Remember the Skylark? It kind of got lost over the last thirty-odd years of collector- and muscle-car mania, with Chevelle SSs and Pontiac GTOs hogging all the glory. Heck, even Oldsmobile has gotten more press with the 442, and the Vista Cruiser is even today relatively fresh in people’s minds, thanks to That ’70s Show. But what about Buick? I’m glad you asked…
Naturally, Buick was the flashiest and finest of the midsizers, with its premium reputation. And while the GS and later wild GSX are better known, the rest of the Buick bunch seem to be notably absent at shows and cruise nights these days.
Has this website been playing hard to get for you? The answer is simple, albeit annoying: This site isn’t hosted on The Clown. I use a real “bare metal” physical server, hosted off the backbone in one of those rooms filled with endless server racks. My provider decided to close one of their locations and move the server image from the East Coast to Texas. I was told that this would be a short process, and it was. They even promised I could keep the same IP address. I suspected this would be a hassle, and it was. Twenty years ago, when your humble author first put computers on the public Internet, the routing tables were much simpler than they are now, and they were much better-known by the various bits of hardware between Points A and B. Nowadays, getting a single IP moved across the country had some serious FUBAR potential. Much of that was realized. In my case, I could browse my website via T-Mobile’s network before Verizon’s, and Verizon’s before my own fiber connection at home.
As long as we are Housekeeping… a few notes. I was in Asia for two of the past three weeks, and I have plenty of stories to tell. I’m riding, and enjoying, a great new dirt-jumper bike, about which I’ve previously written. The above photo doesn’t look like much but for a mildly crippled and way-past-mildly-overweight 47-year-old it’s quite difficult, which speaks to the excellence of my Ordnance frame and the various USA-made parts in its construction, particularly the Velocity USA rims.
Last but not least, I’d like to congratulate my son for being named the Powerade Rider Of The Week at Camp Woodward. He destroyed a $400 titanium-spoked wheel on Day Two of his experience, courtesy of a risky pass in a practice race, but he borrowed a bike and managed to demonstrate both first-rate skills and exceptional dedication to task. Not bad for a ten-year-old who had never spent a night away from his family before. The great people at Powers Bike Shop had him back on a proper hoop within 48 hours.
Now that the site is up and running again, we will be putting up some great work from our usual suspects. Thank you for your patience, and for your readership.
1969 was the final year for the classic ’60s Continental. Only gradual changes had been made to the car since its 1961 debut, and the center-opening doors lasted nine model years, before giving way to a larger, all-new Continental for 1970. So many cars changed drastically between 1961 and 1969, style-wise, but not the Continental. Even in its last year, it was smooth, elegant and impressive.
It’s the most expensive city in the world, and it can feel a little straitlaced to an American, but if I had the means to live anywhere Singapore would be at, or near, the top of my list. Danger Girl and I spent the last two weeks in Asia taking part in the EVO Enduro from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Phuket Island, Thailand and we took a couple of decompression days at the Marina Bay Sands to wind the whole thing up. It wasn’t super-cheap, and we didn’t have any friendly automakers to foot the bill for it, but I have no regrets.
Singapore is squeaky-clean and completely safe. It’s one of the least corrupt countries in the world, which feels like a breath of fresh air after watching Jeffrey Epstein “commit suicide” in a closely-observed prison cell. Incidentally, the Epstein murder is probably an all-time low point in the history of American governance, regardless of whether you think he was killed by Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, or Ehud Barak. It is also a damning indictment of the media which tells us that everything is a “conspiracy theory”. This guy had a private pedophile island and somehow he was able to get Bill Clinton to dismiss his Secret Service protection so the two of them could… play Magic:The Gathering? How far-fetched does “PizzaGate” seem right now? What about the Vince Foster and Seth Rich stuff? Is there any “conspiracy theory” out there that is more outrageous than what actually happened in and around Epstein’s circle of friends?
For Chrysler, just getting up off the canvas after the “plucked chicken” fiasco of 1962 was hard enough without Ford doing something crazy by dropping its Mustang bombshell on the market. What’s more, the personal-luxury coupe market was heating up by the day. So what was a beleaguered Chrysler to do? Fake it, that’s what. And do so with a memorable and venerable name.
The earliest Charger I remember (at least referring to something other than a hay-consuming equine) is this car, which a sporting band of Chrysler engineers campaigned on the drag strip. This car was the “High and Mighty” (actually a ’49 Plymouth). According to Alpar, it existed as seen above into late 1958. The original 354 truck engine, fitted with 392 heads, eventually gave way to an all-392 Hemi. Obviously, the car sacrificed aerodynamics on the altar of weight transfer and traction.
Here it is, the last ‘big’ AMC car. The Matador. Technically a midsize when it first appeared in 1971, alongside its slightly flossier, slightly longer Ambassador sibling. Essentially, the ’71 Matador was a facelifted 1967-70 AMC Rebel with a new front clip and name.
It became American Motors’ largest passenger vehicle after the Ambassador (itself a Matador with more chrome, fancier interior, and longer hood and front clip, but with the same interior dimensions) was cancelled after the 1974 model year.
Many, many folks have questioned why the ’74 Matadors got such a Jimmy Durante style facelift to go with its new 5 mph front and rear bumpers, with the pronounced proboscis of the grille jutting away from the front fenders and headlights. I’ve heard they simply wanted the car to look bigger. But for whatever reason, I’ve always liked these. The sedans, the woody station wagons, even the big, blowsy 74-78 Matador coupes. What can I say, I like the offbeat stuff!
Even today, in 2019, there are still local retailers. But as of late last month there is one less. Paul’s Discount, a small two-store chain in Iowa, finally closed the end of July. It wasn’t a fancy place, but it was an honest place. And their customers tended to be remarkably loyal. But times change, people change, profits dwindle despite busy stores. And progress, for better or worse, slows for no one.
I remember, years ago, my dad taking me to the Iowa City store after my annual check up at University Hospital. Years later, circa 1997-98 when I started driving myself around, I’d go up to Clinton in my ’91 Volvo 940SE, just to go for a ride, and check out the store there. Only those who remember being recently licensed to drive may understand why it was a thrill to drive thirty miles to a small city north of home base, with nothing much more than a few stores, a small downtown, a marina and GM and Lincoln-Mercury dealerships. It was a nice drive, along the river road from Davenport, via LeClaire and Princeton.
Let’s all laugh at the Chrome Camry, this jumped-up Kentucky prole-mobile with toothy delusions of grandeur. Let’s all take a moment to chuckle at the idea that this could be an upscale car in other markets. The idea that one would pay extra to ride in it, as was probably the case with this particular Camry spotted by me on the way back from yet another McDonald’s lunch in yet another foreign country. Isn’t that hilarious?
It’s definitely hilarious, as long as you don’t think too much or too hard.
Last Sunday I drove over to Dahl Ford in Davenport. One of the owner’s collector cars, a 1959 Fairlane 500 Galaxie Town Sedan, was being sold off to make room for-you guessed it-more vintage cars.
I found the unmistakable pink and black ’59 immediately! More on that car later, by the way, don’t worry.
But as is my wont, I wandered around the dealership for a while after, to see if there was anything else interesting. And in so doing, saw my first 2020 Explorer.
Note: Another post from my friend, Mike Batch Kirouac! -TK
On the Saturday before Christmas of 2012, my son and I went into town to pick up some last minute items for supper at the grocery store. As we walked through the parking lot, a beautiful, shiny white ’65 Plymouth Satellite rolled in, drove past us, and parked at the back of the lot. The burble of the engine told me it had a hopped-up big block.