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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

150 classic and unique cars caught on the streets of Alameda


150 Old Cars Down On Alameda's Street

DOTS_150_Postcard.jpg When I started the Down On The Street series, I'd shot a handful of cars and figured I'd be able to do a few dozen more before running out. Sure, I knew the island city of Alameda, California, had plenty of old cars parked on the street, but with a population of just 70,000 on a mere ten square miles of land, how many could there be? Well, it turns out the answer is: Plenty!


Not only have we reached car number 150, I have sufficient photos stockpiled to keep the series going for quite a while. And now I'll answer some of the questions I keep getting from readers about Down On The Street:

Q: Did you really find all these cars parked on the streets of Alameda?
A: Yes, every one of them. Sometimes we'll post photos of street-parked old/cool cars from other places, but they get the Down On The Street Bonus Edition title.

Q: Why don't you obscure the license plates in the photos?
A: These cars are parked on public property, with plates in plain view, which implies that their owners accept that the plate numbers may be seen by the general public. I've considered blurring the plates anyway, but the photos look unpleasant that way; in any case, since the state of California has anti-stalker laws that make it difficult to trace a car's owner from its plate number, it's extremely unlikely that any badness will befall the cars' owners. I don't give out exact locations, and I don't photograph cars in driveways.

Q: Are all these cars daily drivers? Many of them are. Some of them are cars that were just visiting the island (or getting some fresh air after being in a garage), and some of them rarely move from their spots. I'd say two-thirds of these cars are driven at least a few times per week.

Q: Do car owners ever get upset when they see you photographing their cars?
A: Never. I'm careful not to touch the cars or even get too close when photographing them, which is why interior shots are uncommon in this series. I've had quite a few owners come out to see what's going on; when I explain, they're usually very happy to have someone who's willing to show their car to the world. I've heard plenty of good stories from car owners while shooting DOTS photos. In at least two cases, the cars have been owned by Jalopnik readers.

Q: Why does such a small city have so many old cars parked on the street?
Good question, and one to which I have no authoritative answer. I have some theories, which are:
Weather: Alameda is an island in the San Francisco Bay, and the weather is quite mild. It doesn't snow here, and rain is very rare between April and November. This means rust isn't much of a problem. The sun isn't as harsh as in the Southwest, so upholstery and paint hold up pretty well.
Limited Off-Street Parking: Most of present-day Alameda was completely built up by the early 20th century, and the 1906 earthquake- which devastated much of the region- barely touched the island. This means most of the houses were built before cars were beyond the novelty Horseless Carriage stage, so garages aren't as common as in other cities. Many houses built in the 1910s and 1920s have semi-basement garages intended for tall, narrow cars with high clearance that can deal with a 30-degree grade. The water table is so close to the surface here that digging a deep garage requires some serious sump-pump hardware, lest you find your ride in four feet of water.
Hot Rod Tradition: Alameda has had a vibrant culture of hoons hopping up their cars since the days of the Model T, and so you have the old guys passing on the virus to the younger guys. Some of the car clubs on the island have unbroken lineages dating back to the 1920s. And that leads straight to...
The Island That Time Forgot: Alameda is a weird place, and I mean that in the best possible way. It's essentially a David Lynch movie set in a sunny California climate, among Victorian and Craftsman architecture and a small-town mentality that belies its urban grid street pattern and population density (which, in fact, is higher than San Francisco's). The island is full of old people who never cross a bridge, whose original-owner classics never drive faster than 25 and are used only for short trips to Ole's Waffles or Lee Auto Supply. It's also full of young people who start to feel that an old car just, you know, make the most sense. You never know what this town will do to you; Jim Morrison arrived on the island as a wholesome Navy kid, and by the time he departed for LA he'd become a dopefiend weirdo poet.

OK, let's take a look at the cars! They're arranged in chronological order according to manufacture date, from 1937 to 1988; click on the text below a photo to see that vehicle's complete post.


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1937 Cadillac V8



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1939 Chevrolet Master Deluxe Coupe



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1945 Ford GPW Jeep



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1947 Plymouth



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1950 Dodge Pickup



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1950 Ford Pickup



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1950 Plymouth DeLuxe



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1950 Pontiac Chieftan



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1953 GMC Pickup



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1951 Dodge M43 Ambulance



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1952 Dodge



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1953 Packard Cavalier



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1954 Chevrolet 210



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1954 Ford Mainline



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1955 Plymouth Savoy



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1956 Willys Jeep Station Wagon



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1956 Volkswagen Transporter



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1957 Cadillac Sedan de Ville



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1957 Chevrolet Station Wagon



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1957 Chrysler New Yorker



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1957 Pontiac Star Chief



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1957 Volkswagen Transporter



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1959 Morris Minor



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1959 Volkswagen Beetle



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1960 Cadillac Sixty-Two Coupe



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1960 Chevrolet Bel Air



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1960 Studebaker Lark



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1961 Ford Thunderbird



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1961 Rambler American



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1961 Morris 850 (Mini)



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1962 Chrysler New Yorker



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1962 Volkswagen Flatbed Truck



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1962 Corvair 95



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1961 Plymouth Valiant



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1963 Chevrolet Nova



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1963 Ford Falcon Futura



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1963 GMC Suburban



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1963 Volkswagen Transporter



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1964 Dodge Dart



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1964 Checker Marathon



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1964 Oldsmobile Jetstar 88



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1964 Volkswagen Beetle



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1964 Studebaker Avanti



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1965 Chevrolet Impala SS



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1965 Chevrolet Impala



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1965 Dodge D100



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1965 Ford Country Squire



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1965 Ford Econoline Pickup



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1965 Ford Mustang



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1965 GMC Pickup



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1965 Mercedes-Benz 220SE



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1965 Pontiac Bonneville



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1965 Rambler American 220



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1966 Datsun 411



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1966 Lancia Fulvia



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1966 Mercedes-Benz 200D



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1966 Volkswagen Beetle



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1966 Volvo Amazon



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1967 Porsche 912



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1967 Volkswagen Transporter



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1968 Ford Fairlane 500



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1968 Ford Mustang



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1968 Ford Ranchero



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1968 Plymouth Belvedere Wagon



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1968 Pontiac GTO



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1968 Volvo P1800



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1969 AMC Ambassador SST Station Wagon



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1969 Cadillac Calais



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1969 Chevrolet Chevelle



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1969 Chevrolet Chevelle Nomad Station Wagon



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1969 Datsun Sports



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1969 Dodge Dart GT



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1969 Ford Econoline



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1969 Lincoln Continental



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1969 MG MGC-GT



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1969 Volkswagen Beetle



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1969 Volvo 144S



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1970 Chevrolet Impala



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1970 Chevrolet Nova



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1970 Ford LTD



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1970 Chevrolet Wagon



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1970 Puma GT



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1970 Volvo 164



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1970 Porsche 914



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1971 Buick LeSabre



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1971 Chrysler Newport



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1971 Datsun 240Z



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1971 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia



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1971 GMC 1500



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1971 Plymouth Satellite



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1971 Plymouth Valiant



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1971 Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser



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1972 Mercury Monterey



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1972 Chevrolet El Camino



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1972 Mercedes-Benz 280SEL



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1972 Steyr Pinzgauer



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1972 BMW 2002tii



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1973 Chevrolet Caprice Wagon



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1973 Corvette Stingray



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1973 BMW 3.0CSi



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1973 Capri



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1973 Datsun 610



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1973 Ford Courier



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1973 Mercury Cougar



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1973 Plymouth Scamp



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1973 Volkswagen Thing



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1973 Pontiac Grand Am



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1973 Volkswagen Squareback



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1974 Ford Torino



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1974 Plymouth Satellite



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1974 Porsche 911 Targa



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1975 Datsun B210



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1975 Unimog 404S



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1975 Pontiac Grand LeMans



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1976 AMC Pacer X



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1976 Buick Skyhawk



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1976 Ford Mustang



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1976 Honda Civic



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1977 Chevrolet Camaro



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1977 Lincoln Continental



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1977 Oldsmobile Wagon



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1977 Plymouth Volare



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1977 Toyota Celica



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1977 Toyota Celica



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1978 Cadillac Eldorado



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1978 Chevrolet Camaro



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1978 Dodge Colt



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1978 Dodge Colt Wagon



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1978 Honda Civic



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1978 Jaguar XJ-6



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1978 Pontiac Trans Am



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1979 Datsun Pickup



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1979 Ford Ranchero



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1979 Mercedes-Benz 300SD



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1979 Porsche 911SC



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1980 International Harvester Scout



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1980 Porsche 911SC



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1981 Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel Pickup



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1981 Mazda RX-7



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1981 Datsun 210



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1984 Porsche 928



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1985 Peugeot 505STI



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1985 Volkswagen Quantum



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1986 Toyota Corolla GT-S



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1987 BMW L6



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1987 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon



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1987 Merkur XR4Ti



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1988 CMC Gazelle



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1988 Renault Medallion



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