Yes, like the Eagles’ Joe Walsh, I am an analog man. Fortunately I can do this column on my computer. But I don’t have an I-Phone. So I can’t post my own Instagrams. And since my son, Bill, is the one who twisted my arm–big time–to do all this, I send him batches of photos, with captions, so he can post them on my I-gram (@PatGanahl). A few weeks ago I sent him this photo:
With this caption: “I’ve been keeping my eye on this ’55 Chevy wagon for several years. It was a well-worn driver, but now it seems to be parked, growing more patina and getting covered with junk. But it’s been in plain sight the whole time, right on Colorado Blvd. There’s plenty of this stuff around. And it’s not in barns.”
For reasons too complicated and irrelevant to explain, this is a short week, and I snapped the above photo on one of my weekly exercise bicycle rides. One of my bike routes takes me on a broad loop through the town of Eagle Rock, both above and below Colorado Bl. (the original Route 66), which is just around the corner from where we live. I’ve ridden it often, and every time I’ve spotted all sorts of old, parked, stashed, patina’ed, or even still driven vehicles of interest, like the one above. So to prove the point of the caption, as well as make a relatively simple column, I stuck a small camera in my pocket, and kept my eyes peeled, as I took off on this week’s bike ride. Unlike my “Lost Hot Rods” books, I wasn’t searching for cool cars hidden in urban garages. Some of these cars aren’t very cool at all. But it’s all vintage tin of one sort or another. Most of it’s neglected, but in pretty decent shape. Some are parked right on the street or in driveways; others take sharp eyes to spot. None had For Sale signs, and I didn’t knock on any doors or open any garages. The real point is that this stuff is out there, if you look for it. I took all these photos during one bike ride lasting a little over two hours. In fact, there might be too many to show here. We’ll see how far we get.
This one started it off. A ’59 Cad 4-door hardtop in surprisingly complete original condition as well as amazing patina. It just suddenly showed up, apparently owned by the homeless guy who lives in the motorhome parked in front of it. He also collects bicycles, dozens of them.
I’ll just sort of show ’em as I found ’em. I’m not a fan of 240-Z’s, or other similar sports cars, but some of you are, and there are plenty around, just like this. What I’m really showing here, though, is an example of the surprisingly common car in the driveway, flat tires, spider webs, incipient surface rust, outdated license. Obviously unused for years. Unwanted? Available?
This one’s a cherry pie. A first-series Chevelle, apparently a V8, still stock other than dual pipes, appears to be in perfect condition. It also appears to be driven, but I’ve seen it in the same spot in the same driveway every time I ride by. Sweet.What you’ll find more of in barns, than anything else, are old pickup trucks. Farmers love them, and keep them. Maybe they can still haul stuff, maybe not. The same seems to go for city trucks, if there’s a place to keep them. Except El Caminos and Rancheros are even more prevalent, since they drive on streets, not farms. Note the trailer hitch and bed hooks, plus dual pipes and ubiquitous Cragar SS mags on this one. But the dirty windows, cobwebs, and surface rust indicate this one’s not been driven much of anywhere.
I saw more first-series Rivs on this trip than anything, ranging from a fully-restored black beauty to, well, you’ll see. This silver ’64 is obviously a well-kept driver, possibly repainted. The owner happened to be outside, said it had the big Nailhead and a Posi rear, and he had a couple spare engines in the garage, where he did freelance mechanical work. Note black original license.
This was the backyard of a big, older, run-down house in a neighborhood of nicer big old houses. I can’t tell what’s under the cover, but I’ve seen older covered shapes there in the past. However, the point here is, if that’s what’s sitting outside, what do you suppose is inside that 1-car garage behind those old wooden doors?
Of course, if a car’s parked on the street under a cover, you can guess it’s something fairly nice and gets driven. In fact, I’ve seen this one without the cover a few times, and I know it’s an Olds 4-4-2, shiny red or black, and I think a ’73 (don’t test me on ’70s cars).
I know Chevy C-10 pickups are really hot right now. But I have a hard time grasping how many years and styles count–from the late ’50s through the ’70s? Fleetside and stepside? Long bed/short bed? Of the several I see sitting like this on any bike trip, I’d say this one wins the patina prize. And this guy’s whole front yard was filled with similar vehicles–even a ski boat. So what’s in the garage?
I spotted this one on a side street, and rode down to take a closer look. There were somany Dodge and Plymouth variants (no, that’s not a factory name, just sounds like one) in the late ’60s/early ’70s I won’t guess on this. What got me was how clean, straight, shiny, and original this Plymouth is, including black plates. What’s more intriguing are two more cars under covers in the driveway in front of it, plus a garage beyond that.
OK, what is this, you say? On the south side of Eagle Rock there’s a strange road, split on two levels. On the upper level are big older houses, on big lots going up a steep hill. I discovered this place about a year ago. It had one old house on two very large, deep lots that were crammed with anything you could think of. The person who lived there was a super-hoarder, apparently with enough bucks to continue buying stuff. A month or two ago yellow police tape went up and huge trash bins were placed in the street. They were soon filled, then removed, but the place still looked like this–half as much hoard.
So you had to look carefully through the crap to spot this–even though it is bright red. I’m no Corvette expert, but that looks like a C-4 convertible to me, of course with the top off, looking like it’s still in decent shape (for now). Of course you know it’s impossible to buy anything from a hoarder, so it will probably rot there. And, once again, what do you suppose is behind those big, closed garage doors in front of it?
All those other round bulges under covers appear to be VW Bugs of various years (and conditions). The thing is, this is just what you can see in front. The house is behind that large, closed garage. There were more covered cars in a driveway beside it. And you can see (but not in) a covered and draped carport he built on the other side. Who knows what all is in there. I didn’t stop to ask questions.The 1965 Impala should have gotten more attention from customizers, then or now. It’s a good-looking car. This one has lowrider wheels and tires on it. Not only has it been parked here long enough to develop dust, cracks, and surface rust, but if you look closely down the sides you’ll see a pretty wavy body and signs of bad Bondo. And this is the better side. Sorry.
I know this isn’t a C-10. It’s a ’57 Chevy half ton (which I much prefer). It’s obviously built for work, and has a few dings, but it looks to be in pretty good condition. I have no idea where those hood rockets came from, but I kinda dig ’em. Plus it has Hydramatic V emblems on both doors, which I’ve never seen on a Chevy. Could this be a Pontiac-powered GMC that someone swapped Chevy front sheetmetal onto? The lady across the street said the owner lived behind her, and drove it. But not enough to clean the cobwebs off.
I’ve ridden by this house many times, but never noticed the white Nova parked in thedriveway because there’s usually another new white car parked beside it. Front fender and decklid emblems say this is a ’64 SS V8 model. With the rake, mag wheels, and window decals we know it’s been rodded–maybe raced. But to tell the truth I never knew it was there and have never seen it on the street.
How’s this for a surprise? On last week’s ride I was actively carspotting–looking in driveways, yards, alleys, and up side streets. When I looked up this deadend side street and saw this silver Model A roadster parked at the top I slammed on the brakes and rode up for a closer look. My guess is it’s an older restoration someone bought and mildly rodded: dropped axle, dropped lights, chopped windshield, big-n-littles on Kelsey wires. Most unusual change was a single taillight below the license in back. Interior looked like canvas with cardboard door panels. No top. That wood fence covered the whole front of the house. But the lady across the street said, “Oh, he has more of those back there.” Out of curiosity, I drove by yesterday and it was still sitting in the exact same spot.
A couple vehicles behind the Model A was this short flatbed. I don’t think it’s officially a C-10, but it’s the same cab. And worth less. Do like some of Bill’s customers: Buy an Art Morrison chassis and a repro bed, add an LS motor of your choice, and drop this cab on it. Presto, another 6-figure pickup truck, but for a somewhat lower buy-in price.
Here’s a nice photo. At the end of a long driveway I spotted this F-1. It, too, is a short flatbed, but a half-ton. And the owner decided to rod it as-is. I’ve heard it run, and it has a healthy late-model V8 of some sort. And he drives this one plenty.
On the other hand, I’ve ridden/driven by this Mustang so many times, I almost ignored it (as I usually do). It’s been parked at this house, or the lot next door, for maybe 15 years. It used to be shiny black. The single silver stripe is weird. And I’ve never once seen it drive on the street.
On yet another hand, this one appeared on my street a couple weeks ago. The guy who recently bought it had to park it here because he has a nicely restored black ’63 Riviera in his driveway and a similar ’57 T-Bird in the garage. He does drive them. Some.I already admitted I cheated and made a second quick run last Saturday (when I checked on the Model A), mainly because driving by during the week I spotted this bright yellow ’50 Chevy coupe in the same lot as the patina’ed ’55 wagon (which you can barely glimpse in the background). The street is Colorado Blvd., and you can also see for once the gate is open on a Saturday morning. So I pulled in. A young guy, Eddie, was there, who said his father had owned the business, and they were known in the area for working on older cars. There were more there than usual.
What really got my attention this day were the taillights of this ’56 Olds 88 Hardtop, in pretty nice original condition. It was there for a new water pump, had just arrived, and was parked next to the street. Eddie said it and the Chevy belonged to the same person, who had more like them at home. Obviously they wouldn’t be staying long. But older automotive shops, especially with large yards like this filled with cars, are great places for car spotting. For a variety of reasons, owners tend to leave cars there, especially older ones, either intending to get them fixed, or not paying the bill after they are. These cars can be sold by the shop on a mechanics’ lien, often just for the cost of parts and labor.
For example, this slowly eroding ’66 Ford Galaxie 500 hardtop has been sitting in this lot for a very long time. At least it has the windows rolled up, it looks pretty straight, and it’s quite complete. Best of all, such abandoned cars in warm Southwestern states (away from the beach) erode, but don’t corrode with rust. Didn’t see any on this one. Available? Didn’t ask.Another new one that day was this cherry-pie ’67 Camaro, in for regular maintenance and definitely not available. Eddie said this 6-cylinder 3-speed was bought new by Dr. Krupp, director of the Griffith Park observatory, and driven daily–he proudly claims–now more miles than a trip to the moon and back (that’s 238,900 mi. each way). Looks to me like all it needs is a good wax job.
I told you I saw more early Rivs than anything else, in states from super to sad. Well, this was on the other side of the Camaro, and it looks sad to me. Some bodywork has been done. But where’s all the trim? And worse, why take all the glass out, and then let it sit? Obviously the plastic cover isn’t working. This could get restored, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Wouldn’t buy it, either.OK, time for the finale. I told you I’ve driven by this place hundreds of times, watching the patina grow on this ’55 Chevy 4-door wagon for decades now. But I never stopped to ask anything about it because (1) it’s a *#$%& 4-door, (2) I figured a 6-cylinder, and (3) very obviously not for sale. Well this day junk had been cleared off and the hood was up. Surprise. It had been a six, but sometime back a later V8, auto, and even power brakes had been fairly neatly installed. So I assume it’s still in running condition, or at least close.It had rusty chrome wheels, and had acquired a couple of recent new dents. I couldn’t see much through the dirty windows, but at least they were all there. As a matter of fact, Brian Brennan’s new rod magazine is building a project car out of one that looks very much like this. If patina is your thing, this one is prime. But–do I need to tell you?–Eddie said it belongs to his uncle (his recently deceased father’s brother), who has been the long-time upholsterer at this shop. And he says not only is it not for sale, but he wants to be buried in it. Wouldn’t you know?
Carspotting can be fun. The stuff is definitely out there. But it can also be frustrating if you’re looking to buy. I’m not. So this was fun. Good luck to you!