Paul himself says I live in Curbside Classic Nirvana. Tonight I truly embraced that as fact. Between the temperate climate and relative wealth of the San Francisco Bay Area, the streets crawl with classic Detroit, Japanese and European iron from years past.
A friend of mine invited me out to Oakland’s Art Murmur this evening. On the way to get cash for overpriced food truck food, I noticed a panoramic windshield in the corner of my eye . Then I noticed sweet sounds of The Intruders “Cowboys to Girls” was playing softly in the air over the roar of the art walk crowd. My friends know the routine now: even if I get a glimpse they can expect me to be off with my phone camera to oogle the greatest hits or shadow classics of Detroit in its glory years, be it The Supremes or a Cutlass Supreme.
I had read on a flyer two weeks ago in at my corner taqueria that there was an auto show at the Giant Burger on the corner of 23rd and Telegraph every first Friday through summer. But it the daily drudgery of life buried this information in my brain, and I didn’t notice the calendar. For all of our viewing joy serendipity had plans for me.
The owner of this 1954 Chrysler Windsor Deluxe Sedan was the son of the original owner. But apparently his heart wasn’t too tied to the family heirloom passed down for nearly 60 years. He offered to trade it to the owner of this:
Another son of a Mopar loyal man showed up with dads 1953 DeSoto Firedome (Club Coupe?) with the stock 276 V8 and Fluid Drive transmission. I’ll be one to say that exhaust note would have been worth the trade alone.
The DeSoto in particular was a car nerds dream. I literally foamed at the mouth with questions, especially since it was a Hemi with a Fluid Drive transmission. I stared at the clutch pedal intensely before being brave enough to ask the owner “How Do you Exactly drive a Fluid drive” with all of the voice cracking curiosity of my eight year old self. I don’t know if I remember the explanation right: At about 35 mph you lift off the gas and it clunks into high. For downshifts you depress the clutch all the way down or something. It looks like I’ll be going to the final show Labor Day weekend to get the logistics of this ballet of semi automatic operation down correctly.
And to give some love to the sweetest co-pilot that anyone ever had.
The other surprise was although there was the usual suspects of Impalas, Tri-Fives and assorted Chevrolets, there were a number of medium priced, middle class cars of years gone by. This 1963 Mercury Meteor was one of three from the brand of the messenger god.
This 1963 Comet S-22 Hardtop was the second, and quite a sight with it this stunning Amana Fridge white paint job.
Before the sun set completely and my phone ran out of battery life, this 1960 Mercury Park Lane 4 Door Hardtop showed up. My hope is that it does show up at the last show of the season at an earlier hour so I can get better photos of what is most likely the rarest of rare Mercury automobiles.
Other Bourgeoisie Beauties from the Bouffant Era included a pair of Buicks. The first up was is one of my favorites: There is something so crisply tailored about all three GM C body cars of 1963-64 that looks so right. Within the same realm as the clean lines of an Eames chair, this Deuce and A Quarter, a Ninety Eight or a DeVille wouldn’t look out of place in the garage of an Eichler home in these parts, even today.
The other Buick in attendance has a trunk fit for kidnapping Dabney Coleman in 9 to 5 Style. The 1968-69 Skylarks have some of the most ridiculous Bill Mitchell hips of all 1960s cars, but it works for them in a flamboyant way that we’ll never see any Buick unabashedly embrace ever again.
And while we’re on Pop Culture triggers, The Crystals “He’s A Rebel” blared like it was August, 1962 on the way to becoming the #1 song in the country. I walked around the lot and saw this 1962 Biscayne Wagon. It’s virtually identical to the one that Phil Spector posed the group with on their Twist Uptown LP jacket.
And this is where I came to realization that I didn’t abandon an art walk, I just joined an art cruise. The styling of cars has been an art since Harley Earl brought modeling clay into automotive design and continues to be. Between music I love and the the steel sculptures that once populated Americas driveways, I got my evening of high culture.
So I tip my hat to the men and women that continue to collect these mobile sculptures. And thank them for sharing them and their stories on a hot August Night.