Down On The 1993 Stockton Highway: Battle-Scarred 1973 Buick Electra 225

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
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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  • CougarXR7 CougarXR7 on Aug 30, 2011

    I can guarantee that my upcoming '72 Delta 88 convert will neither be a pampered garage queen nor a beater. It's no showpiece, but it'll be out cruising with the top down whenever the weather permits :).

  • Obbop Obbop on Aug 31, 2011

    Vile spawn are vile spawn no matter what vile generation whelped the noisy stinky foul creatures.

  • ToolGuy Here is an interesting graphic, if you're into that sort of thing.
  • ToolGuy Nice website you got there (even the glitches have glitches)
  • Namesakeone Actually, per the IIHS ratings, "Acceptable" is second best, not second worst. The ratings are "Good," "Acceptable," "Marginal" and "Poor."
  • Inside Looking Out "And safety was enhanced generally via new reversing lamps and turn signals fitted as standard equipment."Did not get it, turn signals were optional in 1954?
  • Lorenzo As long as Grenadier is just a name, and it doesn't actually grenade like Chrysler UltraDrive transmissions. Still, how big is the market for grossly overpriced vehicles? A name like INEOS doesn't have the snobbobile cachet yet. The bulk of the auto market is people who need a reliable, economical car to get to work, and they're not going to pay these prices.