Thursday, March 31, 2011

The 1972 Buick Electra 225

The following is an excerpt from a story I wrote about some childhood memories, memories when our family took a vacation.

As our van exits the driveway, the memory from the previous evening returns. Across the street from where my family calls home sits the home of my youth. A large edifice when built compared to the surrounding homes in the area. I see it now as we turn south to begin our vacation. It’s still a big house, I suppose, but I now look upon the building with a lifetime of perspectives, opinions, feelings, and memories. It’s more than just bricks, mortar, wood, nails, and concrete. It breathes with the lives of real people, real laughs and real tears and I am saddened whenever I see it.

But on this morning the memory is vivid. It is 35 years earlier, dark and cold. And before the sun crests the Rocky Mountain range under which we live, three small children and two parents walk to the street and prepare for the same trip. Perhaps the tradition existed before the children were born, but whenever my dad purchased a new car, its first assignment was a family trip. The memory now replaying in my mind was no exception. On this particular summer morning my brother, sister and I first entered the palatial opulence that was the 1972 Buick Electra 225, a car almost unimaginable in today’s world of fuel-efficient, lightweight modes of transportation we are required by law to operate. No, the days of the incredible Buick Electra 225 have gone the way of all the earth. There are many older Cadillacs or Lincoln Town cars from the era still on the road, or lovingly tucked away in a garage or storage unit, and perhaps if a movie star or famous singer of the day had appeared in a film or penned a song about the beautiful General Motors behemoth that was the Buick Electra 225, children would not need the internet to find out what the car looked like; they could experience the awesome sight of seeing one of these land yachts glide over the road and through the air themselves. If only…

The world of automobile travel known to my children differs drastically from one generation to another. My children can hardly relate to the experiences I had as a child, nor could I relate to the traveling memories of my father. I truly expect my grandchildren to think their own parent’s day of motorized transportation to be archaic. The demise of the 225 perfectly exemplifies the advancements made in the world of automotive engineering in the past 35 years. My father picked the 225; it was his car of choice. He was a big man, 6’ 4” though he always looked taller in most pictures due mostly to my mother. Her 4’ 11 ¾” height added stature to an already tall man, and a big man likes a big car. The summer morning we left on our family vacation 1972, was the last time my father had the opportunity to take a trip in a new car. The blue 225 was the last car he ever bought. Family stories indicate before the dark blue ’72, my father owned another 225, but a lighter shade of blue. I do not recall that car as well as the ’72.

I look in the rearview mirror as we leave the street of my childhood, several times repaved so that the original blacktop is all but disintegrated under the new. The Ford minivan of today turns west and travels down what was once an ancient shore of an ancient lake. I see my children in their traveling cocoons, still excited of the prospect of travel and I think to myself, they have no idea just how amazing traveling by car can actually be.

There are many aspects of my dad’s Buick I remember, the sleek lines, the chrome bumpers, the large dials to indicate the speed of the car, but the greatest feature of the dark blue 1972 Buick Electra 225 was the immense back seat. Of course, to a child of six years old there was no vulgar connotation to a car having or needing a spacious back seat. To my brother, sister and I it was a wonderland.

I loved that car and I'd love to see one on the road again. I know they're out there, somewhere on a stretch of road a big beautiful Buick commands the road like few cars did before and fewer still will in the future...

All photos were used without permission from the following websites:,,

1 comment:

  1. Great story. I took the fourth picture down in State College, PA in 2004, I see the Russians have appropriated it now; that car had 18K original miles, no lie, and I sold it to a Mr. Pablo Ortiz in FL for ~$8000 in 2008. I think he drove it for awhile and then resold it. I have a 2-dr. Limited, same year and color, in my garage now.