Category Archives: Buick

Red, white and Buick

Creamy goodness

Creamy goodness

It’s the 4th of July weekend so we felt compelled to focus on a singularly American subject: Buick’s Skylark.  From 1953 until 1998 (with 6 years off during the ’55 – ’60 model years) Buick fielded a car named after, we assume, Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer’s song of that title.  The ’53 and ’54 Skylarks were, in essence, hand-made dream cars, offered to the public at a very high price and commensurately low production.  1,690 Skylarks, all convertibles, were built the first year and just 836 the second.

Buick reassigned its Special model designation to a new small car in 1961 and brought Skylark out of retirement as a slicked up, more fully featured coupe version with a convertible joining the fold the very next year. We love the proportions, the jauntiness and the overall attitude of this ’65 convertible, finished in Bamboo Cream.

On deck..

On deck..

Feral Cars Field Scout Peter “Petey” Andrews captured this slick ’67 Skylark that aped its bigger Buick siblings right down to the mag-type wheels and slinky fender skirts.

Hat 'n' skirts

Hat ‘n’ skirts

The Skylark name took flight in the ’70s on a somewhat bigger “intermediate” size car that had a “greaser” reputation in that muscle car era.  This “tuff,” matte finished ’72 and nail polish red ’73 give testimony to the anti-social stance that was almost un-Buicklike but, somehow, refreshing. You could order one of these with a 455 cubic inch V8 but the Arab oil embargo and ensuing energy crisis made those kinds of fun and games unsustainable in short order.

Brute Buick

Brute Buick

Street seen

Street seen

By the next decade, Skylark had shrunk precipitously and got as far away from the muscle car ethos as you might imagine.  It was now a 4 cylinder front wheel drive runabout but still had some pretense of luxury.  This ’82 coupe should give you some idea of that downmarket transformation.  The richly textured surface rust on the hood would seem to indicate that they weren’t painted with all that many coats.

Sad bird

Sad little bird

Skylark’s last iteration was rather radically styled with a “prow” grill, inspired by the great art deco Buicks of the ’40s.  Our friend Sophie. seen with her ’92, told us she loved the design the minute she saw it in the early ’90s and grabbed this low mileage example as soon as she could.

Sophie's choice

Sophie’s choice

The Skylark story is mostly about coupes and convertibles but, for a time, Buick’s SportWagon was designed a Skylark sub-model.  Feral Cars Field Scout Shanon Fitzpatrick, on location in Zurich, sent in this shot that highlights its Greyhound Scenicruiser-inspired raised roof and glass panels. The view from the back seat was terrific and If ever a station wagon could be sporty, this was it.

Skylark with a view

Skylark with an alpine view

We like this “airplane on the ground” commercial for the ’69 Skylark.  Check it out!
Be a patriot and buy one now.  Lots of them to be found here.

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Stars, Strikes and the Grandest of Prix

As we noted earlier, when reporting on a cream puffy ’76 Ford Elite, we’re big fans of Dan Epstein’s baseball cum-cultural cypher Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of ’76.

Bicentennial Pon-ton

Bicentennial Pon-ton

Yes, 38 years after Sparky Anderson’s Cincinnati Reds swept the World Series in four straight games, demolishing the Yankees, in the third year of the reign of Steinbrenner with Billy Martin at the helm, there’s a book that puts it all into funky perspective.  So does this stellar, “as is” 1976 Pontiac Grand Prix.  It’s one of the era’s “personal luxury coupes,” on par with Chrysler’s Cordoba, that Ford Elite and Chevy’s Monte Carlo. They all had long hoods, short rear decks for that bicentennial “eleganza” air.  Grand Prix shared its GM A body architecture with Monte Carlo and, in fact,  it was the same platform used to underpin Buick’s Century and Olds Cutlass Supreme.

What a difference a dozen years makes

What a difference a dozen years make

The pillar free hardtop, the most sought-after body style of the ’50’s and ’60’s, as seen in this breathtaking ’64 Grand Prix, was swept into the dustbin of automotive design history. That breezy look was replaced by cars with a fortress-like aspect; the rear windows, etched with decorative scroll work, were fixed in place. GM described the look, set off by frameless side windows and a thick pillar aft the front doors, as  “Colonnade” styling. It’s as much of the (Gerald) Ford era as was Oscar Gamble’s outtasite ‘fro.

“They Don’t Think It Be Like It Is, But It Do”  - Oscar Gamble

“They don’t think It be like it is, but It do” – Oscar Gamble

Feds to lead: get out!

Feds to lead: get out!

This Grand Prix carries a reminder that lead was on the way out of gasoline at that time.  New cars, from ’75 forward, were equipped with catalytic converters, incompatible with that toxic additive that had been poisoining us for decades. ’76: the year we began to breathe easier.

Collonade coupe

Colonnade coupe

Speaking of no-lead, this ’62 Pontiac, badged “Grand Prix,” was caught tanking up the other day but it’s not what it appears to be. Note that Pontiac didn’t offer a Grand Prix convertible in ’62, the first model year for the most sporting full-size Pontiac.  Huh?

Faux Prix

Faux Prix

It’s really a Catalina convertible to which every possible Grand Prix-specific piece of trim, inside and out, has been appended.  It’s a masterful creation, filling a perceived gap in Pontiac’s model line more than a half century after the fact.

We found a ’76 Grand Prix in very impressive condition here for under $10K.  You can’t go wrong with this kind of true personal luxury at a low price like this. I’s the biggest bargain we’ve seen since the Kansas City Royals shelled out a measly $126,000 to pay George Brett’s salary in 1976.  His batting average was .333 the year American celebrated its second century.

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.

 

 

 

10 years ago: Oldsmobile’s chickens came home to roost

Finger lickin' 98

Finger lickin’ good 98

It was ten short years ago that the very last Oldsmobile, an Alero sedan, rolled off the assembly line in Lansing, Michigan. It was in Lansing that Ransom E. Olds started building vehicles in 1897; General Motors absorbed the company in 1908 before which Olds had departed and founded REO,  building cars and trucks that bore his initials.

In 2000, more than four years before that last Olds was built, GM had announced its plan to phase out the brand, a sharp contrast to the comparatively instant deaths of Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer in the wake of the company’s 2009 bankruptcy.

Sharp Cutlass

Sharp Cutlass

Olds had been on a downward spiral since the mid-90s, despite some innovative offerings. That decline followed tremendous success: Olds’ domestic market share was over 5% as recently as 1985 — actually higher than Toyota’s that year.

We offer some Oldsmobiles, captured in the wild, as a tribute to what had been American’s longest running marque.  That distinction has been ceded to Buick which started up in 1899 and, miraculously, survived the infamous GM brand purge of 2009.

First is a 1990 Toronado Troféo: It’s certainly a big come down from the original ’66 streamline moderne-styled Toronado in terms of groundbreaking design. Its front wheel drive technology had become common place by this time so, as is said, “no big whoop.”

This is what a Toronado looked like in 1990

This is what a Toronado looked like in 1990

 

..and here we've been thinking this is the name of some kind of flourless choclate cake.

..and here we’d been thinking it’s the name of some kind of flourless chocolate cake.

Olds dabbled with smaller cars over the years.  Here’s a brazenly badge-engineered ’73 Nova that masquerades as an Olds Omega.  Nobody was fooled at the time but now it’s a nifty left-field leftover from a bygone era.

Omega: NOT a Nova (much)

Omega: NOT a Nova (much)

What about this ’77 Cutlass Supreme?  Does it recall a soda fountain treat or a Motown girl group on any level?

Waterfall grill before the fall

Waterfall grill before the fall

If you want to live really large we suggest an ’86 Custom Cruiser wagon. This particular one commutes regularly between Provincetown, MA and Palm Springs, CA. We think this very merry Oldsmobile in the very embodiment of the “Family Truckster” paradigm.

Wood is good!

Wood is good!

Cutlass was a hit name for Olds, having been launched in 1961 as a bucket seat model of the mid-size F-85.  It soon became its own line and, thereafter,  branched into Cutlass Supreme and Cutlass Ciera sub-models. Their shared root name was just about the only thing the two had in common with Supreme continuing as a traditional rear wheel drive car with Ciera a front wheel drive mid-size line. Here’s a Cutlass Ciera S with international flair.

Flag Day fender bender

Flag Day fender bender

Oldsmobile’s 88, introduced in 1949, was the inspiration for one of rock ‘n’ roll’s first hits:  Jackie Brenston’s “Rocket 88.”  This ’92 Eighty Eight Royale is one of the last generation of 88s and soldiers on despite some gnarly roof scale.

Eighty Eight is classier if you spell it out

‘Eighty Eight’ is classier if you spell it out

Throwback Thursday special

Throwback Thursday special

At the time of its final demise, only Daimler, Peugeot and Tatra had longer runs in the motorized vehicle business than Olds.  Daimler is still very much with us through Mercedes-Benz and Peugot was just revitalized with a boatload of yuan from China’s Dongfeng Motors. Tatra made  absolutely the hippest behind-the-iron-curtain cars of all time: full Buck Rogers/AstroBoy styling plus a rear-mounted air-cooled V8.  We could go on but note that Tatra still makes huge trucks in the Czech Republic to this day. Olds was GM’s first (of many) sacrificial lambs.  Let’s hope it’s the last.  Did you hear that, Buick?

Fast fade for Olds

Slow fade for Olds

Check out this Toronado commercial from 1966, the first year for the most innovative model ever offered by Olds in the post war era. The spot stars race driver Bobby Unser and, ironically, Shorty Powers, the voice of NASA’s Project Mercury.

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.

 

DRIVEN to remind

Slide show ride

Slide show ride

Ever so brief reminder here, should you find your way to Palm Springs this Wednesday evening, February 19. Drive over to DRIVEN, an art installation sponsored by Feralcars.com, featuring the noir car art of Eric Nash plus curated car show by Matthew Reader. The evening’s host is Billy F Gibbons.   The fun starts at 5 and we’ll be running a big, boss FeralCars slide show that includes this ’64 Buick Riviera booty shot and lots of other scrumptious car flesh visuals.

Cadillac by Nash, yes it really is

Cadillac by Nash

Host d with ehydrated band members + The Reverend Willy G + Wiilys + freeze dried band members a.k.a "Flavor KryZZtals"

The Reverend Willy G + Wiilys + freeze-dried band members a.k.a “Flavor KryZZtals”

The Archdeacon Gallery is located at 865 North Palm Canyon Drive, deep in the heart of Palm Springs’ très chic Uptown Arts District.   Stop by to ogle, mingle and enjoy a cocktail courtesy of the good folks at Pura Vida

Speaking of "Dat Gibbons boy!"

Speaking of “dat Gibbons boy”

Product placement pro

Product placement pro

 

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.

 

Chevy rolled the dice: Monte Carlo

Chevy's broad strokes take on personal luxury

Chevy’s broad strokes take on personal luxury

When Ford’s Thunderbird grew from two-seat roadster to four-place grand tourer in 1958 the car business took note of the market for “the personal luxury coupe.”  Other makes soon fielded entrants into the new sector, some with great aplomb.  Think: 1963-’65  Buick Riviera, ’62-’64 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk, ’63-’64 Pontiac Grand Prix, ’66-’70 Olds Toronado, ’75 – ’79 Chrysler Cordoba. As Jimmy Durante might have suggested, everybody wanted to get into the act.

A Malibu lurks within

A Malibu lurks within

For the 1970 model year, Chevy adapted its mid-size Chevelle platform to do duty as a snooty upscale personal luxury coupe dubbed Monte Carlo, not to be confused with Dodge’s Monaco the nameplate of which dates back to 1965 — so there!   Monte Carlo followed the personal luxury coupe styling convention of long hood, short rear deck, thick C-pillar and vinyl roof, denoting formal, yet sporting, elegance rather than straight-up muscle car macho.

Monte Carlo was a runaway success with sales of over 130,000 the first year, generating significant profits for the company insofar as development costs were minimal thanks to shared architecture with the lesser Chevelle.  The model’s slogan was “At $3123, a lot more car than it has to be.”  The subtext seems to be that Chevy is doing you a favor selling you such a nice Malibu for comparatively little money.

Did Prince Rainier get to skim any of the profits or did he put the touch on Dodge five years earlier?

Did Prince Rainier get to skim any of the profits or did he put the touch on Dodge five years earlier?

Many surviving first generation Monte Carlos have been customized and/or turned into street hopping lowrider cars as in this video.  In light of that reality, we like this minimally messed-with example, finished in Laguna Gray, that we found sans wheel covers.  Not sure about the red outline around the grill that matches the left rear wheel’s sidewall; they didn’t come from the factory this way.

Here’s a must-see commercial from the car’s introduction, wherein government agents harass a hard working paisan because they confuse his new Chevy Monte Carlo with an expensive imported exotic.   It’s a great example of Nixon era paranoia.  Did someone just say “I am not a Malibu”?

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.