Hammer Time: Two Uglies and a Brute

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang

Her aquatic face. Her distorted contortions . . . a Kermit Green 1998 Ford Taurus Wagon was coming through the auction lane. She had been loved by at least three other mommies and no doubt had an affair with at least a half dozen mechanics. She was big. She was beautiful. And for $600 she was mine. Then I put down the beer . . . “What the hell am I doing!” When the Carmax auction was all said and done, I had bought three cars that were the equivalent of automotive leprosy. The Taurus wagon was one of them of course. But the clean interior and Duratec engine took the sting out of that lapse of reason. She also drove well on the forty mile journey through Atlanta rush-hour traffic. This fat lady could apparently sing. But the other two?

1998 Buick Skylark. Even typing that on my computer causes a mild bout of nausea. This was the last year of the Skylark (thank God!) and other than clean sheetmetal and a functional interior, it had nothing to offer. I’m serious. This car has everything from a beancounted interior to seats that were built during the Spanish Inquisition. But, hell, for $700, I decided to put a bag on top of its sea bass-inspired front grille and took it down the road.

Finally the brute. Excursions, Canyoneros, and poseur boy Hummers have got nothing on a genuine 1991 GMC Suburban Diesel. This goliath of almighty Detroit brutality doesn’t belong on public roads. It belongs on a farm transporting two sets of the Duggar family through Deliverance country. The model I bought was virtually immaculate. It was almost freakish given that it had nearly 220,000 miles. Not. Even. A. Ding. Interior cleaned by someone who may be related to Felix Unger.

I bowed to the prior owner’s servitude and bought it for $700. Even though she will be briefly in my hands, I’ll make sure she ends up with a good owner. It’s the least I can do for the couple who kept it right for fifteen years.

Steven Lang
Steven Lang

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  • Golden2husky Golden2husky on Aug 10, 2009

    A lot of people are grousing about Taurus transmissions dying way early. From what I have experienced, the vast majority of early failures was from the first gen. Not excusable, but I think that most people get at least 120-140K out of the trans in gen 2-4 cars. I know of no owners that have experienced failure any earlier than that. Most of those people do have the Vulcan, not the Duratec....

  • Dave M. Dave M. on Aug 10, 2009
    And someone will buy the Buick because a low enough price will cover a multitude of design sins. I never understood who the hell in GM approved the last gen Skylark design. The previous gen was reasonable in an anonymous Buick sort of way, but the last run of N-bodies (all versions) was horrific.
  • RobbyG $100k+...for a Jeep. Are they selling these in fantasy land?Twin turbo inline 6 paired to an 8-speed transmission. Yet still only gets 14mpg.Whatever money you think you would save over a V-8 will be spent 2-3x amount fixing these things when they blow up.
  • Alan Well the manufacturers are catching up with stocks. This means shortages of parts is reducing. Stocks are building around the world even Australia and last year had the most vehicles ever sold here.
  • Larry You neglected to mention that the 2024 Atlas has a US Government 5-Star Safety Rating.
  • Alan Why is it that Toyota and Nissan beat their large SUVs (Patrol/300 Series) with an ugly stick and say they are upmarket? Whilst they are beating the vehicles with an ugly stick they reduce the off road ability rather than improve it.As I've stated in previous comments you are far better off waiting for the Patrol to arrive than buy an overpriced vehicle.
  • Alan How many people do you see with a 4x4 running mud tyres? How many people do you see with a 4x4 running massive rims and low profile tyres? How many people have oversize mirrors for towing once in a blue moon? How many 4x4s do you see lifted? How many people care what tyres they run to save fuel? The most comfortable tyres are more or less the most economical.
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