Eichlers And Their Cars: A Neighborhood That Time Forgot

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On a recent trip to the San Francisco bay area, I decided to check out one of the Eichler neighborhoods that dot the area. As mid-century architecture buffs know, The Eichler homes were developed in a number of tracts, mostly in Northern California but also near Los Angeles, by Joseph Eichler from the early-’50s through the late ’60s. There are many Eichler tracts, but we decided to go to one of those closest to San Francisco: a San Mateo tract that I learned had been developed between 1956 and 1964.

It turned out to be quite a charming area, set on a ridge with great views and somewhat secluded from the surrounding area. Many of its homes had retained their ’60s flair–which is not always the case in today’s age of McMansion-ization! Most of the homes there had either been thoughtfully restored, or were well-maintained originals with characteristic low-slung post-and-beam profiles, courtyards and such ’60s touches as block screens, brightly-colored doors, and either a flat or A-frame roof.

What I didn’t expect was the collection of classic (or at least uncommon) cars I saw there, all within a relatively small area with just a few streets. First up was this 1996-ish Buick Riviera–a favorite of mine, since I owned one for a number of years. I’m sure if one had pulled into the neighborhood back when these homes were new, it would have seemed like quite a glamorous car of the future, and deservedly so!

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As I drove along, it began to look more and more like a scene from the Edward Scissorhands collection of pastel-colored Mopars in every driveway–and no wonder that movie came to mind when I rolled by this slightly dusty but stunning blue Duster, in front of this equally stunning modern home. I think they go rather well together.

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But the sightings became even more unlikely as this poppy-color Citation– in surprisingly good shape considering it was sitting out in a driveway–came into view. I think it might have been an X-11, too! I was very tempted to enter the driveway for a closer look, but that’s a no-no.

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And if it isn’t shocking enough to see an X these days, how about this nearly-mint J-car! This Olds Firenza hatchback (an SX coupe, no less) was in excellent shape and looked to be loaded: it even had a power antenna! Not to mention those mini-rally wheels. I would guess it’s from 1984 or so. What do you think?

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I almost left a note on it, but I didn’t.

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Finally, I saw this gold Monte Carlo (probably a 1972 model) in yet another driveway, relaxing with its hood slightly open. I like the 1973-77 models better, but it’s hard not to like this one in that brassy gold, despite my doubts about it being an original color. Why it was sitting out in the driveway, on a weekday, I don’t know, but seeing all these fun old cars made me wonder what else might be hiding behind all those sleek California Modern garage doors…