(Submitted by Matthew Frederick)
I love old cars, but as an architect I’m more interested in restoring old buildings. To this end, my partner and I have been looking for an inexpensive old house to buy and fix up. Our search for something affordable has led us to Troy, a once wealthy but now largely downtrodden city of 50,000 in upstate New York. We’ve been doing some preliminary shopping online, using Google Street View to spot the architectural gems amidst the often patchy neighborhoods. Unexpectedly, I’ve stumbled across a relative plethora of interesting cars. Does the Collar City—Troy found its former wealth through shirt manufacturing—have a disproportionate number of Curbside Classics?
Google spotted this 1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass on Seventh Street. The gray primer patches suggest a restoration is underway, but it looks like the car gets regular use. Hmmm… hood pins and boy racer wheels… is it a 4-4-2?
There’s no 4-4-2 badge in front of the rear wheels. A pedestrian f-85 insignia can be discerned just aft of the front bumper. Nevertheless, the ready-to-go stance of this car is appealing.
This 1964 Ford Galaxie is more of a Curb-straddle Classic than a Curbside Classic. It’s for sale; no extra charge for the tasteful hood blister.
I’ll bet a CCer can nail the exact year of this pre-1968 Beetle… my guess is 1966. It’s parked a little close to the corner; I hope it doesn’t get clipped.
I hope the same for this little buggy, which doesn’t have much in the way of impact protection. I assume it’s built on a Beetle chassis; if so, it amazes me that people are willing to make the Beetle more dangerous than it already is.
Then again, it looks like it has some decent rollover protection in the event it gets creamed by a delivery van. And I must say it looks like fun, although I wonder where one gets to fully enjoy a vehicle like this in the inland northeast of U.S. Perhaps the driver is on his way to do some closed course racing.
Some angry headlights peer out from a side yard. I’ve never been a fan of this generation of GM full-size cars. When I was a kid, they creeped me out so much I couldn’t stomach looking closely at them. Consequently, I never learned to distinguish the Buick, Olds, and Pontiac models, even though they look completely different from one another.
This particular full-sizer bears a striking resemblance to Ernest Borgnine. Maybe that’s why I never much cared for “McHale’s Navy.” But I digress.
Next time, I’ll know it’s a 1959 Buick Electra. Not that I’m hoping for a next time, as its weird collage of design elements still makes me queasy. And the heavy-handed blue does it no favors; perhaps a more subtle shade would give its lines a better chance of enamoring me. Speaking of which, the woman in the picture seems to have followed the Google car around her house…. or did the Google driver follow her? I digress again.
This sixth generation Celica doesn’t seem that old, but it’s been twenty years since its introduction. I couldn’t find the production numbers, but I don’t recall seeing many back in the day (1994-99), at least compared to previous generations. I find its mug somewhat interesting, but as nearly all car designers at the time had moved away from round headlights, the styling might have been perceived as insufficiently progressive by the sporty car audience.
A fifth generation (1978-87) El Camino sits in a lineup at a neighborhood service garage. A circa 1980 Sedan deVille is farther down the line.
The Google car seems to have captured the same El Camino several blocks away. It’s the facelifted version, which ran from 1982-87. I prefer the looks of the pre-facelift, which had single headlights. The revised front end looks too square to complement the curved sweep of the rear roofline.
I like the neighborhood it’s parked in, but it’s one we probably can’t afford. Even here, however, I don’t think I’d leave a classic unattended with the windows open. Troy’s crime rate is fifty percent higher than the U.S. average.
Hopefully it won’t meet a fate similar to this T-Bird, captured by Google Street View in Detroit.
And hopefully, Troy faces a better fate than Detroit. With some first-hand investigation to complement our armchair Googling, we think we’ll find a worthy restoration project to contribute to an improving city.
CCers, have you noticed many Curbside Classics or other interesting vehicles in your ordinary use of Google Street View? Has your own car been captured the Googlecam?
Fun article Matthew, thank you! I am impressed that Google seems to be updating their mapping with greater frequency.
I spotted this early 70s Pontiac on Montreal Road in Ottawa, Ontario a few days ago. I believe this capture is from the Fall of 2012.
I’m going to guess that Pontiac as a 71 Parisienne.
I think that may be a ’72, judging from the checkerboard pattern on the taillights. ’71s had smooth taillights with a horizontal divider.
A while ago, I mentionned a 1973 Chevrolet Impala I spotted around Sherbrooke. Here it is.
I feature on some google street views of a new suburb in Napier I’m there in a concrete mixer waiting to unload and in the street view of my daughters primary school there I am again waiting to pick her up hopefully google will update their pictures and I’ll disappear the GE view of my house shows a Subaru I sold 4 years ago.
I think you should post a screenshot so curious CCers can get a look at the mysterious Bryce.
You can see him here, just not his face: https://www.curbsideclassic.com/blog/from-the-cohort-kiwi-bryce-hauling-with-his-hillman-minx/
Nice guns, KB!
Good luck! I absolutely love old homes, but sadly live in an area where old gets demolished for bigger and better. I can’t believe the affordability of some parts of Upstate and other rural Northeastern areas. I think if you do some further StreetView’ing, you’ll see Troy is no Detroit–Detroit is a national disgrace.
Upstate New York is becoming more and more like Detroit which is why I moved away and even the one lit bulb in the chandelier (Ithaca) near where I grew up is just not for me. Then there is the Silver Tsunami as Baby Boomers age and other issues.
The number of Gold and Blue Empire plates sure are increasing in number, wonder how long till they out number the White and Blue Empire Plates? No Google Street View where I I grew up and Google Earth is still quite outdated depending on where you look.
Well, the upstate is definitely hit or miss. Newburgh is as blighted as almost any city I have seen… stunning mansions left to rot. Utica, Rochester, etc. have ongoing malaise. Troy has a nifty downtown in good shape with some remarkable architecture, but much of the rest of it is adrift. However, folks displaced from larger cities who want an urban life are moving to some of these towns, so there is a chance to regain population—if not soul.
The new plates are actually gold and black, not blue. And they’re not stamped, which I think looks cheap, but painted or silkscreened, whichever the process is.
The standard passenger issue is still embossed and the prisoners in Auburn cannot make a flat license plate since all the ones I have gotten over the past 8 years are a bit warped. I have a pair of the new plates on my vehicle and I swear the black is just really dark blue, but I have not lived in New York for over a year and a half so the state could have changed things on me.
Dark blue on yellow, close to the state colors. thats what mine are at least. Printed plates are only used for specialty/vanity issues. The standard issue plates are stamped.
I’m wrong on both accounts. What I thought was black is indeed very dark blue. I have to be up close to see it. As for the stamping, the numbers are embossed but the other text is not. The overall effect is somehow cleaner to my eye than most state plates—many of which look haphazardly produced—and gave me the mistaken impression that the entire plate was flat.
Upstate may have its depressed neighborhoods, but it’s nowhere near the level of retrograde you see in Detroit. Just no comparison really. Like Harlem & Brooklyn, upstate towns like Troy are starting to see some gentrification thanks to the housing bubble a few years back. These urban homes are more affordable to buy vs. the big (overpriced) vinyl clad boxes seen in the ‘burbs, and the daily commutes are shorter. That said, the rebuilding is a slow process thanks to the exhorbitant taxation that exists here.
So why the classics in Troy? Blue collar town, lot of workin’ men (and women) who like real cars, real bikes and real beer.
(I’m about a 6 minute drive from Troy as I write this)
Ah, but read this weeks TIME magazine with an article on Detroit. Seems things are slowly starting to look up for the city as far a new businesses setting up shop. New businesses = new jobs = people = new shops.
That black 61 Thunderbird in the lead picture has me yearning. I had a white 61, and have always considered the 61 to be the very best looking of the cigarbirds.
Looks like you have found a really cool house. Good luck with it.
x2. That black ’61 might be the ultimate T-Bird.
I love old houses too. My parents bought a 1929 English Tudor in ’79, shortly before I was born. Apparently it was originally constructed for a female opera singer! In ’95 we moved about twelve blocks away to a French Tudor built in 1936 for C. Dudley Marshall, an executive with the Rock Island Line.
My own abode is certainly nice, but being built in 1981, is missing a lot of the charm of the houses I grew up in! Here’s a picture of my first car in front of the 1936 house. The brick wall of the original attached garage is just visible, the unattached garage built in 1996 is off to the right.
Here is a picture of the first house.
Very nice house. If only the painting showed something Broughamtastic parked in front…
You’ve given me an idea: revisit my childhood homes, and park the Lincoln out in front for a picture!
Great house. Reminds me of the PlaySkool/Mattel house (forgive my spellings, too tired for Google).
And the second one. I know I was lucky to be able to grow up in such cool homes! A family friend is an artist, and so my folks still have these pictures to remember them by. The first house looks pretty much the same, but has been repainted from yellow to white. The second house was bought by, um, let’s say an eccentric person, who painted it light yellow, turned the attached garage into another bedroom (!), turned the third-floor attic into more living space and had big, ugly new windows installed on both the second and newly-livable third floor, trashing the original casements. Sad to say it’s rather an eyesore now, though in good repair 🙁
You were *fortunate* to live in such a house, as well as fortunate to have such an arist friend to capture its memory. My European family members cannot fathom living in a house such as mine (and yours likewise). Seems to be slowly fading away however.
The Turquoise ’64 Galaxie is an XL model with either a 390 or 427 from the engine call-out on the lower front fender.
I am an architect also. I think the building you found is a gem and certainly worth your efforts for restoration. The focus of my studies in school was historic preservation, restoration, and adaptive use.
Unfortunately the Houston market is more attuned to new construction though the outlook for preservation is improving. Thankfully the renowned Texas Medical Center and the petrochemical industry have kept me more or less gainfully employed for over 20 years.
Congratulations on your find and good luck.
When I was a kid, we lived in Baltimore and had a neighbor named Norm Miller who had a black Thunderbird like the one pictured. He was famous in the neighborhood for two things. First his wife would sit in in a chaise-lounge in his parking space (we all parked on the street) to “reserve” it for when he got home. Second, he used to claim that he had money in over 200 banks across the country so that he would have money no matter where he had to go when the Russians invaded the USA.
You are correct, that Beetle looks to be a 1966.
I love pic#9 with the lawn tractor (Cub Cadet?), Buick, Old building, and ………
Very interesting city, in its history and its architecture. General George Henry Thomas, the “Rock of Chickamauga”, is buried there.
I keep my eye on this ’73 Grand Prix in a rough part of Danville, VA. An older woman owns this, the ’67 Tempest behind it, and another yellow/white two-tone ’67 LeMans or Tempest post coupe.
I do not know her personally but a friend of mine lives not too far away & told me those were her late husband’s cars and she will not get rid of them. Her house is a block away (not sure where) so she gets out & moves these cars around so the city won’t tow them.
She lost one of the ’67s because the tag expired and had to pay to get the car out of the impound yard. How sad. But in a way, it’s cool that a 60-70 year old woman can get in any of these cars & keep them running.
Note the Bonus G-body Cutlass and ’81-’87 big Blazer parked further down.
Interesting vibe in that screenshot. It definitely gives the impression that the older cars were bought new and have been kept for many years. As opposed to Paul’s neighborhood, in which cars of the same vintage look second- and third-hand.
heh…I see Detroit came in for some rips.
The Brush Park area has had a rough time for…oh…half a century or more, but it’s located in Midtown, which is seeing a great deal of development now that downtown has been largely rennovated or rebuilt.
Midtown includes Wayne State University, Detroit Institute of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art and the Wayne State U School of Medicine. The new arena for the Red Wings, with a surrounding residentai, retail and entertainment district will soon be built in Midtown.
Immediatly across the freeway are the football and baseball stadiums and the Fox Theatre. The Greektown casino and hotel are a few blocks south of the football stadium.
pic: the William Livingstone house in Brush Park. Designed by Albert Khan and built in 1893. Too late to save it. This one was torn down in 2007
It reminds me of my old North Philly neighborhood. Especially the pic of the black T-bird. Which is the same color as my dad’s, except he had a convertible with a white top. But the body and interior were the same. It was our first family car. Crappy transmission. The first time it broke down I was a toddler sitting in my mom’s lap while she and my dad were having a heated argument. It was the first of many, so much tension in that house. Then he got the 69 leftover Dodge Charger, which was one of the most beautiful cars I’ve ever seen.
The Google Earth car caught me working under the hood of my CC, Mercedes Benz 300E in my driveway. It also got some great shots of a black 1960 Cadillac convertible that was rolling through the neighborhood.