On this past Monday, I had taken another evening walk through my neighborhood on the first day of fall of this year.
Locusts were chirping loudly, and the air was cool and comfortable, being in the lower 70s.
Determined not to spend another post-workday evening in front of my televison or computer screen, I devoured my dinner and set out with my Canon camera before the sun had fully descended.
Settling into a steady gait, I felt the day’s tensions slowly evaporate as I looked around at the various, picturesque houses, lawns and driveways I passed.
Merely being out of the house during the week can have a calming, medicinal effect on me amid the steady stream of problem-solving tasks I execute continually on a Monday-through-Friday basis.
On the eastbound leg of my usual walking loop, I came across this fine specimen of a 1976 Olds Cutlass Supreme, parked in front of one of my favorite houses on this stretch of neighborhood blocks.
Bigger and more artfully styled than all the other vehicles parked on the street around it, this Colonnade-era Cutlass stood out like automotive royalty.
Imagine one, specific trim level – in this case, the non-Brougham Supreme coupe – accounting for over 186,000 sales, in a year when the Cutlass model line, by itself, sold over half a million units.
Looking across the street from the Cutlass at the late-90’s-era, North American sixth-generation Honda Accord, I was amazed at how much difference there was between the two vehicles which had been among the most popular sold in the United States in their respective times.
Even though close to a quarter-century separated those two designs, it made me think of the shift in priorities in what mainstream, upwardly mobile customers wanted and expected from their cars.
Coupes are all but dead in 2019, with the only small number of two-door models still available all being specialized or sports-minded vehicles.
Utility Vehicles, meanwhile, seem to have taken center stage and now occupy the niche in popularity that affordable personal luxury cars like our featured Cutlass once held.
Thinking about this makes me a bit sad, as I think about all the changes in the automobile landscape that have taken place even just since my own entry into adulthood in the 1990’s.
Let me say this, though…
As I’ve aged into my forties, I do definitely understand how ease of ingress and egress can be an important consideration.
Standing up from my seat on the CTA “L” train cars sometimes now requires that I grip one of their metal poles to reduce strain on my knees as I get ready to deboard.
Sitting low in a coupe, or even in a sedan, might require some similar bracing as I’d rise from the driver’s (or passenger’s) seat to make my exit.
Suddenly, being able to step into a raised-height vehicle without ducking too much or having to plop down into a seat seems to make a bit more sense, aesthetics of the vehicle be darned.
Under certain circumstances, though, I’m sure I wouldn’t put comfort of entry or exit as a top priority if I could have the Curbside Classic of my dreams for occasional, limited, leisure use.
“Pure Americana” was what came to mind as I gazed and clicked a few frames of this Cutlass in front of this beautiful, old, white, frame-construction house.
Reminders of Oldsmobile’s one-time dominance among American brands, like this beautiful Cutlass, come along fewer and further between.
Edgewater’s blend of old architecture, and large, tall trees was the perfect backdrop under which this Cutlass was picturesquely parked.
May what is hopefully a 170-hp Oldsmobile 350 “Rocket” V8 under the hood continue to burble on, smoothly, for years to come.
Even though not completely stock, and with just a few, apparent, minor cosmetic imperfections, this Cutlass’s beauty was undeniable.
Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois.
Monday, September 23, 2019.