RustyButTrusty on the Street – Mopars, Checkers and More

It’s well past time to return to a sometimes neglected series here at RustyButTrusty – the On The Street series, where classic cars in (regular?) use are featured. Let’s start with a very practical classic (sic), the 1964 Dodge Dart GT. This picture dates back to last fall, but this car was a regular customer at one of the commuter lots in the West Oakland BART station, so you know it was someone’s driver. Pale gold is a great 1960s color, and the best Darts of this generation are the early wide-eyed models. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell if this is the poverty slant six or the top end V8 – about an 80hp difference – but for a commuter car it doesn’t matter too much.


This next car was also on the streets of San Francisco – it looks to be a 1962 Dodge 880 wagon, though corrections are appreciated. It’s cool to see a base-spec car out there, since as with the patrol car featured today, they tended to get used up and thrown away. The metallic color is nice for a car of this age, though the white paint on the roof is probably making up for excessive fading from the California sun.


Next up is a real flashback for anyone over the age of 30 – a Checker Marathon cab, still in service. This is probably the cab that runs out of Marin county, just north of San Francisco, and primarily serves tourists. It’s not quite regular use, but still earning its keep as a daily driven commercial vehicle. Squint your eyes and it could be 1985.


This 1968 Dodge Coronet looks to have been sitting here since about 1970. But while most cars would look better with a cleaning, this one should stay just the way it is – that’s a good crust of about 40 years of San Francisco environmental history on there. Remarkably, there is also a wagon version in similar condition regularly parked there, and both look to be in driver condition.


Moving out of San Francisco, here’s a Checker Marathon in Vancouver, WA. Not surprisingly, it’s outside of a store selling beer brewing supplies. When these are actually out and about, they’re easy to spot in spite of their age, due to the 1950s shape. This is likely a late production car with the Chevrolet bits to make up for things Checker could no longer efficiently produce themselves.


Next up is this mid-1980s Dodge Colt sedan. It was a pretty unspectacular car in its time, but this looks to be a pretty loaded version, with alloy wheels, a trunk rack (why? trying to evoke sixties sports cars?), and spiffy gold paint. Most have died and gone to purgatory, so it’s nice to see one out on the road.


On the streets of Portland, this 1951 Chevrolet Advance Design van is still working away, far beyond its intended lifespan. Built from 1947-1955, they were offered with inline-six engines of various displacements, though it wouldn’t be surprising if this one had received the ubiquitous small-block upgrade. If this looks familiar and you’re under 50, check out the Chevrolet HHR.


Finally, a visit to San Francisco netted this unusual, never-could-this-happen-anywhere-else shot – a 1979 Alfa Romeo Alfetta GT parked together with a completely unrelated Morris Minor convertible and Mercedes W123 sedan. The Minor was in good driver condition, and it’s a nice counterpoint to the (still) fairly ubiquitous Beetles. The W123 was, well, still alive, and probably showing 200,000 miles, give or take a hundred thousand. These and Volvo 240s will outlive nuclear war and the cockroach.



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