985 Lincoln Continental

1985 Lincoln Continental. I always thought this was a major misstep in the Continental line โ€“ a wannabe, a pretender, a gussied-up Ford Fairmont. Indeed, it runs on a stretched version of the Fairmont’s platform. And what was it about this generation of Continentals and their droopy rear ends? And I don’t mean the bustleback trunk โ€“ I mean the rear suspension losing its oomph and failing to hold the back end high.  I’m not 100% sure about the year but it’s from no earlier than 1984 as it has the front clip from that year’s design refresh.

1979 Cadillac Sedan DeVille

1979 Cadillac Sedan DeVille. This was parked at the Motel 6 in Kanawha City, West Virginia, while my family stayed there for a family reunion. It took a little research to pin down the year on this one, as Cadillac made this car for 14 years with only minor changes year to year.

1979 Chevrolet Camaro

1979 Chevrolet Camaro. Or maybe 1980 or 1981; the car didn’t change much in these years. This car reminds me of high school. The kids who didn’t have their parents’ cast-off Olds Cutlasses invariably had a beater Camaro with mismatched body parts.

1949 Chevrolet truck

1949 Chevrolet pickup. There it was, pretty as you please, parked in front of a gas station in Kirklin on the Michigan Road.

1977 Ford F-150

1977 Ford F-150. It was minding its own business at the Walgreens nearest my home. The body is remarkably intact for a truck that looks like it’s earned its keep all these years.

1968-1973 Mercedes-Benz 220 Diesel

1968-1973 Mercedes-Benz 220 Diesel. I don’t know my Benzes; I can’t narrow down the year any more than this. I found this in downtown Terre Haute, on Wabash Avenue, which is also known as the National Road. This car has a little rust behind each rear wheel, which somehow lends it credibility.

1968 Plymouth Valiant Two Hundred

1968 Plymouth Valiant Two Hundred. I found this mean-looking Plymouth parked in South Broad Ripple, an Indianapolis neighborhood. This find really made me happy as I thought all of the ’60s Valiants had been junked long ago. Almost all of the chrome trim bits are still present, which is a stark contrast to the rough paint job. Could it be in the middle of a restoration?

1985 Chevrolet Impala

1985 Chevrolet Impala. I came upon this one in a shopping center parking lot near where I work. Impalas went out of production in 1985, and this grille style was used from 1981 to the end. What makes me say this one’s from ’85 is that the trunk lid proudly proclaims this car’s 4.3 L fuel-injected engine, which I think was first used in ’85.

1982-87 Chevrolet El Camino

1982-87 Chevrolet El Camino. I found this one in Orleans on Indiana’s Dixie Highway. Curse Chevrolet for barely changing this car during the last six years of its production run!

1962 Chevrolet truck

1962 Chevrolet truck. Spotted waiting for its owner at Sears. I know it’s a ’62 because the seat upholstery is embroidered with “62 Chevy.”

1979-80 Dodge D-series Adventurer

1980 Dodge D-series Adventurer. Dodge made these trucks for a whopping 21 years starting in 1972. They got a subtle facelift in 1981. The easiest way to spot the 1972-1980 trucks is by the character line down the body side that flows around the wheel arches. The 1981 and later trucks eliminated that character line. Stacked dual rectangular headlights were available only in 1979 and 1980, as far as I can gather from a little Internet sleuthing. I’m semi-arbitrarily dating this truck to 1980. I came upon this truck at a CVS on Indy’s north side, across the street from where I found the 1955 Chevy above. The wooden cargo rails make this truck appear very much to still be earning its keep.

1980 Chevrolet Camaro Rally Sport

1980 Chevrolet Camaro Rally Sport. This old beast is a real survivor; that is, an unrestored original. It’s in about the same shape as the Camaros my buddies drove in high school in the early 80s โ€“ rough around the edges! There’s a little surface rust on the other side, but the car is whole. I found this in the same grocery-store lot as the ’87 Thunderbird and the ’55 Chevy. (And I found the ’80 Dodge truck at the CVS you can see in the background of this shot.) I can’t tell whether that makes this lot a prolific source of old iron, or whether I just stop here on the way home from work so often that this is just a likely place to find the old cars that are naturally still on the road.

1981 Chevrolet Corvette

1981 Chevrolet Corvette. My car was idling rough so I took it to my mechanic up in Home Place, a modest little neighborhood sandwiched between Indianapolis and Carmel. The used-car lot next door, and the other mechanic next door to that, often have old cars on their lots. That afternoon this 1981 Corvette was hanging around. Or at least I was told it was an ’81 by a passerby who said that the car belonged to one of his employees. I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of these long-nosed boulevard cruisers. They make me think of permed middle-aged men with too many shirt buttons unbuttoned. But you don’t see old Corvettes every day, and this one looked to be in flawless condition.


10 responses to “Carspotting 2012”

  1. Tori Nelson Avatar

    I’m sure this says something about me, but I kind of love the El Camino :)

    1. Jim Avatar

      I like what it says about you!

  2. davidvanilla Avatar

    Thank you for the car show! I was sort of in the mood for one, but was not about to drive 45 miles to the city. Besides, these have more character, personality and class than a whole auditorium full of the new stuff. For the most part.v

    1. Jim Avatar

      Yeah, but all of these guzzle way more gas and will much more happily maim you in an accident than any of the current car crop!

      1. davidvanilla Avatar

        Well, yes you are right on both counts. Yet some old guys just seem to get stuck in the past.

        1. Jim Avatar

          So do some middle-aged guys.

  3. Terry Avatar

    Thank for sharing, The white Vet, that is nice. Like the gold pin stipping on it too. And the 46 Cheve Truck look original.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Thanks Terry! The Chevy truck looked bone stock.

  4. Phillip Avatar

    Cool post. I have a 1988 Plymouth Caravelle that I received from a friend of my grandmother when she stopped driving. It’s rough, but I love it like a child.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I always liked the Caravelle. I think it wore the original K styling best.

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