Curbside Outtake: Big Box Parking Lot Encounters – Summer Classics

Summer has long since been my favorite season of the year. I love the warm weather and the summer activities that go along with it. Spending the day on the lake, going for bicycle rides, or vacationing at the summer cottage are all activities I enjoy.  But of course, my favorite summer time activity is going for a cruise in one of my old cars.  With long cold winters here in Ontario, those of us with old cars make use of them as much as possible when the warm weather is around.  It’s interesting that the number of old cars in this area has seemingly increased as the years have gone on.  I suspect much of this has to do with many of the old cars not being original to the area. I always appreciated local cars, but I have to admit that I do also appreciate the greater numbers and varieties of classics I see on the roads these days.

While on summer vacation this year, I tried to get lots of use out of my old cars.  On one trip with my son, we stopped at a big box store and parked near the back of the lot.  As I pulled around I spotted a 1970 Chevrolet Impala.  Naturally we parked nearby.  The owner was walking to his car as we exited our car and he gladly took the time to chat with us about Impala.  He told us it was a relatively recent purchase and was equipped with a Chevrolet 396 Big Block, which obviously wasn’t original to the car.  He mentioned that the car had no A/C, on what was a particularly hot and humid Ontario summer day.  I related to his lack of A/C but we both agreed the pleasure of driving an old car was worth the extra sweat.

As we walked away from the Impala, I noticed in the next row over was a bright yellow Opel GT.  I haven’t seen an Opel GT in the flesh for many years.  The last ones I remember seeing were basket cases probably beyond saving.  This Opel was a fine example that was in good driver condition.  The owner was kind enough to pop the hood to show off the engine.  It looked relatively stock, other than a few upgrades.

We didn’t get much of a chance to discuss the history on the car, because he had purchased a portable tarp garage which he was struggling to squeeze into his tiny Opel.  He and the store associate tried to get the large box into the area behind the seats, but it was just too wide and the door wouldn’t close.  We let him be as he was clearly busy.  When we came out of the store afterwards, it appeared he had fully emptied the contents of the box and was able to get it all in the Opel.  His car also lacked A/C and after struggling for a long time, the driver drove off shirtless in his Opel to try and get some relief from the heat.

Just past the Opel in the next row was this custom Ford Hot Rod that appeared to be based on a 1934 Ford.  It didn’t look like much or any old Ford was left in this car, but it appeared to be a finely made Hot Rod.  Being the oldest of the cars we spotted that day, it was actually the most modern mechanically, sporting a Chevrolet LS small-block V8 and a modern chassis and suspension.  It was a neat car, but my son and I agreed the Opel and Impala were more up our alley.

Later on, I had to run back to the store, I came across some more old iron.  This ’65 Chevrolet pickup and ’67 GMC pickup sported a nice amount patina, most of which appeared to be genuine.  The trucks themselves were modified significantly.   Fitted with their large wheels and tires, they were so low that they were literally on the ground.  Obviously the suspensions were not stock and I suspect both were equipped with an air ride.  The trucks clearly feature a lot of craftsmanship which I really appreciated, even if it’s not necessarily my style.

After I finished my business, I hit the highway to make the trek back home.  Shortly into the trip, I spotted this very nice Volvo P1800 coupe cruising along.  My pace was a little faster than his so, I passed him and we both exchanged waves and nods of approval towards each car.  With summer now officially over, those of us in the colder parts of North America it won’t be long before our old cars settle in for that long winter’s nap.  So make sure you get out there and enjoy your car while you still can.