Hammer Time: The Parent's Car

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang

Some families consider arguments to be ‘discussions’. Mine was definitely among them. As the youngest of four brothers it was a hassle for me to even get a word in at the dinner table. Everyone had an opinion… and damn it, they were all wrong! Especially when it came to cars.

My Dad wanted to replace his 1987 Lincoln Continental which back then had reached the ‘100k trade-in’ point. I told him that the car had plenty of life left. But the more I talked, the more I realized that no form of reason would ever penetrate his viewpoint.

“Dad, you can drive that Lincoln for another 100k miles. Heck you don’t even go past 2000 rpm’s when you’re driving that thing.”

Which was true. I don’t think any of my father’s cars ever saw a hard rev in their lifetime. My mom was even worse. We used to have a long line of cars behind us whenever my mom would pick me up from school. I used to walk home the three miles just to avoid the embarrassment of it all.

The answer I always got back from my father was some temperamental variation of , “You don’t know what you’re TALKING ABOUT!” My Dad’s voice was like the sound of thunder. Thick German thunder, with a lightning crack at the very end. The type of voice that naturally sparks fear into other people, not to mention nearly every girlfriend I ever brought home. That Lincoln, like the late President would soon be history in our household

Three cars were in the running. The 1992 Cadillac Deville. The 1992 Lincoln Mark VII which was in it’s last year of production. And finally, a 1992 Lexus LS400. Today we know that the Lexus would naturally be the number one choice. But back then it wasn’t so cut and dry.

My father always loved Cadillacs. Even if they were as unstable as Bernie Goetz at an NAACP Convention. The Cadillac represented everything grand with America. Tons of seating. Plenty of power. The absolute pinnacle of American luxury. At least that’s what the commercials implied.

Thankfully he test drove the Cadillac Deville and quickly concluded that it was ‘The worst piece of drek I ever drove.’ When the salesperson asked him, “What would it take for you to drive this baby home?” My father just said, “Sure” Shook the guys hand and left. To this day I use that same exact response whenever I’m given a slightly offensive question. It beats wasting time.

The Lexus was a different story. It took a near act of God to get him to come to the Lexus dealership. Mom had an Acura Legend and to him that thing rode as hard as a wooden horse.However, I showed him a write-up in some car magazine (maybe Car & Driver) that mentioned it rode better than an S-Class. He knew that not even the Continental could compare with the King of Benzes. So he gave it a go.

When we went to the dealership he was absolutely agape at the quality. The seats were wonderful. The interior trim was light years beyond the cartoon blue vinyl and wooden stickers that were on the door panels and dashboard of the Continental. “It’s a good car… but I’m not going to spend more than $25,000. No car is worth more than $25,000.” Although I had images of Ferarris and Lamborghinis in my mind right after he uttered those words, I knew better than to argue.

Finally we saw the Lincoln Mark VII. Damn I hated Lincolns back then. The Mark VII was in it’s final year of production and no one except the dead and dying were looking at it. Why would they? The design was squarish at a time when nearly everything with two doors had an oval profile. The interior parts were nearly as rickety and cheap as the Fox body Mustang that it was based on.

It sucked in every way. Gas. Driving pleasure. Overt use of cheap plastics and chrome. To me it was a Kmart special on wheels. But then I got in one for the first time.

The seats were surprisingly comfortable with side bolsters. The first ones of any worth I had ever seen in an American luxury car. My Dad smiled as he got in the driver’s seat and inspected the placement of everything. Perfect. Just like it was in the Continental. The deal was done before the test drive was over. $22k out the door.

Steven Lang
Steven Lang

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  • Obbop Obbop on Jun 17, 2011

    "a hassle for me to even get a word in at the dinner table." My Uncle/Aunt (two brothers married two sisters) so the six kids of theirs, my cousins, are especially close genetically, were "old school." Food itself for that family could be a hassle. Youngest boy made a grab for the last piece of fried chicken. Oldest boy poked him with his fork, drawing blood. Poked one bled but a minor wound. Oldest boy then speared the chicken.' Uncle, their father, responded to poked one's wails with "too damn slow. Gotta' be quicker." True. The youngest is now a prison guard. Scoffs at the danger. Says growing up at home was more dangerous. When he relates other events... I have to agree. That bunch grew up tough. If ever wandering the wilds of Nebraska be friendly to anybody you encounter. Might be a cousin. Some make more money from hunting and trapping than their jobs. And none fear being confronted by a bear or rare mountain lion. I would feel sorry for the critter.

  • Marko Marko on Jun 19, 2011

    The Lincoln was the right choice, especially for the price. Why would anyone have wanted one of those Cadillac Devilles in 1992, anyway? Even within GM's lineup of the time, the Roadmaster, Park Avenue, and 98 were much more up-to-date (and probably more affordable) choices for a luxury cruiser.

  • VoGhost Fantastic work by Honda design. When I first saw the pictures, I thought "Is that a second gen Acura NSX?"
  • V16 2025 VW GLI...or 2025 Honda Civic SI? Same target audience, similar price points. Both are rays of sun in the gray world of SUV'S.
  • FreedMike Said this before and I'll say it again: I'm not that exercised about this whole "pay for a subscription" thing, as long as the deal's reasonable. And here's how you make it reasonable: offer it a monthly charge. Let's say that adaptive headlights are a $500 option on this vehicle, and the subscription is $15 a month, or $540 over a three year lease. So you try the feature for a month, and if you like it, you keep it; if you don't, then you discontinue it, like a Netflix subscription. In any case, you didn't get charged $500 up front the feature. That's not a bad deal.In my case, let's say VW offers an over the air chip reflash that gives me another 25 hp. The total price of the upgrade is $1,000 (which is what a reflash would cost you in the aftermarket). If they offered me a one time monthly subscription for $50 to try it out, I'd take it. In other words, maybe the news isn't all bad.
  • 2ACL A good car, but - at least in this configuration -not one that should command a premium. Its qualities just aren't as enduring as those of Honda's contemporary sports cars. For better or worse, this is a formula they remain able to replicate.
  • Jalop1991 I just read that Tesla's profits are WAY down "as the electric vehicle company has faced both more EV competition from established automakers and a slowing of overall EV sales growth." This Cadillac wouldn't help Tesla at all, but the slowing market of EV sales overall means this should be a halo/boutique car. Regardless, yes, they should make it.