CC (Collar City) Outtake: Google Street View Classics


(Submitted by Matthew Frederick)

I love old cars, but as an architect I’m more interested in restoring old buildings. To this end, my partner and I have been looking for an inexpensive old house to buy and fix up. Our search for something affordable has led us to Troy, a once wealthy but now largely downtrodden city of 50,000 in upstate New York. We’ve been doing some preliminary shopping online, using Google Street View to spot the architectural gems amidst the often patchy neighborhoods. Unexpectedly, I’ve stumbled across a relative plethora of interesting cars. Does the Collar City—Troy found its former wealth through shirt manufacturing—have a disproportionate number of Curbside Classics?


Google spotted this 1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass on Seventh Street. The gray primer patches suggest a restoration is underway, but it looks like the car gets regular use. Hmmm… hood pins and boy racer wheels… is it a 4-4-2?


There’s no 4-4-2 badge in front of the rear wheels. A pedestrian f-85 insignia can be discerned just aft of the front bumper. Nevertheless, the ready-to-go stance of this car is appealing.


This 1964 Ford Galaxie is more of a Curb-straddle Classic than a Curbside Classic. It’s for sale; no extra charge for the tasteful hood blister.


I’ll bet a CCer can nail the exact year of this pre-1968 Beetle… my guess is 1966. It’s parked a little close to the corner; I hope it doesn’t get clipped.


I hope the same for this little buggy, which doesn’t have much in the way of impact protection. I assume it’s built on a Beetle chassis; if so, it amazes me that people are willing to make the Beetle more dangerous than it already is.


Then again, it looks like it has some decent rollover protection in the event it gets creamed by a delivery van. And I must say it looks like fun, although I wonder where one gets to fully enjoy a vehicle like this in the inland northeast of U.S. Perhaps the driver is on his way to do some closed course racing.


Some angry headlights peer out from a side yard. I’ve never been a fan of this generation of GM full-size cars. When I was a kid, they creeped me out so much I couldn’t stomach looking closely at them. Consequently, I never learned to distinguish the Buick, Olds, and Pontiac models, even though they look completely different from one another.


This particular full-sizer bears a striking resemblance to Ernest Borgnine. Maybe that’s why I never much cared for “McHale’s Navy.” But I digress.


Next time, I’ll know it’s a 1959 Buick Electra. Not that I’m hoping for a next time, as its weird collage of design elements still makes me queasy. And the heavy-handed blue does it no favors; perhaps a more subtle shade would give its lines a better chance of enamoring me. Speaking of which, the woman in the picture seems to have followed the Google car around her house…. or did the Google driver follow her? I digress again.


This sixth generation Celica doesn’t seem that old, but it’s been twenty years since its introduction. I couldn’t find the production numbers, but I don’t recall seeing many back in the day (1994-99), at least compared to previous generations. I find its mug somewhat interesting, but as nearly all car designers at the time had moved away from round headlights, the styling might have been perceived as insufficiently progressive by the sporty car audience.


A fifth generation (1978-87) El Camino sits in a lineup at a neighborhood service garage. A circa 1980 Sedan deVille is farther down the line.


The Google car seems to have captured the same El Camino several blocks away. It’s the facelifted version, which ran from 1982-87. I prefer the looks of the pre-facelift, which had single headlights. The revised front end looks too square to complement the curved sweep of the rear roofline.

I like the neighborhood it’s parked in, but it’s one we probably can’t afford. Even here, however, I don’t think I’d leave a classic unattended with the windows open. Troy’s crime rate is fifty percent higher than the U.S. average.


Hopefully it won’t meet a fate similar to this T-Bird, captured by Google Street View in Detroit.


And hopefully, Troy faces a better fate than Detroit. With some first-hand investigation to complement our armchair Googling, we think we’ll find a worthy restoration project to contribute to an improving city.

CCers, have you noticed many Curbside Classics or other interesting vehicles in your ordinary use of Google Street View? Has your own car been captured the Googlecam?