Curbside Classic: Buick Century Brougham de Baroque, Turquoise And Gold Edition

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(first posted 10/7/2013)    A while back, I was quite thrilled to run into the Olds Ciera Rubies and Gold Edition. But given Buick’s traditional role in the GM pecking order, it was not about to be upstaged by “The Innovation Division”. The A-Body special edition wars were on, and the ultimate expression was the extremely rare Turquoise and Gold Edition of the Buick Brougham de Baroque. Imagine my thrill at finding one of the only thirteen ever made.

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Some might be tempted to diss GM for losing sight of the true priorities in the key mid-size sedan market, building the same car for fifteen years while Toyota and Honda were unleashing new generations of Camcords every four. But GM was marching to its own drummer back in those days, and the Brougham de Baroque was one of the finest expressions of that.

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Yes, that motto really meant something back then. Build a car long enough, and you might just end up with a car that doesn’t Baroque down. Since the A-Body was looking a bit old fashioned by the early nineties, Buick decided it might as well play up its classic qualities.

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Thus was born the Brougham de Baroque, which put GM’s vaunted design studio talent to a test they never expected when they were doodling jet-fighter inspired sports cars in their younger days.

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But times change, and many of them had spent the best years of their careers during the Great Brougham Epoch, designing and applying exquisite decorations like these on the dash of the 1971 Eldorado. But now they had a chance to take their finely-honed skills to a whole new level, in a true culmination of their careers.

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The energy in the Buick Advanced Studio hadn’t been this palpable since it took the lead on the new 1959 models. No expense was spared; even the front bumpers were treated to a full complement of rococo bumper guards, from a special advanced material that could be repeatedly be crushed in parking encounters and still bounce back to their cherubic selves.

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One of the most unusual features of the Brougham de Baroque was that it eschewed the use of the inevitable vinyl roof. But then the Baroque era really predated that, and it gave the designers more scope for their creativity. Sadly, this car didn’t have the ceiling fresco option.

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And a few details  have gone missing, despite GM’s use of the finest space-age adhesives. Restoration of these cars can be quite challenging.

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Note the fine genuine gold-leaf pin stripe on the window. It also doubled as an excellent aerial for the sound system,

which automatically played Pachelbel’s Canon as soon as the doors were opened. In fact, that’s all it ever played, on an endless loop. Who could ever get tired of that?

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So why are these cars so rare? The pricing of the Brougham de Baroque was a hurdle, with the base model starting at $87,599. And the Turquoise and Gold Edition jumped that up to $103,999. Obviously, there was a bit of extra time involved on making these cars, and a special slow-speed assembly line had to be built for them. And genuine gold leaf doesn’t exactly come cheap. Well, in relative terms, it was about as cheap in the 90’s as it got in modern history. And given the current price of gold, these cars are worth at least three times what they were new. Which of course makes parking them in public a bit of a risk. But if you’ve got one of thirteen mostly-intact Brougham de Baroques, might as well flaunt it, especially in such a blingy place like Eugene.

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