Curbside Outtakes: Came for the Exotic, Stayed for the CC’s


On a recent walk to the market, I spotted something brightly colored parked on the street about a block away. I’m not that interested in exotics anymore, but 50 years ago I might have had a poster of this current generation Acura NSX on my bedroom wall instead of a Lamborghini Miura.

Although I live in a college town, late model expensive cars aren’t common here at all; in fact I think this may be the first NSX of any vintage that I’ve seen locally. It was parked in front of the city fire department offices, and far enough out from the curb that it looked a little close to passing traffic to be safe. At least it was an eye-catching color. And I decided it was worth snapping a shot, which inspired me to keep an eye out for other, more CC-worthy cars while out on my errands.

I didn’t have to go far, just a few blocks. Now to those readers who are outside North America, especially in Australia and New Zealand, this may be an everyday sight, but the Land Cruiser J70 wagon was never imported here.

Sure enough, right hand drive. Automatic, though, so perhaps imported from Japan and not from Down Under. Turbo diesel, presumably a big inline four. The Prado name has never been used here, but similar vehicles are sold as the Lexus GX and Toyota 4Runner, mostly gasoline V6 though earlier generations of each were available with the Toyota corporate V8.

California plates, and the Hwy 9 sticker suggests its a local, so I may see it around again (the ENS sticker refers to Ensenada, Mexico). With these two sightings, I decided that my grocery errand might be a good CC day, so I kept my eyes open, and I was rewarded in another few blocks.


Once again, a bright color caught my eye. Definitely from the later years of this model, but Fiat logo’ed, so presumably no newer than 1981, after which they were briefly sold in the US under the Pininfarina name, by none other than Malcolm Bricklin. Other than the bent antenna, this 124 Spider was in excellent visual condition.

Homeward bound now, I spotted a Toyota Previa. I was about to cross the street to get a better picture, but realized that I could catch a trio of at least semi-CC vehicles. Honestly full-sized American vans are so common here, often serving as people’s only homes, that I almost didn’t notice the Dodge van conversion right in front of me. And that bland Japanese hatchback, even less eye-catching, is the not-too-common second generation, four door Honda Insight hybrid. A car at first almost indistinguishable from a Gen2 Prius, but without the Toyota’s edginess it just seemed like a me-too product and the market ignored it. And of course by the time it was launched here, the new Gen3 Prius looked fresh again.

What would a walk be without an aero Panther? They’re still quite common around here, though mostly black and white with a lightbar on the roof, and an armed and uniformed driver. This one was a little unusual being a Mercury, not a Crown Victoria. And cleaner than most of the non-police Panthers that are left prowling the streets. Later in the day, I saw two more Grand Marquis.

What’s this, you ask? What’s so special about a VW Passat B5.5 wagon? Look closely … those four tailpipes aren’t Pep Boys add ons, this is a genuine W8, 4Motion, six speed manual. 4 liters, 271 horsepower, only sold for 3 years. The eGolf parked in front of it actually lasted longer here, and according to Wikipedia sold more units than the VW W8. I think I can pretty categorically state that there will never be another VW-badged eight cylinder car, while the eGolf set the stage for the future of VW.

A handful of Curbside Classics, an exotic supercar, a fresh loaf of sourdough from a great local bakery plus a few other groceries, and a bit of exercise. A good Spring day.