The very first definition of “steadfast” that I had found on the internet when I wrote this was “resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering”. I like it, as it very succinctly fits the context in which I’ve both heard and used this word. I’ve never eaten at the restaurant behind our featured car, but I remember having wished at the time of taking these photographs that its name was on this Eldorado’s custom plates instead of “RALPHIE”. If it’s Ralphie’s car, it’s his choice, but still – “steadfast” seems like a very appropriate word for this car, scene, and time of year in Chicago.
I wonder if Ralphie is the original owner of this Eldorado, which might put him in his mid-70s. This might explain why an established, wealthy restauranteur, perhaps, might have the only car double-parked on West Jackson Boulevard right before afternoon rush hour. No big whoop. He has likely paid his dues and has earned all the respect given to him. Perhaps he had purchased this car new and remained steadfast in his belief it might be worth a nice chunk of change some day. I also realize that “Ralphie” could simply be the nickname bestowed on this car. “Ralphie” would fit this Eldorado, sounding both patrician enough to seem upscale, and yet informal enough to befit the spirit of breezy, top-down motoring.
“Resolute” might be one way to describe how this two-and-a-half ton car moves in traffic, with its 190-hp 8.0L V8 and three-speed automatic transmission. It needs all those horsepower just to fight its inherent, and quite substantial, inertia that comes with 5,200 pounds of heft. I’m sure the needle on the gas gauge is hardly “unwavering” in city traffic. A friend of mine had owned a similar-year Eldorado, a ’74 if I remember correctly, but he sold it about ten years ago before I had a chance to drive it (or write about it here). I’ve always wondered what driving one of these is like, especially in a place like Chicago.
When the reintroduction of a Cadillac-official Eldorado convertible for ’84 helped to eventually torpedo the assumed, predicted value of the “last-of-the-line” ’76 soft tops, this ’75 might have been seen as immune to all of that hullabaloo. Being from the then-penultimate model year for the Eldorado convertible, it might have been seen as something of a relative bargain when new compared to many of its price-gouged ’76 counterparts.
One thing is true about Chicagoans. There’s a certain steadfastness that helps us get through our oft-brutal winters. When we first start seeing convertibles in traffic in the spring with their tops retracted, it’s a genuine, harmonic “Aaaaaaaa… ♪♫” moment accompanied by angels, harps and bright sunbeams. That’s how it feels to me, anyway, when it’s clear we’re done with snow until November. With Memorial Day just under a few short weeks away, here’s to wishing Ralphie – and the rest of us in the Northern Hemisphere – lots of sun and fun this season.
Downtown, The Loop, Chicago, Illinois.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017.