Early 1960’s – the Buick and the Chevy
When we were kids, Dad never bought a new car, even when money wasn’t a problem. He recognized that cars, unlike real estate, were essentially disposable and rarely investments. A car was like a warm winter coat – utilitarian, necessary, never sexy (until the Torino years later, but I’m convinced that was a lapse in judgment).
But wait a minute. Sometimes Dad couldn’t help being cool. Not long after we moved to the suburbs in about 1966, he bought a blue ’59 Buick whose lines were dominated by tail fins that might have felt at home on either side of a longhorn’s head.
Boy, it looked amazing – sleek, roomy. It had no seatbelts, of course, and when Dad took a turn, those tail fins didn’t follow the front of the car right away. Meanwhile, my brother and I would catapult across the slick back seat and end up in one corner or the other with our faces smushed against the window.
We didn’t have this car long; pretty as she was, she was the sourest lemon in the city. Dad found out early on that, as he put it, she “had no engine,” at least not one that propelled the car.
He got her a new engine, but that didn’t keep this car moving for very long. One day, the car stalled at a stoplight and wouldn’t start. Dad told Mom to go out and take a look (even now, I don’t know why – maybe because she was closer to the curb and wouldn’t get mowed down by traffic) and she did.
Then she told him the engine was on fire. Dad thought she was being silly, but she insisted. We all got out and watched the car burn. It was unsalvageable.
Dad resolved to never again buy a Buick, and he kept that promise forever. The no-Buick legacy continued into the next generation of our family; even now, I can’t imagine owning one even if the commercials do tell me that “it’s not your father’s Buick.”
Our next car was a 1962 Chevy Bel Air 4-door. She came to us a lovely shade of blue – something like this – but a bit rusted in spots (Canadian winters will do that). So Dad had her repainted – not the factory blue, but, at Mom’s suggestion, British racing green. I’m sure Dad was happy to paint over any reminders of the snakebit blue Buick. That Bel Air was a reliable old gal who served our family well for a few years.