This Buick Century wagon could be the automotive embodiment of my late grandfather. Like the FWD A-Body Century that lasted a whopping fifteen model years from between 1982 and ’96, my grandpa also endured, living well into his 80s. Also, like this Century, Grandpa would always be dressed to the nines for church on Sunday morning. Grandma was also beautifully dressed, often with matching accessories, jewelry, and the finest perfume and cosmetics that Avon had to offer. My grandparents, their farmstead, and their church were in a very small, rural farm community in northwestern Ohio, and it always impressed me that it wasn’t just us “city folks” (i.e. back home in Flint, Michigan) who got polished up for the right occasions.
My grandfather would wear a hat, suspenders, and often a pocket square, if I recall correctly. His manner of Sunday attire was very old school and “correct”, as his age demographic probably lent itself to. (He would have been close to a century old in present day.) By the mid-’90s, wood applique on station wagons was nothing if not a throwback. (Can the readership verify the very last year, make and model of passenger car that offered the wood-tone effect on their sides? I’m aware of the Chrysler minivans and Jeeps that featured this.) Grandpa’s hat could be likened to this Century’s roof-rack, and his suspenders to the vinyl wood. I also seem to recall that Grandpa also had more than a few suits in the neutral, beige-y color of this car’s paint.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an example of one of these Century wagons, which feels somewhat odd, given that this generation of Century lasted in production for what seemed like a century. The only other car from this era that seemed to have been manufactured as long (and with as many periodic facelifts) is the third-generation Ford Mustang – a car I had previously written about having grown up with. I’m guessing as to the model year of our featured car, as changes were far apart and few between toward the end of their run – through which the wagon body style lasted, after having been belatedly introduced for ’84.
A respectable 6,800 Century wagons were sold for end-of-the-line ’96, in addition to another 86,000 sedans. By ’96, my grandparents had moved on to Ford Panthers (with which they would stick until they both passed away), but this Century wagon was a pleasant reminder of a time when it was okay (expected) to look nice in certain places. Amen.
Wrigleyville, Chicago, Illinois.
Sunday, February 5, 2012.