Category Archives: Buick

Feral finds abound on the streets of America’s Hippest Neighborhood®

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First of the day’s three ’64 Imperials.

We’ve been focusing on the Instagram and Facebook versions of Feral Cars of late but a recent find mandated that we go full blog post to do the subject matter justice.  This kind of abbondanza needs to be chronicled with more than just a photo and some hashtags!

 

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Eliot Ness, your car is waiting.

In search of comidas Mexicanas muy auténticos,  we recently had occasion to visit LA’s Highland Park area, a/k/a “America’s hippest neighborhood.” Apart from the record stores (vinyl only, please), hipster beard trimming emporiums, tattoo parlors and artisanal cocktail dispensaries (and the other kind of dispensaries), we were pleasantly surprised to encounter a cache of feral finds on the street and decidedly in the raw.  One block of Avenue 57, just belowFigueroa, was populated with scores of oldies but goodies, all of which carry current registrations and need to be moved, per regulation, at least once a week.  Our deduction is that all of these are fully capable of running under their own power.  The collection, consisting of American iron as well as a smattering of European and Japanese rolling stock seems to have no unifying theme — just a random aggregation of vehicles that have endured against all odds.  Inspiring!

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As we know all too well: “Cadillac means luxury.”

Our best guess is that this grouping belongs to a single visionary as these disparate (desperate?) vehicles do share something in common: massive patina.  It’s not rust in Southern California but, rather, “distressed” paint.

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“From a Buick 6”.. a ’48 to be specific

On display were a ’64 Cadillac, a ’65 Imperial Crown, a ’48 Buick, two VWs (a Bug and a Karmann-Ghia), a first generation Mazda RX-7, a ’57 Chevy tow truck, frozen in tableau, hoisting a ’47 Cadillac (original California black plates which appropriately read ‘SAD326’), a Smokey & The Bandit era Trans Am, a Fargo-worthy and very woeful Corvette and something very unexpected.  Yes, a ’36 Nash in better shape than any of the other cars seems to occupy a special spot at the top of the street. That machine, built in Kenosha at least 81 years ago, presented much better than quite a few half its age though a ’63 Valiant convertible was surprisingly fresh looking, too.

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Slant sixer

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Tow, tow, tow your boat..

Later that day, en route to El Hurache Azteca on York Blvd. for an infusion of gut-busting goodies, we came upon a fix-it shop (“Bernie’s Transmission”) where we found still more feral treasures though it’s not clear how roadworthy some of these are.  Yet another Imperial of the same vintage as the one we had seen on Avenue 57 was in repose as well as a ’64 Ford Galaxie that had seen better days.  We were taken with a seemingly perfect ’64 Pontiac and a gorgeous green ’56 Ford wagon.

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Impish

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There’s a Ford in your future but it’s probably not this one

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That Pon-ton is a clean machine, same goes for the Ford wagon

Remember those two ’65 Imperials?  We ended the day with another MoPar line topper of the same vintage in our sights.  It was being transported aboard a car carrier down the 101 Freeway and we implored Wendy Abrams, a certified Feral Cars Field Scout, who had been riding shotgun to shoot a snap of it.  What are the chances, right?

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Back in the high life again..

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Fireturd / “if it’s brown, flush it down”

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Veteran Vette

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Two tone rotary; yes that’s a ’55 Chevy (non-Nomad) wagon in the driveway

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Ghia got gashed

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Bug needs love

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As close to a Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta as it gets in Highland Park

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:  info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes.  If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.

Magic location for motion pictured cars

Movin' Malibu

Chevelle: so swell

Our aim is always to capture and dissect, in a manner of speaking, vehicles seen in the wild but we never shoot or accept photos taken at car shows, auctions or used/classic car lots.  As a result, we do tend to ferret out featured feral finds when they’re parked. It’s one thing to nail ’em when they’re at a standstill as opposed to documenting them in motion.

There she goes

Movin’ Malibu

We’ve found that two corners right near Feral Car’s international HQ in Los Angeles have yielded a disproportionate number of very interesting, very notable cars in full flight.  We’re talking about the intersection of Rosewood Avenue and Rossmore Boulevard and, just three blocks to the east, the intersection of Rosewood and Larchmont Boulevard.

Do we have to spell it out? Cadillac means l-u-x-u-r-y.

Do we have to spell it out? Cadillac means l-u-x-u-r-y.

These are the crossroads where we’ve seen lots of vintage VWs, Valiants and the like as well as some more esoteric conveyances.  We’ve gone back into our image bank and sorted out a few shots of cars in motion captured at these locations that really underscore just what a phenomenal breeding ground this area happens to be.

Fender skirts standard, of course

Fender skirts standard, of course

We were most impressed with the bone stock ’71 Chevelle Malibu encountered at Rossmore and Rosewood just the other day.  You just don’t see these as untampered with as this one.  Our guess is that this unrestored California car wears its original 45-year old factory Antique White paint job.  Kudos to the owner who resisted pressure to change out the original wheel covers.

Actin' chill: big ol' Coupe DeVille

When it absolutely, positively has to get there in style.

Over at Larchmont and Rosewood we found a similarly unmessed-with Cadillac DeVillle, also a ’71.  We find the juxtaposition of the sky blue padded top over the Brittany blue body calming and reassuring on this,  a pristine enthralling example of traditional American luxury in motion.

Junk or punk in the trunk?

Junk or punk in the trunk?

At the same intersection we came upon a ’76 Cadillac Coupe DeVille that seemed raked, the front end higher than the back, perhaps due to a heavy load in the trunk.  We’ll refrain from theorizing on just what might have been weighing this magnificent Caddy down except to suggest that Good Fellas is available on Netflix.

Pretty Poncho

Pretty Poncho

Now it’s back to Rossmore and Rosewood for a gander at a super clean ’66 Pontiac LeMans.  It has the same bearing as the higher performance GTO but this one is equipped with a 326 cubic inch V8 rather than the 389 found under the hood of “The Goat.”  Yes, those wheels  and everything else appear to be totally stock and that’s the way we like it. You really can’t improve on perfection, so why try?

Near perfect "Pon-ton"

Near perfect “Pon-ton”

At the other end of the spectrum is this ’79 Buick Skyhawk that is completely intact but appears to be suffering from an advance case of benign neglect.  That brushed chrome band running up the b-pillars and over the roof may be perceived as a “lipstick on a pig” concept but we find it charming in a gauche sort of way.  The spoiler is a nice, touch, too.

Not entirely sure we'd rather have it but will certainly consider

Not entirely sure we’d rather have it but will certainly consider

Banded baby Buick

Banded baby Buick

These fecund intersections yield more than just GM-built transients.  Take, for example this stunning ’61 Rambler Classic.  While it’s true that Rambler ran third to Chevy’s #1 and Ford’s #2 on the sales charts back then, there are very few survivors built during the time of the (George) Romney administration of American Motors.   It’s paradoxical that upright Rambler sedans like this often doubled as eastern European cars in limited budget spy shows like Mission Impossible, Get Smart and The Man From U.N.C.L.E.  while Romney and AMC were on the front lines defending American capitalism from godless (and unprofitable) socialism.

Ramblin' man

Ramblin’ man

Remnant from the first (and last) Romney administration

Remnant from the first (and last) Romney administration

Lastly, we offer our pièce de résistance. We, too, thought we might be hallucinating but we shot this fantastic Citroën SM around 9 AM and hadn’t had any mushrooms for dinner the night before. 

L'avenir est arrivé dans le passé

L’avenir est arrivé dans le passé

The car was the product of Citroën’s acquisition of perpetually floundering Maserati in the early ’70s.  The hydropneumatic suspension was all French, derived from the system that kept the groundbreaking Citroën DS (literally) afloat since 1955. Power was provided by a Maserati V6 that was mounted backwards (!)  aft of the front axle; the transmission out in front of the motor.  The design is breathtaking, the interior exquisite and but the Franco-Italo alliance advanced Citroën’s march into insolvency and ultimate acquisition by rival Peugeot.

Allons enfants avec grâce à puissance italienne

Allons enfants avec grâce à puissance italienne

If you find yourself in Southern California you really should make it a point to amble down Rosewood Avenue between Larchmont and Rossmore Boulevards.  We’d love to know if you encounter any of these inspiring full motion relics.

We found this well-priced (under $80K) ’72 CitroënSM for sale in nearby St. Louis and urge you to consider its purchase.  We predict you’ll double your money if you sell it ten years hence, if you don’t factor in the cost of maintenance — some contend that “SM” stands for exactly what you’re thinking it does. Ouch!

Less, exotic, perhaps is this TV commercial for the ’71 Chevelle.  Dinah Shore-approved!

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes.  If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.

 

Buick wood — so, so good!

The holiday season reminds us of more traditional conveyances than those nondescript ride share vehicles that portend a very bland future. It wasn’t long ago that a real station wagon — with fake wood, a vista dome roof window, rear wheel drive and V8 power– bearing a hallowed name from Buick history — roamed these realms.  Roadmaster was just that!  Next to a reindeer powered sleigh it’s the best thing for holiday hauling.

So much to love

So much to love

As with anything precious and rare, they are both cherished and collectible these days when the norm is a crossover SUV that is neither sporty nor, particularly utilitarian. The breathtakingly bulbous Roadmaster Estate wagon was offered from 1991 – 1996.  Its launch at the dawn of the Clinton era, represented the end of the age of body-on-frame full-size wagons equipped with third row “way back” seating.  They were the very last gasp of The Family Truckster paradigm that is so sorely missed.

Noble last stance

Noble last stance

There is, literally, so much to love about these bloated anachronisms and they truly deserve to be celebrated.  They’re huge and a bit ungainly but elegant in their own awkward way.  They’re like lovable cartoon woolly mammoths but instead of bristles of hair they sport flanks coated with contact paper-style wood grain.

Talk about cutting a swatch..

Talk about cutting a swatch..

The last generation Roadmaster Estate was the ultimate iteration of the full size Buick wagon and was preceded by the similarly faux fir-clad Electra Estate Wagon of the ’70s and ’80s.  We found two excellent examples of these grandes dames of swanky hauling.  The yellow one is, we’re guessing, a ’79 and we’re totally digging those “ventiports” on the fenders, a real throwback to Buick’s glory day of ’50s excess. It’s plausible that its designers were dyed-in-the-wood Happy Days fans.

Estatement of significance

Estatement of significance

Even this blue one, maybe an ’88 or ’89, parked on a street in Brookline MA sporting rocker panel rot has a certain bearing that commands at least a modicum of respect, if not reverence.

"You might need some fillah in those rockah panels.."

“You might need some fillah in those rockah panels..”

On a somewhat smaller scale is the Buick Century Estate wagon that was also sheathed in the finest of plastic veneer. We think this white one, an ’88 or ’89, is pretty neat, especially the fact that it’s equipped with an above lift gate crud deflector.  These front wheel drive mid-size contenders were typically V6 powered and quite durable. They’re well proportioned and handsome in the modest way of a fallen aristrocrat.

Century from the previous century

Century from the previous century

Mud be gone or, at least, deflected

Mud be gone or, at least, deflected

Those last Roadmaster wagons were cavernous. With the second and third row of seats folded down they’re like streamlined pick-up trucks without the country music cliches.  High class haulin’, indeed!

Mankind cave

Mankind cave

Over the years we’ve become big fans of the Roadmaster Estate.  This final edition ’96 Collectors Edition is as good as it gets.  Seeing something like this truly makes one ask oneself the eternal question:  “Wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick?”  The answer is an emphatic ‘yes’ if the Buick in question is a Roadmaster wagon. Big Love!

Very much with the grain

Very much with the grain

This 1992 commercial for the Roadmaster Estate highlights the car’s attributes. recollecting when “comfort was kind” and “luxury meant something.”

You’d have to be certifiable if you don’t seriously consider the purchase of this ’91 Roadmaster Estate with only 16,320 miles on the clock offered in nearby Milbank, SD for a mere $17,500.  It’s the buy of the, ahem, Century but that much better because it’s a Roadmaster.

Hardly!

Hardly!

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes.  If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roadmaster’s return.. and ultimate departure

Clean machine

Mammoth machine

From the middle 1930s until the late ’50s Roadmaster was, essentially, Buick’s line topper.  In the days when Buick hierarchy was demarcated by little fender-mounted portholes –“ventiports” in Buickspeak — Roadmasters had four on each side, lesser models (Special, Super) had just three per side.

Wasp squad car

Wasp squad car

Ventiports were tossed out in ’59 as were older model names.  Gone were Special, Century and Roadmaster and in came Electra, Invicta and LeSabre.  Yet, thirty years later and against all odds, the Roadmaster name returned. It was applied to a bulbous, Chevy Caprice-based station wagon in 1991, a companion Roadmaster sedan was added the next year.

Black out Buick

Blacked out Buick

Buick’s ’91 – ’96 Roadmaster wagons were the last of a breed.  These were definitely old school rides with body-on-frame construction, V8 power, rear wheel drive drive and offered with fake wood siding and seating for as many as eight, not to mention a  “Vista Roof” over the second-row of seats.  The third row faced oncoming traffic so kids could flip the bird to those following. Luxurious, commodious, versatile and, when appropriately equipped, fast, the Roadmaster Estate Wagon is a massive wonder to behold.

Now you see it

Now you see it

..now you don't

..now you don’t

Minivans and SUVs supplanted the role of the traditional station wagon over the past three or four decades and today there isn’t a single domestic station wagon, full size or compact, in production. You can only buy a big wagon today if it wears a Mercedes Benz three-pointed star, a BMW roundel or a set of Audi rings.

Tuff enuff

Tuff enuff

Just the same, we have a real appreciation for these land yachts bearing the Buick shield.  Sure, they have a lot of presence (over 18 feet long and almost 4600 pounds unladen) but we dig ’em because by being so traditional they were, in some real way, making a contrarian statement.  You could even order one with a 5.7 liter LT1 motor,  same as a Corvette. And that’s kind of outlaw.. even with the fake wood.

Ghost flamer

Buick flambé

We love the funky flame job on Mark Wenner’s Roadmaster.  This big Buick goes as fast as it looks, too.  GM knew it has reached the end of an era and discontinued Roadmaster after the ’96 model year but they earmarked those last year cars with special “Collector Edition” badging.

End of the line

End of the line

You may very well want to “collect” one of these and, to that end, we offer some terrific Roadmaster wagons at reasonable prices.  Now, with the price of gas lower than it has been in quite a while, you have no good reason not to seriously consider acquiring one.  Here’s a ’96  with only 123,000 miles in nearby York, PA for only $2750.  How can you not buy this?? Here’s another, a pristine beauty with half the miles, at more than twice the price in nearby Addison, IL.

Wood is good

Wood is good

We like this nostalgia-themed commercial that introduced the new Roadmaster wagon in ’91.  The good old days weren’t even all that old back then.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Buick’s rowdy aristocrat

Black Air in action!

Black Air in action!

Not too long ago we encountered something rare, something inspiring and something, perhaps, a bit  sinister: a 1987 Buick Regal Grand National.  Buick’s reputation from the ’50s related to gaudy adornment, port holes, a wallowy ride and slow shifting Dynaflow automatic transmission.  Flash forward to the 1980s and Buick, despite its identification with the AARP set, becomes GM’s kick ass division by dint of the fact that the Regal’s ultimate high performance variant, the Grand National, was a monster, albeit a monster dressed in formal attire.  We saw an ’87 Grand National, black grill, no bright work, wearing a T-top, blast by the other day and recollected that this was the fastest car built on an assembly line in its time. Equipped with a turbo-charged V-6 developing  245 or 276 hp with 355 – 360 pound feet of torque and a O – 60  time of 4.7 seconds, Buick’s factory-built hot rod could smoke a Corvette which had two more cylinders and no back seat.  Win = Buick.

Torqued out!

Torqued out!

Despite its cushy, bourgeois Buick breeding, this was one of the best bang-for-the-buck cars of all time.  You could buy one off the showroom floor of an unsuspecting Buick dealer more accustomed  to selling LeSabres, for as  little as $18,500. That translates to $38,814 in today’s money.  Does it sounds like a lot?  It shouldn’t because you’d be getting a super car for about half of what you’d pay for a Porsche or, even, a Corvette.  Did we mention the backseat?

Eleganza gone wrong

Eleganza gone wrong

The Grand National version of the Regal faded to memory as Buick got back to its core business: selling softly sprung barges and baby barges to geriatric types, catering to the oldest demo in the book..  The mock convertible roof on this ’88 Regal GS that was captured in Manhattan by Feral Cars Field Scout Jim Bessman is a gauche take on external luxury.  Seems like the fiery Grand National has a bit more dignity that this tarted up coupe.

Regal resolve

Regal resolve

At its inception, Regal was imagined to be a downsized Riviera to compete with Thunderbird and Cougar and GM sister divisions’ Monte Carlo, Grand Prix and Cutlass.  We think this ’77, found in a Miami Beach shopping mall, has quite a bit of assertive presence, especially in this era of look alike wind-styled blobs.

Regal ruled early on

Regal ruled early on

The ultimate expression of the first generation Regal, this black beauty belies the conventional wisdom that ’70s style was overly baroque and/or uninspired.  We do admit that the vinyl clad half-roof seems gratuitous but it’s really quite understated by the standards of the year that begat Saturday Night Fever.

Yes, we really would rather have one

Yes, we really would rather have one

The Grand National GNX is the subject of a much lauded documentary film entitled Black Air in  recognition that all were painted black and turbocharged. The trailer is really worth checking out as is this “Bad To The Bone” -themed 1984 commercial with George Thorogood sounding somewhat convincing and this much, much milder one with Glenn Ford.  Think they were influenced to hire the Blackboard Jungle survivor so it could say that Ford endorses Buick?

There are no fewer than 14 Grand Nationals for sale at this time on Hemmings.com so it may really be the time to ask yourself if you really wouldn’t rather have a Buick.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com.  Include your name, location of the car and some thoughts about the vehicle and we’ll look into getting it posted