The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Cool cars

abnormal gaps

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Cool cars, Bushwick East Williamsburg edition.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One was happily scuttling along recently, on his way to conduct a tour of the “Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek,” when a charming old rust bucket was encountered on Grand Street not too far from the centuried swing bridge named for it. Unlike other “cool cars,” described at this – your Newtown Pentacle – I’m unable to describe make, model, year, or engine type as frankly – there wasn’t enough left of the thing to do so.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I can tell you that it was a short bus, and that it still had an engine. It was missing a radiator and all the other parts which would attach around the engine, including the front end’s entire outer body.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were four tires on the thing, so that’s something. Additionally, inside the relatively intact passenger cabin, there seemed to be quite a few bits and bobs being stored. Looks like a handyman special to me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just on the other side of the Newtown Creek in Maspeth – where Grand Street transmogrifies into Grand Avenue upon leaving Brooklyn and entering Queens – the short bus’s owner could probably find all the help he or she needs with the project at the MTA’s Grand Avenue depot.

A 600,000 square foot facility that’s four stories tall, the Grand Avenue depot can store 200 city buses at one time just on the first floor. It’s the second floor that would come in handy for the short bus’s owner, as one of the 27 maintenance bays up there would be just the thing to getting this “cool car” up and running again.

Upcoming Events and Tours

Tuesday, July 12, 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. –
LICHenge, with Atlas Obscura and the
Hunters Point Park Conservancy. Click here for more details.

Saturday, July 16, 11:15 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. –
FREE Newtown Creek Boat Tour,
with Waterfront Alliance (note- WA usually releases tix in batches).
Click here for more details.

Saturday, July 23, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
Calvary Cemetery Walking tour,
with Brooklyn Brainery. Click here for more details.

Tuesday, July 26, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. –
Glittering Realms Walking tour,
with NYC H2O. Click here for more details.

Wednesday, July 27, 1st trip – 4:50 p.m. 2nd trip – 6:50 p.m. –
2 Newtown Creek Boat Tours,
with Open House NY. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 12, 2016 at 11:00 am

swoopingly through

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Cool cars, Astoria/Woodside edition.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Gangster! Spotted this late model parked along Newtown Road near its intersection with Northern Blvd. recently. It’s registration sticker says it’s a 1960 Buick Four Door Sedan, and I do believe that it’s actually a 1960 LeSabre.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I dig the way the body styling above the head lamps makes it look angry. When you’re talking about a 1960 Buick, you should be using slang like “dig,” by the way.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The car wasn’t exactly “cherry,” as it had some body issues and was missing its proper wheel covers and more than a little bit of its chrome, but there’s a body shop on the corner of Northern which often has “cool cars” flowing through its lot so I suspect that this was one of theirs and that it was going to be receiving some love and attention.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a giant 8 cylinder engine under the hood of this auto, incidentally. If you’ve never driven a 1960’s Buick, I feel sorry for you, as you have no idea what real acceleration feels like.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This “cool car,” lords and ladies, caused a humble narrator to say out loud “me want.”

Of course, you’d be dropping half a tank of gas to get from one corner to the next, due to that giant 8 cylinder engine. It’s also from the “unsafe at any speed” era, so it’s likely that bumping into another car while parking might decapitate you, but…

Upcoming Events and Tours

Thursday, June 30, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. –
Port Elizabeth Newark Boat Tour,
with Working Harbor Committee. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 28, 2016 at 1:00 pm

shivered that

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Cool cars, Hunters Point edition.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While marching up LIC’s 54th avenue recently, one encountered a fairly atypical vehicle parked in front of the WNBC building. A humble narrator knows little about the world of car racing – never been a NASCAR or stock racing guy – but this Ford Mustang was highly modified and covered in sponsor logos. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The hood scoop, in particular, had logos from several major car brands adorning it. The good news is that there were also chromium skulls on the dashboard, as you can sort of make out in the shot above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You absolutely never know what you’re going to encounter when walking the streets surrounding the fabulous Newtown Creek, which is the central artery of the Newtown Pentacle.

Upcoming Events and Tours

Saturday, June 25, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek,
with Brooklyn Brainery. Click here for more details.

Sunday, June 26, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –
Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour,
with Atlas Obscura. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 16, 2016 at 11:00 am

pertinent assertions

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Cool Cars, Greenpoint edition.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Spotted a nifty set of wheels on Norman Avenue not long ago, which are attached to what I believe to be a 1949 Chrysler New Yorker. The body of the car wasn’t in the best shape, but then again, I hope I look this good and will still be street worthy when I’m sixty seven.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There was a giant engine under the hood in these old New Yorkers, a 323.5-cid straight eight. It’s a fairly huge car as well, with a nearly eleven foot long wheelbase.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The old thing had obviously seen many of her old parts replaced by makeshift specimens. There were quite a few bits of missing trim and other flare, but this car definitely looked drivable.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This car has a semi automatic transmission, which was a selling point. Cool dash as well.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The cross bar just below the license plate is engraved with “fluid drive,” which is what Chrysler branded the semi automatic transmission in the 1949 New Yorker as.

Upcoming Events and Tours

Saturday, May 21st at 3:30 p.m. –
A Return to The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek,
with Atlas Obscura, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Click here for more details.

Thursday, May 26th at 6 p.m. –
Brooklyn Waterfront: Past & Present Boat Tour,
with Working Harbor Committee. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 12, 2016 at 11:00 am

other metals

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Cool Cars of Astoria, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One recent afternoon, my pal Larry and I decided to walk our cameras around the neighborhood. Our entirely random path found us heading towards the forbidden north coast of Queens, and after taking in the recently refreshed murals at Welling Court, we continued on in the direction of Old Astoria. That’s when I spotted this 1962 Ford Falcon two door sedan which was bathing in the powerful afternoon illuminations of the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself.

Cool Cars indeed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The early sixties were a time when American cars were getting bigger and bigger, and imports from Japan and Germany were getting smaller and smaller. It’s also a time when many families were thinking about acquiring a second car, and the Ford motor company decided to get ahead of the game by introducing a compact. Their marketing was geared towards the stay at home suburban mom after research revealed that the ladies found the land yachts common to that era were just too cumbersome for their needs.

Data was all that mattered to the Ford executive who created and ran the Falcon enterprise, Robert McNamara. McNamara is the same fellow who would eventually become the United States Secretary of Defense and coin endearing concepts like “acceptable losses” regarding the possibility of nuclear war, and is the fellow that designed the strategic bombing program for the Viet Nam theater of operations.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Ford Falcon was produced between 1960 and 1970, and the design of the thing had budget and economy of scale in mind. The factory used parts and systems which were already being manufactured for other models to keep costs low. Back in the 50’s and 60’s it was common practice to design automobiles with an entirely unique series of parts and components, rather than utilizing the modern practice of modularity which dictates that a single carburetor or muffler could be installed in several different models or lines. McNamara was a data guy, a “bean counter” as it was known at the time. He would end up being the President of Ford before jumping over to the Government posts for which he is justly infamous, and for which he evinced great regret in his dotage.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Falcon was a success for Ford, and versions of the line were produced internationally – there’s a somewhat famous Australian variant which customized and used for competitive racing. The 1962 model pictured in today’s post was a product of American manufacture, and the specimen encountered here in Astoria was in pretty good shape all things considered. This thing is older than me, but my pal Larry had a few years seniority on it. Larry is holding up pretty well himself, but occasionally has engine trouble and is worried about his struts and suspension but that’s another story.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When conversing with “Astoria Lifers” the early sixties are often referred to as a golden era here in Queens and seeing these cool cars persist in situ is a particular joy to them. For those of you “youngins” who have never driven a 1960’s American car, I cannot describe the thrill of having the massive horsepower respond to your commands. I know you’ll miss your Bluetooth stereo and seat belts, or the entire concept of being able to walk away from a wreck intact, but wow – when these old cars start up – it is exhilarating.

The Falcon, according to Ford’s corporate propaganda at the time, could do around 30mpg in terms of fuel efficiency. It was powered by a six cylinder 101 HP engine, and could seat six. There were a lot of variants available at the time – station wagons and four door sedans as well as a sort of van. The station wagons were available with those faux wood vinyl stickers on the doors and fenders, btw.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 22, 2015 at 12:30 pm

attempt at

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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 5 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

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