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.
Someone — and for once, I’m not sure who it was, possibly Updike — once noted that “Americans are extremely unwilling to have someone be good at two different things.” Our sole cultural exception at the moment is for the omnipresent-in-media rapper-turned-actor, likely in recognition of the fact that rapping is
a) not very hard from a technical or effort perspective, thus freeing up time to learn another skill;
b) much like acting in the sense that virtually none of the “gangster rappers” were gangsters and very few of the “trap rappers” have done any pimping and so on. Compare the excellent work done by Ice-T or LL Cool J in various movies to Pavarotti’s turn in “Yes, Giorgio!” if you want a study in contrasts.
Yet it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that extraordinary people have extraordinary abilities in multiple areas. Most professional athletes can also point to success in other sports at an earlier level, or even in another professional discipline. From DaVinci to John Ruskin to Donald Knuth, the history books are filled with men who have worked the ragged edge in multiple fields of study or endeavor.
Is concert pianist and citizen-of-the-world Hyperion Knight one of those fellows? Now’s your (and my) chance to find out.
Responding to a discussion on today’s earlier post, I happened to look up some statistics on undergraduate degrees in the United States — and, as the Taboola ads say, you will be shocked!
Venerable readers of this blog will recall that I received three “B” grades as an undergrad. One of them came from John Romano, because I was hospitalized for a week and thus missed enough of his class to receive an automatic penalty, though I’d never gotten a “B” on any assignment. I respected his choice, because he operated from unyielding precision in his teaching and evaluation. The second came from John Parks, and it stemmed from a disagreement over Mary Gordon’s bigoted trash novel Men And Angels. I did not feel the book was worthy of assignment nor of discussion in our class and I said so. Dr. Parks decided to engage me on this topic in front of twenty fellow undergrads; the consensus at the time among the students was that I had won the argument in scorched-earth fashion, but Parks had the final word when the grades were handed out. To this day, I remember him as an example of how not to teach at the college level; he was a soft and weak rhetorician who relied on the authority of his position, an easily provoked midwit perfectly suited for nothing better than the pallid bovine regurgitation of better writers’ work, a disjointed thinker who started blinking back the precursors of naked tears when I, a nineteen-year-old boy in a threadbare “Rockville BMX!” T-shirt, raised my voice at him.
Which leaves a third “B”, which wasn’t really a “B” because I saw the light during my third week of class and took advantage of a university rule which let me take a certain number of courses on a pass/fail basis. This, too, came from an in-class disagreement I had with the professor — but unlike the work of Mary Gordon, which has never appealed to any sort of reader other than the feebly subliterate, the substance of our squabbling remains intellectually relevant to the present moment.
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.
To avoid insulting the reader’s intelligence, we will be using the following marked-up word:
several times in the narrative to come. When you see (SHRUG), it means that there is a fairly obvious hole in what is being reported or described — I can see it, you can see it, but nothing can be done. Using (SHRUG) in this fashion is inelegant and deliberately contra a few rules of grammar and usage, but we really need something that performs this particular task in this particular instance. Are you with me? Alright.
Last week, 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman had an argument with his girlfriend. This (SHRUG) was the catalyst for him to head out to his garage, put on (SHRUG) a Royal Canadian Mounted Police uniform, and get in his (SHRUG) detailed copy of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police car. He set a few houses on fire and killed the people when they came out. We don’t (SHRUG) know why he chose those people. Then he started pulling people over, using his fake police car, and killing them. The RCMP was in possession of this information fairly early in the spree but (SHRUG) decided not to alert people to what was going on. Instead, they (SHRUG) just told the cops to keep an eye out. Wortman then crashed into a real cop car, shot the male officer, and continued on his way. He crashed again (SHRUG) into a female officer’s car, killed the female officer, and continued on his way.
Wortman drove his cop car to the house of a woman he (SHRUG) knew, killed her, removed his police uniform, and took her SUV in place of her car. While refueling quietly at a gas station, looking exactly like everyone else instead of the fake cop he’d been for the entire day, he (SHRUG) happened to catch the attention of a police officer, who (SHRUG) gunned him down without return fire.
Wortman’s ruse was hugely effective, taking advantage as it did of Canada’s natural trust in its national police force. As the details of the shooting were coming to light, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a comprehensive ban on all semiautomatic rifles, aka “assault weapons”, in Canadian hands. At the same time, it was explained that Wortman was a convicted criminal who was not eligible to own firearms in Canada, and that he had not legally purchased any of the weapons he used. Nevertheless, (SHRUG) Trudeau emphasized that it was time for Canada to ban “assault weapons”. In a hastily delivered speech, Trudeau said
“”These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time. There is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada.” Ah, but there is a use and a place for them. Get your (SHRUGGING) shoulders ready.
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.