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Corner Lot Classics, or The Morning I Decided to Take a Detour

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You probably don’t know this, but I am a member of Toastmasters, serving as an officer in our corporate club. We meet once a week to give speeches, get feedback, and work to improve our public speaking ability. Yesterday, I heard a speech which made me really think: it was called “Stay RAD: Avoid Burnout”.

RAD stands for Rest, Activity, and Diversification. It was that last point, Diversification, that got me thinking. You see, like a lot of people, I get pretty comfortable with my routine. Stuck in a rut, I drive the same road to work every day, and do more or less the same thing at my desk all day. I hang out with the same people. I also tend to think about and write about a lot of the same cars.

Today, I want to change things up a little. I took a slight detour this morning to an abandoned service station I had seen not long ago and found something rather special. It appears that someone has been storing several classic cars in the old service area for quite a while.

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This old service station – complete with a three-bay service garage and a “NO TRESPASSING” sign scrawled on the window of the store – has become home to a seemingly random collection of classic cars. I have no idea whether these cars are owned by one person, or if they’re being stored for someone else. Clearly someone checks in here once in a while, just based on the relatively clean Dodge/Mercedes-Benz/Freightliner Sprinter van off to the side.

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In the spirit of diversification and changing up my routine, I want to simply present these cars to you and give you a couple of basic facts. Then, I would like you to tell me what you know about them, since many (read: most) of you are more knowledgeable than I.

The Mercedes above is a 190. All I know off the top of my head about the 190 is that this a small car, and that I saw a 1990 190E last weekend near a friend’s house. I’m guessing this one is a late 50’s model.

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It’s air-cooled, it’s roughly the same design concept as the 190, and it looks to be complete. What is it?

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I do know a little more about this car. This looks like a 66 Dart with a 273 V8 under the hood. It’s got brand-new tires on all four corners and a gorgeous cordovan paint job.

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This is a 65 Thunderbird hardtop in a gorgeous light blue. It’s probably got a 390 under the hood, which is significantly bigger than the 302 under the hood of my truck. Must be a heavy car. 

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I love this Chevette. Apparently my family had one when I was young, but I don’t remember the car. I do remember Dad’s stories of racing it, though… funny how the brain works.

Like I said, you all should weigh in on these cars. Educate me. Tell me what I need to know about these classic machines. Also, take a lesson from me and change your routine up once in a while, even if it’s a simple as taking the long way home.

You’ll be glad you did.

Currently there are "28 comments" on this Article:

  1. rwb says:

    But burnouts ARE rad!

  2. Maymar says:

    I'm almost certain the white car is a Renault Dauphine. Cool enough as a Dauphine would be, 10 or 15 years back, a Canadian company (Feel Good Cars, who'd later evolve into the now defunct ZENN) converted old Dauphines to electric. I'd love to find one of those as a funky little runabout.

  3. mdharrell says:

    It's a Renault Dauphine. I saw it a couple of months ago on my way into the adjacent restaurant (Noble Court) with my wife and a friend of ours. Neither of them was surprised when I darted over to the cars after saying "Hey, is that a Renault?"

    • dukeisduke says:

      An old friend I once knew once owned a Dauphine, when they were new. After being looked down at by someone driving a Caddy, he traded the Dauphine for a new '61 Chevy wagon with a 409.

  4. smokyburnout says:

    I can be rad :(

    Mystery car is a Renault Dauphine

  5. scoudude says:

    Interestingly enough the Google satellite and street view images that are reportedly from 2013 show the lot empty except for a GM van in all three shots parked where the aqua GM minivan is in these. They were taken on a sunny day which would indicate they were likely done fairly recently.

  6. Brian W. says:

    Oh hey! That's in Overlake right across from the Safeway there. I've walked by there when there weren't as many interesting cars there.

  7. longrooffan says:

    Stopping to smell the exhaust fumes on an unfamiliar roadway is a favorite pastime of this olelongrooffan. Congrats on your RAD experience.

  8. salguod says:

    The only engine available in the 1965 Thunderbird was the 390. The made the 428 optional in 1966.

    1965 was the first year for the sequential turn signals and front disc brakes.

    My 1960 Convertible weighs in around 3,900 lbs, but according to Automotive Mileposts the 1965 had put on a few, with the coupe weighing in at around 4,500 with the ragtop about 100 lbs more.

    I'd love to say that this all comes from the T'bird section of my brain, but I just like T'birds enough to Google it.

    • dukeisduke says:

      Does your '60 have a Swing-Away wheel? How do those work, anyway? Do they move automatically when you open the door?

      • salguod says:

        No, the swing away wheel was new with the '61 and was available through '66. I don't know how they work even though I did drive one, briefly, as a doorman in college around 1990. I don't recall it being automatic with the door, there must have been a release of some kind.

        Info, again, from Automotive Mileposts.

        • mdharrell says:

          My father has a '65 'Bird as his only car. The steering column is released by pushing the column shifter upwards beyond the Park position. It locks again automatically when the steering column is moved back into the driving position.

          The column doesn't adjust for tilt or length, however. All it can do is swing to the right to make it easier to get into and out of the driver's seat. That is sufficient.

  9. lil-red says:

    I had a Renault about 40 years ago, if i remember correctly
    those vents in front of the rear wheels let air into the radiator, it is water cooled.

  10. MVEilenstein says:

    Great comments; I really do appreciate the information. Everybody gets a thumbs up.

  11. Deception says:

    I believe the 190 (W120) posted was the equivalent of a middle-of-the-line E-Class back in the 1950s, and weren't exactly small. These were available with 4-cylinder petrol and diesel engines. Many were put into service as taxicabs, much like the W114, W123 & W124 that follow it.

  12. Jeff_Glucker says:

    Disclaimer: Burnouts are indeed rad.

    Carry on

  13. rennsport964 says:

    Looks like 140th and Bel-Red, correct? I guess I never paid much attention to that old service station. Of course, I don't usually go that direction. Oh right, RAD.

    • MVEilenstein says:

      Exactly – see how that works? I never gave it a second look, but when I finally did, I was rewarded with a bunch of neat old cars.

      Yes, 140th & Bel-Red. Safeway is across the street.

      • rennsport964 says:

        Looks like I will have to take a field trip. It's just a short jaunt from the place of business.

  14. BlackIce_GTS says:

    Wow, that's a lot of Jags.
    They all look like X300s*, which is the second version ('94-'97) of the second generation ('86-'2) of XJs-that-are-sedans*. For reasons I have repeatedly forgotten, the third version of the first generation was made until '92. I think there was a reason more elaborate than 'because British Leyland'.

    *as opposed to XJs that are old race cars, XJs that are supercars, XJs that are coupes, and XJs that are less-old race cars.

    **The third version, X308, was made until 2003 when it was replaced by an entirely (mostly) new generation that looked like a less ugly X-type. X308 is very difficult to tell from X300 when looking at pictures of other cars in front of them. I like the other cars as well, but I don't really know anything about them.

  15. jimbosidecar says:

    The white can is a Renault Dauphine. Not a good car even when new (as most french cars were in the 1950s and 1960s). The Mercedes looks like a 1959 190. I stumbled across one in Datong, China a few years back. But it was rusted through and had a Chinese Shanghai 4 cylinder motor instead of the MB unit. I was looking for a late 1950s Marcedes 300 which I knew were in good supply in China, but sadly they stopped allowing them to be exported after a friend of mine snagged one really cheap.

  16. jimbosidecar says:

    I knew a guy in the early 1980s that raced a Chevelle in the SCCA in New England. I thought he was the only person on the planet that would race such a pitiful car. Guess not…

  17. jimbosidecar says:

    Oops. Should have said Chevette. Even my fingers don't like that car…

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