The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Cool cars

incessant reverberations

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Cool cars are everywhere in Astoria, and I don’t even have a bike.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Scuttling along in building shadows, beneath outstretched awnings, along heavily wooded lanes, and under the dripping steel of the elevated subways are the only places one such as myself can hide from the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself as its burning gaze stares down upon Western Queens during the summer.

Wan, a pale enthusiast such as myself will quickly combust if overexposed to the ultraviolet and shrinks away from direct exposure. While huddling in these particular absences of light, wonders like the sedan pictured above are encountered. This shot was from fabled 31st street, here in Astoria.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

On Broadway, still in Astoria but on the way to Woodside, a relic of different but still earlier times rolled by – a Volkswagen Camper van. Many a hippie will offer tales of exciting exploration and disappointing travel associated with this model of vehicle. This survivor seems to live in the neighborhood, as it has been observed while parked on area side streets. There have been several “hipster” spottings by members of our little community of late, but until now we seem to have been free of “hippies.”

A worrying development.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Nearby the location of the passing VW Microbus, this outlandish roadster was racing its engine in anticipation of the changing nature of traffic signals. One congratulates at the style and panache of choosing an Italian made Ferrari, but is also dizzied by the ideation of sitting in stop and go traffic on Steinway Street in one. Cool cars, lords and ladies, Queens is full of them.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 27, 2014 at 11:00 am

lavishly laden

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Parked on my block, a childhood aspiration.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Saturday last was a challenging day, and after performing certain actions and accomplishing a few obligations one headed back to HQ back in Astoria. Upon arriving on my block, one discovered a true American relic parked on the street – a 1980 Pontiac Trans AM!

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This particular line of automobiles held a sacred place in my teenage heart, although I favored the black variant with the gold eagle on the hood made famous by Burt Reynolds in the “Smokey and the Bandit” franchise of films back then (& now).Remembrances of building more than one plastic scale model of the 1980 Trans Am over the years comes to mind.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Competition in the form of the Camaro forced a change in body design sometime later in the 1980’s, a period of time when the American auto industry first lost its way and began the process of homogenizing their lineups. In the end, the Camaro and Trans Am became nearly identical fiberglass bodied vehicles.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The late 70’s and early 80’s Trans Am’s were late in the game muscle cars, driven hard by young drivers (guys mostly), and this one looks as if its been well taken care of bit did have a whole lot of cosmetic issues. Its amazing seeing one of these at all, as this is a thirty four year old car.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in the middle 1980’s, there used to be an impromptu drag strip which drew fast cars and idiot teenagers together on a backwater street found somewhere between East New York, Starret City, and Howard Beach which is called Fountain Avenue. I used to go there occasionally, and watch a few races. It’s since been resurfaced with a series of waves to discourage the racing.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One night, some guy driving a souped up Trans Am floored the gas pedal when the flag dropped, signaling the start of the race. Spinning, his wheels produced a choking veil of smoke until the tires caught traction. It was all very dramatic. At the end of the course, which was the equivalent of about two blocks away, his rear wheels were still smoking and one had little wisps of blue flame at its base.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Illegal drag racing aside, I still want one of these cars, and the logo you see on the hood of this car is the singular image which one would consider getting as a tattoo. This logo is all hot dogs and coca cola and fried chicken and pretty girls who are wearing bikinis and cowboy hats while they’re playing baseball and some guy drinks Budweiser and smokes a Marlboro while thinking about … you get the idea.

Welcomes to Astoria, we got yer Americana, rights overs heres, bro.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 14, 2014 at 11:00 am

cities and valleys

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An awesome auto spotted in the Carridor.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

After a particularly busy week during which we only saw fleeting glimpses of each other, it was decided by Our Lady of the Pentacle that we were going to meet for an al fresco dinner at a pub in Dutch Kills. Your humble narrator was walking down Northern Blvd. – the Carridor, as I refer to it – and this cool car was observed.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It wasn’t in the best condition, notably the thing was missing wheel covers and some chrome here and there, but I’m possessed of a certain fetish for mid 1960’s Buicks. The epitome of the land yacht, these mid 60’s Buicks were impossibly huge vehicles that bore powerful engines, the epitome of mid 20th century American automobile manufacturing. They use a tremendous amount of fuel, require constant attention, and fail catastrophically. Saying that, they look great.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This is a 1965 Buick Wildcat. It sports either a 325 or 340 horsepower engine. Due to the missing chrome on the rear quarter panel, I can’t tell you if it’s the GS or “Gran Sports” model, which featured a ludicrously powerful 360 HP engine block, although the vast majority of “GS” models were produced in ’66. The Wildcat line ended manufacture in 1970, and was replaced in production by the Buick Centurion.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There are two Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

Saturday, June 28th, The Poison Cauldron
With Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, June 29th, The Insalubrious Valley
With Brooklyn Brainery, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 25, 2014 at 11:00 am

odd sense

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Here’s some of yer vibrant diversity right over dere.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Spotted this Frankenstein monster on Broadway, at the angle between Woodside and Astoria, recently. That’s an electric delivery motorcycle, although legally speaking it’s a bicycle or moped, with two supermarket shopping carts that are welded together and forming a caboose hitched to a homemade hinge on the back of the bike. Seriously speaking, the engineering of this arrangement is staggeringly competent, and this is a precise example of “American Ingenuity” parked on the sidewalk.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Friends in Manhattan, some of whom work for the City in regulatory positions, always make accusations that your humble narrator has a vivid imagination. That the circumstances and inventions witnessed on the streets of Queens, improvised by those who don’t have two pennies to rub together and which are cobbled together from available materials, cannot possibly exist. I remind them that a future president of the United States is sitting in a carriage on Roosevelt Avenue eating a Churrasco, and that her parents came here as undocumented immigrants.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There’s a Newtown Creek walking tour, and a Magic Lantern show, coming up.

Saturday, June 7th, 13 Steps around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura.
Click here for tickets and more info.

Wednesday, June 11th, Newtown Creek Magic Lantern Show with Brooklyn Brainery.
Click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 2, 2014 at 12:47 pm

recumbent head

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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

receptive ears

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Cool cars in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One found himself down by the former 5pointz in LIC, which had recently been reverse vandalized.

It’s a shame, really. 5ptz was the only thing in LIC that brought the punters and foreign tourists out from Manhattan, but LIC needs more mirror walls and luxury condos, so it had to go. This is the way of things, I guess, but it’s a crying shame and victory for the forces of blandness.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

While visiting the lamentable location, this interesting car with its hilarious vanity plate was spotted. The vehicle was a variation of a classic muscle car, although its registration sticker called it a pickup.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Sights such as this will no doubt be increasingly rare, as I saw the guy who got out of it heading towards the former 5ptz. Soon all one will see parked around here shall be Zip Cars, and tower dwellers unloading loads of big box store goods.

Luckily, vanilla ice cream can be obtained at Cosco in 50 gallon drums.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 12, 2013 at 7:30 am

sweet chariot

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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

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