Archive for the ‘Buick’ Category

The Pontiac Dentura
October 14, 2013

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The cheapest car I ever bought was this very used 1973 Pontiac Ventura, that was as red as a tomato with a white top. It wasn’t a vinyl top, but rather a glossy painted white roof. This was a stripper of a model that featured vinyl seats and a vinyl floor. No carpeting, but that option delete made by the original owner during the Watergate years came in mighty handy for me. Read on.

I bought the Ventura when I was college in the 1980s for $350 and it had well over 100,000 miles. There was some rot and rust, but nothing I couldn’t fix with some Bondo. I patched a few holes, painted over the filler, added pinstripes, and a cassette player and I had the perfect campus cruiser.

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The Pontiac Ventura was fairly rare in its day. Even though it was a rebadged Chevrolet Nova, which also spawned the Buick Apollo and Oldsmbobile Omega, you didn’t see too many of them on the road. Mine was unique and that’s what I loved it. It went on to have quite a history.

It began when I had a carload of college friends and we were heading back to campus after a night out. A friend in the backseat apparently had too much to drink and threw up onto a girl’s lap and because there were four people in that second row, she had little space to avoid what had to be one of the grossest things to ever happen to her. He was seated directly behind me and then proceeded to hurl again, only this time he tried to cover his mouth to protect the vomit-drenched babe to his right. Instead he created a fountain of spew, and his regurgitated Pabst Blue Ribbon-soaked chunks ended up on the back of my head, neck and shoulders. I’ll never forget it, even the Barracuda jacket I was wearing. The stench was overpowering, and we rolled down the windows in freezing weather. The next day my buddy’s task was to clean out the Ventura, a task made much easier due to the lack of carpeting. That spartan interior option made cleanup a breeze.

Not long after, my brother took the car out when I was home for Christmas break and returned it with a giant dent in the front fender and a missing hubcap. The story was he was doing wheelies in a parking lot after a snow storm and learned the hard way there are often large stationary objects buried in snow banks. When I returned to college, the Ventura was renamed the Dentura, for its giant blemish and a variation of my name. A few more dents were added over the next two years, and after being a great mode of transportation for my sophomore and junior years, the Dentura went to the junkyard.

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Read about my Buick Roadmaster: http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/end-of-the-road-for-the-master-of-the-road/

Also check this out: Remember Mercury? http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2010/06/02/memories-of-mercury/

Reason #727 to own a Buick Roadmaster
October 4, 2010

The towing capacity of the Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon is truly impressive.  Take a look at this sight on Route 2 in Exeter, Rhode Island that Kara snapped while I was driving.   Someone taking their massive sailboat out of the water to winter storage, all while holding seven people inside.

Scot Haney should not try this in his tiny tin truckette and you should not try this at home unless you have a “master of the road.”

related: http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2009/03/21/yes-i-really-drive-a-buick/

also:   http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2010/07/02/nothing-like-that-new-car-smell/

and:   http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2010/06/23/scot-haneys-one-shining-moment/

plus:   http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2010/07/26/reason-726-to-own-a-buick-roadmaster/

Mini Buick Roadmaster?
August 5, 2010

http://www.motobullet.com/news.php?id=10361

Reason # 726 to own a Buick Roadmaster
July 26, 2010

I spotted this Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon near Easton’s Beach in Newport, loaded with surfboards and wetsuits and other beach stuff inside.  

I wouldn’t recommend trying this with Scot Haney’s flimsy go-cart because the roof might collapse. 

These Roadmasters look right at home at the beach, since these “woody” wagons have been hauling beach and surf gear for generations.   

Automakers really don’t produce the Estate Wagons and Country Squires any longer, but I have seen a few Jeep Liberty models with the Wagoneer option.

see also:  http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2009/03/21/yes-i-really-drive-a-buick/

                http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2010/06/23/scot-haneys-one-shining-moment/

                http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2010/07/02/nothing-like-that-new-car-smell/

Nothing Like That New Car Smell
July 2, 2010

Kara and I picked up a new car yesterday and took in a whiff of that unmistakable new car smell.    Nothing like it.

Going to the dealer brought back many memories of my childhood.  I used to love going to the lot with my parents to pick out a new car.    My folks were Ford people when I was growing up and remember sitting in Mustangs, Torinos, LTDs and Country Squires.     My parents had a strange thing for green in the 1970s.   They had four green cars in a row:  a Fairlane, two Torinos and a Mustang identical to this one.

Anyway, so Kara and I brought Helena to the dealership to pick up the new car.  She looked at the showroom in amazement as any 3 year old might, and immediately wanted to sit in a red car, that of course was not ours.   While we signed the papers, a saleswoman graciously played with Helena, who was having a blast.    In a moment of slight alarm, our crafty daughter somehow managed to start a car.    We all jumped in a grabbed the key!

The new car means our legendary  Roadmaster is semi-retired.  It was my daily driver for more than a year and a half and it has been great.  Even at 135,000 miles (just barely broken in as any Roadmaster fan will tell you)   I love driving it and it has never given me a problem.   I will keep it for those occasions when I need to haul something big in the back like plywood, a kiddie pool, or Scot Haney’s broken down Subaru.

We ended up getting a new Buick Regal.   I can tell you the 2011 models are a complete 360 from the Regals of yore that featured tufted velour seating and the turning radius of a boat.     The style conscious, tech savvy, gizmo and gadgetphile  Mark Dixon gave it his stamp of approval in the Channel 3 parking lot, so I guess that means Kara and I are trendsetters.

The new Regals are a totally different animal now and we are fortunate to have one of the first in the United States.   It drive better than the BMWs we once owned and was much cheaper.    Kara picked out the color,  after all I’m just the husband.   The folks at the very kid-friendly Parsons Buick in Plainville were very helpful especially John Bekish…a former local radio guy whose authoritative voice is a dead giveaway of his background.

We’ll enjoy that new car smell as long as we can.    When you have kids dropping food and so forth it can disappear pretty quickly!

Scot Haney’s One Shining Moment
June 23, 2010

Channel 3′s Scot Haney is still basking in the glow of a big day in his life that happened last week.   No,  he didn’t interview a celebrity or win the lottery, but rather for a brief shining moment he was the “Master of the Road. ”   He had the privilege of driving my Buick Roadmaster.   Insert oohs and aahhs here. 

Last week Kara had the Roadmaster at Foxwoods and Scot had to leave early and couldn’t wait to travel with the crew, so he asked if he could borrow the luxuriant cruiser for the journey from Mashantucket to Metro Hartford.     After an exhaustive background check we handed  Scot  the keys.  Here he is picking up our baby from the valet saying a quick prayer that some day he too, will have the great fortune of owning a Roadmaster. 

Scot no doubt welcomed the break from the chore of driving his metallic phlegm-colored, perilously collapsible Japanese appliance that sounds like a lawnmower but isn’t nearly as powerful as one.    \

The voyage was somewhat confusing for Scot, as he marveled at the technology and wide array of options not found in his impotent import:  six way power seats, automatic lights, concert sound stereo, seating for 8 and 0-60 acceleration he hasn’t experienced since he test drove a Porsche.   The Roadmaster has the same engine as a Corvette, which is one reason they are sought after by collectors, and the reason the sticker price in 1995 for a brand new Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon topped $30,000.

Where will Scot’s car be 15 years from now?   Likely in compressed pieces in the hands of convicts at Sing Sing as they craft scrap metal into license plates.

Scot was “Master of the Road”  for about an hour and saw Denise as he pulled in the Channel 3 parking lot.    “It’s like driving a couch,” Scot told her and remarked how you can’t feel any bumps or potholes.     That’s our ‘Master!     Safest ride he’s taken in a while.  

Reason # 725 I love the Roadmaster:  it holds a pool!

Memories of Mercury
June 2, 2010

Today Ford announced it was shutting down the Mercury brand, the latest purge by the automaker, having already sold Jaguar and Land Rover to a company in India and Volvo to the Chinese.

I always had a soft spot in my heart for Mercury because I drove two of them way back when I was in high school and college.    My parents hand-me-down Mercury Monarch was the last one I drove before I sold it for junk the summer after graduating from college. 

Actually, neither Mercury I owned was junk..they were good cars.  My first was a ’74 Montego MX Brougham with about 70 thousand miles on it when a 17 year old Dennis House got behind the wheel.   It looked just like this, only it was a slightly lighter shade of blue.  I loved that car.

It was roomy and comfortable, but the mileage was awful.  It had blue vinyl seats and a padded vinyl roof, and a 8 track player.  

My next Mercury was a smaller sedan, a Monarch.   The color was hardly manly….antique cream with matching interior.  My mother fell in love with it when she picked it up off the lot brand new.    My parents let me take it to the senior prom under strict orders I was not to use the car phone, which was a rare option in those days.

A few years later the Monarch was handed down to me, with nary a scratch on its pretty feminine exterior.   I drove it for a year or so, and then I was broadsided a few months before I graduated college.  It was driveable….ugly, but driveable.  Once graduation came, I sold it for junk.    That was my last Mercury. 

Mercurys were often seen in television shows and movies.  The ultra cool Steve McGarrett drove  Mercurys  in “Hawaii Five-O.”     Despite what young people may think,  Mercurys weren’t always just Ford clones aimed at senior citizens. 

Betty Draper drives this Mercury Colony Park in “Mad Men.” 

Mercury made some cool cars, from the Cougar to the Marauder to the Comet.  It is kind of sad that the brand is now fading  into the history books after 72 years, joining Plymouth, Oldsmobile, Packard and other storied names in the trash bin.       Could Ford have turned the brand around like General Motors has done to Buick, which is now the fastest growing brand in America?    We’ll never know, but my guess is…yes.    

I do know that years from now at an antique auto show no one is going to be gushing over a  bland and listless Toyota Camry,  but they will marvel over a car called Mercury. 

Scenes from the NY Auto Show
April 1, 2010

I had a chance to check out the New York auto show the other day, one of the biggest shows in the country.  The Detroit show is the best, but this is closer!   Green is a big color this year, especially bright green like on this Chevy Camaro. 

New police cars will be hitting the streets soon.  Ford is replacing the Crown Victoria with the new Interceptor, and the Chevy Caprice below is coming back as a crime fighting machine.

Here GM’s Dave Darovitz showing off the new Chevy Volt.  This electric baby will have Prius drivers salivating to to trade in their “gas guzzlers” for this revolutionary car, made right in Detroit.   

As you know, Denise, Kara and I all drive Buicks and think this new Regal is way cool. 

Chrysler brought in some hot models from Italy to show off their hot  new models from Fiat. 

Channel 3′s Joe Zone loves the Dodge Challenger, but isn’t sure it is a practical car.   I think his daughters and wife would love the purple one.  Get it, Joe!

I’ve always loved BMWs and owned a couple before switching to American cars.  They are beautiful, reliable  cars and other automakers try to copy them, for good reason. 

The Ford Fusion is winning awards these days and stealing new customers from the  Toyota Camry and Honda Accord crowd. 

Also from Ford, Lincoln has a great new look.    I have a friend who just bought a Lincoln, the first American car she ever bought.   Now that I think about it, I have four friends who have purchased Lincolns in recent years (one of my friends has two) and they love them.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Saabs although it will snow in St. Croix before I buy another one.   I was so in love with my Saab when I bought it and grew to hate it with every $700 repair.  Worst car I ever owned.

Finally, the ugliest vehicle at the show.  Nissan’s Infiniti Q -something, and you pay through the nose to drive in such hideousness:  just south of $60,0001!    Note to designers:  ventiports are for Buicks and Maseratis and the grill belongs on a Mack truck.

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