The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Cool Cars’ Category

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Cool Cars of Astoria, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wandering around the forbidden northern coast of Queens one day, a humble narrator happened across another one of those historic vehicles which are referred to at this – your Newtown Pentacle – as “Cool Cars” in Astoria.

As far as I’ve been able to discern – and as always – if I’m wrong, please correct my assertion – this is El Producto de Ford – a 1954 Mercury Monterey.

from wikipedia

The Mercury Monterey is a full-size car model that was introduced by Mercury in 1952. It would later share the same body style with the slightly more upscale Marquis, and the Park Lane and Montclair until the latter two were extinguished after the 1968 model year.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s obviously well weathered, that’s for sure. This auto was parked alongside a series of one car garages and spotted around a block from Astoria Blvd. There’s a lot of similarity in body type and flashing to the Mercury Monterey Sun Valley, but this coupe has a hard top metal roof rather than the translucent plastic which the Sun Valley was offered with.

from kennagelclassiccars.com

The Monterey model was a full-size near-luxury car introduced in 1950 and was the most expensive and luxurious vehicle in Mercury’s lineup.  At the time General Motors and the Chrysler Corporation were producing a number of ‘hardtop convertibles’ and Ford was determined not to stand idly by as GM and Chrysler dominated the market with its attractive new pillarless coupes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Check out that space age design on the grill. Back then, gasoline was cheap, and tacking half a ton of extra weight onto the front of a car for the sake of ornamentation was no big deal. If you’ve never driven a car from this era, I can tell you that they are beasts.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Cars like this 1954 Mercury Monterey lay heavily into turns, squeal their wheels, and when you step on the gas – it’s no modern differential gear smoothly driving the train – you get pressed back into your seat by zero to thirty in 3.4 seconds type acceleration. There are no lap and shoulder belts to hold you snugly in place while it’s happening, either. This model was built with a Y block V8 engine, which offered the coupe some 161 HP worth of juice.

Vroooooom!

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

September 3rd, 2015
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Open House NY, click here for details and tickets.

September 20th, 2015
Glittering Realms Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 28, 2015 at 11:00 am

vast and vague

with 4 comments

Cool Cars in Greenpoint (?), in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That long walk under the Brooklyn Queens Expressway in Greenpoint and Williamsburg mentioned at the beginning of this week provided one with several interesting diversions, and notably this undeniably “Cool Car” was one of them.

I’m of the opinion that this Dodge 4 door coupe was likely a 1948 model, an educated guess based on the shape of the windows, fenders, and bumpers – but it is definitely a product of the 1946-1949 era and the very definition of what I like to refer to as “cool cars.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were no tags or registration information adorning the auto, which makes it kind of a difficult endeavor to identify, and given the relative homogeneity of post World War 2 automobile manufacture (Detroit was still gearing down from the war, and the explosion of creativity which auto manufacturers displayed in the 1950’s was not in effect in the years directly following the war).

from wikipedia 

Civilian production at Dodge was restarted by late 1945, in time for the 1946 model year. The “seller’s market” of the early postwar years, brought on by the lack of any new cars throughout the war, meant that every automaker found it easy to sell vehicles regardless of any drawbacks they might have. Like almost every other automaker, Dodge sold lightly facelifted revisions of its 1942 design through the 1948 season. As before, these were a single series of six-cylinder models with two trim levels (basic Deluxe or plusher Custom).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Your humble narrator is far from an expert on vintage automobiles, it should be mentioned, so if anybody who is reading this is possessed on knowledge on the subject – or recognizes the specific model – please share your smarts with the rest of us in the comments section found below.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The location at which this artifact of America’s golden age was found spawns several semantic points as well for the infrastructure nerd. This auto was parked south of McGuinness Blvd. along the west side of Meeker Avenue, under the BQE. Technically, the east side of Meeker is in Bushwick (according to the old ward maps of the pre conolidation City of Brooklyn) and the area to the south of McGuinness is in WIlliamsburg not Greenpoint.

Life long Greenpernters will tell you that their neighborhood actually continues for several blocks east and that the nebulous border Greenpoint shares with Williamsburg is around Withers Street and south of Manhattan Avenue, however.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ultimately, this atavistic automobile seemed to be in decent condition, at least externally. It obviously has been parked in this spot for a while given the amount of soot and dust which adorns it. Being Brooklyn, someone felt obliged to trace out “wash me” in the soot – natch.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s a funny thing for me, of course, seeing a 1940’s Dodge parked here in the “House of Moses,” where it fits in with the esthetics of Robert Moses’s early career.

Robert Moses was the master builder of much of NYC’s infrastructure, and personally responsible for creating both the Brooklyn Queens Expressway and the Kosciuszko Bridge. It was his Triborough staffers that mapped out the vast swath that the BQE moves through and was built – condemning and demolishing mile after mile of homes, businesses, and stores to make way for the automobile. Moses plunged Meeker Avenue into centuried and unending darkness when the BQE was constructed, and callously created the divisions between neighborhoods that we all know today. He sort of invented “urban blight.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Manufactured items from the middle of the 20th century like this Dodge Coupe are notoriously rare, and extremely attractive to hot rod enthusiasts. A restored or modified iteration of this vehicle would be an extremely valuable commodity. Back then, they really knew how to “build ’em” – both highways and the cars which populate them.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

August 22nd, 2015
First Calvary Cemetery – LIC, Queens Walking Tour
click here for details and tickets.

September 3rd, 2015
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Open House NY, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 20, 2015 at 11:00 am

slumber, watcher

with 3 comments

What would Superman do?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in the past, the supernatural ideation at whose altar one such as myself leaves the burnt offerings is Superman. No offense meant to those of you who worship more traditional deities, but my god has heat vision and the Romans would have had a darned difficult time driving nails through his hands (except under a Red Sun, of course). My particular exemplar of morality, of course, routinely puts me in particularly thorny ethical territory. When I see the strong preying upon the weak, I am compelled to interfere – despite the fact that no matter how practiced my accusing stare may be, nothing seems to be bursting into flame. Additionally, the whole invulnerability thing would be nice, but your humble narrator is unfortunately on the other side of the scale when it comes to that. Sometimes it seems that a mild breeze is all that it takes to overcome my defenses.

Still, when confronted with moral quanries, I always ask myself “What would Superman do?“.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One discussed a recent event with friends on Facebook just the other day, wherein having accomplished that set of tasks normally set aside for the early morning, I was sitting on the porch here in Astoria with my little dog Zuzu and finishing a second cup of coffee. Suddenly, a tumult arose from the sidewalk. An older couple was arguing, and the male – an excitable Spaniard – was swinging his arms and legs around at the female. From the way that she flinched and assumed defensive postures, it was obvious that the fellow’s pantomine blows often connected, and I began to yell and scream at him to let her be. My tactic was successful, as he turned his rage towards me – inviting me down to join him in the gutter. Since they were seperated, I then instructed the woman to call the Police. She instead started waving her arms around while saying “let it go, let it go.”

What would Superman do?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One strives to be the best version of myself that is possible, which was not always the case. Lazy and selfish pretty much typifies the manner in which I operated until falling ill roughly ten years ago. Lying in a hospital bed for nearly a week, I promised myself, and that fictional deity of mine, that were I to survive the experience that I would be a different man than I was formerly. Every action since has been in pursuance of some sort of redemption. This often forces me to confront the forces of chaos here in Astoria, and in the Metropolis which cradles the ancient village. Where one runs into moral shades of gray, however, is in the reaction of that woman saying “let it go, let it go.” Could I have beaten the tar out of her abusive mate? Yes. Would that have accomplished anything at all? Would it have just made things worse for her? People ask why I refer to the population hereabouts as “the human infestation,” and why I seem so puzzled about their actions. Why not try to rise above, and be the best possible version of yourself? Why give in to your base instincts towards violence and selfishness? I don’t understand.

What would Superman do?

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 16, 2015 –
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 30, 2015 –
The Skillman Corridor with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 13, 2015 at 11:00 am

biased witness

with one comment

Captain America?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Spotted this wonderful example of a three wheeled Motorcycle nearby the Harley Davidson dealership on Northern Blvd.’s “Carridor.”

The paint job on this trike was extraordinary, and as you can discern, was rather patriotic. It was exceptionally well executed and rendered, I would add. A lot of skilled draftsmanship, composition, and artistry went into this air brushed painting. It looked like the sort of thing that a super hero might ride around on, actually, except for it being a trike.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the bow of the unit is an icon and screed that reads “Nam Knights MC, America,” which is a nationwide Motorcycle Club whose members are military and law enforcement veterans.

On the stern of the thing, there are icons painted. A 4th Division Shield, and another depicting an Air Calvary unit alongside a Bronze star. One is embarrassed to admit that the numismatics of the Military are not familiar to me, so I can’t tell you more about the left side iconography. If one of you out there can, please use the comments section below to educate the rest of us.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The striking paint job on this patriotic vehicle drew me like a magnet.

What a fantastic bit of work, and wonderfully realistic rendering of the drapery. This was one sharp piece of work, wish that I knew the name of the artist.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 25, 2015 at 11:00 am

binding cords

with one comment

A deep, shamanic connection to the Borough of Queens… required.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Queens is a troublesome mistress, hiding her secrets to all but the most dedicated of suitors. Meditation and fasting, as well as the consumption of vast quantities of certain hallucinogens during vision quest “Walkabouts,” are but a part of what goes into getting to know her. Don’t get me started on the sweat lodge visits to Jackson Heights.

It’s not like there are arrows painted on the pavement of Northern Boulevard’s Carridor, pointing out the cool stuff that needs noticing. It’s also not like the cool cars of Queens are left up on a pedestal or something.

from wikipedia

An omen (also called portent or presage) is a phenomenon that is believed to foretell the future, often signifying the advent of change. People in the ancient times believed that omens lie with a divine message from their gods.

These omens include natural phenomena for example an eclipse, freak births of animals and humans and behavior of the sacrificial lamb on its way to the slaughter.They had specialists, the diviners, to interpret these omens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My guess is that this is likely a 1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 2 door Hardtop, which featured a 371 CI V8 engine  and power steering. This was one of the fastest production automobiles of the 1950’s, accordingly. I can easily visualize Elvis Presley or Chuck Berry driving one of these.

Little Richard was a Cadillac guy, I believe.

from hagerty.com

The Oldsmobile 88 gained an all-new look in 1957, one year ahead of corporate siblings from Chevrolet and Pontiac. Rakish, lower rooflines with a larger hood and grille denoted the new bodies, while the famous “Rocket” V-8 was bored and stroked to a significantly larger 371 cid with 277 hp. The highly touted J-2 option, which only added $83 to the price, boosted power output to a remarkable 300 hp.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s funny, as just last week a realization that a humble narrator hadn’t encountered any truly cool cars for a while. Then, on Saturday morning, an Oldsmobile Golden Rocket 88.

Oh Queens, you’re such a bitch sometimes, but I love you.

from wikipedia

For 1957 only, the basic 88 was officially named Golden Rocket 88, taken from Olds’ 1956 Motorama two-passenger show car. However, the only badging was an “88” underneath each taillight. Also for 1957 the “J2” option was offered, with three 2-barrel (0.32 m3) carburetors, similar to the Pontiac Tri-Power. The Super 88 continued as the upscale mid-line series. Under the hood, the Rocket V8 increased in displacement to 371 cubic inches and 277 horsepower (207 kW) for all models across the board. Although rare, three speed manual transmissions were still available. Styling highlights were more evolutional than radical overall with three-piece rear window styling utilized on some models. Oldsmobile revived station wagons for the first time since 1950 with the Super 88 Fiesta being a four-door hardtop design. In 1957, Oldsmobile added a safety deep-recessed steering wheel.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 15, 2014 at 11:00 am

human organism

with one comment

Something older than me!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Spotted recently over in hoary Greenpoint, on Kingsland Avenue across the street from the former Mobil/SOCONY refinery, was this cool car. Its been a fixture in the neighborhood for a few weeks, but I finally crossed its path when the light was just right. I’m fairly sure that this is a customized Ford Galaxie 500 Four Door Sedan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s always a bit of an intellectual challenge for me, figuring out make and model of some late model random auto. Registration tags list year and maker, and what sort of unit it is – coupe versus sedan, for instance. The deal isn’t sealed for a humble narrator until I can compare photos. The one below is from Wikipedia and it illustrates a Ford Galaxie 500 Sedan which has all the original chrome and ornamentation. Looks pretty similar to me.

1920px-Ford_Galaxie_500_Sedan_(Centropolis_Laval_'10)

from wikipedia

The 1965 Galaxie was an all-new design, featuring vertically stacked dual headlights in what was becoming the fashionable style in a car somewhat taller and bulkier than the previous year’s. The new top-of-the-line designation this year was the Galaxie 500 LTD. Engine choices were the same as 1964, except for an all-new 240 cu in (3.9 L) six-cylinder and 1965 289 cu in (4.7 L) engine replacing the 50s-era 223 “Mileage-Maker” six and the 352 being equipped with dual exhausts and a four-barrel carburetor.

Suspension on the 1965 models was dramatically redesigned. Replacing the former leaf-spring rear suspension was a new three-link system, featuring all coils. Not only did the ride improve, but handling also got a boost, and this system was used for NASCAR in the full-size class. Interiors were like the 1964 models, but a new instrument panel and two-way key system were introduced.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The 1965 Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price for this car was $3,233 – $3,872, I’m told. That’s around $23,569.25 in modern coine.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, September 27th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, September 28th, The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek
Walking Tour with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

ethereal harmoniousness

with 2 comments

Mystery is such a bother.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In another one of the dynamic and action packed moments which populate my days, your humble narrator was leaving LIC’s Sweetleaf coffee shop in LIC on Saturday when a cool car suddenly manifested itself within Jackson Avenue’s left turn lane for the Pulaski Bridge. The pillars of heaven began to shake, and the camera found itself deployed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Now, here’s the thing… one prides himself on the ability to focus in on any random thing found in the street and then finding out everything that can be reasonably discovered about it. This automobile has me stumped. Zooming in at a billion percent in photoshop shows the “lazy s” logo of the Studebaker company emblazoned on the red disks at the center of the wheel covers, but…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This car also resembles a 1939 Pontiac Deluxe 2 Door Coach in many ways, but there’s no “silver streak” running down the middle of the hood and the grill is all wrong for that model and then there’s those Studebaker logos on the wheels. Grrr. A four door version of the Pontiac model reveals a very similar silhouette to that exhibited by this car, however.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Nothing I’ve seen from South Bend, Indiana’s own Studebaker during the late 1930’s or early 40’s looks remotely like this. If there’s anyone out there with a specialized knowledge of the subject, please add a comment to this post and educate not just me but your fellow lords and ladies.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The thing was heading to Brooklyn, which is always kind of a mistake. Who would want to leave Queens?

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 8, 2014 at 11:00 am

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