"He who seeks beauty will find it."

1965 Chevrolet Impala (Prospect-Lefferts Garden)

In February, filmmaker and Brooklyn booster Spike Lee (Crooklyn, Red Hook Summer) bemoaned the gentrification of NYC’s most populous borough when he likened Ft. Greene Park on a weekend to the “motherf***ing Westminster dog show”.

Mr. Lee’s hyperbole aside, it is undeniable that Brooklyn has changed markedly since the days of Do The Right Thing when highly-educated, affluent whites would have no sooner moved here than the dark side of the moon. Now they come in droves, in the process displacing many long-time residents (most of them black).

In Prospect-Lefferts Garden — where we spotted this exceptional Impala — the pace of gentrification has been relatively slow, but recent visits to the traditionally African-American and West Indian neighborhood suggest it is quickening. Construction projects are under way along the Flatbush Avenue corridor, hip cafes, bars and gourmet groceries are thriving, and younger, whiter faces can be seen exiting the subway at the Prospect Park Station every day.

Posted at 12:00pm and tagged with: American, Chevrolet, Chevy, Impala, yellow, Automobilist, vintage, car, GM, General Motors, Prospect Lefferts Garden, Brooklyn, gentrification, NYC, Maple Street,.

1975 Chevrolet Caprice Classic (Dumbo)

The Automobilist does not wish a return of land yachts like this Caprice and the practically indistinguishable 1975 Buick LeSabre Custom, but it does lament the loss of the American economy that produced them.

It is taken by many as an article of faith, that cars can no longer be manufactured profitably in the United States. Labor costs are just too high here they say, and no one can argue that it does not cost a good deal less to build a car in say, China or Mexico, than it does in Ohio.

The conclusion that cars simply cannot be manufactured profitably in a highly-developed country is not shared by everyone however. In Japan and Germany, the world’s third and fourth largest economies by GDP, labor costs are high and citizens enjoy an excellent standard of living. Yet both countries still produce world-beating automobiles – domestically. Moreover, they each produce more of them per year than the mighty United States.

We Americans may have put the world on wheels, but could we do it again?

Posted at 12:00pm and tagged with: American, land yacht, Chevrolet, Chevy, Caprice, GM, General Motors, convertible, red, vintage, Dumbo, decline, manufacturing,.

1970 Chevrolet Nova  (Windsor Terrace)

The Chevy Nova has a strange and meandering history.

It began life as a trim model of Chevrolet’s new “compact” – the Chevy II (itself an answer to Ford’s popular Falcon).

Before long, the (better) Nova name took over and the car became more shapely, as above, and spawned Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick derivatives before disappearing. In 1984, it re-appeared as a hatchback produced by NUMMI – GM’s joint-venture with Toyota.

Posted at 11:00am and tagged with: American, Automobilist, Chevrolet, Chevy, General Motors, GM, gold, Nova, xbody, car, vintage,.

1976 Chevrolet El Camino (Park Slope)

The recently restored Prospect Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library on Sixth Avenue at 9th Street is a fine example of classical vocabulary applied to the needs of the early 20th Century.

The designers of the El Camino parked in front of the library applied classical know-how too, in a way. The bulbous half car, half truck is not unlike the Centaur of classical mythology, and nearly as frightening a spectacle. 

Posted at 11:30am and tagged with: American, Chevrolet, El Camino, Chevy, GM, General Motors, truck, pickup, cheesy car, red, BPL, Park Slope, classical mythology, Centaur, architecture,.

1981 Chevrolet Camaro Z28.

GOWANUS — Trick or treat! The Camaro is so cheesy it is a little scary, so why not make this the first ever to appear on the Automobilist

The best thing about this symbol of high school parking lot cool may be its immortalization in the Dead Milkmen ditty “Bitchin’ Camaro”.

Happy Halloween, folks.

Posted at 12:00pm and tagged with: American, black, Brooklyn, Camaro, Chevrolet, Chevy, Z28, Automobilist, Dead Milkmen, Bitchin Camaro, GM, General Motors, cheesy car,.

1982 Chevrolet S-10 Durango.

Carroll Gardens.

The S-10 was a dramatic improvement over the rebadged Isuzu GM had been selling stateside as the LUV. Seen here in a first generation example, with its squared-off lines beloved by the Automobilist. The owner of this one has taken care to select a red cap to match the red pinstriping.

Posted at 12:00pm and tagged with: American, Chevy, Chevrolet, S10, truck, pickup, GM, General Motors, black, Automobilist, small truck,.

1981 Chevrolet Malibu Landau.

East Williamsburg.

For America’s two hundred forty-seventh birthday we bring you some honest-to-goodness, red, white, and blue American metal, beginning with this red(ish) ‘81 Malibu complete with vinyl “landau” top, and oversized bumper guards. God Bless America indeed!

Posted at 10:00pm and tagged with: American, Chevrolet, Malibu, General Motors, GM, red, Chevy, Automobilist,.

1982 Chevrolet Cavalier.

Williamsburg.

People don’t fuss over subcompacts like they do supercars and halo models, but they should. It is the volume sellers that pay the bills, and that most of them will drive.

So it is easy to laugh at the Cavalier (and its J-body cousins the Pontiac Sunbird, Oldsmobile Firenza, Buick Skyhawk, and Cadillac Cimarron; in the case of the Cimarron, the laughter is difficult to stifle). After all, at the front of the ‘82 and ‘83 models is a face only a child of the nineteen-eighties could love. However, the four-door sedans and wagons would remain largely as seen here through the 1994 model year. In that light the humble Cavalier comes out looking rather good.

Posted at 12:00pm and tagged with: American, Chevrolet, Chevy, Cavalier, General Motors, GM, twotonepaint, Jbody,.

1978 Chevrolet Malibu Classic.

Queens County Farm Museum, Floral Park.

Jumping ahead from the roaring twenties to the malaise-era of the late 1970’s with this pristine Malibu Classic coupe, and its solid, stately lines. The design is probably as much a rejection of the curvaceous forms that characterized most early and mid-seventies auto design, as it was a product of a society that had lost faith in so many institutions - government and automakers alike. Recall President Jimmy Carter’s 1979 “Malaise Speech” in which he sought to reassure a country which he said was suffering a “crisis of confidence”. Even the model name, Malibu Classic, rendered as it was on the rear fenders, in an elegant cursive, seemed calculated to evoke a time in the past when things were better, as if to reassure buyers that this was a vehicle they could rely on.

Funnily enough, as a child, your correspondent was frequently conducted to and fro in Malibu sedans - a ‘78, and later an ‘80, both spartan company cars (sans wire wheels) - supplied by his father’s benevolent employer. Consequently, the steering wheel and the banal dash with its idiot lights, sliding climate control switches, radio knobs and clunky buttons, are all as familiar to him as the exterior lines of this workaday sedan. It is nice to see one in such immaculate condition, with the original paint to boot.

Posted at 12:01pm and tagged with: American, Chevy, Chevrolet, Malibu, Malibu Classic, black, General Motors, GM, Jimmy Carter, automobilist,.

1968 Chevrolet Impala Custom Coupe.

Windsor Terrace.

im·pal·a (im pal´ə, -ä´lə), n., pl. -pal·as, (esp. collectively) -pal·as. an African antelope, Aepyceros melampus, the male of which has ringed, lyre-shaped horns: noted for its leaping ability. [< Zulu]”

(Random House Dictionary of the English Language [1973])

Posted at 12:00pm and tagged with: American, Chevrolet, Chevy, Impala, green, General Motors, GM, vinyl top, Brooklyn, 307cid, automobilist, vintage, car, Impala Custom Coupe,.

1976 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Landau, Kensington.

ca·price noun \kə-ˈprēs\ 1 a: a sudden, impulsive, and seemingly unmotivated notion or action; b: a sudden usually unpredictable condition, change, or series of changes <the caprices of the weather>; 2: a disposition to do things impulsively.

(http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/caprice)

This is really more a “landaulet” than a “landau”. Later Caprices would get it right. (See, "1986 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Landau. East Village.") None of them were functional however, so it hardly matters.

Posted at 12:00pm and tagged with: American, brown, Caprice, Chevrolet, Chevy, General Motors, GM, vinyl top, Landau, Caprice Classic, Brooklyn, automobilist,.

1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Cobble Hill.

Few cars are as quintessentially nineteen-seventies than the American personal luxury coupe, and this ‘77 Monte Carlo is a very good, if not perfect, example of one.  It is in (mostly) original condition, and has a gorgeous green finish, but has suffered some front-end damage and the owner has eschewed period hubcaps and whitewall tires for racing wheels and blackwall rubber. Still, the rest of the car is pristine, and the basic malaise-era Detroit design remains in tact.

Though the similarity of fascia to the ‘77 B-platform Chryslers must have annoyed Chevy’s designers at the time, it did not bother the public. The Monte Carlo was a very popular car (the editor’s parents would buy a ‘78), and ones of this vintage remain so today.  

Posted at 1:30pm and tagged with: American, Chevrolet, Chevy, Monte Carlo, GM, General Motors, green, personal luxury coupe,.