While we normally don’t cover dealerships on Curbside Classic, Classic Autos Restored Simply, LLC (CARS – get it?) is a very special dealership that I stumbled upon in the tiny hamlet of Beloit, Ohio. I must give props to my awesome wife Kristen, who was riding shotgun with me at the time when I stumbled upon this find, and indulged me 30 minutes of shooting pictures of what to her surly must have just been junk. As an added bonus, it was late in the day when I found this place (the Golden Hour, as photographers refer to it), so the lighting was phenomenal.
What makes this dealership special is that they only sell Curbside Classics, rough vintage cars that are ostensibly restorable. No trailer queens here – all the cars are kept outside in the elements, so if you see something you like, you’d better move quickly.
Many of these cars have been previously covered on CC, so will link to the relevant articles where appropriate. A few I will cover in greater detail in future CC articles. Let’s dig in!
So many Curbside Classics, so let’s start with the 1959 Pontiac Catalina in the hero image above. We’ve lusted over the V-shaped fins of the 1959 Pontiacs on this site multiple times, so I don’t have a lot to add here. Besides, I think the photos speak for themselves.
Interestingly, all the 1959 Pontiacs posted to date on CC have been of the lowly Catalina model. Maybe someone will find a 1959 Star Chief or Bonneville to post in the future to break this trend.
Right behind the 59 Pontiac we have this 1958 Ford Thunderbird. This was the first year for the four-seater Thunderbird, a followup to the iconic (but slow selling) 1955-57 two-seater Thunderbirds.
This generation of Thunderbird quickly earned the nickname of “Square Bird,” but to modern eyes, these Thunderbirds are anything but. Speaking of which, I for one have always enjoyed the “butt cheeks” on the trunk lid and rear end. You will never see a rear end like this on a car today.
Parked next to the Thunderbird is this delightfully rare 1957 Lincoln Premiere sedan (only 5,139 produced).
If you look closely, you can the fresh air scoops on the rear fenders and the plastic tubes extending from the real parcel shelf to the ceiling, both of which indicate the presence of the rare trunk-mounted factory air conditioner option. The 57 Lincoln has never gotten proper CC treatment, so look for a fuller treatment from me in the near future.
On the other side of the 59 Pontiac, we find what a appears to be 1960 Chevrolet Corvair police cruiser (the police cruiser part – It’s definitely a 1960 Corvair). In contrast to the 1957 Lincoln above, the Corvair has gotten lots of Curbside Classic love over the years.
At first, I thought is was a civilian Corvair dressed up to look like a police car, but upon closer examination, I think it is a real deal proferssional Corvair. For starters, it has all the requisite options (or more correctly, lack thereof) that one would expect for a police car of this era: Dog dish hubcaps, blackwall tires, knockout plugs where the backup lights have been deleted. The trunk-mounted antennae are well weathered, and appear to be 1960’s vintage pieces.
As we step around the corner, we find this 1964 Buick Riviera. The blue letter Ohio plates tell me that this car was last registered around 1980, which means that this car has spent more of its life parked than it has on the road. For good measure, there is a 1970 Volvo 1800E parked next to it (bonus points for anyone who can tell me the model year).
Moving on, we come to what I consider to be easily the most exciting find: A 1951 Kaiser Deluxe, still sporting its original 1951 New York license plates. Indeed, this is the first 1951 Kaiser (and only the fifth Kaiser ever) to appear on this site, so indulge me is spending a little more time with this car. This generation of Kaiser is instantly recognizable due to its “Lightning McQueen” eyebrow shaped front and rear windshield.
Another distinctive feature of the Kaiser is its aircraft style doors (with bonus Hofmeister Kink in the rear door). While these are both common styling features today, they were quite out of place in the early 1950’s.
All of the independent automakers of the 1950’s needed some kind of differentiating feature to set them apart from the Big 3 and help carve out their niche. Not surprisingly, many picked safety as a that differentiator. Kaiser was one of the first vehicles with padded dashboards, and the front windshield popped out à la Tucker. In the picture above, we can see the Kaiser’s famous oversized speedometer. Unfortunately, the original steering column appears to have been replaced with an 80’s GM unit.
1951 was a good sales year for Kaiser: The post-war sellers market was still in full swing, and the vicious sales war of 1954 (which would claim many of the independent makers) was still far in the future. The four-door sedan was by far the most popular body style Kaiser in 1951, selling an impressive 39,000 units (although survival rates for all Kaisers are exceptionally low).
Parked next to the Kaiser, we see a 1949 Lincoln Cosmopolitan. Unfortunately, the Lincoln was covered by a tarp, which precluded me getting a good look at it. The tarp leads me to believe that it might be a convertible, which if so would make it potentially one of the better restoration candidates on the lot.
These 1949-1951 Lincolns were originally supposed to have covered headlights (not unlike those of the 1942 DeSoto). They were ditched for cost reasons, but the headlights retained their installation positions set back into the fender. This necessitated the tunneled headlight bezels, a look that was born out of necessity but has since become iconic in its own right.