NOTE: Today’s guest post is by Mark Davidson, another ex-Cantankerous Coot commenter whom has migrated over to RG. He is a fellow Broughamophile and some of his other cars include an ’88 Olds Custom Cruiser and a 1959 Super 88. Please give him a warm welcome! -TK
So good evening. Would you like for me to tell you a story over cocktails?
I’ll start out with this. The next block over from the Avenue of the misfit toys where I live, a friend of mine sold a house and behind that house was a ’65 turquoise color Corvair, a ’65 Mercury Monterey breezeway, a Mercedes of sorts and a ’76 Chevrolet Caprice Estate Wagon.
I knew him when he had that wagon on the road and it was gorgeous. As a matter of fact, I would drive by his house in my 1988 Oldsmobile, which I just bought back last September, and do a side-by-side comparison in the middle of the street. I was so envious of Woodie’s wagon.
Sunday’s post about Fancy Men generated the usual excellent commentary, some of which discussed whether the Fancy Man of today was the “fop” of yesterday. At about the same time, I had a conversation about a fellow I know who, having been a massive and undoubted success in a very difficult field, decided that he wanted to be known instead as a leader in a completely different, and much less admirable, field. This seemed like a good excuse for a quick-ish romp through the idea of foppery and why it mirrors, but does not quite envelop, the idea of the Fancy Man. We’ll make this one quick, because I have an early day tomorrow. I promise.
I’ve been wanting to try out a Cadillac CT6 ever since it was first announced and large, plush sedans started rolling into the inventory at McLaughlin Cadillac. They looked good, and combined with the also reintroduced Lincoln Continental, it seemed both remaining U.S. luxury makes once again had a proper flagship.
Oh sure, for many, the current flagships are the Escalade and the Navigator, but as a big fan of 1950s-1970s Cadillacs, Lincolns and Imperials, I have always, and will always, associate the top models with the vintage Fleetwood Broughams, Continentals and Town Cars, rather than anything truck-based.
Since both cars came onto the market, I’ve thought a modern ‘King of the Hill’ article would be pretty cool. For those too young to remember or not as into Brougham-era luxury as your author, back in the ’70s Motor Trend did several articles comparing the Cadillac Eldorado to the Continental Mark III, and later Mark IV.
It’s been a tough couple weeks for the sort of men who crave the male gaze. Anna Silman took an oyster spoon to a former Esquire editor, then Sniff Petrol administered a thorough beating to babbler-slash-photographer-slash-unaccomplished-son-of-accomplished-father Ted Gushue. Both articles lampoon, with various degrees of bitterness, the heavily traveled intersection of cars/watches/clothing/travel that has proven so irresistibly magnetic to so many wealthy and near-to-wealthy men over the years. Silman writes:
What is it about being a fancy man that seems so uniquely joyful? Surely being a fancy woman, or even a fancy child, might have its perks as well. But when I think of the platonic ideal of a career — one that combines intellect and aesthetics, gravitas and iconoclasm, the cerebral and the tactile — being editor of a fancy men’s magazine takes the cake.
SniffPetrol then drops the guillotine on the Gushue parody with the last few questions of his “interview”:
What most surprises people about you?
I guess how humble I am.
Freddie, thank you.
Yes, it’s a 1967 Patek Philippe Caltrava reference 570 in white gold.
We’re all meant to understand that being a “Fancy Man” is somewhere between contemptible and beneath contempt — but why, exactly? What makes the Fancy Man such a figure of fun? Why are we supposed to laugh at Jay Fielden but genuflect before, say, Paul Newman? Every single writer I know responds to the mention of Ted Gushue with “Oh, that guy” — but David E. Davis rode a similar shtick to near-universal acclaim. What’s the difference?
Don’t worry, I’ve figured it out. That’s what you pay me for, right?
The last several years, a lot of great new diecast has come along to warm my 1970s/1980s, Broughamified heart. Such as these most excellent Ford LTD Country Squire and LTD Crown Victoria station wagons, made in 1/64 scale by Greenlight Collectibles.
A few years back, Greenlight made a 1/64 scale version of the famous Wagon Queen Family Truckster from the unforgettable movie, Vacation. They even made it in other scales, 1/43, and a truly impressive 1/18 scale version, complete with pale blue luggage on the roof rack. But at the time I thought, and shared with friends who were similarly inclined, that it would be great if they were to do a bone stock LTD Country Squire as well.
While Ford of England first marketed a Capri model in the early ’60s, the Consul Classic Capri, the first one offered in the United States appeared in 1970 and was sold by Lincoln-Mercury dealers. Often called a ‘Mercury Capri’, it really wasn’t. It was just the Capri, as borne out in all advertising and brochures. Sporty, affordable little imported coupes were hitting their stride in the early ’70s, and Ford wanted in on it.
By the time the Capri came to the US market, insurance premiums were beginning to have an effect on sales of cars like the Mustang, Javelin, Barracuda and others. In short order, your choices for coupes were down to two basic types: a big, landau roofed cruiser like the Monte Carlo or Grand Prix, or a small, sporty coupe such as the Capri, Opel Manta or Toyota Celica.
Long-time TTAC readers might be aware of my affection for Gil Scott-Heron and his early work with keyboardist Brian Jackson. Their album Winter In America is one of the all-time greats, written and recorded without a single misstep to convey a message at once deeply nostalgic and radically political. His talent was so incomprehensibly massive that it swallowed him whole, turned him into a self-destructive crackhead who ended up dying of AIDS just as the hipsters had taken notice of his swan-song album, I’m New Here.
Progressive white America never really took to “GSH”. I suspect it was because your “woke” types get off on feeling superior to the objects of their putative compassion and admiration. It’s no great trick to feel superior to Drake or Tyga or Kendrick Lamar; they’re drooling morons babbling into a microphone, the African-American equivalent of Nikki Sixx or Justin Bieber. Artists like John Coltrane and Miles Davis might have been major talents but their primary allegiances were to the church and/or the female body, which made them safe and comfortable for a white audience. Scott-Heron, by contrast, was a nightmare fusion of Promethean IQ and keen insight, delivering lyrics with a pace and panache somewhere between laconic and surgical, unflinchingly focused on politics and race in a manner that couldn’t be bought off with a Bentley or a promise of reparations. You’d need a pretty stout sense of self-image to feel equal to the man, much less superior to him. It doesn’t help that he never really saw anything wrong with his cocaine use or his voracious sexuality; our modern progressive catechism demands that you either do penance for your perversions or take a defiant, self-conscious pride in them. Scott-Heron didn’t apologize for his life and he didn’t demand that we have a special month for crackheads. He simply liked drugs and he respected your right to not like them.
The envelope from my orthopedist could have contained any number of things which would have in no way surprised me: a treatment summary, an appointment reminder, a “balance bill” for the additional X-rays I had this past Monday morning. This is what it actually contained: the half-completed “Medical History Form” that I’d passive-aggressively shoved into the hands of my X-ray tech on the way back to the machine. There was a Post-It attached.
“Fill this in the rest of the way and bring it with you next time, or mail it in.”
At my age, I have to be grateful for each and every genuine surprise, even if it is unpleasant. I clenched the folded eleven-by-seventeen and summoned up my best Sean Connery voice:
As recently as 1957, DeSoto had a great year, with over 117,000 finny Forward Look motor vehicles produced. Things came to a sudden stop in 1958. Thanks to the aforementioned ’58 recession, all car sales took a hit. But DeSoto still fared worse than the average bear, with sales dipping down to under 50,000 units.
Yesterday marked the fifth year I have attended the Shirey Cadillac show in Oak Lawn, Illinois. It is unique in that most of the cars there are interesting and not common show fare. Sure, on occasion there is a hot rod, Mustang or 1957 Chevrolet, but they are a small fringe element to the Broughamage that is usually on display.
And it’s always nice to see my fellow Chicagoland Cadillac club friends. I interact with them all the time online, but only see them 2-3 times in person per year.
Oh, and the dealership grills lunch for everyone, gratis. So. I get to eat, yak with my fellow Brougham aficionados, gawk at the cars, and take approximately 250-300 photos each year. What’s not to like?