CA Vacation Walk and Talk #2: Aidan and Marcello Show Me The CCs In Their Neighborhood – Wow!

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Many of you were quite impressed by all of the CCs that my nephiew Aidan showed me on the way home from school. Well, that turned out to just be the warm-up act; these kids live in CC heaven.  After the reception the first post got, Aidan and younger brother Marcello were eager to show me all the old cars they’d become familiar with in their immediate neighborhood, so we leashed up the dog and took a little tour, all within just a couple of blocks of their house in an older neighborhood in San Mateo. You’re not going to believe how many iconic CCs they showed me. If their goal was to impress Uncle Paul, they succeeded admirably, starting right off with this very original ’66 Riviera GS. 

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This patina-rich Riviera sits in front of an older house, and the two look like they’ve both been getting minimal care and maintenance over the decades. This neighborhood has a lot of older folks, and the old cars seem to reflect that. In some cases, their kids may have taken over their homes and kept the cars on too.

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The Riviera GS didn’t have any more horses under the hood, but it did handle better, thanks to a heavy duty suspension. Positraction also came with the package, but brakes were still drums, although they were pretty large and finned.

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1966 was the last year for Buick’s venerable “nailhead” V8, the Wildcat 465, which refers to its gross torque output. It was rated at 340 (gross) hp, displaced 425 cubic inches (7 liters), and for 1966, featured the new Quadrajet four-barrel carb. But the previously-optional 360 hp dual-four barrel carb version was not available anymore, although it really wasn’t all that suited to the Riviera’s role as a refined personal coupe. Backing it was the  THM-400 three-speed. A formidable and tough combination under that long hood.

Buick riviera 1966 GS -engine

Since the GS version included standard finned cast-alloy valve covers and a chromed air cleaner, I thought I’d better find a pic on the web to drive that point home, visually.

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There were three front seating choices for the ’66 Riviera; a full bench, buckets, or these “Astro” split-back seats with folding armrest. One might think that the sporty GS would come standard with buckets, console and floor shifter, but not so.

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I’m not so much worried about this “sunburn” up top.

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But there’s some actual perforation on the C Pillar. That’s a bit unusual for a Bay Area car; maybe a weak spot on these cars. But I know many of you in Rustopia would consider this as just a minor blemish for a car this old.

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Opinions will always be split about the ’63-’65 versus the ’66-’67, styling-wise, and I’m in the first camp simply because the ’63 was such a brilliant break-through car, and probably because it appeared when I was ten, a very impressionable age. But the ’66 does a pretty decent job of being in the difficult follow-up role. It certainly seems to reflect Bill Mitchell’s design ethos as well as any of the cars created under his watch, and I called it “The Ultimate Bill Mitchell-Mobile” in my CC of the ’66 Riviera.

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Just across the corner from the Riviera and down past that Astro van sits another classic Mitchell-Mobile, this rather gnarly ’75 Firebird Trans Am.

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It’s sporting the famous “Screaming Chicken” TA hood, but one that doesn’t look like it originally came with the car.

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Its interior has seen better days, but it looks to still be a regular driver.

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The shaker hood scoop is quite functional; maybe a bit too much so.

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I’m assuming this is a genuine T/A, given the front fender vent and rear spoiler. The front air dams are missing, but the attachment points are still there.

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Quite the colorful addition to the neighborhood.

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A little ways down the street, someone’s hard at work on their big baby.

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Across the street, there’s another one of those rare Fleetwood coupes. Odd. This neighborhood traditionally was Italian, so maybe that explains it? It might also explain the dearth of older Japanese cars.

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But no neighborhood is complete without an Advance Design Chevy truck. Especially so if it’s in primer.

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The future ponders the far distant past.

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And what’s there down and across the street? Could it be a genuine CC Road Runner, one of the CC Holy Grails?

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Afraid not…that chrome rear trunk panel alone is the evidence.

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I’m not wild about the wheels, but then these hot B-bodies have been adorned with all matter of aftermarket wheels since just about the time they first saw the light of day. That would be 1969, in the case of this one.

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It’s just a mere Sports Satellite. 318, perhaps?

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But isn’t that hood from the Road Runner? Mix and match; the order of the day for these old muscle cars, real or fake.

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We tuck down a little alley, and there’s one of my favorite trailers, a Spartan. Of course we’ve done a CC on them!

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All right guys, ham it up with this red R129 SL. It is a bit closer in age to them than anything else we’re going to see on this walk.

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Another Stepside Chevy truck, but a bit younger than the other one. From the mid-seventies, which might as well be a century ago to these kids.

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I catch the tell-tale all-chrome window surrounds of a 300SEL W109 hidden in a driveway, barely visible in front of a truck jammed in right behind it. A 3.5 perhaps? I dare not hope for another CC Holy Grail, the 6.3.

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Donnerwetter! It is a 6.3! (Update: I just noticed the license plate in the first picture). A bit worse for wear, sitting low on its empty air suspension and wearing W126 wheels. I bet it has some wild stories to tell.

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Speaking of German cars, there just had to be an old VW somewhere around here. Sure enough, and this is a particularly desirable old Westie, from about 1964 or so. Shall we even mention the Ford Festiva in such august company?

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We turn the corner on this building, and our eyes are dazzled by this bright red 1971 Challenger. It’s even sporting R/T badges and stripe on its flanks. Is it the real thing?

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Just like the red ’69 Charger R/T was Aidan’s favorite on the first walk, so is this red Challenger now. Who can blame him? Time to celebrate this find, guys. And Penny gets to be in it too.

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If you’d rather see it without kids…

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Does the Challenger successfully challenge the ’69 Camaro for title of most iconic pony car of that era?

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And I’m actually happy to see it doesn’t have 440 or 426 Hemi badges, as my trust in this being genuine R/T was a bit low from the first encounter. This improves the odds that it’s the real thing. Who would build a R/T 383 clone?

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A column-mounted shifter on an R/T? My trust is evaporating. Or did the base R/T come with a column shift? Hard to imagine, but…some googling takes me to a 1971 brochure.

Dodge Challenger 1971 shifter

Sure enough; the Torqueflite is on the column unless the optional console is paid for too. But if one gets the standard three-speed manual, it’s on the floor.

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A Deadly Sin and a Greatest Hit from the same era, posing together. Could two cars be more different in just about every way?


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Ironically, we “owned” both of these cars for a short time, just a few years apart. Loved that Honda wagon; what a brilliantly space-efficient little car, very similar to the Honda Fit of today. And a ball to drive.

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A nicely-kept K-G, sporting quad exhaust tips.

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Time to head back; is there more? Oh yes there is. These Buicks are so dramatic, with their giant full rear wheel openings, which was really quite unlike any other mainstream cars of the time. It seemed to work, as Buick sales were on a tear at this time.

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Even the boys know what year this Buick is. Why didn’t everyone put the year on their car badges?

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The open hood was an invitation to get some shots of its engine, also the “nailhead” V8, but the original 322 CID version. In the Special, it was rated at 220 hp.

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Let’s get some shots from several angles, to add to the collection.

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The nailhead is a narrow engine, as is evident from all the room left on both sides.

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Now that would be a nice place to sit on a drive down CA Hwy 1.

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Listening to the V8 burbling along like a tug boat, never changing its engine tone much thanks to the Dynaflow transmission.

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Someone’s unfinished project. In a dense neighborhood like this, everything is out in the open, with no place to hide one’s detritus  from the neighbors.

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Yes, Aidan; I do like big Ford trucks. There’s another one around the corner? I think we’ve got enough for today; time to head for home; which is just around the block.

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On the way, Japanese car lovers get one more tidbit. I remember this house, just around the corner of the boys’ home, but with a different car in front of it.

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This is what saw (and shot) there then, back in 2009. According to the boys, a very old man in his nineties lives there, and sold the big ’66 Bonneville wagon a couple of years back. Someone got themselves a gem. But there’s plenty of CCs still left in the neighborhood, as this little tour shows all too well.


Related reading:  CA Vacation Walk and Talk: Nephew Aidan Shows Me The CCs ON His Way Home From School

1966 Buick Riviera CC      Automotive History: Buick’s “Nailhead” V8    “Advance Design” Chevy Pickup CC    Spartan Trailer   W109 300SEL History   1970 Dodge Challenger CC    1986-1991 Seville GM’s DS#21  1987 Honda Shuttle Wagon CC   1956 Century CC  mm