American

1965 Dodge Dart

This Dart may win the award of being the oldest daily-driven car around my neck of the woods. I actually saw it just a couple weeks ago, getting its brakes fixed at a repair shop. I imagine it must take a good deal of dedication to keep dailying a 53-year-old car, but I suppose Dart parts are cheap and relatively plentiful, and since it’s probably got a slant-6 under the hood, reliability isn’t likely to be too much of an issue.

For some reason, the ’65 Dart (and specifically the coupe) is still quite a common sight on the streets of Southern California. It’s gotten to the point that I won’t always stop and snap photos of one if I see it on the street, just because I see so many of them. But I had been waiting to catch this one at a standstill for awhile by the time I finally got these pictures. There’s just something about an honest daily-driven classic that appeals to me so much more than a meticulously-restored garage queen.

Santa Monica, CA

Photos by The Professor

1974 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

The license-plate frame on this Corvette says it’s a ’74 model, and I’m inclined to believe it, but the rear bumper is definitely from a ’75 Corvette. 1974 Corvettes were the first year of the urethane-molded rear bumper assembly, but the first year had a split bumper with a visible seam running down the middle (which isn’t visible on this car’s bumper). The presence of rear bumper guards also pegs this as a ’75. But the front bumper is definitely from a ’74: otherwise it would have bumper guards of its own. So my best guess is that this is indeed a ’74 Corvette, but one that got rear-ended at some point and reassembled by a less-than-fastidious repairer.

Sawtelle, Los Angeles, CA

Photos by The Professor

1969 Ford Torino

The Torino was introduced for the 1968 model year, as an upmarket series of the Fairlane. This particular Torino, a 1969 model, sports the new-for-’69 351 “Windsor” V8, one of around 8.6 million 351W’s that would eventually be manufactured by the end of production in 1996.

It’s also a great example of my favorite types of finds: old cars that are still being put to good use. It’s not in the greatest shape: there’s a few dings and some misaligned trim and a badly battered roof, but it’s honest in its weather-worn state. While it hasn’t quite aged gracefully, it’s still plugging along almost 50 years after it started, and that’s quite an achievement indeed.

Santa Monica, CA

Photos by The Professor

1961 Ford Ranchero

One of the most tragic byproducts of the evolution in car design has been the elimination of two-tone paintwork from the automotive color palette. Not that this Ranchero is the poster child of two-tone application: cream and light brown render perhaps too much of a resemblance to an oversized vanilla fudge sundae, but still: a massive improvement over a hypothetical solely-cream-colored Ranchero, which would just look like a slab of vanilla popsicle.

Just as two flavors are always better than one; so too are two car colors. Also, California should totally bring black the blue plates from the ’70s and early ’80s like this Ranchero has: they’re much more visually interesting than the drab blue-lettering-on-white-background plate that they haven’t changed since about 1993.

Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA

Photos by The Professor

 

2017 Tesla Model 3

No, we’re not turning into a new-car blog. But our primary focus is rare cars found on the street (or, in this case, in a driveway), and at this point in time the Tesla Model 3 still counts. Why?

Well, it turns out Elon Musk had his sights set a little too high when he predicted back in July that Tesla would be producing 20,000 Model 3s a month by the end of the year. Hampered by “glitches” at Tesla’s Gigafactory and other various manufacturing issues, Tesla’s fourth-quarter production output totaled to just 2,425, which certainly counts as rare in my book. Up until about a week ago, I actually hadn’t seen a single one on the road, but in the days since then, I’ve noticed more and more of them popping up, which culminated in my finally finding one at a standstill.

It remains to be seen whether the Model 3 will follow through on Musk’s grand promises. I imagine they will proliferate in the coming months, but to what extent? This is the biggest challenge Tesla has ever faced, and it’s not entirely certain that they will make it through in one piece. Only time can tell.

Glendale, CA

Photos by The Professor

1964 Rambler Classic 550

I just realized that even though this blog is called “Roadside Rambler,” we had not, until now, featured an actual Rambler in any of our posts. So, to assuage any concerns of false advertising, the oversight has been remedied in the form of this car.

This particular Rambler is a base-model 550, equipped with AMC’s 232 cubic inch straight-six engine, the second year for an engine that lasted until 1979. Its parent family of engines is one of the more well-regarded designs in motoring history: introduced in 1964 in the Rambler American, it continued on until 2006 and included one of the most iconic American motors of all-time, the Jeep 4.0L straight-six. This particular example is finished in the lovely shade of Woodside Green.

But one of the most interesting parts of this car is its scandal-ridden salmon license plate. The situation went like this: Oregonians who spent an extra $30 (initially, plus every two years to renew the plate) were assured that this money was being used to fund salmon conservancy efforts: a worthy cause. However, in a shocking example of a severe public funds misappropriation, half of the money raised was actually being funneled to the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, paying for, among other things, staff salaries and a website improvement project. The total misallocated funds ranged into the millions of dollars, prompting an understandable scandal and a hasty vote by the Oregon legislature to fix the issue.

Lesson learned: always double-check where your money is actually going.

Portland, OR

Photos by The Professor

1988 Buick Reatta

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Though Buick intended to shift 20,000 Reattas per year, only 21,751 were produced in a four-year production run from 1988-1991. This car features Buick’s “Electronic Control Center,” which contained radio and climate controls on a touch-sensitive CRT screen. The screen, first introduced in the 1986 Riviera, proved unpopular and unreliable, and was dropped for the 1990 model year. In retrospect, though, it was far ahead of its time.

Santa Monica, CA

Photos by The Professor

1970 Buick Electra 225

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New for the 1970 Electra model was a 455 cubic inch V8 pumping out 370 horsepower, making it the most powerful Electra ever. The newly redesigned 1971 models would keep the same engine, but, due to a lower compression ratio, see their output drop to 315 horses.

1970 was also the last year of the Electra “Coke bottle” design first introduced in 1965; the ’71 models would ditch the sleek lines for more slab-sided styling.

The Electra name soldiered on until 1990, by which time the name was but a shadow of its former glory, saddled with a 3.8L (232 cubic inch) V6 and a FWD chassis.

Los Angeles, CA

Photos by The Professor

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