I spend a lot of time driving around Raleigh, doing a variety of things. I’ve always got my phone with me, which has a 5MP digital camera integrated into it – it takes better pictures than my old Sony point and shoot! So when I see something interesting parked around Raleigh, I whip out the phone and take a few shots. Today, flipping through my pictures folder, I realize there’s a big pile of interesting stuff in there – I’ll share some of the better “spotted” shots with you all. Good, bad, pretty, ugly, rare, or fast - Let me know what you think!

This was shot inside Crabtree Mall on US70 while doing some Christmas shopping. Isn’t it sad that the first place I see the new 9-5 is inside the damn Mall? Main impressions: it’s a very attractive car, but it’s a lot larger in the flesh than you’d think from seeing pictures. It made the 9-3 Convertible behind it seem positively tiny. Argh, this lighting was whack, though.

People bought these things? This yellow shovel-nosed monstrosity is a Chevrolet SSR, if you somehow forgot. Intended as a sports-truck-car-roadster-pickup-convertible, the GMT-360 (Trailblazer) based SSR was good at absolutely nothing. It was expensive and shoddily assembled, and slower than a V6 Accord! Seeing these, even in retro-centric and pickup-obsessed America, is quite a rare site. Spotted outside Chubby’s Tacos.

You can’t see it from this angle, but there was a “For Sale – 1 Owner!” sign on this 1st-generation Toyota Avalon. Gee, only one owner? is that because no one wants a white and grey two-tone fat Camry with a fake vinyl roof and gold cross-spoke BBS wheels? Yarrrgh, awful. Spotted at my favorite Starbucks – this guy was in my parking spot, the jerk.

Whoa, is that a 323 GTX? Most people think that Mazda’s turbo subcompact game in the US started with the Mazdaspeed3 (or the MazdaSpeed Protege if they’re real nerdy), but few people know Mazda was selling a turbo 4WD rally homologation special here in the late 80′s. The 323GTX was a regular 323/Familia hatchback on top, but had permanent 4WD underneath, along with a turbocharged and intercooled 1.6L 16v I4 under the hood. There were only 132 horsepower (stock), but with a curb weight around 2,600lbs and a 5-speed, these were properly rapid cars by the standards of the time. However, with only around 1,200 imported in 1988 and 1989, it’s rare to see one at all. This one is is very rough shape – you can see a tree-shaped dent/scrape on the side, and there was a chunk of diamond-plate floorboard(?!?) welded onto the lower rocker panel, presumably for rust. It had one Sparco race seat inside, too. A large amount of GTX’s sold here went directly from the showroom to Group N Rally competition, and the others have been beaten to death. I haven’t seen one in years – this was parked outside of the LKQ Salvage yard in Durham, while I was there checking out a 900 Turbo to see if it had a decent transmission. (It didn’t, none of them do.)

It’s good to see second-generation Preludes getting some love. The period wheels and body kit suit this early 2G ‘lude quite well – it’s not modern and not ashamed. Spotted at Wake Tech, with a guest appearance on the left by a friend’s 4th-Gen Camaro Z28 with 383 stroker under the hood.

You know, perhaps a new thermostat would have been a better solution to your problem? This Dodge Caravan was sporting a busted up front end and some cardboard blocking the radiator, presumably so it’d warm up with it’s stuck-open Thermostat. Some McGuyver engineering there, boys!

What’s this grey Japanese Transportation Appliance doing out in a rare NC snow storm? Handbrake turns, that’s what. We get our fun where we can find it.

I believe Raleigh is “well preserved 928″ central. This late-model S4 was reversed into the same spot as the earlier horrible-Avalon picture. I much prefer this to be stealing my parking spot, personally. Still have a soft spot for the 928, even though I know they’re a mechanical nightmare.

Some people drive their Porsche GT3′s to the track. This guy drives his to the Coffee shop. Can you spot the hidden cameo in this picture?

“Honey, you know what I need for Christmas? A really expensive Boxster with a tent for a roof.” The commercialism of the Christmas season makes me dry heave on occasion. This was the worst example. Please remove the bow from the Boxster Spyder before someone gets hurt. Spotted in Triangle Towne Center mall, also while Christmas shopping for family.

You know, I tend to leave my twin-turbocharged drag race Viper GTS outside on a trailer when I’m not using it, either. What the hell?

Gorgeous iForged wheels, huge AP Racing brakes, tiny little “twin turbo” decal on the side…

and a drag ‘chute and foot-wide race slicks, in case you missed the point. This was parked on the side of the road in a small (although obviously affluent) neighborhood in North Raleigh. Most random car spotting ever? Perhaps!

I don’t think that was a factory paint option on the R129 500 SL, but I don’t have the brochure memorized. Glad to see some Mercedes owners have a sense of humor, although to be honest the quality on this paint job is more Maaco than Mercedes – good from far, but far from good. Bonus: that maroon (S13) 240SX next to it has a turbocharged SR20DET under the hood, and a rear diff with the spider gears welded.

This looks like your run-of-the-mill lifted Jeep (XJ) Cherokee, right? a bit of body suspension lift (thank you to reader JR for pointing out that XJ Cherokees are unit-construction, and thus cannot HAVE a body lift, I’m a noob) some chunky tires, done. Well, pop the hood.

Bam! Aluminum-head Corvette LT1 (5.7L) small-block V8, TH-400 automatic. 300+ horsepower is a good step up from the 4.0L Cherokee’s normal 190bhp, and the owner says it’s still got power steering and A/C too. He was a nutjob in the kindest sense of the word – his other project is a historic firetruck with a blown 454 under the hood. Welcome to the South, where there’s still no replacement for a Small Block Chevy V8. Even in a Mopar product! Spotted in the Advance Auto parking lot.

I actually spotted this today. If my Mercedes knowledge is solid enough, I believe this is a 1965-1969 (W108) 250S, a very early S class. Such a classy, restrained shape – why can’t Merc make cars like this today? The paint’s rough, it’s got a bunch of bumper stickers, but it’s an ancient Benz that’s still driving around like a normal car. I have to show some respect.

So awesome to see a car like this in driver status!

At first I thought this was a Ferrari 458, then I realized it wasn’t on fire. You go Raleigh! Drive your exotics!

My ideal GM Saab, just cruising through traffic: an NG900 with the robust B204 motor (pre sludge-issues), 3 door, 3 spoke wheels, turbo. I suppose only a nerd like me would take a picture of a 15 year old Vauxhall Astra.

This hardly counts as it’s sitting on the BMW dealer lot, but honesetly how many Alpina B7′s do you ever see? There’s something cool about a 500bhp BMW with a warranty, but no “M” badge. This would be a sweet car.

And finally, let’s end this spotted thread with a late-eighties Bentley 8. The “base model” as it were, it’s still cool to see something like this out driving around – with 5 people in it, no less! Talk about the perfect candidate for a Chevy ZZ572 crate motor swap. I have a sick mind.