Since we’re time traveling to 1984 today, how about some shots just posted by Don Kincl that he took in Queens, NY in that year. A Buick Regal has ignited, and he was there to capture the conflagration. It might have been a bit more dramatic in color, but presumably this is what he had loaded in his camera.
A carbecue! Luckily the 280ZX across the street is out of harm’s way.
Considering the lack of leaves on the trees and the Cadillac in the last picture, must have been late ’84 and that Caddy is brand new!
This 1980 Regal was only four years old at the time. I don’t remember any of its available engines being prone to fires. I wonder what happened.
I thought this was a 1978-79 Buick Regal judging by the headlights.
Only the ’80 had the quad-light setup. The front marker light is another clue.
As others already mentioned below, it looks like they parked on top of a pile of dry leaves and the catalytic converter ignited them. Taking a closer look at the photos, it really looks more like the leaves under the car are on fire rather than the car itself.
Parking was probably at a premium back then, as now. Any curbside spot (the Regal’s looks really close to that stop sign), even over a large patch of dry leaves, probably seemed worth snatching up versus circling city blocks for another twenty or thirty minutes. To be the owner / driver returning to drive it somewhere…
The Renault Alliance in the background seems to be a recurring theme this week as well.
What’s disturbing is that it appeared to be parked and spontaneously caught fire. No oil or gas spraying on a hot engine or other operating incident. As I and many others keep their vehicles in attached garages, this is scary.
Looks like they parked on a pile of leaves. Catalytic Converter Conflagration.
I’m thinking that is a good possibility. The other idea i had was a cigarette, either from a passing car or someone walking down the street.
I’ve had two cars burn up on me. A 1970 Karmann Ghia and a 1978 Mercury Cougar. Sigh
I looked really hard. I can’t tell if it is dual or quad headlamps, but the side marker light proves it’s a 1980.
There is 78-79 Regal across the street, incidentally. And looks like the tail-end of a BMW 5-series, or maybe a 2002 opposite the ZX. During our family forays into Flushing, Astoria, and other parts of Queens, as a teen I noticed I’d see Peugeots, Fiats, and BMW 2002s that were much rarer in “Long Island” (Suffolk and Nassau–geographically, Brooklyn and Queens are part of Long Island).
Four-year old car on fire.. in Queens I would not discount the possibility of foul play–or foul play gone wrong.
What type of car are associated with “spontaneous combustion”?
I think that tail end is from a later BMW Bavaria, 3.0S or 3.0Si since there are no wrap-around taillights. The 5-Series had wrap around tail lights.
2002s did not have wrap around lights either did they?
When the 2002 went to square taillights they weren’t wrap around but they did stick out a little so you could see a little bit of them in the side profile. They also had the side marker light lower than the one in the picture.
It must be a Buick thing. Here’s my neighbor’s Regal up in flames from a couple of years ago…
He has a Honda Civic now.
My brother had a 1978 pontiac lemans as his first car around 1998 or so. It was one of those elderly owned, books and books of service records cars. Come.to find out that when elderly, depression era people sell something it’s cos they squeezed Every Last Drop of use out of it and the reason it had sheaves of service records is that it needed a lot of service. He went into the Marshall’s at then buford highway outlet mall and came out to see smoke and a large group of people standing around something which turned out to be his car. . . On fire.
I think we decided it was a catalytic converter contaminated by years of unburned fuel and oil that finally went boom but it wasn’t worth diagnosing further. With this car I’m guessing a loose carburetor, leaking fuel hose, or oil dripping onto a hot manifold caused its demise. Could be something electrical too.
When I see that kind of smoke coming from a car, my first thought is of Cheech and Chong.
Funny how my local 107.1 FM the peak N.Y. had an hour of only 1984 music today!