The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

2 September 2004

American iron

Usually a classified ad for a car causes major MEGO (Mine Eyes Glazeth Over). Then, in this week's Gazette, there was this:

1973 Buick Electra 225. 4400 pounds of Detroit steel, no plastic, no computers, no cat converters.

Originally, the "225" designation represented the car's length in inches, and the '73 was pretty close to that. This year's model was designed well before the first OPEC oil embargo in '73, so not even perfunctory attention is paid to gas mileage; its 26-gallon tank empties seemingly as fast as you can fill it. This particular sample is a four-door hardtop in metallic blue; the top is white, as is the leather interior. The one concession to presumed modernity is the air conditioning, which has been retrofitted to use R134a refrigerant.

Obviously, even at the bargain price of a buck a pound, I can't even be thinking about this behemoth. It would never fit in my garage, and it would triple the cost of my daily commute. Still, it's a serious cruisemobile, something that could never be said of my innocuous little sedan, and while '73 was well into the era of emissions controls, which tended to play hell with driveability in those days, there's something comforting about being able to pop the hood and identify every single part, something that just doesn't happen anymore, and besides... that's it, stop right there, don't say another word, dammit.

Did I mention the ashtray has never been used in those 31 years?

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Posted at 6:26 AM to Driver's Seat


My mom had a 72 Buick Electra 225, brown with a landau top. Monster car. In 78 I bought a 69 Chrysler Newport which was 12 inches longer and 6 inches wider. THAT was a monster. But on top of that I got 30 mpg on the highway!! (geez, I guess I need to make an entry on my blog about this UBERmachine)

Posted by: Dwayne "the canoe guy" at 1:52 PM on 2 September 2004

318 V8? In modest tune, this little small-block Mopar was actually tolerably thrifty.

Posted by: CGHill at 8:18 PM on 2 September 2004

The best car my parents had was a '73 Oldsmobile. I don't remember the model name -- it was big and black with a black vinyl top. Why was it the best car they ever owned? Not only was it all power -- power windows! Power locks -- unlike all their other cars both the radio and more important the a/c worked. They finally crashed the car. I still miss that thing.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 10:28 PM on 3 September 2004

Years ago, a buddy inherited the family monster when they replaced it with something newer.

He tagged it LANDYOT.

Believe me, it fit.

Posted by: unimpressed at 6:10 PM on 5 September 2004

You neglected to mention the single best feature of the '73 Deuce-and-a-quarter. It is not necessary to unfasten the sexually active radiator coolant overflow tank in order to replace the alternator.

I actually just ran in for a minute to superglue a torn fingernail and check my mail. Once the new alternator is in, my next task is to drive out to the fourth shop someone recommended to see if they, unlike the others, will build a mild carburated 302 which will replace the California smogmotor in my 79 fordoor foxbody, and give better than 145 horsepower, better than 14 mpg and lower emissions.

Posted by: triticale at 10:40 AM on 7 September 2004