Wednesday, April 5, 2017

George Orwell was right

I was walking along last Summer when a Victorian fainting spell came over me. Was I a narcoleptic? Had I somehow forgotten to breath? No, it turn out I was passing by this Buick and it sucked the energy right out of me. Please read this post sitting down.
This is a 1984 Buick Century Limited in one of FOUR color choices named Silver Poly. I believe this is the perfect summery of the domestic automobile landscape in 1984. Vehicles were so damn boring that they needed 4 different colors that are hard to distinguish all named the same thing.
Maybe the 4 Silver Polys referred to how many repaints it will require before the decade is out? Shout-out to whoever grabbed that hood ornament.
In the 1980s the Big Three auto makers had to switch their paint to a low VOC (volatile organic compound) recipe. They complied without fully realizing that this required a longer curing time. The result is that almost every car from the mid '80s has serious paint issues.
Let's get back to the hooptie at hand. We know this is an '84 due to those 7 vertical bars spanning the grill. Interestingly the registration sticker in the windshield says it's an '85. Maybe it was a holdover languishing in the factory lot until the model year changed?
My sympathies always lie with the copywriters who have to describe these utterly boring rides in their sales material. For 1985 Buick separated their brochure into 3 segments: The Art of Buick, The Science of Buick, and The Buying of Buick. In The Art of Buick they mention how European this car is no less than 4 times in the first 2 paragraphs. Poor Europe!
One thing I will give it up for are those sweet factory hubcaps!
To be fair these were actually well engineered cars compared to those just a few years previous. They were all fuel injected and front wheel drive with well tuned suspensions. No longer would the mighty Buick be a listing yacht in the corners. Yawn.
If anything this sticker might be the only thing to entice a thief because they might be wondering why they would bother? By the way Custom King Electronics is no more; replaced by a real estate office. Such is Brooklyn in 2017.
The name Century was first given to a 1936 Buick that could go 100mph. The British auto community in the '30s called 100mph "doing the century" and someone at Buick was amused. The official top speed of this ride was 98mph. FAKE AND SAD. Maybe the Limited refers to its limitations?
If you really squint you can imagine some continuity between the Buicks of the '60s and this car. The taillights are almost full width and it's a mostly squared off design.
Again with that sweet paint.
The mighty Grand National was available from Buick in '85, and happened to be the fastest American production car due to its turbocharged V6 engine (even beating out the Corvette!). If you were so inclined you could order a Century T-Type which sported blackout trim and a slightly better engine but it still didn't amount to high performance.
Oh yeah dig that Malaise era velour! This is the quintessential '80s GM interior with slabs of faux wood, plush cloth seats, and flat dashboards filled with buttons.
Well that's that. 
When my beloved Grandmother passed away she stipulated in her will that I could have either her Buick identical to this in every way or $3,000. I took the money without blinking. Part of it was my memory of riding in that car with several smoking adults and the windows barely cracked, but the other part was that this encapsulated all that was boring in modern automobiles for me. It is the perfect grandparent car for the mid '80s but other than that I was surprised to see it even exists in 2017.

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