Down On The Street (DOTS)

Buick Special Wagon

I made an effort to photograph all the old cars I see around San Francisco. My housemate’s bicycle was stolen and I was prowling around looking for it, so I thought I’d take the camera along. (Click on any image for a large format version)

My favorite car forum, Jalopnik, has a regular feature called DOTS, Down On The Street where they feature interesting street parked automobiles. Until recently, the cars were all spotted  on  Alameda, “The IslandThat Rust Forgot”, California by weekend editor, Murilee Martin. Recently, Mr. Martin moved to Denver, CO; leaving Bay Area DOTS cars without a champion. Here are all the cars I could capture in one 24 hour period.

Buick Special Wagon

Here’s beauty of an early ’60s Buick Special Wagon. There’s a meth head named Scott that lives in a camper on the other side of the street. Scott’s girlfriend, Pie, lives in a VW Bus on top of the trailer that Scott tows behind his camper. We call them the mobile homeless. I think this might be his.

Buick Special Wagon

It being unlocked, I thought I’d get a look at the interior, which has been spray painted silver from stem to stern. The original roof rack is in there, though. Could it be hiding an aluminum 215 under the hood?

Thing and Bus

Here we have a Dub Head corner. The type 181 Thing, the MicoBus… those are fine. What was of interest to me was the teardrop trailer ahead of the Bus, and the Honda Elite scooter ahead of that, which looks like it might be a parts donor for the Honda Elite scooter across the street. So interested, I forgot to take more pictures.

Morris Minor?

Here I break with the Jalopnik protocol of only featuring street parked cars, and bring you this lovely Morris Minor 1000


With the endearingly apt license plate “TOY 736″

Austin Mini 850

Back on the street and it’s a double header for England with this Austin Mini 850

Austin Mini 850

All the proper bits in all the proper places and not a spot of wax to be found, just the way a street driven classic should be.

Ford Bronco au natural

Having a soft spot for bantam weight first wave 4WD trucks, how could I pass this excellently worn in first gen Ford Bronco? Most of the right bits in nearly the right places and not a spot of paint left on the hood, just the way a classic utility vehicle should be!

Camaro and ? Plymouth?

Ah, San Francisco. Where else are you going to see a first gen Camaro parked behind a war era Ford Super Deluxe?

Jaguar and Cadillac

Why, right across the street from an early ’60s Jaguar Mark II and a war era Cadillac, of course! I’m definitely cheating, here. This is the street in front of my local antique car specialist. The rotating cast of cars around this place could keep DOTS going by itself for years. None of them are parked there overnight, and few are driven monthly, nevermind daily.

Preserved Bronco

The following morning as I returned from the coffee shop I spotted what I thought was yesterday’s Ford Bronco parked a few blocks downhill from its usual spot.

Preserved Bronco

Closer inspection revealed another stunning example of Ford’s inability to paint an automobile early Bronco tenacity. Contrast the original wheels with hubcaps, and no diamond plate reinforced rocker panels.

Cherokee Chief

Although Jeep Cherokees are quite common, this is the best example of  the ones that I’ve seen in town.

Cherokee Chief

Astute observers will note that both this Chrokee and the previous Bronco are parked just off 3rd Street. 3rd runs down the entire eastern side of San Francisco, and enjoys the warmth and sunshine gifted to SOMA, Dogpatch and Bayview by San Francisco Bay. That bald hooded Bronco wouldn’t survive a month in the foggy, soggy western districts.

Rambler Custom

Venturing once again into unknown driveways (Down Off The Street? Down On The Sidewalk?) to find a tragically neglected Rambler Custom doing service as a dumpster.

Rambler and Benz

Adding to the tragedy is the Rambler’s cellmate, a W 111 Mercedes Benz “Fintail”

Benz and Rambler

These things should be in the movies! Not on your lawn collecting garbage!

Porsche 912

Over by my landlord’s house there’s this cute Porsche 912


I missed the shot I wanted to get the other day, when the 912 was parked behind a “Diving Board Bumper” BMW, and the driveway just behind the 912 in this photo had a mid-60s Dodge Power Wagon “Town Wagon” in it.


Rounding out the day with yet another wagon, we have the Ford Pinto, just ’round the corner from the 912 and the Power Wagon. One thing I’ve noticed about San Francisco is that the town is batshit crazy about Pintos, Bobcats, Mavericks and Comets. Vegas, too, but not so much.

You would think, from the above evidence, that an English, 4WD wagon with bad paint would be the quintessential SF DOTS vehicle. You’re wrong. I once had a ‘65 Land Rover 109 (in Boston, mercifully) and you would have to pay me a lot to drive one even weekly in Sam Clam’s Disco.

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