Unsold but not Unloved
Writing about an automobile as invisible as this old Buick has been a challenge. What do I say that already hasn't been said about a car that is about as interesting to most people as an old VCR? I tried cataloging the history of the American two door sedan. Then, an itricate detailing of the history of GM's downsized intermediate coupes. I even worked on telling a story about my own personal experience with the four door version of this car. Hey, if you think this car is bland as a "sporty" coupe, don't operate heavy machinery if you happen to come across the sedan version. You...are getting...sleepy. Are you still reading this? Oh. Bless your heart. I'm boring myself to near tears rehashing the slop of black on white I've already deleted.
Staying true to my personal manifest to finish all things that I start, I have ventured forth once again to blog about this most ordinary of late '70s automobilia. So, grab a clean leisure suit, platform shoes and Star Wars poster and take a deep (brown) dive with me into what it is I like about this car. BTW, I've been told I have some masochist tendencies. Apparently, since you're still reading this, so do you.
Somehow, someway I'm smitten with this little lounge lizard. Why? Well, first of all I like two door cars. A lot. They are, sadly, all but extinct these days. Secondly, I like GM cars. A lot. Those almost became extinct going on five years ago. I like these "downsized" intermediates that the good general rolled out for model year 1978 too. Mind you I like some more than others. I'm looking at you, 1978-1980 Monte Carlo. Yuck. And I like V-8 engines in small cars. A. Lot.
The V-8 in a small car thing has a powerful aura (for me); I love a granny mobile having the heart of a lion. Stealth. Personified. Even if that lion is a bit asthmatic and lacking in the real get up and go department. At least this car sounds like a real car and not some under baked, battery powered golf cart. Those with a keen eye can tell that the engine in this Buick is the much lamented Pontiac 301 V-8. Sorry. This is not the much more desirable Chevrolet 305. The 301 gets knocks for having only three main bearings, the heads have siamesed ports, fragile crankshafts and a number of other designed in tricks that were to help the 301 get as many miles to a gallon as possible. Downside to that is that the 301 doesn't have much in the way of "real" power. My limited experience with 301 powered automobiles was that it provided ample push and it's smoother and more powerful than the Buick V-6 (that was standard on this car). Better still, at least it's not one of the other miserable "economy" V-8 engines like the Oldsmobile 260, Pontiac 265, Chevrolet 267 or worse yet, the Olds 350 diesel. Up against those ghastly lumps, especially that Olds diesel, the 301 really ain't half bad.
My wife and I are toying with the idea of getting an older car for our, now licensed to drive, 16 year old son. She says older and means 7-10 years old. We need to communicate more effectively because when I say older I mean something like an old hoopty like this here '79 Regal. Our son has been using our 5700 pound, 7 year old, 320 horsepower Tahoe as his own since he got his license a couple of months ago. This 3200 pound, 34 year old, 140 horsepower Buick makes much more sense to me for him to be driving. Then again, I'm shushed aside like Ole Grandad making poppy cock at the Sunday dinner table whenever I bring this car up.
Apparently she's not alone in her disdain of this old Buick. This car, with only 25,000 miles on her btw, has been for sale for a while now and has had two significant price cuts. Yet it still it sits unsold...but not...unloved.
My wife and I have owned four homes and have made many changes to each of them. More often than not the changes we've made to our homes came out so good that it looked like the changes were part of the original design. Much like a nice pin stripe job or even a stripe/tape job can accent an already nice automobile; when it's good it looks like it was part of the original design of the car. Like the Starsky and Hutch Ford Gran Torino. That big white Nike stripe thing made the car. You remove it and it looks like something is missing. Huggie Bear, this Monte Carlo ain't Hutch's Gran Torino.
I want this nightmarish custom paint and tape off this Monte Carlo in the worst way. These BIG Montes are one of my favorite cars of all time and she deserves better. Much better. The original (?) owner of this Monte Carlo either did it themselves or had it done because I can't find any indicationt Chevrolet offered this as a factory option back then. Perhaps it was a dealer promo car to help promote the Monte Carlo's then growing legend as a NASCAR tour de force? Who knows. All I know is I want to scrape this junk off this car.
Let's be nice and say "they"...whoever they are or were...had the best of intentions.
When I first saw this car from a distance I thought that it was a horrible. Then, as I got closer, I noticed that the detailing on this car was actually, dare I saw, exquisite. The person who did this knew what they were doing. However, great execution of a bad idea, yes, subjective as that may be, is still in my very humble opinion, bad.
I can't figure out what year this Monte is. The stacked headlamps in front say 1976 or 1977. The hood ornament missing on the replacement header panel say 1977. I wasn't about to take a picture of the VIN number plate and do more research off those numbers. If it's a 1976, there might be a torque feast of a Chevy 400 with a Rocherster quadrajet in there. But don't hold yer breath, son. Chances are it's a 350 two barrel making a pot whoopin' 145 horsepower. Yee haaaa...
I just want to get that paint scraper out now and help this old girl but looking at her, I notice she has more issues than that to contend with. Blame her age and spending her life exposed to the shockingly effective brine they put on the roads up here to make them safe in winter time.
Got to be careful, though because after all these years this tape job might be the only thing holding her together. Hardeeharhar. Only partially joking. Then again, after all these years, taking the tape off her is kind of like an oldster removing a tattoo they got long ago.
That ink has been with them for so long that it has become part of their DNA.
You guys see what happened to my new car?
My idea of a good time! So gonna do this first chance I get. Yeah!
The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree
Some people see an old car like this and see nothing more than an old car. I'm delighted that my older boy is just like his old man in that he sees more than that. Much more. I've got a soft spot in my heart for these "little Caddies". My dad had two of them.
He's ga ga over this grand old dame until I tell him that we would need him to get a job to help us with the pending huge gas bills. That takes some wind out his sails. A job? Me? Wha?
He loves the lines on her and the color. He's a big Texas Longhorns fan. What I find odd...is that he thinks this car "cool". Really. I can't imagine a 16 year in 1977 thinking this car "cool". I trust his instincts though and reaffirms my belief that this car is cool as well. His mother thinks otherwise. Big time otherwise. Let's not go there.
I've always like these "downsized" GM full sizers which are still very big. They're much more manageable though than the blimps that came before them. My son was pretty nervous driving it; he's never driven anything quite like it before. While it's probably just a shade wider than our Tahoe, it's the length that spooks him. Even spooked me. I forget how big these things were. She's big. Really big.
The "gentle giant" 425 cubic inch V-8 (that's 7 liters for your metric system lovers) is a direct decendant of the legendary Cadillac 500 V-8 (same bore, shorter stroke). It provides just enough thrust. This car is far from "fast" and that's just fine for this father of two. Last thing I want is for either of my boys to be involved in drag racing. Not not that I think my boys would ever engage in that behavior...but I more than know that I wouldn't be the first father to be surprised by something their kids did.
Like I've told my wife many times, you either "get this" or you don't. No need to try and explain it. My son gets it. Totally.
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.