Curbside Vacation: Rose City Rides – A Smattering Of Classics From Portlandia


Each year to celebrate my birth since I’ve turned 30, I close my eyes and think of somewhere new to go for vacation. This year it was Rose City, USA. While I did my best to enjoy being in a new city, the itch to chase glinting chrome under the Oregon sun proved too much of a thrill not chase.


It didn’t take long after getting off the train, and dropping off my suitcases that vintage iron appeared in front of me. In a matter of an hour I ran across this ’65 Park Lane Breezeway stripped of trim awaiting some body work.  Apparently the phenomenon of these crawling around the Bay Area isn’t exclusive.


“Keep Portland Weird” extended deeper than I thought it would. Between trips to herbalist shops and Tiki Bars, a great number of the cars that I did encounter were orphans. I told others as I traipsed around North and Northeast Portland of two Oldsmobiles (a zaftig ’58 Dynamic 88 and a sleek ’62 Dynamic 88) that rocketed out of the frame before the shutter clicked. The 1963 Studebaker Wagonaire is a beast I had never seen before in person.


The family in “Harry and The Hendersons” sided with a “magic doorgate” Ford Country Squire. I think it would have been more compassionate to haul a friendly Sasquatch home in one of these. Instead of strapping the beast to the roofrack, just slide back the roof panel and let him catch a breeze!


51 + years later though there’s a good chance (left out in the soggier parts of the Pacific Northwest) that the sliding panel has rusted shut. The first year cars had leaks that were only partially solved for the remainder of the model run. Here’s hoping that this delightfully inventive bit of desperation from South Bend gets some use, unlike the forlorn 1967 Special that lurks in the shadowy driveway behind it.


Moving along the Portland Auto Orphanage, we encounter one of the most misguided “Mercurial Moments.” Although Dearborn had a pretty solid hit on their hands with the first few seasons of the Comet, the Meteor, as I’ve outlined previously, fell to earth. The reasons are varied, but in my experience, for every 30th Falcon, or 10th Comet you encounter a Meteor.


Granted, once the Comet scored the 260 V8, a Hardtop AND Convertible model, the Meteor may have seemed dowdy and redundant. I, for one, consider them perhaps the most handsome of all the Falcon Uni-Body’s earliest children. They proudly wear the thick “Thunderbird” C-Pillar, which creates less visual length than the “sportback” hardtop lines of the Falcon and Comet. Their execution of tail fin integrated tail lamps aren’t as out of date as the fraternal twin Fairlane either.


With that, pardon me if I have a hard time finding something to rhapsodize poetically about when it comes to the 1968 Ford Galaxie face. In a decade of some really distinct and outright banal faces, The 1968 “Non-Hidden Headlight” face of full sized Fords has to be one of the most coma inducing. It’s amazing the transformation this visage underwent by just “closing the eyes.


One thing I did notice about Curbside Classics in Portland versus the Bay Area is in general they were a bit more worn. Surely many still see semi-daily duty, but the prettier, more kept examples I’d encounter showed up in traffic or came out on the weekends as the leisure vehicles they are more likely to be.


This tarnished gem of a Riviera is another example of how the mighty can fall.


However this sunbathing yellow 1973 Centurion was one of a bevy of Buicks that still shone proudly, befitting their place in the Sloan hierarchy.


Oregon would really rather you have the top tier versions of the B-Body apparently. The nicest example of any classic plying the tree lined streets that I caught digitally was this delightful Carmel and Cream colored 1963 LeSabre Hardtop.


1963 represented the last year that The LeSabre would share more of its content with its more prestigious Invicta/Wildcat/Electra brethren and not the smaller Special/Skylark for many years to come. 401 Cubic inches of Nail Head and the last pass of the Dynaflow/Turbine Drive concept sit underneath the hood and cowl. For 1964, the 300 Cube V8 and Super Turbine Automatic from the Special would make the LeSabre more of a bridge between the small Buicks and Big ones than it had before.


Hopefully I will encounter more travels over these approaching summer days, but for now, I hope you’ve been delighted by the flowering of classics in the City of Portland.