Curbside Classic Capsule: The In-Motion Classics Of North Sheridan Road

1972 Cadillac Coupe DeVille. Saturday, September 11, 2011.


It has been said of me that my Canon camera and I are inseparable.  I am very protective of it, and treat it with the utmost care.  It is true that after I had rediscovered my love of taking pictures almost exactly ten years ago (after having taken many photographs as a teenager), in the years immediately following my first, major purchase of a new camera, I took it with me everywhere.  Sometimes, my photographic subjects seemed to appreciate my zealous documentation of many random moments.  Others, including some close friends, have looked visibly annoyed as I clicked away.  (It’s always fun, when looking back at pictures from years past, to find the one salty face in a group full of smiles.)

1979 Pontiac Catalina. Memorial Day Monday, May 28, 2012.


There are many things I enjoy about living in the Edgewater neighborhood on Chicago’s north side, where I have resided for over a decade now.  It is handy to public transportation (both buses and the CTA “L” trains), Lake Michigan (where I spend many hot, sunny summer afternoons), many restaurants and bars representing a wide array of cuisines and ethnicities, and educational institutions (including Loyola University’s Northshore campus).

Perhaps one of the biggest, unexpected benefits of living in an area that generates a lot of traffic is direct access to North Sheridan Road, which has yielded some of my most intriguing subjects for some of my essays here at Curbside Classic.  Some days, it has been like manna from heaven, as multiple car sighting on the same day have left me with more pictures than I can write about at one time.  The speed and motor memory with which I have learned to un-shoulder the camera strap, remove the lens cap, and fire away several usable frames of a moving car has led one of my friends to liken me to the old Hanna-Barbera cartoon character Quick Draw McGraw.  I’d like to think my voice doesn’t sound quite as dorky (it may, which is fine), but I like the comparison to that lovable, cartoon horse.

1963 Chevrolet Impala hardtop coupe. Monday, June 11, 2012.


Sometimes, though, I feel my words get in the way of what the cars can say more clearly and directly, themselves.  Without further ado, please allow me to continue to present, in chronological order, some of the choice finds that I’ve photographed while in motion on the stretch of North Sheridan Road between Foster Road (5200 block) and Granville Avenue (6100 block), with a little light commentary.

1968 Chevrolet Impala hardtop coupe. Saturday, July 14, 2012.


It is fascinating to me that only five model years separate the ’68 Impala shown directly above, and the ’63 Impala directly above it.  The looks of both cars couldn’t be more different from one another.  There are some cars from 2013 that still look basically “new” to me.  I’m old enough (mid-40s) to remember annual model year changes and when they stopped, and I still miss the excitement of seeing what tweak, no matter how small or seemingly trivial, would be made when the new models would debut in the fall.

1976 Pontiac Grand Prix. Saturday, November 10, 2012.


Next up is another beloved GM hooptie: a Colonnade-era Pontiac Grand Prix.  A fun challenge when photographing vintage cars has been to try to compose or crop the image to give the illusion of a “period” photograph.  I was quite pleased with this image, looking as it did like a still from a TV movie or show from the ’70s.

1986 – ’89 Alfa Romeo Spider. Saturday, November 10, 2012.


“Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson…”  I photographed this Alfa Romeo Spider and the above Grand Prix on the same day, while waiting at a local bus stop.  While I was never really fond of the black, rubber duck-spoiler on these cars, it is a testament to the skilled designers at Pininfarina that this basic design lasted over a quarter century and still looked decent at the very end of its run.

1953 – ’55 MG TF (replica?). Tuesday, June 11, 2013.


So, what do you think?  Is the above MG TF a replica (as I’d assume), or the real thing?  I’m not a Carfax-stalker (truth be told, I don’t know how to do that, and don’t really want to know), but given the pristine shape of this example and the fact that the lady behind the wheel was driving it during evening rush hour traffic leads me to believe this car is a beautifully-done knockoff.

1977 Volkswagen Beetle “Champagne Edition” convertible. Memorial Day Monday, May 26, 2014.


What is not to love about a classic Vee-Dub, especially a latter day convertible special like this “Champagne Edition” in Alpine White?

1982 Chevrolet Corvette. Sunday, April 12, 2015.


Nineteen Eighty-Two was the end of the line for the long-lived C3 Corvette.  I like both the two-tone treatment and color scheme, and feel they successfully took the overall look of this ’82, dated though it was, into the high-tech ’80s with aplomb.  These wheels help.

1975 Triumph TR6. Sunday, July 24, 2016.


Sometimes, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with drivers or passengers in some of these cars while stopped at a light.  An exchange of mutual enthusiasm for their car can snowball among all parties, and then all of us leave the intersection with smiles on our faces when the lights change.  This nice couple seemed especially appreciative that I had asked them about their car and took a few pictures of it.

1992 – ’95 Porsche 968. Sunday, July 9, 2017.


The Porsche 968 was new right around the time I had started college.  I remember thinking that while it was still cool (being a Porsche), not enough exterior changes had been made to modernize its look or distinguish it from the preceding 924.  the 968 also struck me as being an automotive “Lazarus”, having been raised up after the 924 (on which it was based) had been buried four years prior to the 968’s debut.

1979 – ’80 FIAT Sport Spider 2000. Saturday, September 16, 2017.


Our final In-Motion Classic for today is this lovely, latter-day FIAT Sport Spider 2000, finished in a shade of blue not unlike the color of nearby Lake Michigan.  It may well have been that I had seen it while walking to the beach on one of the last, warm, beach-worthy days of 2017.  I’m not 100% sure of the model year of this example, but it looks very similar (including its wheels) to one I recently wrote about.

I don’t always have my camera on me, as sometimes I just don’t want to worry about what might happen to it if I leave it unattended or potentially exposed to unwanted elements.  Ironically, some of these times have resulted in missed photographic opportunities or rare automotive sightings.  No matter.  I can’t photograph everything, and sometimes the joys of living a well-balanced life requires the sacrifice of not being “on” with my camera all the time.  I hope you have enjoyed my finds, and I promise to always try to keep an itchy shutter-finger.