For me, summer is very much about exaggerated flavors and colors. Of course, every season brings its own set of sensory experiences. Of the four three-month spans, though, summer seems to be the one to best showcase the sweetest treats and the most vibrant hues. There are the lush greens of lawns and trees, and the brilliant blues of the sky, lakes, rivers and swimming pools. There’s the tangy pop of bright yellow mustard on a hot dog at a street festival. This LeSabre, in its bright, custom red metallic paint, very much embodies the celebratory spirit of a big, juicy candy apple at a Midwestern county fair.
It’s true that no LeSabre ever rolled off an assembly line in Flint, Michigan wearing anything close to this shade of red. I look at it this way, though: the paint and other accessories on this car (the aftermarket chrome strips over the wheel arches) appear to be fully reversible should the owner choose to make his or her treasure look “factory” again. This one still looks pretty stock, and it is still riding on what must be in my top-three favorite wheel designs, ever – Buick’s styled Rallye Road Wheels. A tall security fence prevented me from getting closer than the sidewalk, but this car’s allure for me was a powerful one.
Maybe this LeSabre’s custom paint color appeals to that part of me that still feels very much connected to my 80’s childhood, reminding me as it does of the color of my all-time favorite flavor of Hi-C soft drink, Candy Apple Cooler, with citrus-flavored Ecto-Cooler running a close second. (Check out the commercial above, which I remember vividly from Fifth Grade, featuring a young Alyssa Milano.) This red also reminds me of the color of raspberry sherbet. The memories of being treated to a cone at the local Baskin-Robbins after a family outing can still make my mouth water.
The color of this LeSabre is also very much a shade that would be found on a Matchbox or Hot Wheels toy car. So many of us car fans grew up with those, and few (if any) of us knew or cared whether our favorite, miniaturized boat-tail Riviera was in a factory-correct shade of dark green developed by Dupont and authorized by General Motors. Bright colors, especially in metallic shades like on our featured car, usually make us feel happy – even when we aren’t feeling so cheerful. Summer is all about cheer, even if you’re now a working adult stuck behind a desk and a computer monitor during the week, all season long. (Summer weekends are to be cherished.)
The vanilla-colored vinyl interior of this car makes it seem all the more like a tasty, frozen summer treat on wheels. Go ahead – drop the top and crank the A/C. You’ve already resigned yourself to regular single-digit MPG’s from its 455 big-block V8 and three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic auto. You have just over 200-hp to lug around over two tons (roughly 4,400 lbs.) of big, red deliciousness. What are a few less MPG’s to be able to cruise with both cold air and fresh air at the same time? The drop in the already abysmal gas mileage can’t be that significant. Efficient top-down motoring is not your priority with this car. This ain’t no Volkswagen Eos. It’s your ride, and it’s one of only 5,300 swan-song ’75 LeSabre convertibles originally produced, so you go ahead and do you.
Early summer, in many ways, seems like the most exciting time of the entire season. Anticipation, in itself, can be intoxicating. Just remember the times when you counted the days before the school year was over with the same mounting excitement as before Christmas or your birthday. My recent recollection of this LeSabre (spotted four years ago in my neighborhood), and its bright, candy-colored coat, helped set the stage for summer 2016’s unofficial start this upcoming Memorial Day Weekend. This is the jump-off point for the brightest, tastiest, most celebratory season of all.
Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois.
Saturday, June 23, 2012.
Related reading on the ’75 Buick LeSabre Custom convertible: