Old Cars

Carspotting 2014

Whenever I see an old car parked, I photograph it. It’s become tradition at Down the Road to share the annual crop with you as the year wraps up. I’ve adjusted that tradition this year: the bar for inclusion was lowered from 25 to 20 years. I’ve shared many of these cars with the audience at Curbside Classic and have linked to those stories where they exist.


1991 Chevrolet Lumina APV. My nearby Meijer attracts old cars like my porch light attracts moths. These were weird minivans even in their day. Those that survive generally look pretty good thanks to plastic side panels. More on Curbside Classic here.


1991 Dodge Shadow ES. In 1991, as now, cheap cars tended to get used up and then discarded, especially due to the minimal maintenance provided by their second, third or fourth owners. Which makes it truly remarkable that this Dodge Shadow ES made it to 2014 with just a couple of bumper scuffs and a tiny bit of rust on the left rear fender. Read about it at Curbside Classic here.


1979 Pontiac Grand Prix. This pristine Pontiac waited illicitly in a handicapped space next to Kroger. More on Curbside Classic here.


1990 Ford Taurus wagon. I remember the first time I saw one of these — it stopped me dead in my tracks, so good looking it was. Before, wagons were stolid and boring, slathered in fake woodgrain. More on Curbside Classic here.


1989 Nissan Hardbody. Several of these trucks still roll near my home, but none looking like they just drove out of the showroom like this one. More on Curbside Classic here.


1990 Cadillac Allante. Spotted on Main Street up in Zionsville, this Allante was for sale. More on Curbside Classic here.

1985-89 Plymouth Reliant b

1985-89 Plymouth Reliant. I’ve never so much as ridden in one of these, which is remarkable given their 1980s ubiquity. A brief meditation on Curbside Classic here.

1991 Buick Regal Custom Edition d

1991 Buick Regal Classic Edition. My eyes, my eyes! Such ugly junk tacked onto this flaccid Buick’s roof. More on Curbside Classic here.

1963 Ford Galaxie a

1963 Ford Galaxie. This photo is sort of cheating: this car has been parked here for at least 20 years. It fronts a restaurant in Danville themed for The Andy Griffith Show. More on Curbside Classic here.

1991 Toyota Corolla b

1991 Toyota Corolla. This car looks just like one my stepson bought as his first car. What a hunk of junk it was! Read its story on Curbside Classic here.

1987 Ford LTD Crown Victoria h

1985 Ford LTD Crown Victoria. Found at a different Meijer from the one I normally visit, this Crown Vic is tricked out inside with Hello Kitty gear. See it at Curbside Classic here.

1964 Ford F100 d

1964 Ford F-100. If you’re younger than 30, this truck looks quaint; if you’re older than 40, you’re probably thinking, “now that’s truck.” Spotted in infield parking at the Indiana State Fair. More at Curbside Classic here

1992 Saab 900 Turbo d

1992 Saab 900 Turbo convertible. Another State Fair find that I haven’t written about yet for Curbside Classic.

1940 Buick Special a

1940 Buick Special. My sons and I came upon this old Buick on State Road 135 in Bean Blossom, Indiana. It looks great at 20 feet, but when you get up close you see its imperfections. But I’m happy that it survived at all. More on Curbside Classic here.

1973-80 MB 450 SL c

1973-80 Mercedes-Benz 450 SL convertible. I spotted this one in the parking lot of a Ruth’s Chris Steak House, where I was late to meet my brother for dinner. More on Curbside Classic here.

1977 Chevrolet C10 c

1977 Chevrolet C-10. My friend Dawn and I spotted this truck in Roann, Indiana, while we were there to check out the town’s covered bridge. More on Curbside Classic here.

1978 Ford F-250 Explorer d

1978 Ford F-250 Explorer. I found a lot of trucks this year! You might know the Explorer name from Ford’s flagship SUV, but before that, Explorer was a trim level on Ford’s trucks.

1977-85 MB 300D f

1977-85 Mercedes-Benz 300 Diesel. I found this Mercedes on campus at Rose-Hulman when I visited there in late October.

66-71 Jeepster Commando

1966-67 Jeep Jeepster Commando. One of the many times this year my Ford has been in the shop, I spotted this old Jeepster out front. I’ve seen a couple of these in shows and auctions, but never an unrestored original still rolling. It was a frigid November day — not soft-top Jeepster weather. This Jeepster’s lack of side reflectors peg it to 1966 or 1967 — 1966 was this truck’s first year, but the Feds mandated side reflectors for 1968 and beyond. More on Curbside Classic here.

More cars spotted: 2013, 2012, 2011.

Old Cars, Photography

Carspotting 2013

For years now, I’ve photographed old cars when I’ve encountered them. For the past couple years, I’ve shared the ones I’ve found with you here (see my 2011 and 2012 lists). But now I look for old cars still serving as transportation, because I write about them for Curbside Classic, a blog about these cars and their stories. So this year I have a bumper crop of old cars to share with you. Buckle in, it’s going to be a long ride.

1975 Oldsmobile 98

1975 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight Regency. The Meijer where I shop for groceries is fertile ground for old cars. I wrote about this car for Curbside Classic here.

1988 Toyota Camry DX

1988 Toyota Camry DX. I was in Terre Haute to visit an old friend, but first stopped at the Saratoga Restaurant for a little lunch. This Camry was parked outside. These aren’t exactly rare, but because the Camry was the first non-American car I ever drove I wrote about it for Curbside Classic.

1951 Chevrolet truck

1951 Chevrolet truck. I spotted a bunch of great old cars on my Route 66 trip this year. This one was in Carlinville, Illinois. (I wrote about the Route 66 trip for Curbside Classic here.)

1956 Chevrolet

1956 Chevrolet. This rolling advertisement sat facing Route 66 in Edwardsville, Illinois.

1962 Ford F-100

1964 Ford F100. This truck was for sale somewhere in Missouri on Route 66.

1966 Oldsmobile F-85

1965 Oldsmobile F-85. This fake cop car advertised a store selling homemade candies and jerky in Galena, Kansas on Route 66. We stopped and bought some of both and nibbled at it for the entire rest of the trip.

1951 IH tow truck

1951 International Harvester tow truck. This tow truck was the inspiration for the Tow Mater character in Pixar’s Cars franchise. Also in Galena, Kansas.

1987 Renault Alliance

1987 Renault Alliance. I found a gob of old Alliances on Route 66 in Quapaw, Oklahoma. This one is from 1987. I wrote about them all at Curbside Classic here.

1983 Renault Alliance

1983 Renault Alliance MT. In the Alliance boneyard in Quapaw, I found this first-year Motor Trend Car of the Year edition. I had one of these back in the day. It had terrible acceleration, but was very comfortable. Read about it here.

1970 Ford Mustang

1970 Ford Mustang. I forget where in Oklahoma on Route 66 that we found this convertible, but it was in front of a restaurant where we stopped for dinner.

1960 Studebaker Lark

1960 Studebaker Lark. Another find along Route 66 in Oklahoma. I wrote about it for Curbside Classic here.

1957 Chevrolet wagon

1957 Chevrolet wagon. We used a spiral-bound turn-by-turn guide to follow Route 66, and it was written by a fellow named Jerry McClanahan. He lives just off Route 66 in Chandler, Oklahoma. In his book, on the Chandler page, he invites travelers to call him to schedule a visit to his art gallery. So we called, and we visited – and I photographed his car.

1963-66 Siam Di Tella Argenta

1963-66 Siam Di Tella Argenta. I found several old cars on a visit to Chicago. I found this car-based truck in an architectural salvage store. It turns out to be an Argentine vehicle that somehow found its way to the United States. I told the Argenta’s story at Curbside Classic here.

1965-1970 Datsun Fairlady SP311 a

1965 Datsun Fairlady. This little Japanese roadster was in a courtyard at the architectural salvage store. More details here on Curbside Classic.

196x Land Rover Series IIA

1961 Land-Rover Series IIa. This safarimobile was parked in front of the architectural salvage joint. Curbside Classic writeup here.

1971 Mustang Grande

1971 Mustang Grande. This, too, was parked in front of the architectural salvage store. And I wrote about it for Curbside Classic, too, here.

1985 Pontiac Parisienne

1985 Pontiac Parisienne. Back home in Indianapolis, I went coffee-table shopping and found this pristine Pontiac sedan in front of Value City Furniture. Read about it on Curbside Classic here.

1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera c

1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera Brougham. I met my brother for dinner in South Broad Ripple and found this showroom-fresh Cutlass parked outside. The Ciera (and its twin, the Buick Century) was made for nearly two decades and are quite plentiful – but early ones like this are becoming harder to find. Curbside Classic writeup here.

1971-75 BMW E6 3.0 CS b

1974 BMW 3.0 CS. Like I said when I wrote about it at Curbside Classic, I think these are the most beautiful Bimmers ever. I found it in Fountain Square, a hip Indianapolis neighborhood.

1977-80 MB W116 300SD a

1978 Mercedes-Benz 300 SD Turbodiesel. I found this parked in front of a Goodwill store on the Northwestside of Indianapolis. Details here at Curbside Classic.

1979 AMC Jeep CJ7 c

1979 AMC Jeep CJ7. This was in my mechanic’s lot, for sale. He’s up in Home Place, which is near Carmel. Curbside Classic writeup here.

1969 VW Bus Westfaila a

1969 Volkswagen Westfalia Camper. I drove by this every day on my way to work this summer. More about it on Curbside Classic here.

1988 Toyota Pickup a

1988 Toyota Pickup. This truck is parked on the street behind my church. Nice to see it still doing its duty.

1963 Ford Fairlane d

1963 Ford Fairlane. I found this one evening while in South Bend. Curbside Classic writeup here.

1979 Ford Fairmont a

1979 Ford Fairmont. This Fairmont was parked in a Target parking lot in South Bend. When I wrote about it on Curbside Classic, it became by far the most-commented post I ever wrote there.

1977 Ford Bronco a

1977 Ford Bronco. My State Road 45 excursion this summer ended in Bloomington, where I found this final-year original Bronco in a parking lot.

1968 Volvo 164 a

1970 Volvo 164. I came upon this old Volvo on a lunch break on Indianapolis’s far Northwestside. More details about it can be found here on Curbside Classic.

1988 Toyota Corolla FX 27

1988 Toyota Corolla FX. Another find at my nearby Meijer store, I met the 90-year-old lady who owns and drives this car. It has 35,000 miles on it. More information about it here at Curbside Classic.

1987 Buick Century b

1988 Buick Century. Yet another Meijer find, this Broughamified Century is in a particularly unappealing color scheme. Read about it here on Curbside Classic.

1985 Dodge Omni b

1985 Dodge Omni. It seems like Dodge painted 80% of its Omnis this blue. But this one looks brand new. I found it in a shopping-center parking lot in the Traders Point area in northwest Indianapolis.

1985 Honda Accord b

1985 Honda Accord. Another Meijer find. I guess everybody needs to go to the store sometime, regardless of what they drive.

1971-85 Land-Rover Series III a

1971-85 Land-Rover Series III. I’d never seen a Land-Rover in person before this year, and now I’ve seen two. This one shuttles guests around Traders Point Creamery, a small dairy farm in northwest Indianapolis.

1976 Cadillac Sedan DeVille

1976 Cadillac Sedan DeVille Yet another Meijer find. I don’t recall seeing many Caddies in this color back in the day, so it’s good this one survived.

If you made it all the way down here, then you’ll like my visit to the car auction.

Old Cars

Carspotting, Route 66 edition

I photographed so many old cars along Route 66 that I just couldn’t save them for my annual end-of-the-year Carspotting post. Here they all are, from east to west.

1966 Chevrolet Superior school bus

1966 Chevrolet/Superior school bus. Bob Waldmire was one of the best friends an old road ever had. Splitting his time between Arizona and Illinois, he traveled the Mother Road constantly, advocated for its preservation and was known for his road-related art. His home base was Springfield, Illinois, where he lived in this converted school bus. Waldmire died in 2009, and his bus is now parked outside the Route 66 Museum, in Pontiac, Illinois.

1972 VW Bus/Camper

1972 VW Bus camper. Waldmire traveled the road in this camper van, which is now on display inside the museum. This bus inspired the Fillmore character in the Pixar movie Cars.

1951 Chevrolet truck

1951 Chevrolet truck. I found this old girl parked in front of a garage in Carlinville, Illinois.

1956 Chevrolet

1956 Chevrolet sedan. Many of the old cars along the route advertised the route’s businesses; this one advertises for a Subway in Edwardsville, Illinois. I hope, however, that the logo peels off easily.

1962 Ford F-100

1964 Ford F-100. Old trucks were also well represented along the Mother Road. This one from somewhere in mid-Missouri looks like a survivor.

Wagon Wheel Motel

1950 Chevrolet sedan. This one’s permanently parked next to the former Standard station at the Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba, Missouri. It’s over the station’s former grease pit. For more about the Wagon Wheel, look here. I wrote about this car for Curbside Classic, too, and shared more photos; read about it here.

1951 IH tow truck

1951 International Harvester tow truck.  This rusty work horse inspired the Tow Mater character in the movie Cars. It’s now rusting away along the route, in Galena, Kansas.

1966 Oldsmobile F-85

1966 Oldsmobile F-85. Just down the road in Galena, this fake police car is parked in front of the store it advertises. I can’t remember the last time I saw an F-85! Candy and jerky are certainly not an obvious pairing, but my sons and I stepped inside to sample both, and somehow it works. I especially liked the jerky, and bought a ton of it for us to snack on during the rest of the trip.

1983 Renault Alliance

1983 Renault Alliance. This looks just like the ’83 Alliance MT I used to own (story here). It was a limited edition honoring the Car of the Year award that Motor Trend magazine bestowed upon this hapless car. I think all Alliance MTs were painted this shade of gray, and mine had the same pin stripe, tan interior, and body-color wheels. I wished I could get closer to see for sure. I found this Renault in Quapaw, Oklahoma, among easily a dozen more Alliances. I wrote about them all over at Curbside Classic; read that story here.

1970 Ford Mustang

1970 Ford Mustang. This restored convertible was parked in front of a restaurant in Vinita, Oklahoma. It’s for sale!

1960 Studebaker Lark

1960 Studebaker Lark. In the 1970s, when I was a lad, the Studebaker Lark was my hometown’s favorite beater. If some other car was your town’s cheap-transportation choice in those days, it’s probably because you didn’t live in South Bend, as I did. That’s where this car was made. I wrote a paean to this Lark over at Curbside Classic; read it here.

1957 Chevrolet wagon

1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air wagon. This car belongs to Jerry McClanahan, who wrote the guide we used to follow the Mother Road. He lives just off Route 66 in Chandler, Oklahoma.

Like old cars? Check out my Carspotting posts from 2011 and 2012.

Old Cars

Carspotting 2012

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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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.

Old Cars


I love old cars, and whenever I see one still on the road I try to take a photograph. These are the old cars I spotted in the wild this year.

I met a friend for breakfast in the spring and this 1964 or 1965 Plymouth Barracuda was in the parking lot.

Ooh, Barracuda

I was looking for things to photograph with my Kodak Signet 40 when I came upon this 1970s-80s AMC Jeep CJ-5.

Seven Slots

My sons and I stopped for ice cream in Logansport when we spied this 1964 Chevy Impala. The owner didn’t seem to like me hanging around his car, so this was the only photo I got.

Ridin' in my six-four

This 1973 Plymouth Satellite Custom, a real survivor, sat behind the Palace Theater in Crossville, Tennessee.

1973 Plymouth Satellite Custom

Someone who works in my office park drives this 1971 Delta 88 Royale during the sunny months.

1971 Delta 88 Royale

Dig its massive tail light.

1971 Delta 88 Royale

I had my Agfa Optima in hand when I came upon this 1970s VW Beetle, so I shot it.

Beetle bug (crop)

I rented a minivan for a family trip this summer. Hertz is inside a former Dodge dealer’s, where this 1957 Dodge Custom Royal is still parked.


My brother works with a fellow whose family built Avantis in South Bend after Studebaker folded. The guy drives this one, and parks it inside the building.


I stop for coffee at my neighborhood Dunkin’ Donuts about once a week. The guy who works the drive through drives this 1975 or 1976 Chevrolet Impala to work every day.


Finally, this 1941 Buick was sitting in the Costco parking lot. It was the last place I expected to find a car like this!

Buick Eight

Sometimes an old car isn’t beautiful to behold, such as when it’s rotting in your next-door neighbor’s driveway. Check this one out.