Illustration for article titled This Ford Aerostar Is A Stick-Shift SoCal Survivor
Photo: Max Finkel / Jalopnik

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Its a motto for countless local haunts around the country, from hot dog stands to ice cream parlors to shisha bars. When customers know why they come, there’s no reason to change tradition. Or get a new van.

Welcome to Little Car in the Big City, where we highlight fascinating cars we 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. Los Angeles, California.

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Sitting here in Westwood, not far from UCLA, is a van that has been around the block a few times. This short-wheelbase Ford Aerostar is clearly associated with an Egyptian restaurant called the Habibi Cafe, which, according to Instagram, is “world-famous” and quite the celebrity hangout (I don’t know for sure, I didn’t eat there, but I do love Egyptian food). But it looks like the place is a long-time fixture in one of the city’s more neighborhood-y neighborhoods, defiantly surviving amidst the onslaught of chains and franchises, much like the van itself.

Illustration for article titled This Ford Aerostar Is A Stick-Shift SoCal Survivor
Photo: Max Finkel / Jalopnik

Though I’m no expert, this van appears to be an earlier model based on what I can tell from the Curbside Classic article but the Southern California climate (and no-doubt a careful owner) has kept this Aerostar looking pretty fresh after what could be more than thirty years on L.A.’s notoriously tough roads. With those dog-dish hubcaps over steelies and the hand-painted graphics, it’s an artifact from another West L.A., one before Matcha and MedMen and Tesla Model Es.

Illustration for article titled This Ford Aerostar Is A Stick-Shift SoCal Survivor
Photo: Max Finkel / Jalopnik
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Uniquely, this van doesn’t have the column-shifted auto that most Aerostars had. Nope, there’s a floor-mounted manual in here sending power to the rear live axle. I’m not sure I’d love that sitting on the 405, the 110, or the 101 (did I do that right, Angelenos?), but it’s probably at least tolerable on the back streets. After all, it’s an Aerostar, the late premier van about town in the late ‘80s.

Illustration for article titled This Ford Aerostar Is A Stick-Shift SoCal Survivor
Photo: Max Finkel / Jalopnik
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I love how Los Angeles (and honestly every other part of Califonia I’ve seen) seems to keep cars like this in the loop. Sure, I’ve been able to show you some pretty fun stuff in New York, but it’s hard to beat car-spotting in California. This is the only one I managed to capture in a full set of shots to post, but if you’ve been, you know what I’m talking about. The Good Cars are everywhere In L.A. It’s amazing.

Max Finkel is a Weekend Contributor at Jalopnik.

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