1989 Buick Century Custom
|Season||County of Pointed Freaks|
|Air Date||December 19, 2016|
Time For Church! We drive a Buick Century that turns Saturday night into a school night because you have Sunday School tomorrow.
[AUDIO FADE IN, SILENCE. THEN A BELL TOLLS:] [MR. REGULAR, DRAWN OUT:] Time for church! --- INTRO SONG, THE ROMAN (please find original tune!) That’s why I need a witness, Who can verify what I’ve seen, Not a GTI or a Probe, It is a real Buick Century… --- MONOLOGUE by MR REGULAR The 1989 Buick Century turned Saturday night into a school night, because you have Sunday School tomorrow. “No, you can’t have a sleepover, you’ve got Confirmation class.” ’89 Buick Century: the official car of: “I cut out a newspaper article I want you to read. Here it is – now you read this, it will teach you something.” Buick Century: brought to you by: “No, this may be Grandma’s last Christmas.” Buick Century: “No…no this year is gonna be Grandma’s last Christmas.” 1989 was the height of the Boomers’ power and influence. Boomers were in their early forties in the late 80s, and they understood the world. The world turned according to their whims. They understood computers because floppy disks WERE GOD DAMN FLOPPY. And the HIV virus was doing the Lord’s work. And this was their car – a Buick Century Custom. Yes, Boomers understood this car. A 3.3 litre transverse V6 coupled to a 3-speed automatic on a column shift with no overdrive gear. It has a 85 mile an hour speedometer, and the air conditioning runs on R-12.* This was the Boomers’ favourite car. They understood it. The grille reminded them of war. The hood ornament reminded them that yes, this is an American car. The badge says ‘Custom’, which means ‘diddly’. The fake spoke wheels reminded them of a time before the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Fuel injection. FUEL INJECTION. Buick. Buick. My son’s not gay, he’s just shy. Buick. It’s not wood, it’s better than wood! Century. Century. I’m going to live forever! I understand this world. My map light switch SAYS MAP LIGHT! While it hasn’t been in continuous production, the Buick Century has been around almost as long as Kirk Douglas. The first one came off the line in 1936, in an attempt to solve the Great Depression with a more modern-looking car, intended to give off the impression that the economy was on the upswing. It was an answer to the overly-simplistic cars of the day, which lacks sophistication or any sense of real currency. The name ‘Century’ comes from the British phrase “doing the century”, which means to go a hundred miles an hour – I’m pretty sure by the 50s and 60s, that became “doing the ton”, you know, with the Rockers and the Mods and everything in motorcycle culture – anyway, this officially marks the first bit of British slang we can mark in our notebooks for our upcoming UK trip in May, provided we’re not eighty years too late on the “doing the century” thing being the thing people say over there. Anyway, since Buick were designing their first car capable of going a hundred miles an hour, that’s the name this car got, although in Japan, it’s the Buick Regal, since Toyota owns the name ‘Century’ over there. And there, their Cen- Toyota’s Century is a four-door limo that looks something straight out of Final Fantasy XV. You could just imagine the floor mats covered in hair gel and dropped loot, just- *loud breathing/snorting* -breathe in those memories of four dudes who are totally pegging off-screen every time they go camping. By 1959, Buick moved on from the Century and renamed it the Invitica. The Century Cruiser was introduced in 1969, followed by the rear-wheel-drive A-body Grand Sport from ’73 to ’77, and the downsized Century sedans, coupes and station wagons of the early 80s. The commonplace sensibility that prevented the Century from the more aesthetically-appleasing (sic) cutting-edge models of the modern era is what gave it its appeal. In 1989, you had these weird boxy-looking things like the Geo Metro and the Hyundai Excel, cars for the type of girl with an Arby’s receipt, a pregnancy test and a Claire’s gift card in her purse. Well, by comparison, the Century looked downright classy. I’m a Boomer, I’m 40, and I’m going to treat myself in a nice, conservative way. The Century stayed on the A-Body platform for it’s big 1989 reveal with flush headlights on the front end, along with a stand-up hood ornament with the- which became standard. The full-length tail lights are the tell that you have an ’89 on your hands, because Buick likes big butts, and they can’t lie. Seriously, John Keats never wrote anything as poetic as the ass on a Buick Century. It’s so well-proportioned – I don’t know enough math just to tell you how symmetrical this car is. But everything feels like it’s in perfect artistic alignment. Sure, you may get 20 miles to the gallon, because you have no overdrive gear, but now, you have coil-pack ignition and the new GM 3300 motor, with multiport fuel injection, and if you try hard enough, you can seat eight people in this thing. Now the owner says that even though the speedometer stops at 85 miles an hour, he got it to do a buck twenty** on an empty road in Mexico. For a V6 front-wheel-drive sedan… it doesn’t accelerate quickly. -- [LIVE, MR. REGULAR AND OWNER DRIVING ALONG:] [MR. REGULAR:] Okay, so here’s a start. *Owner chatters, Mr. Regular accelerates* [MR. REGULAR:] Alright, there’s the beans. *a few seconds later* Eugh, that seemed way high, did that even drop down- then we went 45. Is that in first gear? [JACOB:] I think it was. [MR. REGULAR:] Oh my goodness. --- MONOLOGUE by MR. REGULAR We’ve been spoiled by Honda’s V6 Accord, which embarrasses four-cylinder tuners. The GM 3300 motor is stout, sure, but the 3-speed, beef-and-broccoli- buh! -box mutes performance. Every motion is dampened; the steering is heavy and soft; and the brake pedal travel is a yard long. And the ride is inoffensive, like Christian comedy. No-one knows that you’re drunk when you’re driving this. Eh, that’s what the Buick Century is for – this is a car for drunk-driving! What you do is drive this car to DiMario Angolini’s Authentic I-talian Restaurant, and you eat a plate of carbohydrates and drink three-quarts of table wine. Then you slaunder out to your ’89 Buick Century Custom to meander home the back way and appear stone-sober while you do it, because you can’t make jerky overcorrections in a Buick Century. This curmudgeon plows forward like a one-sided Thanksgiving political discussion. But like it or not, that’s your family. This is your parents’ car. Now, for those of us who have Boomer parents, this was their peak of intellect and physical strength. But they put us here – we owe a lot to them, even though some of them are reaching the geriatric stage. Because with a Century, you can remember those long road-trips, where all of your electronics were locked in the glovebox, so you had no choice but to appreciate the gorgeous mundane scenery of the United States – it’s rolling plains; it’s deep rivers teeming with trout; the countless farms with sluggish, foul-smelling livestock; the sprawling cities filled with sports teams eternally on a rebuilding season, and the billboards for injury lawyers with fat, pink, bubbling flesh. The Buick Century might not help you with God, but it’ll help you communicate with America, and if you ask the heartland, that’s the same thing. --- OUTRO SONG by THE ROMAN Century, Let me see, That perfect A-body, From ’89, You’re on my mind, More poetic than Keats, I’d have blown, All my loans, To get you over 20 MPG, Possibly, A- *cut off* ---
* R-12, known fully as 'Dichlorodifluoromethane', is a colourless gas that was used in most refrigerators and car air conditioners prior to 1994, when manufacturers switched to R-134a - or fully, 'Tetrafluoroethane' - due to concerns about how ozone-damaging R-12 is. R-12 was banned from production under the 1996 Montreal Protocol. ** 'Buck twenty' is a slang term for 120, formed from 'buck', which means a hundred, and the number twenty.