(first posted 2/22/2011) It was one-thirty, I was hungry and in need of a walk and time to reflect on this crazy past week. Head for a good burger; actually the best burger in town, at the Cornucopia, about ten blocks from my house. A Fairmont Futura coupe I’ve never seen before greets me a couple of blocks away. Nice, but I just did that, so save it for another time, and instead do something different today: just shoot whatever I find and put them up as soon as I get back. Why?
Because I’m greedy, and I need to share more. I keep shooting way more cars than I have time to write up, and I’m sitting on a cornucopia of them, some of them two years old! I keep imagining getting to them all, giving them the full CC write-up they all deserve. But at this rate, I’ll never catch up unless I’m sentenced to house arrest for a couple of years. Like this nice Isuzu P’up pickup with a set of stripes I’ve never seen before just across the street from my destination.
So I’m sitting at the Cornucopia, where one of the waitresses drives this former CC Trans Am. A welcome ray of sunshine falls on my face, dulling my brain while I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to really run this web site…ooh, a ’69 Plymouth Fury just drives by…it’s ok, I’ve already shot it. Anyway, CC is just over a week old, we had 3,000 views yesterday, and I’m still trying to establish a rhythm. More long-format stuff? More blogging from the web? More Outtakes? Histories? Or just pictures, like these today? Well, there will always be more CCs.
Now I need to walk off that hefty grass-fed burger, and decide to make my usual quick loop up to Skinner Butte and back. Of course I’m committed to doing as many proper Curbside Classics as possible, but some just don’t make the grade, like this interesting corrugated roofing home-made camper shell. Nice, but it speaks for itself.
There’s also the ongoing issue of what constitutes a CC. I was attracted to this Regal Gran Sport because it’s one of the better exponents of GM’s clean but very anodyne styling of this period. Is this a candidate?
I’ve got a chunky file of El Caminos, but I’ve seen this one sitting half hidden in a driveway for ages, and it’s eluded me so far. Success! The owner needed a fresh bottle (Oregon has state liquor stores; hiss, boo!), and I caught him at the right moment (he graciously stepped out of the picture with his brown bag). This will make a good ingredient for an El Camino CC, so consider it a preview.
Now I’m faced with another distraction. Bob Marcherione’s superb Sports Car Shop just happens to be on this regular route, or did that have something to do with it becoming the regular route? Sales, service and restorations of the most delightful exotics are his specialty, and we’ll pay him and some of his cars a proper visit very soon. Today I pop in and notice that the hoods of three Austin Healey 3000s are open, each with different carburation. Can’t resist that opportunity. This is the stock twin SU setup that the later 3000 convertible used.
Now some of his superb cars are coming to CC, but shall I call them Curbside Classics? Not exactly “found sitting moldering on the streets”. Interested, or does it stray from our mission? Is there one other than to have fun with cars?
Since I’m just giving out nibbles from the Sports Car Shop today, here’s dessert. An AH 3000 engine with a custom triple-Weber setup and a delightful equally custom alloy valve cover. Yummie!
I make a quick ascent of Skinner Butte, cross the tracks, and head back by the county jail. One of the deputies drove something other than the usual pickup truck, or is this fenced off area a parking lot for those inmates that drive themselves to jail to do their time? I think the latter, but it’s off limits, so I can only shoot the ’67 Bonneville through the fence. Nice, but that’s not good enough for a proper set of CC pics.
There a gazillion of these GM A-Bodies about, but this is nicer than average. And it has a refreshingly short name for a Cutlass: Cutlass Cruiser S. No Classic, Brougham, Supreme or Ciera. Just Cutlass Cruiser S. Best Cutlass name ever?
Another K-car, a face-lift Reliant. Been there…the only reason I shoot it is because of that nice purple and green backdrop.
I don’t generally do cars-on-the go shots, but I don’t recognize this particular old 145 Volvo survivor…
Now, this outing is not to show off all the CCs on this walk; there are many I’ve shot already. But it’s just a sample of how my files keep getting bigger. I suppose many of these could be Outtakes alone. Would that be better; lots of short Outtakes rather than this long (tiring?) walk? Oh, and here’s a couple that I’ve not seen before, because they’re hiding in this alley which I never took before. There’s always something left to discover, fortunately.
I’m heading into my neighborhood now, and there’s a couple of blocks along the way that are perpetually good for twofers, threefers, and even fourfers.
I’ve neglected this Corolla for ages, but the blossoms on this bush catch my attention, as they’re rather color-coordinated. Spring is in the air, sort of. And I’m sorting things out, sort-of. Now to get back to writing that CC I left half-finished.
Only writing about “proper” Curbside Classics may be difficult. After all, every car is a Curbside Classic to someone.
I agree. A mix bag maybe? A little bit of everything? I have a hard time deciding because I enjoy your writing regardless of the content. I guess I’m not much help huh lol
Love to see more of the Futura and the ‘anodyne’ Buick…
I really like that Fairmont Futura and am keeping my eyes open for one around here. I haven’t decided if I’d rather have one with the 200 cid Six or the 302. The 302 would be fun and I know some tricks to make it run faster while keeping it basically stock, but that 200 would be just as reliable and much more efficient on fuel, plus I can get some parts from Clifford Performance to wake one of those up too.
Always had a soft spot n my heart for the Fairmont Futura/ Zephyr Z7 twins. Like baby Thunderbirds but much cleaner, lighter and doubtless more fun to drive. I’d take the stick/4 cylinder, lean on it all the time, rarely break the speed limit and still get decent mileage. Wheeeeee!
My grandfather had one of the 4 cylinder Futuras for a while. It might be an open question whether it would win a drag race with a Mercedes 240D.
Congratulations on the 3,000 hits and the quickly increasing demand for CCs! build it and they will come, Paul.
Personally, I like those walks more than singular outtakes. It gives a better understanding of the “big picture”. Especially if they are made from a single occasion. I find it simply amazing that you can go out on a walk on your lunchbreak, and there they are. To me, it gives a better understanding of the world in Eugene on that particular day.
I can understand if regular car history can be tempting, but then there has to be an edge, because there’s simply so much of it, everywhere. Curbside Classic is a mission, and with clearly defined goals at that. I think you can do pretty much anything with this site, as long as you keep your core values. I think there’s room for something in between regular buff book fluff and the heavier more thoroughly researched stuff like Ateupwithmotors.
The point is, don’t mix the message. Keep calling the curbside classics the curbside classics. And if you want to do a piece on Austin-Healey history, call that CC Regular Car History, or preferably something sexier. I mean, it’s your site, you can do what you want with it. As we say in the anarchy business: This is the land of do as thou want.
From a writing point of view, what I’ve always seen as the core in the Paul Niedermeyer prose, is mixing the stories with facts and a sort baby boomer experience. There’s not only nostalgia, but sorrows and longings as well. A sort of mourning over a life that was, but could have been. A mix between Hunter S Thompsons Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Marcel Prousts Remembrence of Things Past.
Ingvar, Thank you…It’s very late as I read this, but I will sleep with it and it will help keep me focused.
What put me on the Thompson trail, so to speak, was a piece you wrote some time ago, a half dreamlike encounter with a girl in a white Maserati. And the moment I read it, I was reminded of Thompson, and the “Wave” speech from Fear and Loathing.
Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run …but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant …
History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.
My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights—or very early mornings—when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder’s jacket …booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) … but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that …
There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda …. You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning ….
And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave ….
So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark —that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.
I’m almost embarrassed to say that I haven’t read it. I think partly, because I’m almost afraid it might make me (my writing) less innocent…is that strange? But he was so influential…maybe it’s just in the air out here, or having lived that era (not to his extent) that one can sort of channel that time and place. I like to think of myself as a “primitive” writer, for better or for worse.
I think it’s a generational thing, a sort of state of mind. I think you have to have lived through that era to get the beat. In any case, you’ve got it, I’ve always thought so. The point is, it doesn’t matter if you’re innocent or not, if you see yourself as a primitive writer or not, because that quality and state of mind is an intrinsic part of you as an individual human being. So, it’s not like an asset that you will lose or run out of. You have the gift and ability to channel that, and that’s what CC is all about, at it’s heart and soul.
In case it helps with the thought process Paul – I’d cast a vote for “just keep doing what you’re doing”
Imo, this kind of digression sits really comfortably with the site’s staple of lovingly crafted, detailed “proper” CCs, Out-takes, and the endlessly fascinating auto-biography (which I doubt I’m alone in enjoying the opportunity to pick up from the start: by the time I stumbled onto TTAC it was a bit daunting to go all the way back to the start)
My point is while I can see how you’d feel a need to find a direction and “establish a rhythm”, I think (judging from this side of the screen) you have one already. Follow your instincts, add what feels right, as and when it comes to you, and trust that you have an audience that’ll keep coming back to read it (because we will)
Paul, I concur with splateagle here… keep doing what you’re doing. I find the finished CC articles appealing, but I also find the “guerrilla posts” like this one entertaining, too. Think of your favourite TV show or movie… the “behind the scenes” outtakes and “the making of” documentaries are as interesting to watch as the finished product.
Enjoyable walk thru the neighborhood. Reminds me of walks I might have taken in decades past…since as stated many times before, and as is well known here in the Northeast…the Salt Monster is always lurking around the corner.
As much as I’d enjoy looking at pristine Austin-Healeys, I think I’m drawn to this site (and its predecessor section of TTAC) by the serendipity factor–finding an interesting car literally at the curbside and riffing on that model’s, or that individual car’s, history makes for great writing and a great read. I can always go to a museum or a restoration shop to see meticulously maintained or restored cars; I’m not going to hear about Ford Fairmonts and why they’re significant there, though.
That said, it’s your site, do what you want with it, as Ingvar says. I know that if you do go ahead and delve into the history of Healey carburetion, the results will be worth a read.
Thanks for your thoughts. I won’t be doing a story on Healey carbs alone; that’s too esoteric for CC. They were just visual nuggets. But I will do an occasional story using one of the cars from the shop; a couple of them are just too compelling.
I’m feeling more focused here; yesterday’s mental and physical ramble and the comments helped.
Just registered a few minutes ago; I’ll chime in here to say that I too think you should just keep on doing what you’re doing. I liked this story of your walk, and also the last one on ttac, but I enjoy the more complete meditations on one vehicle just as much.
“…but I enjoy the more complete meditations on one vehicle just as much.”
Yeah, of course. And that’s why we’re here. I figured the question was single outtakes that doesn’t really fit in, vs “walks” that puts them in some sort of context. The CC:s in themselves are perfect as they are.
Personally, I enjoy those little tidbits about Eugene, and the context and surroundings. Those and the auto-biography parts doesn’t get as much response and credit as they deserve, but I see them as vital parts to complement the whole.
Another thing I was thinking about, Paul. Don’t overtaxate your workload. I know you have an ability to delve into things, but there needs to be a steady flow and rhytm, that works in good days as well as in bad days. The only thing I’m worried about is that you will outdo yourself.
Yes, getting the site up and loaded has been a stretch of long days. Good thing Stephanie happened to be out of town for a few weeks. But I’ve got it settled down to a rhythm now: work from 8 to 1:30, then knock off for lunch, walk and my other projects. A little more at night. I think that’s sustainable.
Paul, I think that the only criteria for your site be ‘anything that’s neat’. I like the walking photo shoots as much as the proper CC’s. And FYI, the Volvo looks like a circa-1971 145 wagon. A friend of my Dad’s had a 144 sedan of this vintage in mint green about 25 years ago.
Sounds good. Tom, by “unidentified” I meant I wasn’t acquainted with that particular one. There’s several here, and I thought I knew them all by now, including a gem of a mint green 144. We’ll bring it out sometime soon.
Great writing is like great guitar compositions.
It’s damned good!
Keep up the beautiful work. I’m predicting many more long walks in the near future. I would join you but I’m 3,000 miles away…. which would be a short walk in Jupiter.
Aw shucks Steve; (is that expression an anachronism now?) One of these years we’ll walk and talk together…
I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the Fairmont.Its the car that I learned to drive on. I remember it like it was yesterday (even though it was the fall of ’77) . It was a metallic brown station wagon with the almost butterscotch interior plastic. 302 V-8.Power brakes that were WAYYYYY over boosted. It was lighter than just about any other Fords of that era,so it would really make tracks if you floored it.It seemed light years ahead of the car it replaced (Maverick) in fit, finish and space utilization.It was probably Ford’s best effort of the 70’s. I still see a couple of really grizzled survivors here in my southern town as meth head beaters. The exhaust tells me that they have the indestructible 200 CID six. Its unlikely that the V-8’s would survive that long. These were good cars in their day and a Futura coupe is still a great looking car to these eyes.
Cars from the 1990s are just fine, Paul. Especially when they are fairly pristine. Those Regal coupes are sort of rare and as a kid who graduated high school in 1995 and college in 1999, those were some of the cars that held my immagination when they were new. When you shoot a car from the 1960s or 1970s the “more experienced members of the site” recognize it from their youth, so why not a few for the 30-40 year old crowd?
Dan; I’m there with you. The definition of CC is anything that catches our collective eyes, and I’m determined to start doing more of the more recent cars that catch mine. I’ve started shooting some, and will do more…