Curbside Classics: The Morning After The Night Before

Last Wednesday the postie delivered a letter for the previous owners of our house. They didn’t move very far away, and after supper I walked it over to them. As I made my way along, feeling sad and bitter and ashamed and angry and fearful at what’s become of my native country and guiltily grateful to be on the other side of a more-or-less closed border from it, I wished for a distraction. Occasionally one gets one’s wish; I hadn’t even reached the end of my block when I encountered this 1995 Dodge Caravan in remarkable condition, with…

…hang on, is that…?!

Yep, it’s got Collector licence plates. This really messes with my mind, which insists Collector plates belong on ’50s-’60s-’70s cars; historic plates earlier and regular plates later than that. Here in B.C., the standards for issuance of Collector plates are extremely stringent—take a look at the approved parts and accessories chart on page 4 of the application—and cars thus registered may not be used for commuting or daily driving. So this minivan, of all things, bearing Collector plates makes me go ¿Squack?. It certainly does appear to meet the condition requirements! Arrow-straight, perfect paint, no stickers, no modifications.

Lookit there, even the headlamps aren’t clouded up, and they’re the originals—I checked.

Onward. A few streets over was this ’72 Volvo 1800ES. With a folding canvas sunroof…?! I don’t think I’ve ever seen one so equipped, but I’ll admit I haven’t paid a lot of attention to this model; I prefer the boxier Volvos of that era.

This car’s quite a lot more raggedy than the Caravan—still presentable, but the closer I looked the rustier it got.

No way they’d issue Collector Plates for this one. Nevertheless, nifty to see it.

Across the street from the 1800ES, another 2nd-generation Caravan in apparently nice shape peeked out from its carport:

The next morning I went for another walk. This T123 Mercedes belongs to a neighbour. It’s a nice old driver, but not nice enough to be eligible for a Collector registration:

This Toyota HiAce camper van belongs to another neighbour:

It doesn’t actually say “Toyota” anywhere, and I had to go fishing on the web to figure out what that H-badge stands for.

The Japanese left-traffic headlamps have been replaced with right-traffic ones (because of course I looked and noticed). A much cleaner job of it than some I’ve seen.

About 25 minutes’ walk away, in a grittier area, this sad old Saab sat right there for over a month in heavy rain with its windows rolled down (not smashed; I looked) and its top growing moss:

A steady stream of down-and-out people dove into it over the weeks, and didn’t seem to find (or leave) anything of value. The car disappeared the day after I took this pic, and I’m quite sure it didn’t do so under self-propulsion; if it hadn’t any electrical problems when it was parked there, it had all of them by the end.

And back to that first ’95 Caravan, this time in daylight:

Yup, its condition holds good in daylight. I peered discreetly through the windows and saw it has about 137,000 kilometres on it; that’s under 86 kilomiles. All the back seats have been removed and it appears to have sleeping arrangements in it—no word on whether that might jeopardise the Collector status, but I guess at least so far nobody’s objected.

(gratitude to the ghost of Shelley Berman for the title of this post)