V.I.S.I.T. California Vacation Edition

Recently my wife and I travelled to California for a vacation. On the way from North to South, I captured cars through my lens along the way. Whether they were in traffic, parked on a roof, or in museums, I sought out the interesting, the old, the rare, and the obscure vehicles to share. 
It was interesting seeing how different the local car culture could be between Northern and Southern California.

San Francisco traffic

Tesla Roadster
In Southern California, it can almost seem like you can’t throw a rock without hitting a classic. However up toward San Francisco, among the vast sea of alternate fuel vehicles, finding something that wasn’t hybrid or electric powered was a little more challenging. As you’ll see I still managed to find a few to share.

Third generation Honda Prelude Si

When we flew into the Bay Area, I was surprised to see a few of the third generation Honda Prelude Si around on the street. All of them completely stock in appearance. After being caught unaware and without a camera a few times, I found this one on a walk around the neighborhood.

From the taillight design, this is either a ‘90 or ‘91 Si. Though this one lacked the “4WS” badges (four wheel steering) on the B-pillar, even the garden variety Si was a great driving car. The 4WS equipped models bested the handling prowess from the likes of Ferrari and Porsche of the time. On a personal note, I notice third generation models because of their visual similarity to the slightly boxier second generation that my mother owned in the late ‘80s. It ignited my interest in Japanese cars.

1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala

1958 Bel Air Impala
Something a bit more rare was this first generation Chevy Impala which was only offered for one year before undergoing significant changes that would differentiate it from the Bel Air.

It appeared to be in terrific shape for a car nearly 60 years old. The brakes proved their worth, as the driver had to make a short screeching panic stop while passing us by.

Breakdancing I saw near traffic.

Mk IV Toyota Supra

Mk IV Supra with t-tops
Seeing this Supra climb the big hill on Hyde Street made me wonder how well it would do in a Bullitt-style high speed chase.

Lombard Street

Up at the top of the big hill was Lombard Street, which was like the world’s slowest, most compact version of a Best Motoring touge challenge.

Filbert Street

Wandering a little further up the road, I saw an Altima driver caught by surprise going down this sudden dip on Filbert Street. It just about hit an SUV down at the bottom of the hill. It seems like it would be incredible to fly down on a skateboard. Once.

Hold on, is that a four wheel drive MPV!?!

Unfortunately I was in a big hurry to catch a train when I took this, so I didn’t get the 4WD side decals in the shot, but they were there. You don’t see these very often anymore. First Mazda I ever drove was one of these.

Whether meaning to or not, I tend to look for Miatas wherever I go, since I own one. There were not too many of them seen on this trip, especially up these tall hills, but there was one NC that I spotted here with a Saab 9-5 wagon. And then one NA, like mine, a few days later. Of course I spotted it before the 997 Turbo up ahead of it. One track mind…

W111 rusty surviving “fintail” Mercedes sedan

This W111 sedan looked to still be serving in daily driving duty. It had some dents and light rust, but was still in decent condition considering it’s been on the road since the ‘60s.

R107 Mercedes SL

Considering the condition of the previous Mercedes, this SL spotted down by the pier, was impossibly clean and polished looking. Not a scratch visible anywhere on it.

Google Self-Driving Car

Another one that caught me by surprise was the Google Self-Driving Car. I spotted it a couple of times wandering the streets of Mountainview.

’69 Ford F100

There was one point in Santa Cruz when I passed a decent handful of old Fords from the ’60s and ’70s, but since I was driving, I didn’t manage to get photos any of them. However this old ’69 showed up later on in the trip once we drove down South. Never would have got it if the top hadn’t have been down.

Air-cooled Volkswagens of L.A.

Porsche Muffler Man

By chance, I happened to see the Porsche Muffler Man on the way to a day trip out to San Diego. This is the location of the Porsche Experience Center in Carson, California.

De Tomaso Pantera

Spotted not far up the road from the muffler man was this pearlescent white Pantera; and it was probably the best of all. According to the license frame, it’s owned by the first lady of Team Pantera Racing. Judging by the flares and the larger wheels, this could be a GT5 model.

It appears to be missing the GT5 rear badge and front airdam though, and has some side strakes that don’t appear to be factory, so it could possibly be a GT5 replica or possibly a customized GT5. The GT5 was a higher trim level featuring a better interior, better brakes, bigger wheels, and the lovely widebody fender flares. According to Wikipedia, De Tomaso has not made its production records available, but “an analysis based on Vehicle Identification Numbers by the Pantera Owners Club of America (POCA) late model (9000 series) registrar has shown that fewer than 252 GT5 Panteras were likely to have been built.”

Whether it’s a replica or a real GT5, it was quite striking in person and makes for a nice car to end this edition of Vehicles I Saw In Traffic.
Text and Photography by Bryce Womeldurf
Copyright 2016 Hooniverse/Bryce Womeldurf

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 64 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here

  1. CruisinTime Avatar

    The Google car is the one they have been looking for,Took off on its own and sends back no reports.
    Who knows where it is going?

    1. GTXcellent Avatar

      Maybe it’s the Bay Area’s version of The Littlest Hobo? Befriending those in need, yet refusing to stay in one place.

  2. stigshift Avatar

    The Tesla Roadster should be called either the TesLo, or the LoTes.

  3. Sjalabais Avatar

    Funny how the mind works. I didn’t see the Miata at first…but two Swedish wagons.

    1. Bryce Womeldurf Avatar

      Wow, I had only noticed one. Completely missed that one on the right!

  4. Batshitbox Avatar

    Aw, you were so close to The Exploratorium! We’re on Pier 15, I coulda got y’all in for free.
    I just ogled that R107 Mercedes this very day as I walked from Pier 15 to the Ferry Building for lunch, it’s an eye magnet.
    There was a guy who had a couple of oddball Studebakers up by the Hyde ST Pier In-N-Out Burger, not sure if they were there when you passed through.

    1. Bryce Womeldurf Avatar

      No, I didn’t see the Studebakers when we were there. This was a couple of weeks ago. That R107 was incredible though, wasn’t it? I probably hadn’t seen one in such good condition since the ’80s. You’re right though, we were right over by there. Had lunch at the Ferry Building too. Those Gott’s burgers sure were good.

  5. salguod Avatar

    1 – The Supra is a Targa, not a t-tops.
    2 – What is the yellow 3 wheeler in the last fintail picture?
    3 – Don’t see many Lexus SCs any more (Google car shot)
    4 – A double door VW panel van!

    1. OttoNobedder Avatar

      2) Scooter-coupe. Rentals avialable for Tourists in the usual places

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        I’d love one of these with a bike-setup to pedal on my own.

          1. Sjalabais Avatar

            I had to tape my mouth shut – sitting in the wet sofa became unbearable. How cool is that! Are they still on a prototype stadium? 70mph would be very fair for my commute. Add some lights and that one is golden – once the kids get picked up by a school bus.

          2. OttoNobedder Avatar

            You’ll probably like this, also:

  6. Spridget Avatar

    The Fintail is a daily! I saw it a few weeks ago when visiting, parked near Union Square. I also saw that R107, and as Batshitbox said, there were Studebaker’s to be seen. There’s an Italian car repair shop in North Beach, near an excellent burger place, btw.

  7. outback_ute Avatar

    SF is great for spotting interesting cars (Fishermans Wharf and surrounding areas anyway) due to all the on-street parking. And surely people must regularly try and fail to drift Lombard Street, or recreate the Bullitt chase on Taylor St?

  8. longrooffan Avatar

    That 69 Ford appears to be a 3/4 ton as opposed to a 1/2 ton based on the size of the wheels. With that auxilary gas tank, it might even be a “Camper Special.” Also, I saw a double sided barn door VW bus of this vintage back in the late 70’s sitting in a field in Northern Arkansas. Still kicking myself for not trying to buy it. Slow as hell but cool as hell. Nice V.I.S.I.T. Thanks for sharing.

  9. The Racket Avatar
    The Racket

    You should go over to Alameda, AKA the Island That Rust Forgot

  10. dukeisduke Avatar

    Judging by the wheels (they look like 8-lug) and the hubs, I think the Ford pickup is an F-250.