Oh, snap. Literally. I was exiting a local, neighborhood breakfast spot this past Sunday morning, when I noticed this nice, champagne-colored, first-generation Cadillac Seville parked directly across the street. When I took out my phone to snap a few pictures, I hadn’t noticed there was a gentleman actually in the car. (Oops!) Here’s my story.
I’ve been addicted to the Buzzr retro game show cable channel since discovering it last year. Buzzr is a giddy celebration of trivia knowledge, skill, luck, and even formerly famous folks. It’s chock-full of all the game shows I remember from childhood on sick days when I had stayed home from school. These fun reruns include “Sale Of The Century”, “Body Language”, “Card Sharks”, and the mother of all 80’s game shows, “Press Your Luck”.
When PYL would come on after school while in first-run, our living room would get so loud with shouts, hoots, and exclamations of “OH, MAN!!!” that Mom frequently told my brother and me to keep it down. We’d watch contestants answer questions, then have a chance to earn winnings on a “big board” with money and prizes on it, while a random cursor that would jump around with accompanying “boop-beep” noises sounding in the background. Even my otherwise-reserved, professor father would sometimes get into the PYL-watching action as an active spectator, sometimes yelling, “Stop!” or shaking his head solemnly and muttering, “He was too slow,” as if the game was one purely of reflexes.
Animated “Whammies” (pictured above) were to be avoided, and would make a player lose all of their erstwhile winnings and have to start over from zero. This show was way more 80’s than anything from that decade currently on Nick At Nite. Many of the Whammies were even modeled after pop-culture icons of that time, including Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, and Boy George.
Recently, Buzzr aired an episode from some time in 1984 featuring a contestant named Thawann, who worked for the school district where she lived. She was lively, pretty, and also showed, in my opinion, outstanding comedic timing. (An 80’s sitcom like, say, “Gimme A Break” could have done a lot worse than to cast Thawann as a guest actress.) Thawann’s lines and delivery made host Peter Tamarken crack up more than once or twice, and as the game progressed, I got the sense he might have been secretly rooting for her to win. By a stroke of pure luck, she ended up winning her first game with just two shots at it, hitting the highest dollar amount ($5,000) twice ($10,000 in ’84 is about $23,000 in 2016). This was much to everyone’s shock – including her own. Check the first half of the clip above.
When Thawann came back for the next episode as a returning champion, Peter asked what she was going to do with “all that cashola” she had won the day before. She thought for just a second before responding that she was going to pay for her parents’ house to be re-sided, and also that she was going to buy her dad a Seville, before quickly clarifying, “…a ’79, not the new one” (a bustleback) with a hilariously sour face.
When I saw this Seville while leaving Thorndale West Café #1, I immediately thought of Thawann, her dad, and the car she had said she wanted to buy him. This gentleman in our featured car was dressed with casual class, befitting the stylish, first-ever compact Cadillac of the modern era. When the driver’s side door opened (completely catching me off guard), he said to me, “I’m going to charge you for those pictures.” He didn’t say it in a tone I’d categorize as angry, but I took that as a sign that I shouldn’t take any more chances by asking for an impromptu interview.
Anyway, Thawann, if you’re reading this, I hope you, your parents, and your family are in good health, and that the Seville and siding gave many years of great service. Thanks for being one of my all-time favorite game show contestants. Mr. Seville, it was a pleasure. And to fathers everywhere who take pride in their rides, just keep on doing what you’re doing. You’re part of what make enthusiasts like us do what we do.
Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois.
Sunday, June 12, 2016.
My father had a yellow 1978 Cadillac Seville until he couldn’t drive anymore. We liked it was smooth comfortable and responsive a nice size and returned decent fuel economy for what it was. We averaged about 17mpg overall compared to 13-14mpg for the big cars. We had it from 1980 to 2004. Aside from a few small mechanical issues over time, we really didn’t have any trouble with it. They are starting to get expensive now in good condition now that they are almost 40 years old.
OMG Buzzr! We just got it here in Indy.
Back when my marriage was busy failing, I slept (badly) on the futon in the family room. We had cable then, and I’d turn on GSN and watch until I fell asleep. After the divorce I’ve never been willing to pay for cable, so I’ve gone without classic game shows for a long time — until now. And again, when insomnia relegates me to the futon in the family room, I turn on Buzzr and watch until sleep comes.
Did you know that there was a game show a few years before PYL that was almost exactly the same show?
That is fantastic!! I had only read about this legendary show, but I thought there were no surviving episodes. Cool, Jim – thanks for posting this.
Yes, The Encounter With The Owner Of The Car. I know it well. The owner of the Seville sounds like either a tough guy or somebody with a real deadpan sense of humor, or a little of both. It’s funny the different reactions you get from people. Some people offer to pose next to the car, and some do the opposite and stand outside of the shot until you’re done. Most seem to realize that I’m just a dork who like to take pictures of cars, but a few assume that I’m up to something sinister. I was once cross-examined rather sternly by a concerned lady who caught me taking a photo of a Porsche Boxster. It wasn’t her car, and it was none of her business, but apparently there was a problem with industrial espionage at her company! We can’t have people documenting the existence of Mr. Porsche’s revolutionary new rear-engine design!
I can’t say I blame some folks from being suspicious of photo takers. My guess would be they figure someone scoping out a car for future theft, complete with license plate number. Of course, considering the type and level of wear of most CC photo subjects, that’s a little specious. Or maybe they just figure the photo taker is going to make money from the picture and are upset someone is making a buck from their car for nothing.
As to Thawann’s PYL appearance, man, she definitely has some huge, period fingernails. My favorite bad game show was Joker’s Wild with quiz show scandal dude, Jack Barry. I loved the ‘Joker!’ exclamation whenever one appeared. It reminded me, a lot, of an old Devo music video for one of their lesser hits, Peekaboo, with a maniacal joker laughing, “Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!”.
I don’t understand why people who drive unique old cars get testy when someone takes a picture, asks them about it or is just standing there looking at it. Of course people are going to be interested in it. If they don’t like the attention then they should drive a Camry.
My first thought: WHAT A JERK!
But maybe he was kidding. I hope so. In public, he has no expectation of privacy. Maybe you were taking a picture of the Chinese restaurant.
He actually seemed like a very nice man, and he did say it kind-of jokingly. I also think maybe my appreciation of his car (which was older and a little worn) didn’t come through, and perhaps he thought I was making fun of him and his car.
I certainly hope he didn’t think the latter.
Cool write-up Joseph! I love the reference to the game show PYL too. I always get a little nervous when I am taking pictures of people’s cars, as you never know how they are going to react. That Seville was a nice color, looks to possibly be a ’78 or ’79.
My sister had a ’77 Seville that was two-tone blue with blue leather interior. It was a slick top and didn’t have a ton of extras, but it was a very nice car nevertheless. She LOVED that car and drove it for many years until it started giving her a lot of trouble.
Nice car, always liked the first-gen Seville. However, I don’t remember their rear ends being that droopy? Maybe this car was rear-ended and repaired?
They all seemed to ride a little high in the front, and the beltline dropped too. But you’re right, I also thought this one is sitting even higher/lower front/rear than is typical.
I love Press Your Luck! Great show! I also like the clean lines of the early Seville.
The man on Thawann’s right is Paul Michael Larson, who is famous for having discovered the timing and patterns of the board. He was kicked off the show after winning over $100k.
Wow I always thought a producer was in the back making a Whammy pop up for some poor contestant who wasn’t enthusiatic enough–who knew there was an actual pattern!
A first generation Seville is on my bucket list of cars and this one looks great in this color combination with factory wire wheel covers.
According to Wikipedia, he lost it all in the end..https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Larson
He did have kind of a tragic ending!
Brown and Copper colored day today. My favorite colors along with my favorite post 72 Cadillac! A co-worker had one of these in the early ’80’s in black with chrome wire wheels, he kept it in great shape and it really looked sharp in that combination.
Mom was on a game show called Liars Club. I found a couple of episodes on U Tube. It was either ’75 or ’76 when she was on. I remember my friends and I all watching the taped episode on TV the night it aired. She figured out the correct name for the painting that was the last part of the show. All the other contestants got the answer wrong and lost their winnings, she only got the last “lie” of the paintings title correct and wound up winning the show. Wikki says many of the episodes may not exist anymore. Would be really great to somehow obtain a copy. We lived in the LA area and she was always trying to get on the game shows. She was on a couple of other ones as well, but I can’t remember which ones anymore. I think this was the only one she won.
I like let’s make a deal on buzzer ,as its a hoot to see new now classic old cars when they were new .
Everything from plymouth dusters to cadillics to mazda 323s
Isn’t it funny what a given car can remind us of. The Pontiac Grandville always makes me remember a game show where the final part involved the contestant getting into one of five new cars and turning the key. Only one would start and if the contestant guessed right, won that car. A Grandville convert was often one of the choices.
Was that the show called Split Second? I remember playing along as a teen and mostly getting the answers before any of the contestants. I often thought if I was on the show I could have had a chance to win a Grandville. The Chevelle Laguna was another one they often had as a prize.
Yeah, it was Split Second.
I was at that little strip mall this past Sat, 6/18. Got take out food from “Grand China”, 🙂
Visit the area most weekends.
That food is not bad. Grand China is sometimes a go-to when I’m riding the L back from O’Hare or Midway and don’t feel like cooking when I get home.
The car that spawned the sheer look. It’s still a classy number after all these years, and hides its humble Nova underpinnings well.
I remember Press Your Luck but the ones that were always mid-day staples in the late 80’s if I was home from school were those stalwarts, The Price is Right and Family Feud.