"He who seeks beauty will find it."

1984 BMW 325e (Carroll Gardens)

The Cold War wasn’t all sobriety and existential fear. After all, the West Germans had those wunderbar autobahns to put to use.

In America the E30 3 Series became to yuppies what Swatch watches were to pre-teen girls. The fruits of that are with us today when affluence is the new middle class aspiration. BMW reportedly sold nearly 120,000 of them in 2013. No wonder picking off its buyers is job 1 for Audi, Lexus, and practically everybody else.

The 3 Series remains legendary but we prefer the E30 and the earlier E21

Posted at 11:30am and tagged with: BMW, 3 Series, German, red, Automobilist, E30, Bimmer, vintage, Claus Luthe, 3Series, 325e,.

1988 Volkswagen Jetta (Fort Greene)

By the nineteen-eighties Wolfsburg had all but abandoned the rear-mounted, air-cooled engine layout it had built its reputation on, and become a more sober automaker on its way upmarket.

West Germany prospered in the decades following World War II, as it rebuilt and markets for its exports grew. But the GDR was relegated by Constitution and treaty to second-tier status in geopolitics, and the German nation itself remained divided between a modern, affluent and liberal West, and a stunted, repressed, Moscow-oriented East. It is hardly surprising that the whimsy of the Beetle, and Karmann Ghia would give way under such circumstances to the more mature Golf and Jetta. Or it could just be ein Zufall.

Posted at 11:30am and tagged with: Volkswagen, Jetta, VW, Automobilist, German, white, Wolfsburg, A2, Typ 1G, West German,.

196- Volkswagen Karmann Ghia (Gowanus)

Today’s post is an early to mid-sixties Type 14 sporting special two-tone paint, a new luggage rack, wide, whitewall tires right out of the fabulous fifties, and the VW logo (in suede?) stitched into custom red leather seats. It was parked in the car pool spots at the new Whole Foods store at on 3rd Street in Brooklyn on Sunday where it drew the attention of the Automobilist, some shoppers, and at least one wide-eyed shopping cart wrangler who declared it too nice even to be driven.

Of course it has California tags too. Where else but California would you find something like this? 

Posted at 11:30am and tagged with: VW, Volkswagen, Type 14, Karmann Ghia, German, blue, Automobilist, vintage, Brooklyn, car, classic, Karmann,.

1965 Ford Mustang (Prospect Heights)

I bought you a brand new Mustang
A nineteen sixty-five
Now you come around
Signifyin’ a woman
That don’t wanna let me ride

From “Mustang Sally” by Mack Rice (1965).

Posted at 12:00pm and tagged with: Ford, Mustang, American, Automobilist, green, vintage, car, classic, Stang, pony, Mustang Sally, Mack Rice, 1965 Mustang, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn,.

1991 Mercedes-Benz 560 SEL (Tribeca)

If you happen to catch Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man – which is based on John le Carré’s 2008 novel of the same name, and is now in wide release – you will see Philip Seymour Hoffman driving around Hamburg in a W126. The car suits the character the late actor plays. Like him, it is getting old, and could use a bath. The executive car’s size seems not so large when driven by the burly late actor.

Posted at 12:00pm and tagged with: Benz, German, Mercedes, MercedesBenz, Automobilist, silver, car, 560SEL, W126,.

1978 Buick Electra Park Avenue (South Park Slope)

Buick first applied the name Park Avenue to an option package on its Electra 225 Limited sedan for 1975. Later, it became a formal trim level (pictured) with special badges, and eventually, a distinct model (with its own upscale trim level – Park Avenue Ultra). The ‘78 we feature today is shown parked on 5th Avenue, not to be confused with Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue sits parallel to Park Avenue, and has had cars named for it too, and in the same way – first as a trim level, then as a distinct model – but by Chrysler, not GM. The 5th Avenue where we spied this Park Avenue is in Brooklyn, and you could say it is the “Park Avenue of Brooklyn” but that is 4th Avenue. Besides, Brooklyn already has a street named Park Avenue.

In any case this is Luigi’s Park Avenue of Luigi’s Pizza, and it is as clean as Luigi’s Pizza is delicious. The Hair Fair is by Alberto. 

Posted at 12:00pm and tagged with: American, Buick, Park Avenue, General Motors, GM, Electra, car, land yacht, maroon, vinyl top, C Body, Automobilist, Luigi's Pizza, Brooklyn, NYC, Electra Park Avenue, 5th Avenue,.

1967 Austin Mini (Windsor Terrace)

We Americans pride ourselves on our diversity and hospitality. Unlike the homogeneous societies of the old world, ours is a melting pot. Indeed, it is easy to think we invented assimilation.

We didn’t of course. Britain, for example, despite its reputation as a conservative, class-obsessed society, does it quite well on occasion. Try to imagine British history and culture without the contributions of “outsiders” such as George Frederic Handel (German-born composer of coronation anthems), Benjamin Disraeli (descendant of Italian Jews who was twice Prime Minister), and Alec Issigonis (born in Ottoman Turkey to Greek parents, who went on to design the quintessential English car — the Mini). It isn’t easy.

Posted at 11:30am and tagged with: Austin, Automobilist, British, car, Mini, vintage, black, Alec Issigonis, Editor's favorites,.

1963 International Harvester Metro Van (Philadelphia)

Before he designed the livery for Air Force One, the French-born Raymond Loewy had a hand in designing another piece of Americana – the International Harvester Metro Van.

This Metro Van was parked outside Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station where its operator was doing a brisk business in ice cream on a hot summer day.

Posted at 12:30pm and tagged with: International, American, Step Van, Automobilist, Raymond Loewy, Loewy, vintage, van, car, Zsa's Ice Cream, International Harvester, Metro Van, Metro, Philadelphia, Philly,.

2014 Nissan NV200 (Park Slope)

A hew and cry greeted the announcement that Nissan of North America had won the competition to design New York City’s “Taxi of Tomorrow”. Why should the Nissan NV200, a Japanese car – withdrawn, minivan – follow the venerable Ford Crown Victoria as the go-to taxi in America’s greatest city, people asked. As if to add insult to injury, the NV200 would be built – whisper it – in Mexico.  

Ford Motor Company is an American company of course, something Nissan Motor Corporation most certainly is not. Nevertheless Ford moved all Crown Vic production to Canada in the mid-eighties, and for years now, the Taxi and Limousine Commission had been permitting cabbies to “hack-up” just about anything with wheels. The most common non-Crown Vic cab is probably the Ford Escape, but there are also many hacked-up Camrys, Altimas, and at least one Jetta Wagon kicking around. This will soon change however, unless legal challenges are successful, and cabbies, and New Yorkers, will have but one non-hybrid choice – the Nissan NV200.

Posted at 12:30pm and tagged with: Nissan, Japanese, yellow, taxi, yellow cab, NYC, NV200, van, minivan, Automobilist, NYCTLC, Taxioftomorrow, Brooklyn, livery, car, taxicab, madeinmexico, hechoenmexico,.

1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass (Park Slope)

As cynical as we are about national politics today – polarization, government ineffectiveness, and the epidemic of torpor in Washington – it is worth recalling the dramatic events that unfolded the year this Oldsmobile was new.

In March of 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had grown unpopular with his own party, surprised the country by announcing, in a televised address, that he would not be a candidate for re-election. Five days later, Martin Luther King Jr., was shot to death in Memphis. Then in June, Senator Robert F. Kennedy was shot and killed at a campaign event. In August, former Vice-President Richard Nixon, who had narrowly lost the Presidency in 1960, and then lost his bid to be Governor of California in 1962, returned as the GOP’s Presidential nominee. Rioting and police brutality marred the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. All the while the electorate was deeply divided over Vietnam, civil rights, and crime.   

Posted at 12:30pm and tagged with: Oldsmobile, American, Cutlass, convertible, Olds, GM, General Motors, red, Automobilist, vintage, car, classic, Park Slope, Brooklyn,.

1991 Peugeot 405 S (Prospect Park South)

The French marked Bastille Day earlier this week, presumably with a lot of cheese-eating and wine-drinking. We will mark it today with this Peugeot 405.

The French Revolution, of which Bastille Day was a major event, was emulative of the American Revolution. That ramshackle American colonists could scuttle a monarchy in favor of republican government over import duties was as intoxicating to our French frères as so much Boudreaux. It is ironic now that, in a way at least, it is our republican government — largely through the NHTSA — that denies us the liberté of buying new French models, by making importing cars to the US cost-prohibitive for PSA Peugeot Citroën, et al.

Posted at 12:30pm and tagged with: Peugeot, French, Automobilist, PSA Peugeot Citroën, car, NHTSA,.

1986 Saab 900 (Boerum Hill)

The Saab 900 has many admirers, but to this car-nut, the four-door takes the proverbial Swedish princess cake. 

Nobody likes squeezing past the front seat to get into back seat. This is even more true when one’s stomach is full of herring and aquavit. In our view the four-door iteration is better suited to the odd form of the 900.

Posted at 11:30am and tagged with: Saab, 900, Swedish, red, Automobilist, editor's favorites,.