CC Outtakes: Wintertime Blues

A 1974 Dart(Submitted by Dan Cluley)

After one of the worst winters in recent years, we are finally starting to see signs of Spring, and in the middle of Michigan, these include lots of classic cars. Not surprisingly, snow, slush & salt keep most of the really nice rides in storage for five or six months every year. On the other hand, there are a surprising number of older vehicles that brave the elements year-round and there seems to be a bit of a pattern to the ones I have shot this year.

C crown vic 2

Ex-police cars aren’t exactly unusual, but it’s not everyday you see Crown Vics in this color, especially not with those holes in their hoods, identifying them as former State Police cruisers.


Firm believers in tradition, the MSP has used the same basic color, graphics, and light package on their cruisers since the mid ‘50s. They restored this Fury for display, but the current fleet seems to mostly be Chargers and Tahoes.

F 80 Citation 1

This remarkably clean Citation has been parked in various student housing areas the last couple of years. It seems to be a 1980 model, so is probably about 15 years older than its driver.

G 80 Citation 2

To make it even more unusual, while not an X-11, it is the uncommon notchback. Judging by the paint and the whitewalls it looks like it gets washed regularly, so that should help it get through a few more winters.

H 79 Dodge St Regis 1

Geographically only a few blocks away, but lightyears apart designwise, this ’79 Dodge St Regis represents an uncommon the alternatives to the Caprices and LTDs of the era.

I 79 Dodge St Regis 2

Room enough for 6 full sized adults, and a trunk for a couple more, plus fabulous headlight covers that let you know for certain that it isn’t a LeSabre.

J 79 Mercedes 1

 Even in Michigan, not every car comes from Detroit, and another alternative around 1980 might have been a Mercedes like this 300D.  I’m not an expert on these, but a little googling suggests that the combination of turbo diesel and clear driving lights make this one a ’79 (the turbodiesel wasn’t available on the sedan until 1982 -ED).

K  79 Mercedes 2

It is particularly well optioned for year round use, with both a sunroof and a block heater.

L 79 Mercedes 3

The interior seems quite well preserved after 35 years, and is nicely color coordinated as are the wheels.  No shortage of Cobalt-hue here.

N Mustang II 1 - Copy

When this Mustang II showed up at a red light, I was only able to grab one quick shot, but then spotted it parked a few days later.

O Mustang II 2

Based on the V8 emblems and the bumper trim it seems to be a 76-78. Opinions on these seem to run from “deadly sin,” to “the design that saved the Mustang.” I mostly like them, but do think they are more successful as a cute coupe like this one than as a muscle car wannabe. If nothing else, they had some of the best bumpers of any Ford in the mid ‘70s.

P Mustang & Dart

For a different perspective on the Mustang, here is the view from the headline car, my 1974 Dart.

Q 74 Dart interior

I have been driving this Dart since 2007 and while theoretically it should be a horrible winter car, it has actually been quite satisfactory. While front or all wheel drive would certainly provide more traction, the extra ground clearance and higher profile tires seem to make it pretty capable compared to small modern cars.

R 74 Dart 2008

In 2008 it still had most of the factory paint, but to cover the sunbaked hood & trunk I gave it a quick rustoleum spray. After 5 years it needs to be redone, but has held up pretty well for a $50 paint job.

S 74 Dart

There is actually another blue & white four door compact around town, and even compared to a 40 year old Dart it is a bit exotic.

T 64 corvair 1

I don’t know how often this ’64 Corvair gets driven, but I have seen it three or four times since the first of the year. The rear engine should certainly give it plenty of traction, but I’m less sure about the heat situation.

U 64 corvair 2

It seems to be nicely trimmed, and even has a passenger door mirror, but I would want a radio and a clock in any sort of daily driver.

V 64 corvair 3

Even a Winter as bad as this last one couldn’t last forever and finally, the snow piles are melting, and baseball season has started (and the streets are full of potholes). If that’s not enough to shake this case of the blues, I have not only seen the first robin of Spring, but also the first Hornet.

W Hornet