Carspotting May 2023

16 comments on Carspotting May 2023
4 minutes

May was another heavy month of carspotting in which I found 27 parked cars that are 20 model years old or more. Our trip to Denmark and Germany began in late May, so some of the cars spotted are European.

1961 Mercury Monterey. Spotted in front of St. Elmo’s Steakhouse in Downtown Indianapolis, this well-restored convertible really stood out. The fellow standing in the street behind it is one of the software engineers on my team. I was pleased to see him dive behind the car and look for dates in the tail light lenses. That’s a trick you can use to date old cars.

1962 Ford F-800 fire truck. I came upon this one after voting in the primary election this year, as it was behind the polling place. It was a primary truck for the Zionsville FD for a long time, and then it was sold. Now it’s back, after Zionsville firefighters found it for sale again. It’ll be restored and used in parades.

1962-68 Austin Mini. I’ve seen a few Minis parked in my time, but never one badged as an Austin. Spotted in Berlin.

1964-67 Volkswagen Samba. We called these Buses over here, but in Germany these multi-windowed versions were Sambas. Spotted in Berlin.

1964-90 Trabant 601. In Berlin near Checkpoint Charlie is a Trabant museum of sorts, and it offers drives in these tiny East German cars. The bodies are not made of steel, but rather of a composite resin material.

1968 Chevrolet C-10. I went to a Cinco de Mayo event sponsored by a couple consulting firms I know. This old truck was parked there, in the South Broad Ripple neighborhood in Indianapolis.

1976-86 Mercedes-Benz 280e. Spotted near Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin. This was wedged in tight with no good angle to photograph it.

1979-88 Citroën 2CV6 Club. I’ve never seen a 2CV with square headlights before! I spotted this one parked near the harbor of the fjord in Aalborg, Denmark.

1979-91 Mercedes-Benz 500 series. It looked just right parked as it was in front of the Berlin Cathedral.

1982-87 BMW 525e. Parked near Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, after I made a couple images of it a fellow behind me asked me in English if I liked the car. I said yes, of course, and he replied that he had purchased it within the past hour. He was pleased when I congratulated him in German.

1985-92 Volkswagen Golf. Once plentiful, these are now scarce on US streets. But I found this one in Berlin.

1986-90 Ford Escort XR3i. I had no idea that you could get an Escort convertible in Europe back in the day. I found this one parked at a grocery store in Aalborg, Denmark.

1986-93 Toyota Supra. To me, these were peak Supra. I didn’t care for the car after they took it in the direction of a supercar. Spotted in Aalborg, Denmark.

1989-97 Volkswagen Taro. Did you know that in Europe, for several years you could get a Toyota truck badged as a Volkswagen? Now you do. Spotted in Potsdam, Germany.

1990-91 GMC Suburban. I was astonished to find this brute parked in Berlin. It looks enormous compared to the typical small cars there.

1990-91 Trabant 1.1. Spotted in Berlin, doing duty as a rolling advertisement, this late East German Trabant had a water-cooled four-stroke four-cylinder engine. That was a big improvement over earlier Trabants’ air-cooled two-stroke engines.

1991-95 Volkswagen Caravelle Westfalia. The camper version of the Volkswagen Transporter of that era, I found this one in Potsdam, Germany.

1994-2000 Renault Express. The French sure can design weird-looking cars. Spotted in Berlin.

1995-97 Lincoln Town Car. Spotted at the shopping center nearest my home, this Town Car looks showroom fresh.

1995-98 BMW 328i. Spotted at the shopping center nearest my home, this BMW is a frequent visitor. It’s the first time I was able to photograph it, though.

1996-99 Toyota Camry. These are still fairly common on the streets, but I say, photograph the old cars now before they’re gone. Spotted in the parking lot at work in Downtown Indianapolis.

1998-2005 Ford Focus. This is the first Focus ever to make Carspotting. I’m a little surprised by that, as these were decent cars that lasted under proper maintenance. I should have found one long before now. Spotted in Berlin.

1998-2006 VW Golf. Spotted in South Broad Ripple in Indianapolis at that Cinco de Mayo event. VWs of this era must not have been hardy as few remain on the streets here.

1999-2005 Pontiac Grand Am. For a long time, these were everywhere as they were a common cheap used car. Not so much anymore. Spotted in Downtown Indianapolis.

2000-02 Saturn SC. Not much to say about this one other than I found it one night in Downtown Indianapolis.

2002 Mercury Sable. I met a colleague for coffee one morning and found this parked in the lot. Turns out it was her car! She said she’ll keep driving it until it drops. Spotted in Zionsville.

2002-04 Honda Odyssey. A church I used to go to owned one of these, and I drove it a time or two. I really liked it. It was easily the best-driving minivan I’ve ever driven. Spotted in my neighborhood in Zionsville.

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16 responses to “Carspotting May 2023”

  1. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    Your Mini photo reminded me that when they were reintroduced by BMW, the dealer in Washington D.C. had the local Mini club display their originals on their lot. I was amazed at how much smaller the original models looked compared to the reintroduced models, and yet when the new ones were shown without comparison, they looked crazy small compared to what’s on the road today! And, nice vintage VW bus in mint shape! For me, those always fall under the category of “…why can’t they just make this exact thing over again?”

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      They can’t make the same things over again because of safety regs and CAFE!

  2. brandib1977 Avatar

    I’m so glad you are doing these posts monthly now! Seeing all these European cars was a real treat but the GMC cracked me up. What a behemoth compared to most European cars!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It was comically large!

  3. Shirley B. Avatar
    Shirley B.

    I loved the predecessor of the Fort Escort Convertible you spotted! This was the 1983 Ford Escort III Cabrio and it was produced from 1983 to 1985. It was very expensive and not a family car, so no hopes of my parents ever buying one. I think I saw it first when my family and I were on our summer vacation in Spain in 1983. It made quite an imprint and it always made me happy to see one.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m pleased that I was able to connect you to that good memory today!

  4. Doug Vaughn Avatar
    Doug Vaughn

    I owned one of those Camrys… 1999 if I remember correctly. I was needing inexpensive transportation (back & forth to work) and really wanted a manual transmission. They were getting few and far between but not nearly impossible to find as they are now. I bought the stripped down CE trim with a 5 speed. The amazing thing is it would consistently get about 35mpg, and they can barely squeeze that out of most of today’s cars. Going way back, my 1993 Geo Prism would get 38-39mpg on most tanks.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I miss stickshifts! Especially in cars like midsized sedans.

      I had a 1983 Renault that got more than 40 mpg on the highway. 5 speed, 1.4-L four.

      1. Andy Umbo Avatar
        Andy Umbo

        Still available here! My brand new Kia Soul 2020 has a six speed manual transmission. They make millions of them, just not sold here, another case of the U. S. Market wanting more cup holders and electronics plug-ins than real driving experiences. Last time I was in Europe, you would have been hard pressed to find a rental car if you didn’t drive stick!

        After a lifetime in marketing/advertising related industries, I can say with confidence that it has never been more true that when it comes to purchasing locally, you are held captive by the morons you live with! They stock for the general public, and gone are the days where they still had a few items of what you wanted vs. the great unwashed. Alas…

        1. fishyfisharcade Avatar

          Yep. As a UK resident, I can say with some certainty that the vast majority of cars sold here have manual gearboxes (as is the local parlance for such things). Automatics are available, but as most people here are taught to drive using manual gear changes, it probably just sticks (no pun intended!). I’ve only ever driven an automatic once, and that was a rental where I didn’t specify a transmission preference.

  5. lasousa2015 Avatar

    Hi Jim, you captured some great car photos. The VW Golf looks like it made a hard stop! My favorite two vehicles over the years are: (1) a junked powder blue Cadillac DeVille. She sits in front of an upholstery shop with other old cars and junk. Inside is a full sized skeleton in the driver’s seat. The skeleton is giving the Johnny Cash finger. (2) a 1950’s Chevy truck, unknown model, that is on Sakonnet Point, Little Compton, RI. The best thing is it sits facing the western sky near the ocean and it’s easy to take minimalistic pictures of it set against the green grass and the expansive sky. Thank you very much for mentioning my blog in your list. I was quite surprised and honored. I don’t get or expect much traffic, the blog is a pictorial diary of sorts for me. Kindest regards, Louis (Victoria’s Light)…..

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks! Isn’t it fun how old cars can evoke such memories? My pleasure to include your blog on my list.

  6. Peter Miller Avatar
    Peter Miller

    Our family had one of those Camrys. It was blue. But ours was a 2001. I believe that style was made from 1997-2001. Only car we ever had that started rusting from the roof down.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yep, 1996-2001 — but the one pictured shows trim from before the facelift the Camry got in 2000!

  7. J P Avatar

    The arc of Mercury from 1961 to 2002 is just depressing. That 61 is an amazing find!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It kind of is, isn’t it? There were some terrific late-60s/early-70s full-sized Mercs, but then the marque lost its way.

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