Mitsubishi Galant (Fifth Generation, 1988-90)
In the scramble for Japanese dominance of the US automotive market in the late 1980’s, I always feel like Mitsubishi is forgotten about. Tangled up in the DSM joint venture, it seems like there are less Galants of this era out there than say, Cressidas, Accords, or even Datsun 810s.
This 5th generation was short lived, being replaced by the much more popular 6th gen, which was oddly sold alongside this model for two of its three model years. To me, it seems like this car must have been a stopgap, since it’s actually just a rebadged Sapporo; the most luxurious of Mitusbishi’s offerings overseas. That being said, it’s really less of a Galant and more so the beginnings for the more prestigious Diamante.
Regardless of what it was, my opinion is that it became like many of Mitsubishi’s US offerings, a well appointed, comfortable third party candidate.
Seen in SE Portland
Volvo 144 (1966-74, this is a ‘73-74)
Strange to think that the thoroughly modern 144 was first introduced way back in 1966, when the Amazon and PV Series were still rolling off the line, but that’s just the way Volvo works; the 240 Series ran well past its expiration date as well, produced alongside cars meant to replace them.
Good friends of mine have owned various 144 and 145s and there’s much to love about them. There is the emergency brake between the driver seat and the door in anticipation of a bench seat that never was developed, or the fact that you shifted through the first four gears using the floor mounted gearshift, but overdrive was engaged via a small column shift lever. Strange, but awesome.
Outside there is that long elegant grille that I wish was still a Volvo design cue, and that little stylized “V” trim on the C-pillar. Lastly there’s that fuel injection system which despite having it explained several times, is still a mystery to me.
Seen in NE Portland
Subaru XT Turbo (1985-87)
Probably one of the most bizzare Subarus to make it to the US (even more so than the SVX, I’d say), the XT is one unique car. First and foremost the shape. The exterior’s wedge-like shape is definitely dated, but must have been great for aerodynamics, with designers going so far as to create flaps to seal the door handles.
Inside it was essentially an Atari on wheels with an asymmetric steering wheel, fighter jet inspired shifter and if you opted for the digital display you were essentially playing Pole Position as you drove.
Couple that to a turbocharged flat four, adjustable suspension and optional four-wheel drive and you have a spec sheet that no other manufacturer could come close to, even today.
Seen in the N. Portland neighborhood of St, Johns
First Generation Ford Falcon 2-Door Station Wagon (1960-63)
There are few automobile configurations as perplexing to me as the two-door station wagon. How frustrating must it be to have all of that storage and passenger carrying capacity, yet make it so hard to access it by removing two of the side doors.
Don’t get me wrong, I find it quite attractive. Perhaps they were popular with the dads not yet ready to look like they dove head on into a family cruiser. Or the hobbyist woodworker that didn’t quite need a truck, choosing the wagon for its enclosed storage area. Or maybe it was driven off the lot simply because four doors tend to clutter any design.
Regardless, this Falcon stirs up nostalgia for a time in which I never lived. A time when it was actually possible to make a business case for a two-door wagon. A time when a little bit of irrationality was what made things cool.
Seen in the N Portland neighborhood of St. Johns
Jaguar XJ-S V-12 (1975-80)
This beautiful red 2+2 was presented as the successor of the vaunted E-Type, and it’s understandable how hard those shoes were to fill. Criticized for poor fuel economy during the oil crisis, wrongfully accused of dangerous blindspots, and generally dismissed as the rightful heir to the E-type’s throne, it certainly had its work cut out for it.
As a grand tourer, though, the XJ-S scored high on all marks, and today it truly does look beautiful (though the owner has taken some liberties with wheel and tire choice). An E-type it is not, but when cruising some lonely stretch of road at 145 mph with three of your closest friends, does that really matter?
Seen in NE Portland
Diamond T 201 Pickup Truck (1938-49)
Until now I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of these in person, though if I did I’d probably have mistaken it for any other WWII era truck. A closer look reveals a lot more though. This is one heavy duty truck with a great reputation.
Based out of Chicago, Diamond T was primarily a truck manufacturer, and a great one at that. The T 201 was regarded as one of the smoothest most comfortable truck available, with a ride comparable to luxury cars of the era. The companies founder, Charles Tilt, borrowed styling cues from these cars as well, creating what is possibly the worlds first luxury truck (though this one is missing the full chrome wheel covers)
While it’s exaggerated proportions may come across as cartoonish now, among its peers it seems this was the king of trucks.
Seen in NE Portland
Dodge D-50 (1979-80)
Featuring arguably the best paint job ever, the D-50 is one of the many DSM models that have fallen into obscurity. Was it rust? Performance? Aesthetic? The latter I find hard to believe since it had a modern interior, sun roof, roll-bar…and did I mention the sweet paint job?
Regardless of sales volume and performance (which I am sure was lacking) this D-50 made me smile. The world needs more compact pickups; though what could be considered the modern D-50 was an utter failure, let’s hope someone can pick up the slack.
Seen in NW Portland.
Saab 96 (1960-80)
Covered extensively on this site, the 96 is the design that built Saab’s legacy. While this one has been “restored” (maybe mask the radiator and sand between coats?) it looks better than most I’ve seen around here.
Infinitely more interesting than it’s contemporaries, the V4, freewheeling clutch and unique proportions help it live up to the Saab reputation; a welcome sight among the swarm of Type 1s in the neighborhood.
Seen in NE Portland.
Chevrolet Chevy II (First Generation, 1962-65)
One of the quickest design-to-production timelines ever (18 months!) the Chevy II was built with the sole purpose of drawing sales from the extremely popular Ford Falcon.
While the executives at GM may have seen it as intentionally thrifty, it happens to be one of my favorite cars from the General, as it’s beauty is defined by simplicity, something most car companies have trouble accomplishing today.
Seen in NE Portland
Mercedes Benz 450 SL Convertible (Third Generation 1973-80)
This Brilliant Red convertible is one of my favorite executions of the Third Generation car. The first SL to carry a V8, the early designs managed to hold on to many of the styling cues of the second generation; the always classy color-keyed wheels, and though they’re a bit oddly packaged, the double round headlights are one of my favorites..
Granted, the oversize bumpers and dated driving lights give away that this car is a product of the ’70s, but it retains enough charm to keep it in high praise on my list. I still look at this era and wonder just how the designers at Mercedes were able to evoke the stately presence of an S-Class in the shape of a nimble convertible.
Seen in NW Portland
Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Coupe (1954-65)
The first of a long line of Giulietta models spanning 11 years, the Sprint Coupe is the most recognizable configuration; it’s Bertone styling predating a long line of admirers with names like 2002, 1500 and 510. This one looks to be an earlier model, as post 1959 models had their fuel door on the right hand rear quarter panel.
It’s not too often you come across something so beautiful just parked on the street (granted it was near the start of the Monte Shelton rally). Tough I can’t say if it’s all original this one was museum quality, down to the manufacturer stickers on the wheels- Beautiful.
Seen in SW Portland
Jaguar E-Type (XK-E, Series II, 1969-71)
While not a true street find this Jaguar was too good to pass up. The XK-E is the absolute icon of 1960’s British sports cars, and its all too obvious why.
The extremely long hood conceals a large 4.2L triple carbureted inline six resulting in dramatic proportions. Moving to the rear the passenger compartment ends in the most graceful hatchback ever conceived; the hatch gracefully swings to the left, not up.
While the Series II had many modifications that kept it current with the technology of the day, many purists would chide it for not keeping some of the more simplistic elements intact. Personally, a Series II or Series I, it’s one of the most beautiful machines to make it out of Coventry.
Seen at the Monte Shelton Classic Car Rally, SW Portland
Series II Alfa Romeo Spider (1970-83)
A beautiful example of the classic Spider in something other than bright red. I believe this green-leaning hue is actually called Canary Yellow, and I would say it suits it quite nicely.
Though the previous generation had a more elegant rear end, the simple lines penned by the design staff at Pininfarina still hold up; especially because this particular model was able to avoid the extra-large bumpers. Inside, a distinctly Italian interior with real wood accents and large binnacle cluster attempt to make you forget the ’70s and connect to the better days (though the cracked plastic dash makes it pretty hard to do so).
Though I’ll never own one, I find myself getting strangely attracted to such impracticality. Maybe I’m getting old.
Parked next to one of my previous posts in NW Portland.
Subaru L-Series 3-Door Hatchback Coupe (Third Generation 1984-94)
Subaru- they give you one when you move here. I exaggerate, but I’d say that it’s not too far off. Happily, this one rises above Portland’s usual suspects.
Rarer than it’s sedan and wagon siblings, the hatch has a clean, angular design and an adjustable suspension height that gives it an athletic stance. And while it doesn’t share any of are the insane shapes of it’s XT counterpart, the sweet digital dash was still an option. I would say even though it’s less practical, this would be my L-Series of choice, it has so much more character than the others.
Seen in NW Portland
1951 MG TD (1950-53)
This bright red TD caught my attention enough to stop in the noon heat to get a few pictures. One of 30,000 examples, the TD was by far MG’s most successful roadster. This one in bright red is the best Iv’e ever seen outside of museums and car shows. So simple and pared down, the TD doesn’t even have a fuel gauge, just a warning light that illuminates when you have a gallon or so left in the tank.
Seen in NW Portland