Will There Be Curbside Classics? A Survey Of All The Cars On Five Random Blocks Of Eugene

(first posted 10/1/2012)    While out on a bike ride in a neighborhood I normally never ride through, an idea suddenly popped in my head: Why not photograph every car on the next five blocks and see how it comes out? Will there be many Curbside Classics, or will I embarrass myself? Is this worth doing?

A few disclaimers: I hadn’t driven or ridden these blocks in several years, so I really didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t purposely pick a neighborhood that I know is very CC-rich. But I did forget to shoot an opening pic to provide some perspective of where we’re going. A few days later I went back and took the shot you see at the top of this page, plus a few more I wasn’t able to get last time. On the first block was this newish blue Toyota 4Runner I’d forgotten to pickup, so consider it vehicle #1.

By the way, we’re heading north on Arthur Street, starting at W. 23rd Av. (this is the shot looking south). It’s a somewhat eclectic neighborhood of mixed demographics and incomes, and is fairly representative of a somewhat older, relatively close-in neighborhood southwest of the city center.

First up (and already quite representative of Eugene), there’s an old Civic out front; a more recent Volvo wagon in the driveway; and also a utility trailer, since there’s no old pickup.

On the left, a New Beetle. TDI, perhaps? Quite likely.

Another Civic hatch, this one not quite so old, with racks for the bikes.

Nice combo: An Impreza wagon and semi-vintage Ford pickup.

A short-wheelbase Caravan from 1994 or so.

A Ford Fusion isn’t exactly a common sight around here; then again it’s a Hybrid, which probably makes it a more likely find than a regular one.

A Corolla. Wanna guess it won’t be the only one? How many more do you think there will be?

But don’t stereotype this neighborhood yet. If I had to guess, they’re probably old-timers from the days when this neighborhood was itself a bit more old-school. Or maybe not. I should stop stereotyping GM drivers in Eugene.

A Camry and Focus here, another mid-sized Buick there. From the looks of the Buick’s home, I’d have to say another old-timer.

Here’s something a bit less boring: a ’69 or ’70 Chevy C10. There’s a wheelbarrow in back, no doubt to haul compost for a back-yard organic garden.

Right across the street from it sits another vintage GM(-ish) pickup of a quite different variety: It’s an Isuzu P’up, and a diesel at that. Got biodiesel?

Here’s a mighty new Accord coupe (update: visiting from CA, apparently) and a Mazda Protegé in the drive.

Another relatively recent one.

A slightly older Accord coupe and a Sentra, a combo similar to the other one.

The MK III Jetta is a fairly common car in these parts.

“Hi there! I’m with the Federal Automobile Census Bureau. Smile for Uncle Sam!”

Here we go, our first official Eugene-mobile! And a more recent one in the driveway; hardly official, though.

This is good: a Previa, hooked up to a nice big trailer with a roof top carrier attached. Creative!

This looks a bit more like a real tow rig.

A shy Mazda 626.

Looks like this Mazda MPV has been retired in favor of a 300.

Aha! Prius!; another official Eugene-mobile nabbed.

Big American trucks and little Japanese cars comprise a common theme in Eugene. As in my own household. Or is it car-hold?

Eureka! A Morris Minor–and one I’ve never seen before. It looks quite roadworthy.

Malibu Maxx. When I first read about the Opel Signum (on which it is based), I thought it was a cool idea: an extended-wheelbase hatchback with a sliding rear seat that could maximize either legroom or luggage space. Still, I had serious doubts that it would fly in the U.S. It should have been a Saturn, at the least. The Malibu name was mud back then, as were hatchbacks themselves. Another Bob Lutz strikeout.

Old Ford trucks and not-quite-as-old Toyota trucks: the official trucks of Eugene.

I have to catch all the cars on the street, including the only one that rolls by on this quiet Sunday afternoon: a Seville, no less. A future GM’s Greatest Hit, no doubt. Even in this part of town, a surprising number of these are still around; hand-me-downs from Grandpa or Great Uncle Larry, I suspect.

Here’s a dyed-in-the-silk Japanese car lover. I’m suddenly reminded that I did come down this street some years ago, when I shot the Vehicross. I didn’t get to its CC until some time later.


Another official Eugene-Mobile, a W123 Mercedes diesel. I was beginning to get a bit worried.

A very eclectic collection, including our first VW bus, another official Eugene-Mobile. Does that cover all of them? No Roaches of the Road™ yet.

This is a somewhat distressing sight: It’s the first time I’ve seen a neglected W124–and a wagon, too. We have gobs of W124s up here and, to a Mann, all are well-kept. This looks like an ex-Forest-Service truck–a familiar sight hereabouts, despite a switch to white paint a few years back. Apparently, the old way not only cost them extra upfront, but even more when it came to resale value. I’m going to miss that shade.

Yes! Another official Car of Eugene, a Diesel Rabbit–and a very nice one at that. It’s amazing how many of these also are still around. The German-built ones were fundamentally very well constructed. The yellow hue provides a nice contrast to the blue Vue, a vehicle not-so-fundamentally well built.

Two genuine CCs nose-to-nose: On the street, the Rabbit keeps company with a neighbor’s very nice RX-7, a GSL model at that (four-wheel discs and LSD).

Another old Caravan. Yes, Eugenians like lots of plants in their yards, be they ornamental, edible or smokeable. Lawn mowers are going to become extinct before long.

Of course, there had to be another one.

Another couple of popular vehicles. Here, practicality is bigger than automotive status.

A study in contrasts, as is Eugene in general.

Looks like the Toyota pickup has hauled a winter’s supply of cord wood.

Toyota pickups everywhere.

Both the house and the car don’t look very Eugene-like.

VW bus number three. Is that enough?

With only one sighting, I’m surprised at the scarcity of old Camrys so far. Come back in 20 years, and this one will likely still be here.

When you don’t want to pay the ridiculous prices that old Toyota pickups fetch, you can pick up an old Nissan for a slightly less ridiculous price.

Somebody has to be a bit different…except for the truck, of course.

In this neighborhood, does parking a newish Buick on your sparse lawn make a statement of sorts?

The folks across the street have almost exactly the same trailer, its tow rig in view.

Now here’s a fine study in contrasts. The Suburban is almost as big as the house.

Some GM loyalists from the ’80s live here.

We’ve arrived at 18th Ave., the end of our trek. Perhaps a couple more American cars will help offset the balance of payments so far.

Now, what if I just sit here for a half-hour and shoot all the Curbside Classics that come by? Maybe another time.