Buick’s reputation as being a brand for The Olds is, in my case, less of a stereotype and more reality. My grandpa owned a succession of tan LeSabres. They were the ultimate in luxury when compared to my parents’ rusty Volvos. As a kid, I thought being rich was the ability to buy a brand new LeSabre.
Make no mistake; I knew then that the car was a boring choice. My grandpa wasn’t much of a car man, just a Methodist minister who probably (intentionally) wanted something on the boring side. Also something American-made. And so the LeSabre it was, which he would use to commute, and also to take my brother and I on vacations, to places like Niagara Falls and Hershey, Pennsylvania.
The car always just worked. It’s also the first automobile I ever encountered that had cruise control, which seemed insanely high-tech back then. The car ... drives itself? How about that! I can’t remember the exact model years, though I believe the first one he had was an ‘88, and didn’t look too much different than the LeSabre up top. The second one was a ‘95 or ‘96, and then, before you knew it, a third from the seventh generation.
It was only when I got to middle school that I got my head out of my ass and started thinking dangerous things, like, maybe if you had upwards of $20,000 to spend on a car you could probably manage to get something more interesting than a fucking Buick.
But I think the appeal of the LeSabre was you didn’t have to think about it. And no one else had to think about it either. The late’80s and ‘90s Buicks were known for their reliability, because of some kind of strange alignment of stars that allowed GM to produce some of the most boring cars ever made that also never die. I don’t know where my grandpa’s first Buick LeSabre is now, but I like to think it’s still kicking, an unkillable, mostly anonymous avatar of what I once thought of as the future.
What about you? What are some cars from your childhood you’ll never forget?