So, with the, ahem, health events, shall we say? I’ve been in a sort of office/home/grocery store limbo. Ordinarily during Memorial Day weekend, I would have spent Saturday morning driving to Chicagoland for the Shirey Cadillac all-GM classic car show, in Oak Lawn.
Even though Auburn itself became a victim of the Depression, its timeless beauty transcends the challenging mood of the time; then, now and always. The sun always shines on an Auburn Boattail Speedster.
So, this Wednesday afternoon, it’s a little gloomy and just a bit too cool for sitting out on the deck with a cocktail, but as usual I was perusing car classifieds online, and lo and behold, espied this gem. A 1978 Pontiac Bonneville Brougham coupe.
I’ve always loved the 1977-79 Bonnevilles. The first cars I remember riding in, ever, were my mom’s blue on blue ’77 Volvo 245DL wagon, and my dad’s metallic root beer brown ’79 Bonneville sedan. I have memories of walking around that Pontiac when Dad was washing it, and not being much taller than the bottom of the window sills.
I’ve always loved Lincolns and Cadillacs. Lincolns, because my grandfather, Robert Klockau, owned several, and some of my earliest car memories are of riding in the back seat of his navy blue ’77 Mark V, peering thru that most excellent oval opera window with the Lincoln emblem embedded in the glass. Later on, it was traded in on a Rose Quartz metallic 1987 bustle back Continental.
But there were other factors, including the red Matchbox Mark V and blue Pocket Cars Mark IV that were among my favorite toys. Furthermore, once I mastered my first bicycle, one of the places I liked to go was to visit a triple black (meaning matching paint, vinyl top and leather seats) 1971 Continental sedan that lived a couple blocks away from my house.
All the years I checked it out, it never moved. About two feet of the trunk protruded out of the garage opening (both house and garage were circa late 1920s, designed for Model Ts not ’60s and ’70s Broughamasauruses), with the door snugged down to the top of the trunk lid.
Every decade seemingly has its own personal fad. Most recently (and seemingly entering its second decade in the ’20s) it was the combover. Oops, I mean crossover, heh. Before that it was the SUV and before that it was the minivan. But the gotta have it vehicle type in the 1970s was most definitely the personal luxury car.
To wit: A two door coupe or two door hardtop with a long hood, short deck, gigantic doors, and likely sporting a stand-up hood ornament, opera windows, opera lamps, a landau top and wire wheel covers.
This type of very American Motor Vehicle got started in the late 50s with the four-seat 1958 to 1960 Ford Thunderbird. It was followed in roughly chronological order by the 1961 Oldsmobile Starfire, 1962 Pontiac Grand Prix, pricier and more exclusive 1963 Buick Riviera, 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado (with front-wheel drive, wowie zowie!), the 1967 Cadillac Eldorado and the 1969 Lincoln Continental Mark III.
It is now Tuesday afternoon (just flashed back to the Moody Blues song, typing this), sitting on the deck with a cocktail and looking at cars I have no room for.
Such is life. But anyway, here’s today’s Klockau Lust Object, a 30,000-mile ’79 Mark V in Dark Turquoise Metallic with matching top and leather interior.
You all well know my fondness for those velour-clad, opera-lamped, gas-guzzling and totally impractical, totally awesome ’70s Detroit cruisers. So it will surprise exactly no one that I went gaga upon seeing this light metallic blue Olds coupe this beautiful, sunny Thursday afternoon, whilst sitting on my deck and working on gin and tonic #2.
Yes, ’76 was last call for the unapologetically huge big GM C-bodies: Cadillac de Ville, Buick Electra and the majestic Olds Ninety-Eight.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Japanese automakers broadened their lineups with luxury divisions, to supplement their entry- and middle-class focused fare. Acura in 1986; Lexus in 1989; and Infiniti in 1990. Mazda also had a plan for a new luxury marque to be called Amati. What debuted as the 1995 Mazda Millenia was originally intended to be the first of several Amati models exported to North America by Mazda. For better or worse, it didn’t happen, and Mazda’s answer to Lexus never happened.
Mazda was on a roll in the ’90s. The 1989 Miata had returned the small, sporty roadster to relevance–so successfully, in fact, that within a few years Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Porsche all had two-seaters on their drawing boards. The 323/Protégé was a competent little compact (My friend Tony LaHood had a Protégé 5 he still misses), and the mid-size 626, while perhaps not as popular as the Accord or Camry, still held its own. My boss circa 2002 got a brand new 626 in a metallic bronze with tan leather. It was a nice looking, comfortable midsizer; I drove it several times. With production (at least for North America) of the Japan-built 929 luxury sedan set to end in 1996, Mazda began preparing to launch its own luxury brand: Amati.
The Vega has been discussed here on RG before, and as expected, there was a cornucopia of opinions on the attractive but rapidly rusting little GM car. But an interesting question that occurred to me a while back is, why didn’t GM offer four-door versions? For that matter, why didn’t Ford do the same with their subcompact Pinto? Many of the import competitors–Datsun 510, Subaru Leone, Toyota Corolla–had them. Even Chrysler’s captive-import Dodge Colt had a four-door wagon.
One night back in August of 2013, I was on my way to one of my preferred Mexican restaurants for some takeout pico de gallo and homemade chips to enhance movie night. I detoured through a residential area to avoid a feckless snail on the main road. In so doing, I saw what appeared to be a late-’70s or early-’80s Celica.
Wow. That’s not something you see in the Midwest these days. Those early Japanese cars may have had robust engines, but rustproofing was, shall we say, not ideal? At any rate, most ’70s and early ’80s Toyotas, Datsuns and Hondas were either gone or seriously Swiss-cheesed here by the late ’80s and early ’90s.
Of course, as it was dark, there was to be no picture taking, but I made a mental note to return, and did so, later that week.
The all-new 1978 Celica replaced the Mini-Me Mustang variant after ’77. It was also the first Toyota designed at the new Calty design studio in California. The look was now smooth and modern, but lacked many of the cool JDM-style detail fillips of its predecessor.