In 1980, Cadillac took a cleaver to the Seville’s ass in a move inspired by French Enlightenment literature. The trap was set for a young, impressionable Crazy Euro Car Boy’s heart.
As far as I am aware, the plot device of severing the buttocks of a live human and feeding it to others first crops up in Voltaire’s hilarious satire Candide, first published in 1759. After surviving the tsunami which leveled Lisbon, the novel’s eponymous hero meets an old woman who recounts the following tale:
“We had a very pious and humane man, who gave them a most excellent sermon on this occasion, exhorting them not to kill us all at once. ‘Cut off only one of the buttocks of each of those ladies,’ said he, ‘and you will fare extremely well; if you are under the necessity of having recourse to the same expedient again, you will find the like supply a few days hence. Heaven will approve of so charitable an action, and work your deliverance.’
“By the force of this eloquence he easily persuaded them, and all of us underwent the operation. The man applied the same balsam as they do to children after circumcision. We were all ready to give up the ghost.
Constant readers of Chuck Palahniuk’s novels would think that the practice of cutting off buttocks sat by for 246 years until the character Comrade Snarky in his 2005 novel Haunted has her buttocks cut off and fed to others—and to her. That is not so. General Motors beat Palahniuk in living up to Voltaire’s legacy when it introduced the bustle back Cadillac Seville, a car I fell in love with 24 years later.
It happened on the streets of Harlem during my last visit to the United States of America. The Seville sat comatose by the curb on St. Nicholas Avenue, at the foot of a tall brick building. I walked by at least twice every day and it showed no signs of life.
What a sad sight! The design screamed malaise louder than a Sea Stallion helicopter downed by the haboob in Operation Eagle Claw. A crude meat cleaver had fallen on its once proud buttocks and had severed everything from the rear window onward, leaving only deformed scar tissue in the shape of a bulging, proto-Bangle-esque trunk. Love took a few days to take root but it has stayed ever since, and no, this has nothing to do with the fact that around this time I was introduced for the first time to the most potent drug developed by mankind: fresh Krispy Kreme donuts.
I imagined the car polished gently to life. The wires on its crooked hubs straightened and chromed up. Its emphysemic 100 HP V8 fired up again, driving the wrong wheels, no way would it set this heavy lump of a car flying but we could start wading our way out West, eating miles all day and all night, air flowing over that misshaped butt in a gentle, coast-to-coast caress. Driving that car, letting it die a dignified death out in the desert instead of letting it slowly melt into Harlem asphalt may have been an automotive mitzvah of sorts.
The ride never happened, of course. I took the A-train out to JFK, got on a plane home, and haven’t been back to the US ever since, where my buttockless love still waits:
Someone has either driven or pushed it across the street. It is parked now by St. Nicholas Park, waiting, ever waiting for a fresh tank of gasoline which may never come. Unless I get back there somehow, armed with a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts and a hundred bucks in cash.
Photo Credit for Seville in garage: dave_7
Peter Orosz, the editor of Hyperleggera, a website he fervently claims is not a car blog (although it really is, we don't care what he says - Ed.), pens Jalopnik's newest feature dubbed "Crazy Euro Car Boy." It's a series all about one Hungarian sometimes-motoring journalist's obsession with the cult of cars.