Weekly Roundup: Grand-Dad’s Eldorado Edition

This week I wrote briefly about my grandfather and his 1979 Eldorado Biarritz. The photo above is of a car sold by Charles Schmitt a while ago and it differs from the car of my childhood only in being a diesel instead of the fuel-injected 350 Olds fitted to my grandfather’s Eldo.

The last time I saw him alive was in May of 2013. I was in Sebring to prepare for my trip to Malaysia but the young lady I was with agreed to go with me to Clearwater to check up the grandparents. We had a lovely afternoon. I don’t think I appreciated it because I had my mind focused on the trip and the race to come. It didn’t occur to me that I wouldn’t have another chance to see my grandfather.

After the jump we have an old Bill Withers song that he wrote about his grandmother. The brilliance of it is that he focuses on her hands. As a small child you don’t get much overall sense of the adults around you. It’s the small things you notice, the aspects of their bodies and voices that filter down to your vantage place four feet above the ground. I think about my grandfather’s skin: tanned, leathery, drawn loosely over veins and joints. By the time I was in my twenties, I started to recognize that skin on my father. Now there are times when I see it on myself. I’m about a decade younger than Granddad was when he bought his first Eldorado. If I believe that I will live as long as he did then I can truly say that I’m just middle-aged now.

I couldn’t tell you what I had for dinner two nights ago but I can tell you exactly what it was like to ride to Clearwater Beach in that blue Eldorado. There are times that I like to sit and think about those years gone by. It’s an addiction no less dangerous than any other. The obligations of the future won’t forgive you for spending too much time in the past. Townes was right. It don’t pay to think too much / on things you leave behind.


At R&T I discussed crossover nostalgia and the curious lack of ambition in the new VW Arteon.

For TTAC I considered used Cadillac purchases, took a look at what happens when you leave your van in San Francisco, and asked the readers about the best-managed heritage brand.

Brother Bark took you on a tour of disturbing practices in auto lending.

Do we have time for a few more shots of that Eldorado? Of course we do. Have a great weekend, everybody!

13 Replies to “Weekly Roundup: Grand-Dad’s Eldorado Edition”

  1. cartime

    Has TTAC introduced shadow banning? It seems like I only find your articles in your weekly roundup. I check the TTAC site at least twice a day. The van article doesn’t exist for me outside of your driect link from here.

    Reply
  2. ArBee

    A beautiful shade of blue on that Cadillac. It looks right at home with all those other gorgeous cars. In the fourth photo, is that an Alvis I see in the upper left?

    The older you get, the more enticing memories become. At 66, I find myself increasingly drawn into the haunted forest. I try not to wander in too deeply, lest I can’t, or won’t, find my way back out. Have a good weekend, all.

    Reply
  3. Wulfgar

    My grandfather used to take me to watch his son ( my uncle) play football at a major Southeastern Conference school in the late ‘70s. Back before it became the out of control spectacle it is now. He drove a 1965 Ford Mustang. Baby blue. Inline 6. Three speed manual. Im not sure I always wanted go and my grandfather had a habit of smoking cheap cigars on the way back. But there’s not a day goes by that I don’t think a bit about him. And one more trip with just the two of us in that Mustang would seem about perfect.

    Reply
  4. I COME IN PEACE

    I got maybe a quarter or halfway through the SF van story, and pretty much knew that the perps were living in it. Some folks absolutely desperate for housing here, apparently enough to risk a grand theft auto conviction. Indeed a low priority of SFPD, just like the basically untouchable homeless population, and the net amount of sidewalk urine and fecal matter per city block…..that town is going downhill rapidly. Yet people are still moving here, tech companies are paying them more money than God, so housing costs are on their way to orbiting Pluto soon, especially if Google actually builds its new campus in San Jose.

    After living here for a while, I noticed that the #vanlife thing has taken off over the last year or so, only because I got back into vannin’ (used to own a janky ’84 Vanagon for cruisin’ around in) and I have been working on getting a ’92 Ram Van up to snuff for short/weekend camping trips. There is a whole stealth camping scene, just look on youtube and you’ll find plenty of content on how to build out and live (sometimes comfortably) in a non-conspicuously parked, ubiquitous white cargo van. If they’re not living in one, it’s usually low-employment millennial-drifters who are on an extended ‘finding myself’ post-college vay-cay, but don’t know enough people to couch surf. I’ve noticed quite a few people from other countries doing this until they either 1) find a legit structure to call home, or 2) their visa runs out and they go back home.

    Reply
  5. PaulyG

    I think about my maternal grandfather almost once a day. He died in 2009 after a life that was much longer than he was supposed to be living as a poor Jew in Russia during the early 20th century. He ran the border when he was 12 with only his 14 and 15 year old sisters and made his way to America as a result of an aunt who lived here already. He learned english in a few months and was quite proud that never spoke with an accent. He never spoke a word of Russian again. Coming to America was a do-over for him. He would not be a poor shtetl dweller, but an American. He met the love of his life at 18. They were married for 73 years. Despite majoring in engineering in college, he became a schoolteacher because companies did not hire Jews at that time. That did not stop him from being involved the latest technology. In the 1950’s he became a pioneer of early public television with a science show.

    His grandson’s first sentence was Pop-Pop Car, not his car in particular, but any 1955 Chevy sedan in that sea green color. He and my grandmother always brought me Matchbox Trucks. I love cars but ’55 Chevys still have a special place in my heart. His kids are happily married and all his grandkids are happily married. And he got to know several great-grand children. And two of the grandkids (my brother and I) received engineering degrees and worked as engineers.

    He never talked about the old country until he was in his early 90’s. When he did, the stories were as horrible as you could imagine. But he risked everything and likely saved my family.

    He became old but never seemed old. He was happy, curious, thankful and optimistic to the very end.

    Reply
    • Ronnie Schreiber

      The auto industry’s hiring practices in the 1940s and 1950s regarding Jews was mixed. I can name a number of prominent Jewish designers and engineers but at the same time my uncle became a dentist because of the perception that it was difficult for Jewish engineers to get hired.

      Reply
  6. -Nate

    I’m loving the stories .

    I only met one grand father, once and he had zero interest .

    Thanx for the great music .

    -Nate

    Reply
  7. Q

    Bark –

    If you want to force a dealership to show you what their finance markup is, where do you stop it with other industries?

    Also, do you think we should start enforcing the “headshot” laws Jack referred to that mandate a buyer not inflate their income/resources? What do you think the percentage of folks that choose dealer-lending is that also fudge their income high?

    Hidden markup creates competition, which also creates consumer choice. Take it away and what direction are you moving towards?

    I agree dealerships can have some shady practices; paying too much interest on a car loan is a consumer problem though.

    Reply
  8. Aoletsgo

    I was super close to my tool & die Detroit grandfather. He retired to nearby New Port Richey – fun fact that’s in Pasco County which has the oldest average age in the country. He lived a great, simple life into his 90’s and I made every effort to see him as much as I could. No blue Eldo’s for him just a long parade of Ford sedans.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *