Monday, June 20, 2016

If this is your car I'm sorry but you must be anhedonic.

Back to basics people. I started this blog to celebrate and/or openly mock cars that looked like they shouldn't be on the road anymore. This fussy little brick fits the bill to a T!
What we have here is a painfully dull and utterly forgotten footnote in automotive history. On paper it is a 1984 Buick Skylark Custom in Light Sand Grey. Even the color name makes my eyelids heavy.
This is what George Orwell meant when he wrote 1984.
The dystopian paint job is giving up everywhere at once. Paint jobs and clear coats were prone to failure from the early '80s through the mid-'90s for whatever reason. Find me a single Beretta or Lumina with a nice factory paint job and I'll buy you lunch.
Buick was always #2 in the General Motors hierarchy below Cadillac but above Olds, Pontiac, and Chevy at the bottom. In 1984 this meant that the X-Body Chevy Citation would inevitably be fitted with more stately styling cues and a Buick emblem. This is classic badge engineering.
That one smoky dead eye is unnerving.
A more formal grill that its siblings, and a more squared-off, upright design set the Buick apart from the Citation, but under the skin it was identical. Does anybody remember the Cadillac Cimarron? It almost killed Cadillac off by employing the most egregious badge engineering in history. One look at the Cimarron and you knew it was a Chevy Citation with leather and gold emblems.
*Spell check wanted to change Cimarron to Macaroni. Most Cimarron owners would gladly trade their car in for a whole bunch of delicious macaroni.
This lump is powered by the Iron Duke inline 4 cylinder engine, built by Pontiac. This venerable, if not actually loved, engine could rocket all 2,600lbs of Skylark up to 96mph! Ready to merge onto the highway? Plan ahead as 0-60mph took a very leisurely 15 seconds. Count to 15 seconds so you can feel how long that actually is.
The interior consisted of a collapsed sun shade and some throw pillows. The door panels actually look like brown tweed. Buying this car new was a declaration of boredom.
There is a car I like even less than this one and it happens to be its successor (though only for the 2 door models). In 1986 the Somerset Regal hit the market which looked like you cut the width of the rear doors out and attached the back window to the back of the front door. It was all hood no trunk and looked ridiculous.
That gas door screams lack of interest to detail. Huge, square, and taking up most of the quarter panel, it is the definition of just going through a checklist of what needs to be on a car in order to function. I can't think of a design where it is more of an afterthought.
This is the tail end of the Malaise era. Even though the X-Body cars were introduced in 1980 the bumpers have the look of designers caught by surprise when the federal safety regulations hit in 1974. These days we take it for granted that bumpers are integrated with the body, but this sports chrome guardrails that look 2 sizes too big.
This is the lowest trim level available for 1984; the Custom. No vinyl roof and no side trim at all.
The emblem whispering to anyone that will listen that this is the base model is tiny! This car seems to be staring at the ground a lot in embarrassment. I mean look at that acne!
Are there any high points? The X-Bodies were all front wheel drive which was a leap in the right direction for small car handling. Also, the distance between the wheels is pretty substantial so I'm guessing it's pretty sure-footed. You'd be going so slow though that it wouldn't really matter.
There was a sporty version of this ride called the T-Type. Not to be confused with the turbocharged T-Type Regal, it nevertheless came with a high output V6 engine. The T-Type was only available in 2 door coupe form. With the H.O. V6 and a manual trans you could hit 116mph and (more importantly) go from 0-60 in 8.6 seconds; almost half of this stock slab.
Well we'll leave this thing looking at us from its best angle. This is the classmate whose yearbook never got signed. It arrived, continued along for awhile, and dropped out of existence without leaving its mark at all. Nobody collects these and nobody is looking for one. The fact that it exists in 2016 Brooklyn was enough for me to take a moment but genuinely expect for these X-Body Skylarks to be extinct any second now.

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