Down On The 1993 Stockton Highway: Battle-Scarred 1973 Buick Electra 225
While scanning endless strips of 35mm negatives for the Impala Hell Project series, I keep running across shots of random cars I thought were interesting at the time. This sort of photography led, 15 years later, to my Down On The Street series, and so I thought I’d share this set of grainy Tri-X photographs of a Malaise Buick in California’s Central Valley, captured on a super-cheapo Ansco Pix Panorama camera.
For most of the later part of 1993, I had a job delivering tropical fish to aquarium stores throughout Northern California, either in a Mitsubishi Fuso box truck (top speed: 58 MPH!) or a beat-to-hell diesel Ford Econoline van. In addition to a boombox powered by alligator clips running to the truck’s fusebox, I always brought a camera along when I drove my route. These shots were taken from the Econoline, on I-5 near Stockton.
I remember thinking “In not too many years, all these battered Detroit luxury barges will be gone, so I should document the final years of this era” when I took these photographs. Sure enough, you rarely saw beater 5,000-pound Malaise dreamboats on the roads after about 1995, and they’re going to be all but extinct now that scrap steel is so valuable. This particular Electra probably never saw the 21st century.
It was 105 degrees out and the Buick’s windows were down, meaning the air conditioning (and probably more than half the power windows) was kaput. What would the equivalent car be today? A ’91 Roadmaster! Not quite as luxurious, thanks to its Caprice ancestry, and much less torque with a mere 305 or 350 cubic inches versus 455 for the Electra… but it’s still possible to enjoy a cheap 20-year-old Buick land yacht.
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