The last time I drove a Buick was in 1959. It was my Dad’s 1956 Buick Century. This is not my old man’s car! What a beauty his was. What a beauty this LaCrosse is! This is a driver’s car!
One of the nice perks of being in the media is at certain times you get to drive a beautiful, and then sometimes a not so beautiful car. Some of them are rocket ships. Some are slugs. Some are actually full blooded racing cars! And some are just a car with an old fashioned, comfortable shoe feel about them. Having said that, I just have to tell you of my not-so-little-perk courtesy of General Motors in Oshawa. Through my good friend Gary Grant, the Garage Guy, I was given a Buick to use while in Toronto and the surrounding area during the Honda Indy weekend. When Gary told me this, I was delighted, but I also thought…a Buick. Was this smart ass trying to tell me I was an old man, which I am, or was he giving me a treat that I did not expect while I was in the big city?
As I said in the lead in, the last time I drove a Buick was in 1959 in Tampa Florida when I was fourteen years old! The only thing these two cars have in common are the four ovals on the fender of the Century, which was a beauty I might add to a fourteen year old and the same now three ovals on the top of the fenders near the hood. All right you wise guys, it does have more in common. It does have four wheels and all the rest…just humour me. As we drove into the GM plant we could see this beautiful red four-door sedan sitting with a ‘Hey! Take me for a ride on a tight winding road buddy and I’ll show you what I’m all about!‘ look on it’s hood. It sat there squat and low. The chrome gleamed and the paint was deep and rich. I could tell this was going to be my type of ride. My first impression wasn’t wrong at all. The moment I sat behind the wheel I had this urge to relax and enjoy the ride, but another part of me was itching to put her deep into a turn and ease the power to her as she came out the other side. I did both. She was stable at all times and a delight in the rain. The car is keyless, in fact as soon as I approached it the doors would automatically unlock! Once behind the wheel I looked for the ignition to start her up and naturally came to a button where the key normally fits. It just said ‘Engine Start/Stop’. I pushed it and bingo. It started. As long as the key is in the car that is how it goes and doesn’t go! I did run into a bit of a problem with this when Gary and I were shooting the Indy race, I dropped him off early so he could go to a meeting. I wanted to go and have a nice sit-down-breakfast as is my want at this time of my life. Problem. Gary had the key. I could not turn the car off once I reached the restaurant as I would not be able to start it again without the key. I did not experiment to see if I could even turn the car off, I just headed for the drive through at the McRonalds down the street and had to make do with their burrito wraps that turned out to be pretty good. I had not been to one of these establishments since my kids watched ‘Super-size Me’. The coffee still sucks.
After the weekend of racing I turned the car north on the 400 to meet my brother in Collingwood. I had not seen him in almost fifteen years and he was in the driveway when I pulled in. “Always trying to impress eh?” He immediately wanted to get behind the wheel! You aren’t insured was all I said to him as he reluctantly got in the right side. We didn’t even go in the house to see his wife! He is a real car nut and he was going to feel this beautiful lady. If he had gotten behind the wheel the tires might have melted. He’s from the hot rod era and knows what the right foot is for. Like I, he loved the car. He marveled as I did at the feel of a true thoroughbred just wanting to be let loose. I showed him the ‘Heads Up’ display that gives the driver important data about the car when you are running. I did not find it distracting at all.
After I left my Brother’s place, I took off the next day for North Bay where I took most of the images you see with this report. My old gang had gathered for a small reunion that turned into a full-on car show. To the last man, and one woman, they poured over the red beauty. Naturally all wanted to drive, but I could not trade that experience for a turn behind the wheel of a beautiful old Austin Healey which was my first love. Taking the car back was not the greatest part of this adventure, in fact I have dropped into my local GM dealer to show the car to my wife who now has a need for a luxury car with a need to perform. The Buick LaCrosse is that car!
Catch you in the Esses, Allan de la Plante.