Carspotting 2022

I can’t believe the number of old cars I found parked this year.

For years I’ve made a point of photographing these cars. Anything 20 years or older finds itself in my camera’s lens, and then in this annual roundup. In a normal year I find between 20 and 30. This year I have a whopping 66 to share with you!

I think there are several reasons why.

  • I walked a lot in 2022, especially in Downtown Indianapolis as I started working in my company’s office there two days a week. This exposed me to a lot more cars.
  • I deliberately scanned my surroundings for old cars. In the past, I noticed them only when I came upon them.
  • Unlike in years past, I photographed cars that I thought might be 20 or more years old, rather than only cars I was sure were that old. I really know my stuff with cars made before about 1990, but after that I’m not as knowledgeable. I looked up every car I photographed, and discarded several of them for being too new. The rest all made this list this year.
  • Cars have become a lot more reliable in the last 25 years or so, and live long lives. Plenty of 20-year-old cars are still in regular use.

To keep this post from becoming tedious, for the first time I’m not showing every old car I found. For cars from 20 to 25 years old, I’m showing only those that are interesting to me for some reason, and only one of each model regardless of how many I found. I also found about ten 1984-2001 Jeep Cherokees this year. I’ve included only two of them, one from before the 1997 facelift and one from after. Cherokees were hardy, and they remain the darlings of the off-road set, who invest in keeping them going.

Some of these cars I will eventually write about at length for Curbside Classic, the world’s leading site about old cars found parked.

See Carspotting posts from past years here.

Here now, the cars!

1949 Buick Super. This is one of my favorite finds ever, because it was so improbable to find one of these on the street. I came upon it in Kirklin, Indiana, while on a trip up the Michigan Road.

1966 Ford Mustang. I spotted this pony in Aalborg, Denmark. I think it’s a ’66, but it might be a ’65. It has the ’65’s grille and lack of bright trim over the grille on the hood, but it has the ’66’s trim in the side scoop. Frankenmustang!

1966 Pontiac Bonneville. Spotted on Main Street in Madison, Indiana. Pontiac’s stylists really led the way in the mid 1960s.

1967 Chevrolet Impala. I love the ’67 and ’68 Impala coupe; it might be my favorite design ever. But I just don’t think it looks good in black over red. I found this on Hill Street in South Bend.

1967 Chevrolet Impala. Incredibly, I spotted another ’67 Impala, this time in Logansport. These two Impalas are a real study in contrasts, as this Impala is an unrestored survivor. Notice that it has the same wheels as the red Impala above, though. This is my least favorite Chevy paint color of the era.

1969-70 Chevrolet C/10. I’m much more a Ford truck man than a Chevy truck man. Not that I’ve ever owned a truck, or am likely to. But I’ve always thought the clean lines of this generation of Chevy truck were beautiful. Spotted down the street from my house.

1970 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham. It’s been ages since I’ve seen one of these. 1970 was, in my mind, the last year that Cadillac was truly special. After this, cost-cutting meant the cars weren’t as plush, quality decreased, and the cars weren’t as distinctive. I spotted this early one morning at a nearby tire store when I took my Volkswagen in for an alignment.

1971-74 Jaguar E-Type. This stunning Jaguar was parked seductively near the fjord in Aalborg, Denmark. I spotted it on the same day as the Mustang above.

1972 Volkswagen Beetle. As my friend Dawn and I reached tiny Brooklyn, Indiana, on our road trip along old State Road 67, this Beetle sped by. When we reached this corner on foot, we saw that it had paused temporarily, a Golden Retriever inside awaiting its master.

1973 Ford F-250. This truck with its jacked-up rear was parked in the Holy Rosary neighborhood just east of Downtown Indianapolis.

1973-76 Dodge D200. My grandfather had a Dodge truck of this generation. I’m pretty sure his was a ’72. The grille on this white truck appears to have been introduced in 1973 and disappeared after 1976, but I’m not 100% sure because Dodge applied all sorts of grilles to this truck, sometimes more than one kind in the same model year. Spotted in Lyons, Indiana.

1973-78 Volkswagen Beetle. Spotted in Aalborg, Denmark. I normally don’t photograph old cars for this series when they’re out doing things, but this Beetle at a gas station was impossible to resist.

1975-76 GMC Sprint. Identical to the Chevrolet El Camino, this car gave Buick-GMC dealers a ute to sell. Pinning a date on these is challenging as Chevy/GMC had different front end treatments for different trim levels. Spotted in Lyons, Indiana.

1982-87 Chevrolet El Camino. A survivor for sure, I found it in a parking lot in downtown Zionsville. I always thought putting a cap on one of these made them look significantly less cool.

1983-86 Saab 900. It’s wonderful to see this old Saab still doing its thing, but it would be really nice if they buffed that paint to a shine again. Spotted in the South Broad Ripple neighborhood of Indianapolis.

1984-86 Jeep Grand Wagoneer. I walked endlessly while I was in Chicago in January. I forget where exactly I was, except that it was in front of this fire station. This Wagoneer looks like a well-used survivor.

1984-96 Jeep Cherokee. I find at least one of these parked every year. Who knew when these things were introduced nearly 40 years ago that they would be so hardy? Spotted in the southwest quad of Downtown Indianapolis.

1986-91 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz. Oh, how far the once-storied Eldorado had fallen by the late 1980s. I found this on a side street near Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

1987-88 BMW 535is. This old BMW with mismatched body panels was parked behind a gas station near my home. I can’t remember the last time I saw one of these.

1987-93 Mazda B2200. I haven’t seen one of these in ages. I found it parked in a lot just off McCarty Street near Downtown Indianapolis. This series of Mazda trucks was the last Mazda-designed and -built trucks sold in North America; after this, Mazda trucks were rebadged Ford Rangers.

1988-89 Mercury Grand Marquis. It’s not an annual Carspotting post without at least one example of the venerable Panther platform. This year it’s this MGM. It’s often parked on South Meridian Street in front of Brothers Bar and Grill.

1988-90 Pontiac Bonneville SSE. When Pontiac downsized the Bonneville and put it on a front-wheel-drive platform, I thought they made the car a shadow of its former self. But now it looks pretty good to me – trim and purposeful. Spotted in northwest Indianapolis.

1988-92 Chrysler New Yorker. I found this at the Paradise Point resort in San Diego. After several years of looking like a gussied up K car, with this generation the New Yorker shared its platform and basic body only with the Dodge Dynasty.

1988-94 Chevrolet 2500. This old work truck lives in my neighborhood but until this day was always parked in a driveway. I happened to have a film camera on me with black-and-white film in it, so that’s what I used to shoot this truck. But in color, the truck is faded red.

1988-94 Chevrolet 1500. I found another one, this time the ½-ton version, on S. Illinois St. in Downtown Indianapolis. The driver was sitting in it, which I didn’t notice until after I made the photo.

1989 Volvo 240. I’m pretty sure this is an ’89 because it still has the bright windshield surround that went away in 1990, but has other styling cues that place it in this era. Spotted in Madison, Indiana.

1989-90 Ford Bronco II. This weatherbeaten survivor from late in this model’s run was parked on a Whitestown street. Once again, I was shooting b/w film this day; this truck was silver over blue in color. Nobody can do an unmitigated disaster as well as Ford (cough) Edsel (cough) Pinto. Because of a high center of gravity, the Bronco II was prone to rolling over in emergency maneuvers. Hundreds are said to have died in Bronco II rollovers, and Ford shelled out a reported $2.4 billion to settle the lawsuits.

1989-94 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera SL. These cars and their Buick Century twin were hardy, and were common on the road until the last few years or so. Now they’re becoming scarce. I found this one in the parking lot at Lucas Oil Stadium in Downtown Indianapolis.

1990-93 Honda Accord. My buddy Michael had one of these, in coupe form, I think in this color. It was a terrific automobile. What I remember most was the commanding visibility through the windshield. I spotted this in Shaker Heights, Cleveland, Ohio.

1990-94 Chevrolet Lumina. I was happy to finally spot a first-generation Lumina in the wild. They were everywhere for 20 years, and then they disappeared all at once. Such a shame that this one’s so beaten up, though. This one was parked in front of the Pizza Hut in Spencer, on State Road 67.

1991-92 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser. I’ve featured this car in Carspotting before, back in 2016; see it here. Since then, its owner has repained it — could that be primer? — removed the Custom Cruiser badging, and added a 307 badge from an old Chevy. You’ll find it parked right here in Kirklin, Indiana, on the Michigan Road.

1992-99 Chevrolet Suburban. I spotted this in the Holy Rosary neighborhood southeast of Downtown Indianapolis. Chevrolet waited four years to finally update the Suburban on the platform their sister trucks had ridden on since 1988. I’ll never understand why Chevy did that.

1993-97 Chrysler Concorde. I almost couldn’t believe my eyes when I parked next to this at the BMV in Lebanon, Indiana. Some cars burn bright and then utterly disappear from the streets, and the first-generation Concorde is one of them. What an unusual color it is! A purplish blue? The dealer sticker on the trunklid is from a Lebanon Chrysler dealer, meaning this car has spent its whole life in this town.

1993-98 Honda CR-X Del Sol. I haven’t seen one of these in ages, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in this color. Spotted on a Madison, Indiana, side street.

1993-98 Toyota T100. I can’t remember the last time I saw an example of Toyota’s first non-compact truck. These are nearly indestructible but they didn’t sell exceptionally well, so they’re unusual sights on the road. I spotted this one at the farmers market in Zionsville.

1993-98 Jeep Grand Cherokee. When these were new, I thought they looked terrific. Lots of SUVs aped its basic design over the years. I found this in the parking lot at work, in Downtown Indianapolis.

1994-95 Oldsmobile 88. I found this one in the South Broad Ripple neighborhood of Indianapolis. That’s my wife Margaret making a cameo appearance. My parents’ longtime next-door neighbors in South Bend had one of these; it was the last new car they bought before they passed.

1994-96 Chrysler New Yorker. Spotting this in Zionsville was a real “Wow!” moment. Chrysler’s cars on the LH platform burned hot but burned fast; few have been on the roads for many years now. This was the New Yorker’s final generation.

1994-96 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight. When I see this car and then think about what the Ninety Eight was 25 years prior, I think, “oh, how the mighty have fallen.” Spotted at the Whitestown Meijer.

1994-97 Chevrolet S-10. This grille fronted the first three model years of this generation of S-10. I spotted this in French Lick, Indiana.

1994-2001 Dodge Ram 2500. This generation of Dodge truck lit the US truck world on fire when it was introduced, as its throwback, yet contemporary and macho, styling broke the mold. Spotted at Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis.

1994-2001 Dodge Ram 1500. I found another one, this time an extended-cab version, in the parking lot at the Whitestown Meijer.

1995-98 Chevrolet 1500. I’m a Ford truck man through and through. I photograph old Ford trucks all the time. But a roughly equal number of old Chevy and GMC trucks still roll on the roads here. I just don’t notice them very often. When I do, I seldom think to photograph them. I made myself get my phone out of my pocket this time. Spotted at the Whitestown Meijer.

1995-98 GMC 1500. Here’s the extended-cab GMC version of the same truck. Spotted on a job site in Downtown Indianapolis.

1995-98 Honda Civic. This generation of Civic is thinning out. These tough little cars were common sights until maybe the last five years. My brother used to own a 1998 Civic coupe with a five-speed transmission. It was a crisp handler and thus mildly entertaining for a workaday car. But the clutch was vague and the shifter was rubbery. I love stickshift cars but I did not enjoy the stick in my brother’s ’98 Civic. He replaced it with an ’08 Civic and it was head and shoulders the better car. Spotted on Monument Circle in Indianapolis.

1995-98 Honda Civic. I found the hatchback version of this car in the parking lot at Target in Carmel. The hatchback two-door always seemed to me to be the purest expression of the Civic.

1995-2000 Chevrolet Tahoe. In 1995, the Blazer was renamed Tahoe, and a four-door version was added. It’s just a shortened Suburban. This Tahoe regularly parks in a lot next to my company’s building in Downtown Indianapolis.

1996-98 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra. Parked on South Meridian Street in Indianapolis, this Mustang has an SVT badge on its trunklid and a Cobra emblem on each front fender. SVT stands for Special Vehicle Team, a group within Ford that designed the company’s high-performance vehicles.

1996-99 Ford Taurus. I always liked the look of these, but the rest of the buying public wasn’t as enthusiastic. Spotted in Madison, Indiana.

1996-99 Oldsmobile Eighty Eight. Spotted at the Whitestown Meijer. It’s the same car as the earlier Eighty Eight, but with the front-end treatment that marks it as from the model’s last few years.

1997-2001 Jeep Cherokee. The Cherokee hardly changed during it lifespan, but there was one facelift in 1997 that rounded the corners. Spotted in the Lucas Oil Stadium parking lot in Downtown Indianapolis.

1997-2002 Ford Escort wagon. This generation of Escort ran on the same platform as the previous generation. The sedan and coupe had a swoopy body that was supposed to remind you of the concurrent Ford Taurus. But the wagon kept the previous body from the cowl back. The rounded snout doesn’t match the linear greenhouse area.

1998-2002 Honda Accord. I love two-door cars. It’s a shame that they’ve fallen out of favor. I wanted one of these when they were new in the worst way. Spotted at the Whitestown Meijer.

1998-2002 Pontiac Trans Am. Spotted at Aldi in Carmel. I don’t love this generation of Firebird. It just looks like a cartoon car to me.

1998-2003 GMC Sonoma. This is the GMC version of the Chevy S-10. I know GM rebadged Chevy trucks as GMCs so they could sell them at Buick dealers. But the GMC trucks were so clearly Chevys with some trim differences that it always seemed silly to me. Spotted in the parking lot of Lucas Oil Stadium in Downtown Indianapolis.

1999-2000 Ford Escort ZX2 S/R. This is a rare automobile – only 100 were produced in 1999, and 2000 in 2000. Ford Racing and Ford’s Small Vehicle Center worked together to spec out the hottest little Escort ever. They added a Roush intake system, a recalibrated internal computer, and a Borla exhaust for a claimed 10-percent power increase. Ford also included an Exedy short throw shifter, a Centerforce performance clutch, Tokico shocks and struts, Eibach Pro Kit springs, polyurethane bushings by Energy, 205/55/15 Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, and all-wheel disc brakes. They came only in yellow, red, and black. The full story on this rare model is here. I spotted this hot Escort in the long-term parking lot at the Indianapolis International Airport after returning very late one night from a trip.

1999-2000 Honda Civic. I said these were becoming rarer to spot, but then I spotted two this year. This one was on South Meridian Street in Indianapolis, under the railroad viaduct. This is the same generation of Civic as the earlier one, but shows some details that peg it to the 1999 facelift that the Civic got.

1999-2000 Saturn SC. Saturn’s coupe sprouted a third door in 1999, on the driver’s side, to aid ingress for rear-seat passengers. I spotted this one in Downtown Indianapolis.

1999-2004 Peugeot 406. Spotted in Aalborg, Denmark. I photographed it because based on its styling I thought it might be from the 1980s. I was wrong, but it’s still old enough to make this list.

2000-01 Toyota Camry. Looking for all the world like it just rolled off the showroom floor, this Camry is actually old enough to buy a beer in a bar. While plenty of these still roll the streets here in Rustopia, I haven’t seen one in such pristine condition in a very long time. I found it at the Lowe’s in Zionsville.

2000-03 Toyota Prius. This is the first generation of Prius sold in the US. The second generation was instantly wildly popular, and plenty are still on the road. Not so much the first generation. Spotted in a parking lot on Massachusetts Avenue in Downtown Indianapolis.

2000-03 Toyota Sienna. I used to own a Sienna of this generation, a ’98. It had a different grille, front bumper, and tail lights, but was otherwise the same car. My kids loved that van and were sad and a little angry when I sold it. I was not so enamored and was glad to be rid of it. I found this in my mom’s condo complex in Indianapolis.

2000-05 Mercury Sable. Spotted in my neighborhood. These and their near-twin the Ford Taurus were for a long time the perfect used sedan — inexpensive to buy and maintain, reasonably powerful and roomy. They’re finally disappearing from the roads.

2001-02 Subaru Forester. I’m not into Subarus so I don’t know much about them. I had to look this one up to find out that it was indeed qualified to be in this year’s Carspotting. Found on the street in Downtown Indianapolis.

2001-03 Ford Ranger. I love how this old truck looks almost like new, except for that little wrinkle in the sheet metal where the front fender meets the door. Spotted at a St. Vincent Hospital satellite facility in Carmel.

2001-03 Ford Ranger. Another Ranger of this generation, this time spotted in a strip mall in Whitestown.

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader six days a week, click here to subscribe!
To get my newsletter with previews of what I’m working on, click here to subscribe!


Comments

20 responses to “Carspotting 2022”

  1. J P Avatar

    I am running a couple of weeks behind in reading, but this one grabbed me. A great selection! My daughter is finally selling the 98 Civic that had been her grandma’s. I think the 99 change was more than a face-lift because the 99 dropped the double wishbone front suspension in favor of the less expensive conventional strut design.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I had no idea! It looks like the same car with different front and rear clips.

      1. J P Avatar

        I was off by a couple of years, so you were right. The next generation I was thinking of started with the 2001 model.

  2. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    Love the Buick Super, carspotting being one of my favorite entries. When I lived in Indianapolis, I did a lot of bitching about the lack of snow and ice abatement; they never seemed to know how to get the salt down right and in time to keep roads clean (compared to Wisconsin), but there was no doubt that the winter drivers lament was the old cars joy as the stingy use of salt kept a lot of old American iron from rusting out! Used to see a lot of 20 to 40 year old cars in OK shape compared to the upper Midwest, where you never see them at all.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Indy has a different budget and standard for snow/ice removal than even South Bend, where I grew up. But South Bend gets 10x the snow (though hardly any ice in comparison) and fairly consistently year over year, making it easier to budget. Indy’s winters are more variable and they probably budget to the mean. I remember a snowstorm the first of 2015 that shut the city down for a few days because it overwhelmed the city’s ability to clear it. They never plowed my neighborhood, for example. Their triaging kept (rightly) favoring the main roads. That would never have happened in South Bend — every street would have been plowed.

      1. Andy Umbo Avatar
        Andy Umbo

        I was living in Indy in 2015, and was quite amazed that I knew people that had to abandon their cars on 465 overnight, and believe me, that wouldn’t have even been an”event” in Milwaukee!

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          I am no longer surprised, but I was for maybe 10 years after moving here, by how drivers can’t handle a serious snow event, here, and how the city struggles to clean up after one. It took me a long time to realize that because we don’t have nearly as many severe snow events here, the city just doesn’t budget for it, and drivers don’t seriously learn how to drive in it.

  3. Marc Beebe Avatar

    You should buy a truck, just to have owned one. Warning: they can be addictive. I’ve had a lot of them, mostly red. In fact I have a red F150 now. Also an E250. Got to watch out I don’t end up with another dozen like I did before.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve thought about an old truck being my “fun” car. Or a VW Bug.

      1. Marc Beebe Avatar

        Or a VW truck, but they tend towards being insanely expensive these days.

  4. Kurt Ingham Avatar

    Great stuff. I’ll take the Bonneville and the Escort, please

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m tickled that you’re drawn to the Escort. I’ve always liked that generation of the coupe, the ZX2, and always sort of wished I could have had one while they were still new or viable used cars.

  5. Kodachromeguy Avatar

    What an interesting walk down American, German, Japanese, and Swedish automotive history. I didn’t know you were a car guy. Wow, you do everything.

    My favorite is the Volvo 240. What a comfortable and practical car. The visibility is great, seating position upright, and the bed is long enough to sleep in it while camping. Compare and contrast with the typical modern bulbous SUV, with its rotten visibility, blingy oversized wheels, and poor volume in the back.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      This blog is a compilation of pretty much everything I’m interested in! Except software development, which I write about at dev.jimgrey.net.

      I’m not a fan of SUVs either for the reasons you cite. I do like the height. But I miss station wagons, bigtime. I have owned three.

      1. Kodachromeguy Avatar

        We owned a 1999 Volvo V70 wagon – with 5 sp manual transmission! Very rare in the US market. Such a useful car.

  6. tcshideler Avatar

    I look forward to this post every year. A ZX2 was, very briefly, my first car!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Nice! I always wanted one.

  7. brandib1977 Avatar

    Phew! What a roundup! Some great finds in there but I like the flashy mid century cars best. Sign me up for the restored Impala. You had a good year for car spotting!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      A banner year!

      1. brandib1977 Avatar

        Yessir! You’ve set the bar high for next year!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sign up for my newsletter!

Sign up for my monthly newsletter,
Back Roads, and be the first to know
what I'm working on!

%d bloggers like this: