I stood there with a look on my face as if I had been bitch-slapped by a Charlie’s Angel. What was this glorious ode to a time when spandex was the cutting edge of fashion and posters of Xanadu were still on theatre walls? I couldn’t get over the swoopy Mustang II knock-off lines, the flared nostril quad headlights, and the paint; the glorious, sparkling gold paint that arced through the black body, complete with matching gold rims. I had stumbled upon something most people have forgotten, a 1977 Buick Nighthawk, a special edition Skyhawk, parked beside Route 66, begging for someone to take her home.
With only 45K miles on the chassis, I couldn’t believe someone had not purchased this wonderful throwback to the decade that brought us such greats at the Mustang Cobra II, the 140bhp Corvette and the movie Earthquake. I had to take her for a drive. Trying to sort out which key fit the ignition (round, square or trapezoidal), I fired-up the 3.8L V6. I listened to the push-rod glory as it blew what smelled like raw gas out the back end. No matter. This was the glory days of Detroit, when Car and Driver declared the H-Body quadruplets “have proven that Detroit face off against the best auto artists that Europe can offer and blast them out of the ring with a single beautifully executed punch.” I’m not making that up [C and D, Sept, 1974].
Of course, I should have left the Nighthawk there. As with many things (i.e. people), the more you find out, the less you want to know. While the Nighthawk was in extremely good shape, the whole thing felt as if you were maintaining control of the raging sub-compact by the grace of the Lords of Kobol… or something. The helm was pencil thin and so overboosted I felt I was herding the thing down the highway instead of driving. The throttle response, while good, resulted in a “only if we must” type of urgency. And the squeaks and rattles, oh what a riot of noise! It made me wonder how the American populace ever understood the word “solid.”
But it didn’t matter. The Nighthawk was so wonderfully overdone and so completely underwhelming to drive that I fell in love with it. It was gauche, terrible, and completely wonderful all at the same time, like a 70’s disco party that refused to stop. Too bad I had already pledged my love to something from the 80’s hailing from Ingolstadt.