Cars

Cars of my past
Olympus XA
Kosmo Foto Mono
2017

I haven’t owned many cars in my time but until these two I never missed one when it was gone.

I really loved that Toyota Matrix and I was sad when I had to let it go. It had become a beater worth maybe $500, and it needed a repair that cost twice that. When you own a beater, you think long and hard about every repair because the accumulating repair money would soon buy a better car. You learn to live with most broken things. But in this case, the broken thing made the car a safety risk. Goodbye, Matrix.

I wasn’t excited about the Ford Focus when I bought it. The price was right and it met a critical requirement of carrying me, the kids, and the dog. But then I found out that it handles like a sports car, cornering tight and flat. It had decent oomph for an economy car. I threw that car hard down twisty highways. I loved driving it. But it was getting up there in miles, and my son needed a car, so I sold it to him and bought a used VW Passat. The Passat is a surprisingly good car, perhaps the most reliable and competent vehicle I’ve ever owned. But it just isn’t fun like the Focus.

My son had the Focus for about a month when someone ran a stop sign and put an end to that poor little Ford. My son was uninjured. His stepdad found a great deal on a used 20-year-old Saturn with just 30,000 miles on it. Between the insurance payout and the price of the Saturn, my son came out $500 ahead. Not bad!

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Film Photography

single frame: Cars of my past

Two cars I don’t own anymore.

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1957 Ford Ranch Wagon c

Ranch Wagon
Canon PowerShot S80
2013

I’m ending this series on classic cars as I began it: with a photo of a badge on the flank of a colorful station wagon.

This time it’s a 1957 Ford. The Ranch Wagon sat at the bottom of Ford’s wagon hierarchy as basic transportation. If you wanted a swankier Ford wagon, you opted for the Country Squire.

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Old Cars, Photography

single frame: Ranch Wagon

Ford Ranch Wagon badge.

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Swan

Cormorant hood ornament
Pentax ME, 50mm f/1.4 SMC Pentax-M
Kodak Tri-X 400 (at EI 200 by mistake)
2016

Early Packard automobiles had an array of stunning hood ornaments. You might think this bird is a swan, but you’d be wrong; it’s a cormorant. You’d find cormorant hood ornaments on the finest Packards.

If I had not shot this at EI 200 by mistake, I might not have gotten just this perfect look.

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Film Photography, Old Cars

single frame: Cormorant hood ornament

A Packard hood ornament on Tri-X.

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1950 Hudson Commodore

Hudson grille
Nikon F2AS, 50mm f/2 AI-Nikkor
Kodak Plus-X Pan
2014

This 1950 Hudson was my favorite car of the 2014 Mecum auction here in Indianapolis. I love step-down Hudsons anyway, and this one was a peach.

Have I ever mentioned that when I was in middle school I wrote short stories? I don’t have any of them anymore, and I’m sure none of them were any good. The only one I remember at all was the one where I had the main character drive a step-down Hudson.

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Film Photography, Old Cars

single frame: Hudson grille

1951 Hudson grille.

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1951 Chevrolet station wagon a

Green Chevy
Canon PowerShot S80
2013

For the first several years I went to the Mecum auction, the sold cars were left outside for people to see. Then at some other Mecum auction in some other city someone stole one of the sold cars. That was that: the sold cars were no longer accessible to the public.

It really bummed me out. The for-sale cars were all inside under bright direct lighting. I made much more pleasing photographs of the sold cars outside, like of this 1951 Chevrolet. I love how the camera rendered the sunlight falling across the car’s hood.

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Old Cars, Photography

single frame: Green Chevy

A 1951 Chevrolet.

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Plymouth 8

Plymouth 8
Pentax ME, 50mm f/1.4 SMC Pentax-M
Kodak T-Max 400
2015

As I made digital photos of the cars at the Mecum auction each year, I always photographed the card in the windshield that told the car’s make, model, and year. But I did it with my digital cameras, not my film cameras — why waste the film on those cards? But then when the negatives and scans came back from the processor, I sometimes couldn’t match the photo to the car it came from.

This is one of those times. Clearly, this is from a Plymouth, and it had a V-8 engine. That’s all I know. If you know more, do tell in the comments.

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Film Photography, Old Cars

single frame: Plymouth 8

Detail of a V-8 Plymouth.

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