New York is hardly the car spotter's paradise that is Los Angeles even on a bad day, but it's full of individualists who express themselves in all sorts of ways, including in their sets of wheels. These shots were all taken in the East Village over a recent three-day stay. I was blown away by the cool old metal I encountered. Let's dive right in...

'65 barracudaYes, that certainly is a 1965 Plymouth Barracuda with Cragar mag wheels and something close to Plum Crazy paint. The early Barracudas were closely based on the Valiant of the period, and this one had some rust bubbling but was otherwise fairly intact. (Photo: Jim Motavalli)

MGBThis early chrome-bumper MGB (circa '67 or so) looks good from a distance, but up close gave every indication it had been in the city for a while (despite Georgia plates). The yellow paint was two-tone, though not intentionally. (Photo: Jim Motavalli)

1968 Dodge Dart GTSA real rarity is this 1968 Dodge Dart GTS. It was truly ragged but right. In the driver's seat was a large stuffed penguin, and on the passenger's side was an owl. Were the birds there to deter defecating pigeons? (Photo: Jim Motavalli)

1961 Ford F100This beautiful old truck is a 1961 Ford F100. Still proudly hauling cargo around the bohemian quarter. (Photo: Jim Motavalli)

1973 bmw 3.0 cs More likely encountered at a high-end car show is this 1973 BMW 3.0 CS automatic. They're highly collectible now, but this example was dented, rusted and generally abused, though it looked like a runner. The bumper guard wasn't really doing its job. (Photo: Jim Motavalli)

Toyota MR2What we have here is an early Toyota MR2, a great example of the first series from 1984 to 1989. Later ones are too upmarket for me. The MR2 is a fine NYC car — easy to park! (Photo: Jim Motavalli)

1971 Dodge motor home"Old Flat Top" is a 1971 Dodge motor home, with some lovely homemade decorations--and taking up half a city block. (Photo: Jim Motavalli)

GM art truckAn old GM van of indeterminate age was a big canvas for some would-be successor to big-bucks graffiti artist Basquiat. Art cars are very in now. (Photo: Jim Motavalli)

Rent is Too Damn HighNot an old car, but a distinctive one. The "Rent is Too Damn High" guy, Jimmy McMillan, has been touring around the city as a conquering celebrity. On his website, you can buy mugs and T-shirts, but perhaps his moment has passed? (Photo: Jim Motavalli)

New York traffic carThey use Toyota Priuses for everything in Manhattan — taxis, police cars and this traffic vehicle. It's about to ruin somebody's day, because getting towed away in New York is no picnic. (Photo: Jim Motavalli)

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Jim Motavalli ( @jmotavalli ) writes about cars, technology and the environmental world to anyone curious enough to ask.

Car spotting on the streets of New York
The city is tough on cars, but these old-timers survive.