The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘Cool Cars’ Category

recumbent head

leave a comment »

Hell in a hand basket, lords and ladies, and tongue held firmly in cheek.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Nothing can cause a humble narrator to fly into a rage faster than encountering a vehicle parked on the sidewalk. This is a big problem in western Queens, where the law is enforced subjectively at best, and especially here in Astoria with its population of expatriates and immigrants who were generally too uncontrollable, troublesome, or irascible to stay in the country which they were born in.

Just the other day, on my way home, this scene was spotted on 35th avenue in the 40′s.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

These people… Sheesh. They come here with aspirations of building a new and better life, form a lasting relationship with our relatively non tyrannical government, and this is how they thank the natives? When I was a boy, people who parked on the sidewalk would find themselves swinging from a tree or lamppost, or just fed to a pack of wild junk yard dogs. It’s obviously the fault of real estate developers and our elected officials that this sort of thing is allowed to continue.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Worst of all, this isn’t even an American made car. How does some newcomer afford a foreign sports car anyway? Can’t be from earning it… next you’ll tell me it was a gift. Grants and subsidies and social welfare programs set aside for immigrants that’s how. Can you imagine how much revenue the City loses, only enforcing the parking laws on its native born citizens?

Feh, satire bites

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 19, 2014 at 11:49 am

sweet chariot

with 2 comments

Another unexpected encounter with a cool car.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Perambulating along recently, one found himself at the corner of 31st street and 38th Avenue here at the border of hospitable Dutch Kills and raven haired Astoria. This is one of those posts where I show off my detective skills, as I did not recognize the model of this classic car. It is, and was, a Pontiac.

That’s all I had to go on.

from dmv.ny.gov

A historical vehicle is a vehicle that is more than 25 years old. A vehicle qualifies for a historical registration when it begins the 26th model year. For example, a 1978 model vehicle qualifies for historical registration in 2004.

Some vehicles that are less than 25 years old and have unique characteristics can qualify for a historical registration. The DMV determines if the vehicle has historical, classic or exhibit value.

A vintage vehicle is a historical vehicle and receives a historical registration. The registrant of a vintage vehicle can put vintage plates on the vehicle. Vintage plates are authentic NYS vehicle plates that were issued during the model year of the vehicle. More information about vintage plates appears below.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The body styling suggests the 1950′s with its swept back fenders, excessive ornamentation of general “look and feel.” There are several body shops and auto detailers in the area between here and Astoria Blvd. and those of us lucky enough to live in Astoria have become blase about seeing manufactured items of enduring quality and esthetic achievement parked on the street, so even a late model Pontiac from the golden age of American auto manufacturing seldom catches the notice of jaded area wags.

from wikipedia

Pontiac was an automobile brand established in 1926 as a companion make for General Motors’ Oakland. Quickly overtaking its parent in popularity, it supplanted the Oakland brand entirely by 1933 and, for most of its life, became a companion make for Chevrolet. Pontiac was sold in the United States, Canada, and Mexico by General Motors (GM). Pontiac was marketed as the performance division of General Motors for many years, specializing in mainstream performance vehicles. Pontiac was relatively more popular in Canada, where for much of its history it was marketed as a low-priced vehicle.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The major identifiers, there were two, are the star motif on the rear fenders and the shape of the dashboard. The fact that all the controls and indicators were contained in an oval marked this car’s model year, and the stars provided incontrovertible proof that this was a Pontiac Star Chief from 1957.

This car is 56 years old, and is considered to be highly collectible by auto enthusiasts.

from wikipedia

Between 1954 and 1957, the Star Chief was Pontiac’s prestige model; the car was easily identified by its chrome star trim along its sides. When the storyline of I Love Lucy pointed towards a Hollywood setting in the 1954-1955 season, the characters “drove” (in episode 110, “California Here We Come”) to the West Coast in a 1955 Star Chief convertible. In 1954, Pontiac also introduced air conditioning with all the components under the hood, a first for the price range. Seat belts were added as options in 1956.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Marketed as a sedan (4 doors), there were also coupe and station wagon versions of this model.

A true car fan will decry calling this a sedan and these is no post rising from the body, between the two door windows, to support the hard shell roof. Researching the vehicle, I came across a great site called pontiacsonline, which presents an enormous amount of period advertisements for the model and the one linked to below offers concrete proof that what we’re looking at is a Pontiac Star Chief.

from pontiacsonline.com

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Ultimately, the whole reason that this cool car exists at all is due to the efforts of a fellow named Semon Emil “Bunkie” Knudsen, a mid 20th century auto executive at General Motors. Due to Knudsen’s influence, Pontiac became quite involved with a growing organization which called itself NASCAR, and Pontiacs served the race organization as their pace cars for many years.

from wikipedia

Knudsen began working for General Motors in 1939 with Pontiac Division and rose to management quickly, becoming general manager of the Detroit Diesel Division in 1955, a vice-president of the company and general manager of Pontiac Division in 1956.

When appointed head of Pontiac, he was given the mission to improve sales. At that time Pontiac had a reliable but stuffy image. Knudsen brought in Pete Estes from Oldsmobile as chief engineer and hired John DeLorean away from Packard to be his assistant, with the assignment to create high performance versions of their existing models. The Pontiac Bonneville and the “wide-track Pontiacs” came from this effort. Pontiac became heavily involved in NASCAR racing under Knudsen.

Want to see something cool? Summer 2013 Walking Tours-

The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek - Saturday, August 24, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 21, 2013 at 7:30 am

slowly onward

with one comment

“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Spotted recently in the wilds of Greenpoint, a Checker Cab. For those of you who came to NYC late in the game, these taxis were as iconic as the Empire State Building or Tugboats “back in the day.” There’s always a few Checkers in Greenpoint, repurposed as hotel limousines by the Box Hotel in DUPBO (Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp). This model appears clad in stickers and vehicle wrap that seems authentic, and the color is spot on. Only thing missing is the smell of vomit.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It has been mentioned in the past that this “future” of ours, life lived in the 21st century, is kind of a let down for me. As a child, I was sold on lots of conceptual technologies (I will admit that we’ve gotten the pocket sized personal computer network consoles) which have never materialized. Moving sidewalks, domed cities, jet packs- that sort of stuff.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Instead, we just seem to have a lot more cars zipping around, carrying people back and forth to a lot of unimaginatively shiny buildings, and a single orange can cost you as much as a dollar in Manhattan. Necessary evil, I suppose, these automobiles of ours. People to see, places to go and all that. One wonders, however…

Upcoming tours:

The Insalubrious Valley- Saturday, May 25, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

The Poison Cauldron- Saturday, June 15, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.

Kill Van Kull- Saturday, June 22, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets now on sale.

vainly requested

leave a comment »

“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

- photo by Mitch Waxman

My bet is that this is mid 1960′s, quite possibly a 1965, Buick LeSabre Custom Convertible which I spotted on Northern Blvd. a few months ago, here in Queens. For more on the storied history of the redoubtable LeSabre automobile line- check wikipedia.

The car was painted black, which magnified how bad ass it looked.

Gangster, in fact.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the businesses which one can expect to find along a busy thoroughfare called Northern Blvd., here in Queens, are used car dealers. Aside from high volume sellers like Major Auto World, there exist a loquacious group of classic car dealers and mechanics. There is also a large operation near Astoria Blvd. that offers older and more esoteric vehicles, whose inventory is a wonder for both area wag and young enthusiast alike.

By “classic,” we are generally referring to pre 1972 era vehicles. Essentially, cars were built heavy and fast back then, and burned through gasoline in a manner that did not anticipate the rise of OPEC.

from wikipedia

Americans are divided on the exact era in which a “classic car” can be identified.

Many Americans divide automobiles by separate eras:

horseless carriages (19th century experimental automobiles such as the Daimler Motor Carriage), antique cars (brass era cars such as the Ford Model T), and classic cars (typically 1930s cars such as the Cord 812 through the end of the muscle car period in the 1970s – a majority use the 1972 model year as the cutoff).

The late seventies are disputed as being “classics”, as the oil crisis of 1973 brought several now-infamous cars such as the Ford Pinto and AMC Gremlin.

The 1980s are often viewed as the early modern period due to the rise of Japanese automakers such as Toyota and Nissan.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One should like to mention that there seems to be an inconsistency in the grill of this LeSabre with at least one other photo I’ve viewed, the sort revealed by google images, but am unsure as to its meaning- which one is “cherry” with the OEM grill?

Lords and ladies, if any of you are “car people,” please elucidate and educate using the “comments.”

I can tell you, however, that this was not the factory paint. Yeesh.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

When I was a young but already humble narrator, and became cognizant of those glories which were automobiles, these veritable land yachts had already begun to disappear due to the rising cost of gasoline and the concordant efforts of the Federal Government to encourage and command fuel efficiency standards for manufacturers. Modern cars are a wonder to behold and are far easier to drive safely while consuming a fraction of what this thirsty LeSabre would.

Still… just look at that…

Gangster.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 26, 2013 at 12:15 am

Cherry

with 2 comments

- photo by Mitch Waxman

When your humble narrator was just a lad, this model of automobile was as ubiquitous as the penny. Changing vehicles fashions, age, and the vagaries of the free market- of course- have seen them reduced in number. Recently, while exiting from the East River Ferry in Greenpoint, one observed this late model Volkswagen in all its atavist glory.

from wikipedia

The Volkswagen Beetle, officially called the Volkswagen Type 1 (or informally the Volkswagen Bug), is an economy car produced by the German auto maker Volkswagen (VW) from 1938 until 2003. With over 21 million manufactured in an air-cooled, rear-engined, rear-wheel drive configuration, the Beetle is the longest-running and most-manufactured car of a single design platform, worldwide.

for an expanded description of the October 20th Newtown Creek tour, please click here

for more information on the October 27th Newtown Creek Boat Tour, click here

for more information on the November 9th Newtown Creek Magic Lantern Show, click here

for an expanded description of the November 11th Newtown Creek tour, please click here

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 13, 2012 at 12:15 am

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 778 other followers

%d bloggers like this: