"He who seeks beauty will find it."

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 Why should the Nissan NV200, a Japanese car – withdrawn, minivan – follow the venerable Ford Crown Victoria as the go-to taxi in America’s greatest city, people asked.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,.

1981 Porsche 911 (Newark, Del.)

Things are not always what they seem. Take this Porsche for instance. It looks like a 1973 Carrera RS, but is really an ’81 that has been modified to look that way by RS Werks, LLC.

RS Werks is based in Newark, Delaware, but sells to customers all over the United States. This 911 was now complete and being readied for delivery to a buyer in San Diego. 

Posted at 11:30am and tagged with: Porsche, 911, German, blue, Automobilist, RSWerks, Restomod, CarreraRS, notacarrera, Newark, Delaware, 302, Neunelf,.

1971 Ford Mustang (Milltown, Del.)

Everything seems to get bigger. There are exceptions, but with each successive model year, cars usually get larger, not smaller. Even the Mini (the new BMW-designed one, that is) isn’t so mini any more.

In 1970 the muscle car craze was then in full swing, and Ford sought to appeal to the tastes of the Mustang’s aging demographic by stretching and widening the original Falcon-based pony. It may be hard to believe but the larger and much heavier ’71-73 Mustangs are based on the same platform as the 1964½.

Posted at 11:30am and tagged with: Ford, Mustang, yellow, American, Automobilist, car, muscle car,.

1979 Volkswagen Type 2 (Bethany Beach, Del.)

This Type 2 was in fabulous condition – clean, both in the sense that it lacked apparent defects, and in the sense that nearly every millimeter of it had been cleansed of dirt and grime.

So how does one improve upon a car this pristine? That’s easy: Hang some string lights inside, give it a name like Sally, and drive it to the beach.

Posted at 11:02am and tagged with: VW, Volkswagen, Type 2, Westfalia, Westy, Bethany Beach, German, camper, orange, Automobilist, Bus, Microbus, Transporter, Kombi, Editor's favorites,.

1983 Toyota Corolla (Gowanus)

Hatchbacks, liftbacks, swingbacks – call them what you like – everybody knows that a little car is better when it has an odd number of doors. Okay, not quite everybody knows this, but a lot of smart people do.

Some years it seems like hatchbacks are just almost catching on here, and in the late seventies and early eighties at least, they were like a glimpse of future. Funky Volkswagens like the Dasher, and Rabbit, and dependable Japanese models like Honda’s Accord and Civic, and Toyota’s venerable Corolla (pictured) were a were a welcome addition to a U.S. auto market flooded with dowdy sedans and tawdry personal luxury coupes. That most of these three and five-door miracles originated in Japan or West Germany lent them a worldly sophistication that Detroit simply could not match.

Posted at 12:30pm and tagged with: Toyota, Corolla, Japanese, blue, hatchback, Automobilist, E70, hatch, liftback, Brooklyn, design, car, cars, autos, editor's favorites,.

1983 Audi 5000 S (Brooklyn Heights)

Audi has gone through a number of different naming conventions. At the moment, everything begins with a letter. Recently, Audi used numbers like 80, 90, and 100. During the 1980s, North Americans got the 4000 and 5000. This is a 5000. It has fuel injection and may, or may not, accelerate unexpectedly. It also looks rather like a Volkswagen Quantum.

Posted at 12:00pm and tagged with: Audi, 5000, Automobilist, VW, German, silver, car, Brooklyn, 100,.

1981 Volkswagen Vanagon (Brooklyn Heights)

If the appeal old cars is attributable to anything in particular, it might be to the simple, unavoidable fact that one’s life — and everything in it — will one day be no more. Wisdom is gained through experience, but the time it takes inevitably means that some things are lost, and not merely possessions, but opportunities.

Maybe by preserving, photographing and documenting all of this we are trying to slow the march of time, and at once hold on to what we have and know we are loosing.

Posted at 12:00pm and tagged with: VW, Volkswagen, Vanagon, Westfalia, white, German, Automobilist, Brooklyn, camper, Type 2 (T3), van, time, pinstripe, striping,.

1962 Plymouth Fury (Windsor Terrace)

The furies have been described, as follows: “Avenging goddesses who sprang from the blood of the castrated Uranus. Winged, with bloody eyes and snakes in their hair, they pursued the guilty. The Furies have an important role in Aeschylus’ Oresteia, in which they are transformed into the Eumenides (the Kindly Ones) — actually a euphemism used to propitiate the Furies. The Roman name for these goddesses was Dirae.”

(Feder, Crowell’s Handbook of Classical Literature, Thos. Y. Crowell Co., New York, 1964)

Posted at 12:00pm and tagged with: Chrysler, Automobilist, American, Plymouth, white, Fury, Furies, Oresteia, mythology, Mopar, rust, Exner, Virgil Exner,.

199- Oldsmobile Silhouette (Kensington)

Speaking of the ineptitude of General Motors, remember this? This is indeed not your father’s Oldsmobile.

You cannot blame GM for wanting to give Olds a piece of the minivan action – it would have been foolish to have that division neglect that then-growing segment – but you have to wonder what the designers were thinking.

Lamps and grilles were relegated to narrow slits in the plastic body panels, and where a crease would have been expected to add heft, seven thick stripes were used instead. But it was the dramatic slope created by the windshield and hood that inspired Automobile magazine to describe the chrome-less Silhouette as sporting “the Dustbuster Look”, after the cheap hand-held Black & Decker vacuum cleaner of the same name.

As for the roadside assistance hotline, 1-800-442-OLDS, its nice that they chose 442, but wouldn’t that have been better under the hood? Is it wise to remind folks that this product may well leave you stranded on the side of the road? 

Posted at 12:00pm and tagged with: Oldsmobile, Olds, GM, American, Automobilist, minivan, Silhouette, mediocre, mediocrity, General Motors, gold, UBody, Dustbuster Look, U Body, 1800442OLDS, design, car, automobile,.