Curbside Outtake: 1973 Buick LeSabre Custom Coupe – Trying To Age Gracefully

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(first posted 10/30/2015)     Getting old is a bitch; the forces of entropy gradually and inevitably get the upper hand. Non vital parts are sloughed off, the skin gets mottled, joints creak, fluids leak, and uninvited parasites grow. Most of all, energy is just not as easy to come by, and sitting motionless in the late summer sun warming the internal parts is a lot more appealing than rushing off to work early in the morning. The growing question is how much longer just getting anywhere will still happen. One of these days, this Buick will remain motionless, until it’s hauled off.

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This Buick and its owner live at this low-income senior-citizen housing complex, and I’ve seen it for years, as it’s on one of our favorite urban hike routes. Sometimes it’s in the same parking lot spot, seemingly for months, and I wonder if it’s going to ever leave again. But here it is, out on the street; a welcome sign of life. Did the owner feel inspired by the warmth of summer; to take it out on a balmy evening for a ride along the McKenzie River? Or a run to the drug store for some meds? The latter, more likely.

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The owner has to be quite old, as this was an old person’s car from day one. These LeSabre coupes were bought by folks when the kids were gone, and they had no use for a wagon or sedan anymore; let’s live a little and really treat ourselves!  Nothing so gaudy as a Riviera; just a nice modest LeSabre, but a hardtop coupe and with a vinyl top. And a very plush and quiet ride to pamper themselves when heading off on a trip to visit the grand kids.


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Of course, if the owner bought this one new, they really would be getting up there now, well into their nineties, most likely. Or maybe they bought it younger than most LeSabre coupe buyers, or bought it used. We may never know. But we do know that they’re trying to keep the inside as decent as possible on a Social Security budget.

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Which doesn’t stretch far enough to keep the outside washed, so that the parasitic plant life is kept at bay.

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The moss is dormant now, after a long, hot summer. But I’ve seen this crop in the winter, when the “green roof” was very green indeed. The stuff is popping through the tiny holes in the vinyl roof, which is also feeding it well.

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We get liver spots and basal cell carcinoma; this Buick has vinyloma. It’s not deadly; just needs a vinylectomy.

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The Buick has company here, other oldsters with failing bodies and peeling skin abound in the parking lot. But the LeSabre is the grand dame of the place; the oldest and biggest car here, as well as the thirstiest. And the one that gets the most attention, naturally; the benefit of outliving all the others of its vintage. Of course, that also means it’s the one most likely not to start on one of these cool mornings to come.


(2021 Update: It’s not been there for a few years now)