Curbside Classics: A Walk In The Old ‘Hood

It was a slow Sunday afternoon with little to do; a good chance to visit an old ‘hood of my youth and reminisce. A suburban zone built in the ’50s where my elementary school had been located, and if memory didn’t serve me wrong, with some rather secluded streets where CC’s would most likely be found.

I admit this is a plan I’ve already done before with nary a CC result. This time however, some old metal was found. Nothing that hasn’t been covered at CC before, but a nice collection nonetheless.

Those secluded streets provided most of the finds. With hardly any souls in the streets, I was -for once- able to shoot away without harassment. First to appear? An early ’70s Toyota Corona Mark II.

For those who have followed previous posts of mine, you must be getting an inkling that there are no laws in this nation regarding abandoned cars. And yes, such inklings would be right.

Until recent that is. Our current mayor is taking action into this matter, finally removing these forlorned machines from our streets.

My frontal lobe agrees this needs to be done, but my brain’s amygdala differs and suffers in deep distress. That said, the mayor’s actions don’t mean all are condemned. Indeed, in some cases owners have managed to ‘hide away’ their cars, only to reappear just as abandoned few days later.

The Mark II comes from a brief period where Toyota toyed with American styling. Even briefer? Toyota’s interest in extroverted styling, as their avant-garde S60 Crown sold timidly. No one told Nissan though, who would spend most of the ’70s trying to outdo Toyota’s brief outré oeuvre.

A few houses down a Valiant Signet appeared. Now, even though I’m a GM-boy, I like me a Chrysler product over Montegos and Torinos of the period. However, with this Valiant’s generation, Elwood Engel’s team efforts were borderline pedestrian.

The Signet would fit perfectly in the never published draft of ‘The NORMAL life of Walter Mitty,’ the James Thurber follow-up no one ever asked for. I’ll admit the tiny tires don’t help this sample’s case, unlike a previous CC find. 

That said, this is a face I don’t mind looking at. Grilles were the one area Engel’s designers seemed to have been allowed to have some ‘fun.’ Still, conventionality was the raison d’etre for these vehicles, and they sufficed their purpose well.

From ‘surviving samples’ on the streets, I gather Plymouth and Dodge were the last American imports that sold decently before the Japanese ‘takeover.’ Further proof of this sat a few houses away from the Signet, with this unusual ‘Dodmouth’ (which got its own post a while back).

Going a bit further, I reached the neighborhood park where my classmates and I played at during recess in elementary school. Here I came across a vintage Mercedes truck, which wouldn’t have looked out of place in those long-gone school days.

Like a good chunk of the world, we have no problem associating trucks with ‘luxury car maker’ Mercedes, as their short-bonnets have been a perennial staple in the region. Their unmistakable profile is to be found all over Latin America, with most coming from Mercedes’ assembly lines in Argentina.

Last one in the old ‘hood, an old CJ in fairly good condition. It won’t surprise anyone that Jeeps have a devoted following in Central America, being America’s greatest export to the region. These being rural countries, Jeeps loom large in local lore.

Being an agronomist, my father was rather acquainted with the brand. Not that he knew how to drive, but he spent countless hours in CJs while being chauffeured all over in order to gather soil samples. In those days of dismal rural roads, CJs, Land Cruisers and Land Rovers were the machines to get you places.

Constrained finances are always an issue for local collectors, and this CJ seems to suffer of parking brake issues. Otherwise, it seems in working order and fairly well taken care of.

My stroll had come to an end, at least around the old ‘hood. But what if I pushed my luck and went a few blocks further?

Yes, pay dirt! Here was an elusive one, VW’s ‘red-eye-special’ Jetta! This one is missing its headlight bezels, probably in wait for red-carbon-fiber replacements (yeah, sure…). In the back, a somewhat modified late ’70s Corona.

Being a fan of the original Golf, for some reason I was never into the notchback version. Time has brought a different appreciation and now I find the design clean and purposeful. I certainly wouldn’t mind owning a sample, though I don’t think the ‘red-eye-special’ would be the chosen one.

Let’s finish this post with a bit of excess. If anyone thought that Nissan’s affectations with American styling ended in the ’70s, this mid ’80s 720 pickup shows otherwise. The rather pedestrian 720 finally gets some pizzazz courtesy of period correct ’80s-tape-deck’ detailing.

Now, what’s this? Another ‘red-eye’? Well, ‘orange-eye’ seems more like it. These mods are getting a bit too strung-out on this side of the ‘hood, better head back home before my sobriety is in peril.

In all, not a bad walk to reminisce, especially when accompanied with some vintage metal. Unlike similar outings, this one had delivered some goods, a fine way to spend a slow Sunday.

Thanks for the memories old ‘hood, take good care of yourself, and may these curbsides keep you company for some time to come.