I was born in Wilmington, Delaware in 1969 to a famous American family by the name of Buick. I was one of many siblings, all of us proud of our ancestry and anxious to make it out onto the open road. After a brief foster home experience, I found my way to a real Buick enthusiast who fell in love with me and took me home.
Gary, my new owner, had recently survived a nasty motorcycle accident when a car sped through a stop sign and hit his bike broadside. His 12-year old brother, Peter, was on the motorcycle with him and survived because he was wearing his ice hockey gear and on the way to practice. With Gary’s only means of transportation wrecked and screws holding his ankle together, he needed somebody new to accompany him to work each day. That's how we found each other and our relationship has lasted 45 years.
Shortly after my adoption, Gary decided to beautify me beyond my original good looks. He replaced my mundane wheels with shiny mags. He sprayed fresh undercoating to preserve my integrity. He repainted my body so my original “champagne on champagne” look sparkled even more. Gary learned of a cousin of mine who was up for adoption - a 1969 blue-on-blue-on-blue Pontiac Le Mans convertible – and his brother-in-law, Ara, jumped at the opportunity to grow the family.
The 1970's were filled with happy times and exciting excursions between Florida and the Jersey Shore. We spent a lot of time with Gary's nephew, Matt, who at the age of seven asked his uncle if he could drive me around their long, circular driveway. Gary agreed. I was nervous at first but immediately could tell that Matt was a natural and cherished his first driving experience. Matt's mother, Stacia (Gary's sister), happened to be sunbathing in the yard and came over to see what the commotion was about and, boom, a classic family photo showing off both our curves was snapped.
Gary enjoyed taking care of me and I continued to serve him unconditionally. Unfortunately, in the early 1980's Gary was in a state of flux with both his personal and professional life and I sat around in the garage for some time. One day, Gary decided to start me up and keep me running to get my fluids warm. He positioned blocks in front of my wheels, a brick on my gas pedal, and placed me in gear. Lo and behold, in my excitement I jumped the blocks, went screaming across the backyard, and crashed into the largest tree on the property. I was pretty banged up.
Seeing me in distress, Gary comforted me and told me he'd make me as good as new again. Over the next few months he took me apart, labeled all my components and stored them safely away. He gave my engine to an acquaintance to have it overhauled, but it got stolen. This was a huge setback and Gary was forced to set me aside in my unassembled state until he could find a new engine and begin putting me back together.
But life brought new thrills and concerns for Gary. He got married and had a son, who was born with a congenital defect that took years of dedication, perseverance, and financial commitments to take care of. Understandably, restoring his son became far more important than restoring me.
I rested in Gary's garage for decades – safe, dry and covered on blocks with my parts in boxes. Then, out of nowhere, Gary's nephew, Matt, came for a visit. I hadn't seen him in years and could see his eyes light up when he saw me, even though I was barely recognizable from the car he remembered. Gary was so moved by the gleam in Matt's eyes that he asked Matt if he would like to take possession of me and restore me as he wished. Little did I know this was just what the doctor ordered for Matt after having four daughters in less than two years and then watching his wife divorce him for another man, move his kids out of state, and bury him in debt.
Matt accepted with excitement, envisioning the day when I would come back to life looking better than ever and carry on my family legacy with his four daughters by his side. This summer, Matt and his uncles spent days getting me out of the garage for the first time in 32 years, organizing my parts and trailering me to a temporary home until they can figure out what to do with me.
So what will the next chapter in this memoir entail? We’re not sure yet... life is full of twists and turns but I know that with Matt's drive, ingenuity and follow-through, and with the help of a compassionate and committed restorer, Matt's dream (and mine) can come true and we’ll be able to hit the open road with my top down and 8-track humming for another generation of this family to enjoy, just like so many years ago.