Welcome to Little Car in the Big City, where I highlight fascinating cars I found walking around a town that is known for being bigger than everything else, but where every car is fighting to stand out: New York, New York.
Enthusiasts can argue, boringly, until the end of days about what defines a "classic." Is it age? If so, what age? 25 years? If it's 25 years, then is a car like a 1994 BMW 8-series not a classic? Or an Acura NSX? Surely those are considered classics already.
But what about other, more boring cars? The Oldsmobile Delta 88 Diesel, while older than 25 years, is definitely not a classic. Interesting, yes, but in the same way that Boy George's career trajectory is interesting. A potential for real brilliance in the 1980s, and it was possibly even a necessity. Oh, and there's a false imprisonment conviction somewhere along the way, and that's always fun. But if the Boy George episode of Behind the Music came on TV, I might keep flipping channels. I'm sure it's amazing to Boy George and his diehard fans, just like the Oldsmobile Delta 88 Diesel is a classic to somebody, but it's not beloved.
(Karma Chameleon, as just one song in its own right, on the other hand, is very beloved.)
I'm going to go ahead and define a classic car very loosely, and you're free to argue with me in the comments. My definition is thus:
A classic car is any automobile that transports you back to a time, and potentially even a place, distinct from the present, and it doesn't make you totally hate yourself.
The Oldsmobile Delta 88 Diesel, then, is not a classic, with its awful, disgusting, underpowered engine. It might take you back to 1981 alright, but not in a good way.
This 1978 Toyota Corona, on the other hand, does meet that definition.
It's in near-as-makes-no-difference immaculate condition for a car in New York that's been around since 1978, a true survivor. The styling is all there, even in the quad-headlight surrounds.
And, oh yeah, wagon. Can't beat that.
It comes from an era when cars were still pretty light without even trying too hard, and in 1978, it came with one of the first fuel-injected engines ever offered by Toyota in the US. And over time, it's aged well, much like other cars of the era like the Datsun 510.
That's not to say it's the best classic of them all, mind you, but it still makes you stop and admire for a second.
And that's not so bad.
UPDATE: This post originally said it was a Cressida, not a Corona. It's a Corona. My bad.