1975 Buick Electra Park Avenue. My 76 Park Avenue was the best car I ever owned. The very definition of 1970s luxury.
As in “Tromp” on the accelerator. Tromping is almost like stomping, except your foot is already on it and you press down hard. When you tromp on the gas, you’re punching it hard, to go as fast as you can, as quick as you can. Sometimes, tromping on the accelerator can save your life; other times it might get you a speeding ticket. Or get you out of one…
It was one of those perfect days for driving. The air was cool and the road was dry. The sun was high in the deep blue sky and everything was perfect, from the breeze in my hair to the rumble of the big engine under the hood to the girl sitting next to me. Back in those days, we didn’t worry much about big engines that guzzled gas faster than a crowd at a free beer tent. They drank lots of fuel, went fast, and could compete favorably with any of these little things they sell today, off the line or on a straightaway.
The big Buick Electra Park Avenue looked and drove like a boat. I bought it from an older couple who lived in Illinois and planned to buy a new car (another Buick) at a dealership. It was manufactured in 1976 and had a 455-cubic-inch engine (315 horsepower) with a four-barrel carburetor. The muffler I put on it wasn’t up to factory specs, and kept the big engine’s voice quieter than straight pipes, but there was a delicious rumble you could feel in your chest. That car held the road better than anything I had ever owned. Today, we have anti-lock brakes and traction control systems.
Torque is what matters in a big heavy car, and the 455, even weighted down with the newest smog prevention hardware was capable of 345 foot-pounds, enough to burn through a pair of tires in a weekend if you wanted to and had the money. Tires for that car were not cheap.
Sitting at the curb, the 1976 model I owned weighed just about 5000 pounds and was a bit over 18 feet long, one of the longest 4-door sedans ever made.
I was out and about purely for the fun of driving a luxury, boat-like car on back roads. The girl on the comfy-cushion, split-bench seat next to me held my arm tight as we went around curves and took corners faster than most people would. I’d slow slightly just before the curve, hold my speed coming around, and as the road straightened, I’d tromp the accelerator and the boat would grow wings and fly out of the bend with a satisfying whine from the tires.
The really cool thing about big engines and big cars with big carburetors is the way they suck air when they are working hard. You can hear it in the car and that is almost as satisfying as the weight in the seat of your pants as you step on the gas. If you happened to be on the side of the road, you might wonder if that engine was going to suck you right in.
We were coming up to the double-ess, a snakey-curvey section of road that wound through a low area with water on both sides and a narrow bridge that had a good bump on it. I slowed to about forty for the first curve to the left, wound to the right at about forty-five, then tromped on the gas to come into the second pair of bends. We hit the bridge-bump and caught a smidgen of air.
The yellow, winding-road sign flew past us and I entered the next curve at about 70 and kept it there. The tires were screaming and the girl clenched my arm so tight it made me grin. Coming out to the straight, I hit the gas again, really shoved it down hard and the tranny dropped down first one gear, then another. We were shoved back into the seat and as the car leaped forward, I caught a glimpse of white metal gleaming in the bright sunlight. It was too late and I turned my head to look at the cop hiding behind the tall weeds on a cutout I hadn’t even known was there until that very moment, and I knew that road very well.
Even at about 90 MPH, there was no mistaking the Plymouth with blue and red cherries on top and mirrored sunglasses behind the windshield.
“Cop!” the girl yelled over the growling engine.
But it was too late to slow down and as we roared past, I realized his chin was on his chest. I didn’t even slow down, just pressed harder on the gas and kept the middle of the road. The speedo needle topped out at 110 or 120 , I no longer remember exactly, and disappeared. It’s anyone’s guess how fast we were really going. The next curve was coming up fast and I had to brake hard to enter it at close to sane speed. I glanced into the rear view mirror and saw…
Sweet Dreams, Officer.
Copyright © 2013 MJ Logan Writer All Rights Reserved
No republication without expressly written consent.