This is my favorite photo from the Cars and Coffee I went to recently. This 1966 Chevrolet was a low-line Biscayne with rubber floor mats and no radio. It also had neither air conditioning nor power accessories, but that was pretty common then.
What it lacked in amenities, it made up for in sheer cubic inches. The monster big-block 427 was under this Biscayne’s hood. A four-speed Hurst shifter sticks up out of the floor. I’ll bet this thing is a terror to drive.
This car was indoors — a real challenge for the ISO 100 Fujicolor Industrial. Fortunately, I had a fast lens and a steady hand. I counted on shallow depth of field and I got it.
This post is sponsored by Analogue Wonderland, which offers more than 200 films. You can buy Fujicolor Industrial 100 from them here.
My little Canon S95 is still a great camera, nine years after it was manufactured. It may be showing its age, though. Native colors aren’t as vivid and everything is a little hazy now. So I shoot in Positive color mode, which is supposed to mimic color slide film. And then in Photoshop I use the Auto Tone correction and boost contrast a little. But that’s not an onerous amount of processing. And look at the result!
This Chevy crest is from a 1957 Bel Air, one of the most over-photographed automobiles of all time. Yet even on a cliche subject, when you move in close you can find something interesting.
There are a couple cars-and-coffee events near my home that run once a month during the warm-weather months. I like ’em all but I seem to make the one at Gateway Classic Cars most often. The pickings were a little slim, I assume because it was race weekend. That’s what we call Memorial Day weekend around here, because of the Indianapolis 500.
One fellow brought his 1966 Plymouth Satellite coupe. It originally had a 318 cubic-inch V8, but he swapped it out for a 440. He also painted it in a 1967 color and replaced several interior panels for an all-black interior. It’s got a few blemishes and imperfections, but that’s just how I like them. It makes for a car an owner isn’t afraid to drive. And what’s the point in owning a classic like this if you don’t drive it?
I’ve never been a big fan of GM’s 1973-77 Collonnade cars. They were supposedly mid-sizers but they were enormous on the outside and cramped on the inside. Yet it was good to see this 1976 El Camino. That two-tone pattern with the chrome sweeps was available from the factory, but I’ll bet this particular color combination wasn’t.
I’m sure that for Gateway Classic Cars the whole purpose of Cars and Coffee is to get people inside their showroom to see the classics they have for sale. I have an enormous soft spot in my heart (or is it my head?) for the VW Karmann-Ghia. I tried to buy one once; read that story here.
You don’t see too many 1966 Chevrolet Biscaynes at shows and sales. The Biscayne was Chevy’s least-expensive full-sized car. Most buyers optioned them lightly if at all; the bulk of sales went to fleets. Riding in one of these you were facing rubber floor mats and, often, no radio. They were most often powered by an inline six-cylinder engine, which was no speed demon. This one, however, packs a big-block 427 cubic inch V8.
The 1970s were a time of increasing luxury in automobiles. Cars from many manufacturers had a “Brougham” trim level that represented the finest on offer. This 1972 Mercury Marquis is a “20 footer” — it looks great from 20 feet away, but when you get up close you see it’s true so-so condition.
My favorite car this day was a 1969 Ford Falcon Future Sports Coupe. Ford’s Mustang ran on Falcon underpinnings, so much so that lots of Falcons were sacrificed to keep Mustangs running. Also, based on my childhood memories most Falcons were the low trim levels, bought to be basic transportation. That’s why it’s so great to see this top-of-the-line Futura Sports Coupe. I’ll bet that driving it feels almost exactly like driving a Mustang of the era.
I made some film photos at this Cars and Coffee too. I’ll share them when they’re back from the processor.
I mentioned my grandmother’s big orange Chevy Blazer in a recent post. It reminded me of this post I wrote for Curbside Classic a couple years ago, about a pretty close replica of her Blazer that I found at an auction.
You didn’t mess with my grandma. She was barely 5 feet tall, but she swore like a sailor and drank like a fish. And she always drove 4-wheel-drive trucks. One of them was an orange 1972 Chevrolet K/5 Blazer CST very much like this one.
Grandma was so short she had to grab the steering wheel and pull herself up into the cab. That had to really work her biceps! I’ll bet it gave her a mean right cross. But had she ever needed to defend herself, she would have instead reached for the .22 pistol she always kept in her purse.
My favorite place to ride was the front passenger seat, and I called shotgun as often as I could. Even though SUVs weren’t common in the 1970s like they are today — we didn’t even have the term “SUV” then — riding around in that seat didn’t exactly give me the rooftop view of traffic that you might think. Grandma lived in rural southwest Michigan, where serious winter snow and unplowed side roads meant almost everyone owned four-wheel-drive trucks. I was used to looking at tailgates ahead as we rolled down the road.
Grandma preferred the lightly traveled gravel back roads to the highways, though, and so I got to take in a lot of Michigan’s beauty while riding with her. Even when I had to ride in the high and upright back seat, I had a good view. That seat also sat a good distance back from the front seats, giving unbelievable legroom. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but now I think GM should have moved that seat a foot or so forward to give more aft cargo space. It was pretty tight back there.
Grandma and Grandpa had been a one-truck family (a 1972 Dodge Power Wagon, orange over white) until the grandkids started coming to visit for extended stays every summer. Riding four abreast in Grandpa’s truck worked while we were all very little, but as we grew the cab became too cramped and so Grandma bought the Blazer. We ran around all over southwest Michigan together running errands and visiting various taverns for lunch or dinner and, for Grandma and Grandpa, always a beer. I knew then that back home in Indiana I wasn’t allowed in taverns. Maybe Michigan’s laws were different. Or maybe it helped a lot that Grandma and Grandpa seemed to know every law-enforcement officer in six or seven counties. Perhaps Grandma’s smile, nod, and words of greeting to any deputy who stopped in were enough to secure us. We were certainly less uptight about such things forty years ago.
After Grandpa finally retired, they sold both trucks and bought a top-trim 1978 Bronco in gold with a white top. The CST package meant Grandma’s Blazer was top-trim too. This is what passed for luxury in an SUV in 1972. Today, these big body-on-frame SUVs are all but gone out here in rust country.
I have mixed feelings about this big red Chevy. The ’68 Impala is my favorite car of all time, thanks to my mom’s best friend owning a wonderful ’68 hardtop sedan in turquoise when I was a kid. And top-down driving can be such a pleasure. But so much of the styling zest of the ’68 Chevy lies in the hardtop roofs.
Ah, there; that’s better. Such smooth lines! And that kickup on the rear passenger window: bliss. I almost bought one like this about 15 years ago, except that between the time I said I’d buy it and the time I scraped together the money, the seller managed to destroy it in a stupid accident. Sigh.
Not that I’d turn down this Impala. If I could afford it, that is; it’s probably worth more than my house. That’s because it isn’t just any Impala convertible, but a fire-breathing SS 427. Just check RPO Z-24 on your build sheet! This one comes with Positraction and a 4-speed gearbox. It’s a fairly rare beast: one of 1,778 built in 1968. By the time these came along, people were looking much more to mid-size platforms — Chevelle SS, GTO, 442, Charger — to satisfy their performance lust.
Ooh, looky: strato-buckets! You could apparently order these with a cloth-covered bench seat. Good lord, why would anybody do that? If you’re going to own the most powerful ’68 Impala, go all the way.
I can prefer the two-door hardtop ’68 Impala all day — but one was not to be found during my visit. And this potent Impala is plenty pretty. It is my favorite car at the 2015 Mecum Spring Classic.