Old Cars

Carspotting 2019

I love old cars! I always have. As a kid I used to be able to pinpoint the year, make, and model of any car built starting in about 1955, and of many cars built since the end of World War II. It still fills me with pleasure to find an old car parked, and I usually pause to photograph them, usually with my iPhone.

I’m a lot older now, and I’m amused to find that cars I remember debuting when I was an adult are now old and used up.

For the purposes of this annual post, I include any car 20 or more years old. Here now, the cars.

1956-71 Morris Minor 1000. I’ve seen this car at shows around town so I was pleasantly surprised to find it parked in Lions Park in Zionsville one day when Margaret and I took a walk there. I’m hardly knowledgeable in this car’s year-to-year trim changes; perhaps one of my UK readers can narrow down this car’s year better than I.

1961 Chevrolet Corvair Lakewood. This may be the rarest automobile I’ve ever found parked somewhere. Only about 33,000 Corvair wagons were ever built. Given this wagon’s Lakewood badging it has to be from 1961, as in 1962 the Lakewood name disappeared and these were just Corvair wagons.

1965 Chevrolet Corvairs. There must have been a Corvair convention nearby because these two Corvair two-doors were parked across the street from the Lakewood. I’m positive one of them is a ’65 because it has a 1965 license plate on it. I’m only pretty sure the other one is a ’65. I found all three of these Corvairs on the square in Lebanon, IN.

1967 Pontiac Tempest Custom. This car belongs to the fellow who lives two doors down from me. One day he and it were out at the curb by his house, so I went over to talk to him about his car. He said, “Would you like to drive it?” Does a drunk want a case of Jim Beam? I drove it around the neighborhood and photographed it in our community area. My neighbor has had the car for a few decades, and was friends with the original owner. He restored and gently modified it, replacing its tired but original 326 cubic-inch V8 with a crate 350 and doing other little things to it. It drove very nicely and stopped confidently on its drum brakes. Assuming the top doesn’t leak this would be a fun car to own.

1973-79 VW Bus. Good lord, but do I love these things. They were common during my 1970s kidhood and I got to ride in several. They had great visibility and plenty of room for a large crew. When Chrysler introduced its minivans in the 1980s I wondered what all the hubbub was about, because VW had already done it with its ubiquitous Bus. Spotted in downtown Zionsville.

1985 Toyota Celica Supra. A college buddy owned one of these; he bought it new. He let me drive it a time or two and it was great fun — low slung, tight handling, good acceleration. I guess this was more a boulevard cruiser than true sports car but so what? It was still a joy to drive. Spotted in downtown Zionsville.

1987-91 Honda Civic. I can’t remember the last time I saw one of these. Most of them have died a sad death because the kids all bought ’em cheap, hopped ’em up, and hooned ’em into the ground. And holy cow, is this ever an itty bitty car. When they were new they didn’t seem so small, but cars are so much taller and bulkier now. I found this in the parking garage next to my office in Downtown Indianapolis.

1987-91 Ford F-150. Ford trucks from the last 30 years are so common that it’s easy to overlook one. But here, parked in downtown Zionsville, was this one looking very nice. If I had to guess, I’d say it was an unrestored original that has received great care.

1987-91 Ford F150. When it rains, it pours. Here’s another F150 of this generation, also in very nice original condition. I found it at a nearby big-box store.

1989-93 Plymouth Sundance. This Sundance is an art project! I found it behind the dormitory my son lives in at his school.

1990-92 Oldsmobile Silhouette. Good heavens, how did GM’s designers think this design was a good idea? But these sold well enough, and were hardy enough, that I manage to find one every two years or so. I found this one at a Cracker Barrel in Indianapolis.

1992 Mercury Tracer. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I came upon this Tracer in the big-box-store parking lot. Tracers were far less common than their Ford Escort sisters, and the wagons were the rarest of them all. I know this is a ’92 as that was the first year for the lightbar grille and the last year for motorized front seat belts. I sort of wished this one had a For Sale sign in the window. I’ve always really liked these cars, ever since my dad had a terrific one in four-door hatchback form that lasted and lasted. The wagon would be just that much more useful.

1992-97 Ford F150. It was a good year for old trucks. This shortbed F150 is in like-new condition. It parked next to me in the garage where I park to go to work.

1996-99 Saturn SW. I always thought this body redesign of the original Saturn was better than the original but still weird looking. Spotted in Downtown Indianapolis. That broken side mirror and a little peeling clear coat were the only obvious flaws on an otherwise nice condition survivor.

1996-99 Toyota Celica. In profile, I always thought these looked like the old Ford Pinto. I always thought the headlight treatment was cartoonish. Spotted in the Broad Ripple neighborhood of Indianapolis.

To see all of the Carspotting posts I’ve made over the years, click here.

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