Carspotting January-February-March 2023

Reader ronian42 had a terrific suggestion on my recent post about spotting old cars parked. I complained that this year I’ve found an overwhelming number of cars, far too many for a single post about them at the end of the year. He said, then why not post about them more often, like quarterly or monthly? Brilliant! My annual list of old cars parked is well received, and posting the spotted cars more often will spread out the fun.

I’m going to make a couple of catch-up posts, and then I’ll start posting early each month the cars I found the previous month. I’m not sure whether I’ll do it on a set day each month, or whether I’ll just slip it in on whatever day I can manage.

Let’s start by looking at January, February, and March of this year. To be featured here, the car has to be 20 or more model years old. Given that cars don’t change very much from one model year to the next anymore, it’s possible that some of the newest of these cars might be less than 20 years old. But they went into production more than 20 years ago.

1982-87 Chevrolet El Camino. This trucklet is pretty much always parked in front of some row houses within walking distance of my house. If I ever buy an old car, I’d consider one of these. They’re quirky but cool, offer modern driving dynamics, and have good availability of parts.

1983-85 Ford Econoline 150. This is the short wheelbase version of the Econoline, which went out of production after 1985. I believe it is from no earlier than 1983 based on the grille and headlights. I spotted it at Kroger in Zionsville.

1991-93 Mercury Tracer. My, but do I love this body style of this generation of Tracer/Escort. Dad had a four-door hatchback Escort from this era and it was the best car he ever owned. He drove it for a very long time. Spotted in front of a breakfast and lunch joint around the corner from my house.

1992-95 Toyota 4Runner. With basic maintenance, a 4Runner of this generation will run 300,000 miles or more. They’re just incredibly hardy. Spotted in the parking lot at Lucas Oil Stadium in Downtown Indianapolis.

1996-2000 Plymouth Breeze. One of the three “cloud cars” from Chrylsler, the others being the Dodge Stratus and the Chrysler Cirrus. They differed mostly in trim and options. I test-drove a Stratus when they were still being made and I liked the way it drove. It wasn’t ever going to be anything more than a normal family car, but I found it to be a very competent one. Spotted in front of the Dollar Tree in Whitestown.

1997-2001 Jeep Cherokee. Still plentiful on the roads due to a combination of being reaonably well built and having a fanatical fan base that keeps them running. Spotted at the Walmart in northwest Indianapolis.

1997-2002 Oldsmobile Intrigue. When these were new, I thought that GM had finally created a mid-sized automobile that could compete with the Japanese at least on styling. I still have no idea how well built these are, except that I still see one on the road from time to time. Spotted at the Whitestown Meijer.

1997-2004 Buick Park Avenue. I knew someone who bought one of these new. I rode in it a time or two and just did not like it. The seats were too pillowy, which meant that I rolled around in them on every curve and turn. Blech. But for the demographic these were built for, they were perfect. Spotted at a shopping center in Whitestown.

1997-2004 Buick Regal LS. Spotted at the Whitestown Meijer. I swear, half of these were this color.

1998-2000 Toyota RAV4. These first-generation RAV4s were funky “cute utes” but have evolved into the normal vehicle for everyman. I spotted this one at a shopping center in Whitestown.

1998-2000 Toyota RAV4. What, another one? Spotted in the parking lot at Lucas Oil Stadium in Downtown Indianapolis.

1999-2000 GMC Yukon Denali. Spotted at Goodwill in Whitestown. The grille on this one has been customized, but its basic design was fitted only to Denalis among GMC Yukons, and only in 1999 and 2000.

2000-03 Chevrolet Malibu. Funny that it’s parked next to a later Malibu, and one that outclasses this car in every possible way. Spotted at a shopping center in Whitestown.

2001-02 Honda Accord. Man, did I want one of these when they were new. I’ve always liked coupes and this one looked good. It cost more than I could afford, and I needed four doors by then anyway thanks to having three kids. Spotted at Meijer in Whitestown.

2001-04 Chevrolet S-10. I didn’t pay much attention to these when they were new because I thought they were unattractive, and I’m not a truck person anyway. I was surprised to find out in researching this one how late they were made. Spotted at a gas station in Whitestown.

2003-04 Pontiac Vibe. I owned two of the Toyota version of this car, the Matrix, and loved both of them. They were good economy cars that could carry an enormous amount after you folded down the rear seats. Spotted in the parking lot at work in Downtown Indianapolis.

2003-04 Pontiac Vibe. Another one! Spotted at Lowe’s in Zionsville. This is a higher-trim version than the previous one; low-trim versions got gray body cladding and high-trim versions got body-color cladding.

2003-05 Toyota Echo. These were dreadful little cars. This was in the parking lot at a gas station in Zionsville.

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15 responses to “Carspotting January-February-March 2023”

  1. fishyfisharcade Avatar

    It’s interesting (and a little sad) to see the homogenisation in styles in the 21st century models. The El Camino and the Econoline are stand outs by comparison (although I’m sure there were a bunch of similarly styled vehicles when those were released too).

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I remember people saying the same in the 90s, the 80s, the 70s… I think that when a 40-year-old car appears, its radically different styling just stands out.

  2. Lyn Whiston Avatar
    Lyn Whiston

    One of my favorite cars is the Continental Mark II. I saw a near mint black one a few years ago in Oak Park IL just down the street from Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      What an incredible car to come across!

  3. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    Those RAV 4’s are unstoppable! See old, old ones all the time!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I don’t! I was surprised and pleased to come upon these two, the first ones ever to make Carspotting.

      1. Andy Umbo Avatar
        Andy Umbo

        My buddy’s wife has a 20+ year old one like those pictured, still rolling along, no problems except for the salted roads taking out a few of the mufflers over time…

  4. David S Hamilton Avatar
    David S Hamilton

    In the mid ‘70s, when my sister and I were 7 and 10 my dad came home with a beautiful silver/burgundy Monte Carlo coupe. What a monster that car was. Unfortunately by the time I turned 16 we were back to a more responsible and generic station wagon…sigh!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The Monte was always Chevy’s showiest car. The big ones from the mid 70s are my least favorite, though.

  5. tbm3fan Avatar

    I much prefer the previous generation of the Park Avenue. Better quality of materials and interior design. Don’t understand it’s purpose when along side was the Le Sabre. Same engine so only slightly bigger but the Le Sabre has plenty of room. The seats in the Le Sabre aren’t pillow soft at all but the suspension was. At least till I changed out the struts and dramatically improved the handling. No need to drive my father’s 2004 daily when I have a Focus and 626 but it is great for long highway distances. Comfort, quiet, and 27 mpg.

    As for Accords I’d stop at the fourth Gen for me. The redesigned fifth Gen just didn’t appeal to me and they have gotten worse as time goes on on style and size to the point they aren’t a compact anymore.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yes, an uber LeSabre would have been a better idea than the Park Avenue. But whatever; we weren’t Buick executives back in the day.

  6. Russ Ray Avatar

    We had a 2002 Intrigue. My wife loved it because it had heated seats (still talks about it to this day since we haven’t had one since). I hated it because we had numerous transmission problems with it after we bought it that kept it in the shop for months because they couldn’t discover the issue. Finally, the transmission completely broke (thankfully still under warranty).

    I learned later that there was a faulty seal inherent in all these models that other owners had reported online. A $10 part vs. a $3000 repair–it took longer for GM to approve the warranty repair than the actual service because they couldn’t believe that a car with less than 30K miles needed a new transmission already.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Oof, what a pain in the neck that had to have been for you. Sad to hear that this car that was at the time competitive with the Japanese midsized sedans had such a huge quality issue.

  7. J P Avatar

    I still have a thing for those old Cherokees. I worked with a guy who had an itch for a new car but for some reason couldn’t get one of the Acura sporty coupes he liked. He bought an Accord coupe of that style (in red) but spent his entire time with it complaining about it being too bland.

    I missed this at first, it didn’t show up on my WP reader.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I wonder why this didn’t show up in your reader. That’s strange.

      I rode in one of those Cherokees exactly once and was surprised by how cramped they are.

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