Americans have many complaints about the actions of Congress during the past quarter century, over-spending and budgets deficits among them, and a glance around the parking lots of Capitol Hill creates the impression that the personal spending habits of members of Congress and their staffs match their political spending habits. In this view of the street outside the House of Representatives office building, however, the car on the left indicates that at least one person on Capitol Hill is exercising fiscal restraint. A Pontiac 6000 sighting is a rare event anywhere, with the newest ones almost 24 years old, and image-conscious Capitol Hill is one of the last places where one would be expected to appear. “Four more years!” is a chant that one hears often in Presidential elections; “Twenty four more years!” is what I thought upon seeing this Pontiac.
Weeks later, a sighting a few blocks away of the same 6000 allowed confirming further details about the car, including that it is a Capitol Hill regular. It is a 6000 S/E with the composite headlights added to the model in 1986, indicating that it is from the middle to late years of the 6000, which lasted from 1982 to 1991.
The 1986 model year was a pivotal year for this popular model. In that year, GM modernized its sportiest A-Body with composite headlights, anti-lock brakes and a four speed automatic transmission replacing the preceding three speed automatic. The STE (Special Touring Edition) version introduced in 1984 continued, with these improvements and also interior enhancements such as a tachometer and then-innovative steering wheel sound system controls.
The 1986 model year also was the beginning of the end for the 6000, however, as it saw the arrival of the Ford Taurus and its aerodynamic design language, which turned domestic car buyers away from the now old-fashioned square styling of the 6000 and its A-Body cousins. All of this history of ordinary sedans of the 1980s is less interesting to the general public than the Mini Coupe on the other side of the street, or even the Honda Civic del Sol parked in front of the Mini Coupe, but here the 6000 is the star of the show.
This car clearly is a long-term resident of the District of Columbia, wearing the style of license plate used during the 1980s — rarely seen these days, and as distinctive to older cars as a black or blue license plate in California. The car’s owner never appeared, so I was not able to learn anything about the owner or the history of the car, but having been parked in an area reserved for House members and their staffs, the car and its owner probably have been witness to many interesting events over the years. Twenty four more years may be a lot to ask of a car, but with the GM A-Body well known for its longevity as a Cockroach of the Road, this 6000 likely will be roaming the streets of the nation’s capital for many more years.