By on March 26, 2013

My wife with the Oldsmobile at Storm Lake, WA

Nobody likes to think about the passing of a parent. When it happens it leaves you with a lot of different feelings, sadness, emptiness, loneliness and even, if your parent has been effected by a long illness or a prolonged decline, an unexpected sense of relief and completion. The grieving process is different for everyone, the legal process isn’t. Within a few days of your parent’s passing, the division of assets, property and cherished mementos begins to grind relentlessly forward. If your family gets along well, who gets what is generally handled gracefully and your relationships are actually strengthened by the process. So it was with my family and, since I was the only “car guy” among my brothers and sisters, it was a foregone conclusion that I would get my father’s Oldsmobile.

Despite George Orwell’s dire prediction, 1984 was a pretty good year. Sure the economy was tough, but America felt like it was on the rebound and the music was generally good. It was the year I graduated from high school and it was also the year my father purchased a brand new Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. It was a lovely little car in a stately gray color with good-looking Oldsmobile Rallye wheels shod with white wall tires. My father was a working class guy, a telephone man, and he understood what made a car reliable over the long haul. More stuff meant more opportunities for a car to break, so he passed over the optional V8 and chose a car with the Buick V6. He also skipped the landau top, leather seats, power windows and all the other upscale options. Still, the car never felt like it was missing anything, it was simply beautiful.

Over the next decade the Oldsmobile saw a lot of light duty. It made a few cross-country trips but spent most of its time under a cover in the garage waiting for Sunday morning trips to church. By the time cancer finally overtook my father in the early 90s, the little Olds had just 60K miles. My mom, who had never been a driver, let the car sit for months until she finally worked up the courage to take a driving course. Once she got her license, the Olds went back on the road, but even so my mom stayed close to home and over the next few years the car continued to see limited use.

Upon my return from Japan in 2001, I purchased a well-worn 200SX Turbo. Later, when I got a job on the other side of the country, my mother stepped up and offered me the Oldsmobile. I was thrilled to get it. The car still turned a lot of heads and it drove out well too. It was the perfect car to take across country and in March of 2002 I took it to Washington DC, but when I was sent overseas in July of that year I faced a hard choice. I really didn’t make sense to hang on to the car, but at the same time it was a tangible link to my father. It just seemed wrong to sell, so I stored it instead.

My Son Harley and me with my father’s oldsmobile

In July of 2004, I returned to the United States and my wife and I took the car back across the country. It was a great trip. We came up to Niagara Falls then drove across to Michigan where we boarded the SS Badger for a trip across the lake. A couple of days later we spent the night in Wall South Dakota, a place I always stop at on my cross-country journeys, and then headed to see Mt. Rushmore. Then it was on to Yellowstone where we had reservations at the Old Faithful Inn and finally, after a couple of days in the park, we headed home to Seattle. Three weeks after that, the car was back in storage and I was on my way to Japan.

After two years in Japan I made another lengthy trip home and I decided that I should finally go ahead and get rid of the Olds. It was a hard decision but the long periods of storage were not good for the old car, I knew. When my two years old son in tow, we went up to the storage unit, prepped the car and brought it home. We had a nice month with the old car and took a lot of pictures. It was important to get a lot of photos with the car and my son Harley, who is named after my father. At the end of the trip, rather than return it to storage, I passed the car on to my twenty-something nephew who was just starting a family of his own.

I suppose I should have known that the car would be more of a burden to him than it was an asset. He did use it to carry around his wife and baby for a while, but when he hit a period of extended unemployment, he decided to sell it. I was, and still am disappointed. Over the years I had spent thousands of dollars in storage and maintenance fees on the old car and all that was gone in an instant. My father, however, would have approved. He was, after all, a pragmatist and no piece of property, no matter how many good memories were associated with it, would have stood between him and supporting his family.

Owing the car for as long as I did was like a final gift from my father. Letting it go was hard, but with it also came a sense of relief and completion. As it turns out, too, the money that my nephew got for it went to purchase a set of tools required to start a new job – as a telephone man just like his grandpa. Maybe that’s the happy ending I needed.

Thomas M Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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102 Comments on “Dealing With Loss: My Father’s Oldsmobile...”

  • avatar

    1984. Good year for TV, too.

    The Dukes of Hazzard, The A-Team, Knight Rider and Airwolf were all on the small screen.

    God, I miss the 80s.

    • 0 avatar

      Randy Ramjet: “Bon Jovi, Guns N Roses, Motley Crue, Def Lepppard, Poison, Van Halen, Europe, Cinderella, Ratt, W.A.S.P., Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, Warrant, Kiss, Alice Cooper, Whitesnake, Steelheart, Winger, White Lion, Scorpions, Skid Row, Tesla…..And then that Kurt Cobain Pu$$y had to come and ruin it all like there was something wrong with having a good time!”

      80’s rocked. 90’s sucked!

      • 0 avatar

        Sorry Manky, absolutely hated metal and its cheesy corporate soul. It was gawd awful and needed to die as it did, quietly like someone put a pillow over its ragged face. The ’90s brought back actual music, at least for a while, apart from corporate claws and marketing skills.

        • 0 avatar

          “Grunge” was ultimately as phony and silly as the worst of heavy metal.

          All musicians are out to make money…last time I checked, even “independent” and alternative artists aren’t giving their CDs away.

        • 0 avatar

          Oh, for the love of…

          Are you seriously doing the Appeal to Authenticity thing with your favorite music?!

          I wrote this some time ago, but I think it’s relevant right now:

          “You hear quite a lot about “real” music, but never is a yardstick or objective standard applied to the concept. So what is real music?

          In my opinion, real music is music that exists.

          From classical to rap to country to trance to J-pop, if it exists, then it’s real.

          It seems to me that people who think in terms of “real” music versus whatever else are three parts Fan Dumb, one part Fan Myopia, two parts Serious Business and one part trying to live vicariously through their chosen entertainment media.

          It’s kind of like when Blawnoxicans say, “We’re goin’ to the Super Bowl” when the Steelers win. Really? Wow, I didn’t know YOU were on the team.

          (Side Note: I saw Jerome Bettis the other day. It must have been him, because he was wearing a jersey with his name across the shoulders. The funny thing is, I thought Jerome Bettis was a big black guy, not a five-foot-two white dude rockin’ a power mullet and a Slovak Plumber’s Mustache).

          If music can be measured, and that’s a big if, I think it should be according to technical criteria such as capability in playing an instrument or a vocal range.

          I will admit to a prejudice here, that to me, the harmonies and sound of a song matter far more than any lyrics or message.

          I really don’t care what a song is saying to me, as long as I like the way it sounds.

          For example, grunge may have great emotional depth, but to me sounds horrible, so I’ve never liked it.

          80’s hair metal, on the other hand, to me has an optimistic, inspiring sound. It energizes me – makes me want to slam the throttle wide open and go for it, metaphorically speaking, of course.

          I love synthesizers. I think the true power of an electric guitar is not its ability to grind, but rather its ability to whine. I like anime themes and J-rock for the same reason, rendition in Japanese notwithstanding.”

          • 0 avatar

            “80’s hair metal, on the other hand, to me has an optimistic, inspiring sound. It energizes me – makes me want to slam the throttle wide open and go for it, metaphorically speaking, of course.”

            Same here, but literally. BALLS TO THE WALL!!!

  • avatar

    That’s a sweet story. Thank you for sharing it.

    We do develop strong feelings toward these inanimate objects we drive, don’t we?

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Disposing of the last surviving parent’s car is quite evocative for some reason. Luckily my Dad disposed of his spare cars before he died (well, maybe not so fortunately in the case of the 1969 1/2 Dodge Daytona). We parked the Infiniti Q in a shopping mall with prominent “for sale” signs on it. It looked nice from a distance and sure enough a nice hispanic lady noticed it and called. We sold it for $500. She cried when she came by the house to pick up the car and the papers and we were still sorting through Dad’s things. We told her that Dad would have wanted her to have that car, which was the God’s truth.

  • avatar

    What a great story. Two things mean a lot to us: our fathers and the cars they drove when we were young. These factors have totally influenced my car tastes in life.

    • 0 avatar

      My father was a rally driver when younger. As such he has always been a car guy. I think his influence on me was limited though. In the past, while I was growing up, he had lots of Chevies and VWs. I’ve never had either. We have been coming closer together in that sense though as of late he’s owned cars that I approve. He’s now looking for a car and has consulted with me a lot. It’s interesting that the cars he’s mentioned are all the ones I like. Seems like now he’s being influenced by me.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, not so much for me. I love my Dad, truly. But the first car I remember him driving was a black-on-black Camaro. P.O.S. v6. broke all the time. My only memory of the car was the time I folded the front seat forward to get in back and the end of the coiled wire in the seatback hinge sprung free and put an inch-long, inch-deep gash in the soft tissue of my eight-year-old knee. The kicker was that he bought the car to one-up his buddy who has just gotten a talking car (“Your door is ajar”)…a ZX something, I think.

      After that, Dad got a steel blue metallic LeBaron convertible. P.O.S. Full stop.

      No, my old man has never been a great picker of cars. I respect the hell of him, but my taste in autos has nothing whatever to do with inheriting it from him.

  • avatar

    I think the biggest loss was my grandmothers 77 Impala 2 door (Aero-coupe!). It was a stripper model: hubcaps, manual windows and locks, and only a fuel gauge and speedometer. Power came from a weak sauce 250 I-6 with a 1 barrel Rochester carb. Interior was the same as the outside…green.

    I loved that car when I was a kid, when she passed on that car was mint. It stayed in the garage for months on end, with only a few starts here and there. The carpet had plastic over it. When around 1992 it finally got removed to reveal the perfectly sealed factory carpeting underneath.

    Unfortunately the car went to a family member who could have cared less about it. Burn holes littered the headliner, the seats were torn and the paint looked dull and dingy. She finally was sold one afternoon, looking run down and tired….it’s probably long been scrapped by now. Only wish that it could have been kept in its former state.

    • 0 avatar

      loved that folded rear glass detail…the mistake here and with the OP is that the car ended up in the hands of people that did not care about them above and beyond just something to drive. It’s especially hard if it is family. In my family, I am getting a bit of pressure to sell for a pittance my virtually flawless car to a family member. While they are not reckless, the car will be parked on a city street and to make matters worse, they are a smoker. I did not take such good care of a car for 18 years to see it turned into junk in one year. So, it is going to be sold privately and I will do my best to vet the potential buyer…

      I would have loved to have received car like that Olds…I would have swapped in an LS engine, upgraded the suspension/brakes, and added options….not quite the same as Dad, but the car would have lived on….

  • avatar

    Thanks Thomas. It was a bittersweet moment driving my mom’s Sandero after she passed. My father keeps the car still, though I’m sure not for any sentimental reason. She drove that car too little before she got sick. Maybe if she still had the car she had before the Sandero, it’d have evoked stronger emotions. It was a Renault Scenic and she said to anyone who asked that it was the car she most enjoyed driving in her life.

    funny how you call the Olds little. In my eyes, it’s huge.

  • avatar
    Johnny Bouncewell

    I was given my grandmother’s 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, spec’d very similar to your fathers. V6, steel roof, but with “wire hubcabs”. It had remarkably low mileage when I came to me in exchange for helping around the house and going to the store with her.

    I got my licence in that car some years earlier and still remember the effortless (albeit rather numb) steering of the car. One finger u-turns were the norm. Really comfortable on the road. Some time after she passed, the car developed valve issues and I sold it. I didn’t have the funds to have it repaired and hadn’t developed the skill set to do it myself yet.

    If it had a V8, I would have tried to keep it. If it wasn’t painted in Grandma gold I would have kept it. Now, those things don’t really make a difference to me, I would have loved to keep it as it was.

  • avatar

    My father was an Olds man as well during that late-70s/early-80s. The first car I have clear memories of was an ’87 Toronado Trofeo – black on black – fully-loaded with an Astroroof and even an NEC car phone. It was the first Trofeo in Florida and he took delivery from Lokey Olds, trading in a diesel Cutlass Supreme. I loved that car and he did too. I remember trips to Disney, cruising the Gulf beaches of Florida, and peering with wide-eyed wonder at the digital cluster, throttle shifter, and that big open sky through the roof.

    Unfortunately, three years later, my parents had a bitter and irreconcilable divorce that resulted in the Trofeo eventually going back to GMAC. Not without a fight, though. I remember my father and I sleeping in that car for four days, eventually finding a new home and a new job with it. He hid the car in the backyard for weeks until one day while picking me up from school, they caught up to us and took it. I was in 1st grade at the time, so I had no concept of anything except “they’re taking our car…I guess we’re getting a new one ’cause it broke?” but looking back, I can imagine my father embarrassment as a wrecker hoisted away his Trofeo in front of parents, children, and all.

    We walked home.

    A few days later after a desperate search for wheels that – to my vague recollection – included some sort of Duster, a Mitsubishi pickup, and a Tempo, we ended up with the cheapest buy-here-pay-here domestic at an Oldsmobile dealer in St. Petersburg – a two-tone green 1979 LeSabre Limited coupe. It was no Trofeo, but it was a gorgeous car in its own right.

    Fast forward to the late-90s and I was overwhelmed with joy shared with my dad when – after years of up and down financially – he finally bought his first ‘new’ new car since the divorce – a ’98 Regal GS.

    I think this connection betwixt me, my father, and his cars made me love the cars I do and have such fondness for them. There is otherwise no logical reason for a kid who was born in 1984 to have dealer posters of Buicks, Oldsmobiles, and Cadillacs when everyone else lusted for 3000GTs, Lambos, and Vipers.

    Thanks for your story that made me remember mine. Good memories :)

    • 0 avatar

      That’s a great story, thanks for sharing. I loved the Trofeo too. I always thought they were going to be modern classics. I stills ee them around from time to time and they still look good.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree. And looking at them without the tinge of nostalgia, I still see them as the most attractive of the E-Bodies. Of course, the lengthened ’90-92s are gracefully gorgeous, but the originals have a certain bulldog-like aggression to them that’s very visually appealing.

  • avatar

    I had an 85 with the Olds V8. Great car and great gas mileage. Needed a 4 door, so it had to go. I miss it.

  • avatar

    I think you should’ve kept the car.
    My uncle had a 1990s-era Cutlass Supreme. A lot of memories, and the car still smelled (benignly) of his favorite dog.
    After he died, his son sold it to some trailer-park shmuck for a few measly grand. Mr. Shmuck proceeded to blow the engine within 6 months, sending the venerable Cutlass to the junkyard.
    Point is, trading memories for a small sack of gold is never an equitable exchange. You give up more than you get.
    Might pay off the bills for a while…. but the bills always come back, while the memories are gone forever…..

  • avatar

    Nice body, especially without the vinyl top. That design seemed to run forever without too many changes and still looked modern. I bought my father’s ’79 Dodge p’up over a decade ago. It is stored at Mom’s barn. He got red/white Prospector a couple of weeks before I turned 16. I’ve been planning to move back sometime and get it running again. But last week I mentioned it and Mom said if she caught me on her property, she’d call the sheriff. Sister said she wasn’t mentally ill. With that attitude, I’m not sure about hearing that slant six start up again. It may be gone soon. Glad both of us have memories and photos, and a place in our hearts for cars.

  • avatar

    Something about American cars, and the aspirational value they provide for the dollar spent, makes for interesting drivers.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I kind of felt a loss when Oldsmobile as a whole went down in 2004, and I was a little over ten at the time. And that is a neat story; life can be so bittersweet sometimes…

    • 0 avatar

      When Pontiac went away, the New York Times ran a blog post asking people to send in stories about the various old marks that have disappeared over the years. I sent in the photo of my son and myself along with a brief post telling the story of the car – nothing as long and as detailed as this story though.

      It was the first real car related blog post I ever made.

  • avatar

    When my mother passed I helped sell her 1993 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham. I really wanted to keep it, but with no space for the land yacht it had to go. She loved big old caddies and this one had replaced her 1979 Fleetwood Brougham with the big old 7 liter. I still look every now and then to see what D-bodies are out there. Maybe one day I’ll pick up one in wagon form.

  • avatar

    Very moving story. I guess this is probably a pretty common feeling. I remember as a kid, my Grandpa died of cancer at a relatively young age. His last car was a Mercedes W115. He was a car enthusiast, and loves to drive. My mom opined that perhaps because of the cancer, he doesn’t feel as good driving cars, and wanted the best one he can buy. This is Indonesia in the early 1970s, mind you, and it was very, very undeveloped. The Mercedes was probably close to the best that one can buy that’s not quite an exotic. Anyway, my grandmother held on to that Mercedes for something like 15 years. It’s mostly sitting in the garage, and often when it is driven by my uncle visiting from another city, it end up broke down. It was only due to my uncle’s insistence that my grandma finally let the car go. I was just a kid at the time, and could never understand why she hold on on that car for so long. I guess it’s the only thing left of grandpa that she can still held on.

  • avatar

    Great story, and a nice looking Cutlass. Those were truly the last of the Cutlass in my opinion, the cars that wore the name after just weren’t the same. The G-body Cutlass was a peak for Olds, and everything after was decline.

    My grandfather left me a nice Ford F150 with the 300 straight 6 and a 4 speed on the floor. I drove the truck for a number of years, but parked it when I moved away.

    I never planned on selling it, just keep it in the family, since I wouldn’t get anything for it even if I did try and sell it. When my youngest brother turned 16, I gave it to him, however as a solid gen Y, he has little interest in driving it or fixing it up.

  • avatar

    Very sweet story and I love the father-son photo. Too bad about the ultimate fate of the car but you show that you’re your father’s son by accepting it the way you do.

    I think the Cutlass supreme was the Camry of the 70’s to 90’s. It was simply everywhere, owned by every kind of person…. just the most sensible, reliable vehicle available for small families and pragmatic childless adults while Japanese cars were slowly evolving to mainstream American size.

    I completely agree with your father’s attitude towards doo-dads and gadgets on cars…. just problems waiting to happen. He seems to have been a rock-solid, family-first guy and you clearly take after him. And so will Harley II, I’m sure.

    Thanks for another excellent story.

  • avatar

    I share all the same feelings about my late father, who passed in 2003 from cancer.

    But I don’t share the same feelings for the last car he owned, which was a 93 Buick Century in powder blue. It was very clean, but not very popular. I managed to sell it to a man who was foisting it upon his college-aged son, presumably to keep him out of trouble behind the wheel. The painful look in the kid’s eyes was priceless.

    Ironically, my dad was never a GM guy; I think this was the only GM product he ever owned.

  • avatar

    Dad’s one and only Oldsmobile was a ’78 Delta Eighty-Eight Royale. Since he was a Chevy man most of his life, this was a big step up. He would always aspire to a Cadillac, but never allowed himself the luxury (a childhood in the Depression and mid-Western values kept that from happening.)

    The car he most loved and in which I learned to drive was a 1964 Impala SS, 327, Powerglide, Palomar (dark) Red and white interior. What a beautiful car that was. He ordered it from the factory – in part to get the white interior and because he could save 8 bucks by getting the non-push button AM radio.

    He sold it to buy a 1973 Monte Carlo off the lot – the first of the Gothic-fendered Montes. It was quieter and had air conditioning and power windows, but none of the visceral or visual appeal of the ’64 SS which lacked these luxuries. If there was a golden age for GM cars, it was the 1960’s.

  • avatar

    My dad enjoyed telling the story about the little red light on the dash of our Morris Minor and how if he touched it with his finger it would go out but not for me. Of course he was secretly easing the brake on and off out of my purview.

    The only new car he ever bought was a 1953 Chev sedan in two-tone forest green and cream, for which he took delivery the day of his first date with my mom.

    It’s funny how prominently cars figure into family stories.

  • avatar

    Very well written Thomas ;

    Pops is still with us and about to graduate Harvard University @ 91 Y.O. in may .

    He knows nothing about cars (and killed more than a few) but had a really nice 1937 Bently St. James Coupe in the 1960’s , sadly he gave it to my middle brother who promtly ruined the engine and then junked it… I wanted it *so* badly .

    My Son and I are both die hard car nuts , I’m a cruiser and he’s a track racer , oddly he’s taken over some of the cars I’ve had since the early 1970’s , my old 60’s VWs he says he wants to keep at least one .

    Bitter sweet in passing is right ~ my Moms is in Hospice care and my greedy siblings are already fighting to steal everything they can ~ I told Mom to give everything to Charity as we don’t need any blood money .


    • 0 avatar

      Nate, ye gods and little fishes! Your pops is on my heroes list: 91 and graduating from college. This is beside the point perhaps, but what is his major? At any rate, he’s a superdad for sure.

      • 0 avatar

        Therin lies a tale : my Father was a Senior attending Harvard U. in 1941 and working the telephone switchboard for the Medical School at night to help pay the way when a Freshman Medical Student suddenly died and they offered him that one open spot even though he’d not quite yet graduated ~ of course , he jumped at the chance and in four years graduated Harvard Medical School but never graduated Harvard U. ~ he went on in his carreer in Oncology but this unfinished College Degree thing knawed at him , he retired a few years ago and about the same time Harvard U. began to offer an On Line study course , he signed up and passed all his course with fyling colors (he’s some kinda genious) and will be graduating in May and addressing the event .

        Like me , he doesn’t like to be idle so this thing has been much fun for him .

        IIRC, his original major was Anthropology . not too bad for a kid from The North Bronx .


  • avatar

    I wish someone would make something like this again. Simple, good looking, far from the melted soapbar look as you can get. Ahhh, the good old days.

  • avatar

    My grandfather turns 89 this year and insists I have his 1991 GMC pickup. It’s got 79k on the odometer, bordello red interior, and looks like it just rolled off the showroom floor. I love the truck but I’m afraid I’m just going to ruin it. Still, my gramps and I had a lot of fun driving around the abandoned dirt roads of northern Nevada in it back in the 90’s, so it does hold sentimental value. I imagine I’ll end up with it and probably just drive it down to the end of the street once a week like he does now. I can’t imagine the truck leaving the family.

    Thanks for the great articles. These have been some of my favorite reads on the internet.

  • avatar

    My dad had a 1970 Olds Cutlass S with a 350 in it. It was usually only used to tow our boat when I was a kid. He used to have fun in that Olds towing the boat up a hill and waiting for someone to try and pass us, then he’d floor it and blow them off before the passing zone was over. He got a big kick out of that every time he’d do it. He finally passed and I sold off the boat and the car because the car sat around unused for too long and it developed too much rust. I always wanted to take that car and modify it to look like an IMSA racer with fender flares, big front air dam, big tail on the trunk, 442 style hood, and a set of 79-81 Pontiac “Turbine” style wheels.

  • avatar

    I grew up in my dad’s 72 Suburban. Sold it years ago, after he died. Then last week at the end of a cross-country ski trip, came back to an empty parking lot occupied by only my car and a 72 Suburban that a guy was using to tow his snowmobiles. Man was it good to that old workhorse still in the harness. there is something special about our fathers’ cars.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Great story that appeals to the emotions in many of us. My Grandpa is in his 90’s and it was bittersweet when he announced, ” I had to quit driving because I couldn’t move my feet fast enough”. A pristine loaded Buick and an F-150 sit in his garage, rarely driven. I asked my Dad about some small dings in his STS and he sheepishly admitted; “I don’t have my fighter pilot reflexes anymore.” Bittersweet and brutally honest moments in your life.

  • avatar

    The 1981-1988 Olds Cutlass Supreme (and Salon) 2-door was simply the most handsome car in the Olds lineup and, in my opinion, in the entire GM lineup!

    I grew up in Cutlasses. My mom had a black ’74 2-door when I was born in 1975. In 1980, she bought a ’77 Cutlass Supreme Brougham 2-door from a cousin who wanted to ‘upgrade’ to a Buick Riviera!?! In November 1985, she traded in the ’77 on her first brand new car, a beautiful 1986 Cutlass Supreme 2-door coupe! It was battleship gray with chrome trimmed Olds Rallye wheels, raised white letter tires and the optional 307 4-barrel V8! It was a real looker on the outside, but the inside wasn’t nearly as impressive…it had horrible burgandy velour seats, hideous color but it was very popular at the time even if it did look like a blood clot! It also had a one-piece bench front seat. For mom to reach the steering wheel and pedals, my knees had to be in the dash on the passenger side! It was ridiculous considering that a split-bench option was just a $45 option…should have been standard!

    But it was a great car and I even took my driver’s test in it! I still look at the Cutlass from the mid 80s and wish I had another one…and maybe I’ll buy another someday!

  • avatar

    What a beautiful story.

    The Cutlass Supreme of this era is my all-time favorite car, hence my screen name. It looked lovely in that Briar Brown :)

    I once owned a 1987 Supreme, a Brougham coupe in Light Chestnut, one of the best cars I ever owned. I wish I could have kept it.

    As for cars and dads, I too understand. In 2011 I bought a beautiful, one-owner 1995 Buick LeSabre Limited. When my dad saw it, he smiled and said he approved. It meant a lot to me to earn his approval. He said he wanted to drive it sometime. He got to-once. He passed away a few months later from Lou Gehrig’s Disease. That summer, the Buick spent most of it’s time going to the hospital and then of course to the church for the funeral, then the three-hour trip to the cemetery, and numerous trips back and forth from there in Ypsilanti back to home in Tawas. That winter I put the car away in the garage so I wouldn’t have to drive it in the salt. Every day I went out there to get into my other car, I would see it sitting there, and all I could think about was my dad’s final days. Exactly one year to the day I bought it, I sold it to a lovely older couple who took it to their winter home in Florida. I loved that car, but it had to be done.

    Also during that time, my mom had Dad’s 2003 Ranger. After several months, she decided that she had no need for two cars, and she figured that Dad would want me to have a good car, as my 1995 Mystique was constantly in need of attention, so she sold it and gave me the money for a nice down payment on a new 2012 Ford Escape that I ordered. We both feel my father would have approved.

    Thanks again for this story.

    • 0 avatar

      Thomas, a wonderful story indeed–I nearly started bawling, and the lump in my throat is only now diminishing!

      Supremebrougham, I’m not suprised you are commenting on this thread! :-) (And I think I’ve seen your story on another thread, IIRC, which only makes this more poignant.)

      My first car was a used-up hooptie of a 1978 Salon Coupe inherited from a chain-smoking Aunt (the “areoback,” which looked like a hatch), in Pastel Blue, with the 260 V8. Power of the Buick 6, with the economy of a larger V8! Not good on a high-school-and-college budget!!

      The poor car had been severly mistreated; when picking up the car, a layer of cigarette ash an inch thick covered the carpets, and it literally took EIGHT rolls of paper towels and a GALLON of window cleaner to get the windows to my eighteen year-old standards! Since it hadn’t seen many washings or waxings in ten years of Michigan winters, the tinworm was already at work on the lower doors and rockers! And I was so sensitive to the interior rattles and squeaks (recalling that this was the first year of the A/G-Body after the ’73-’77 “Collonaides”) that my Dad threatened to sell the car (as he held the title) if I didn’t constantly stop harping about them!

      My Dad’s cousin’s mother had a 1984 Pontiac Sunbird (in Light Briar Brown “Metallic” (FTW!)–but remember that mid-’80s GM paint jobs were sometimes more “miss” than “hit,” as that Poncho could NEVER quite hold a shine for more than two weeks), and after she went into a nursing home, he offered to sell me the ‘bird, and he gave the Olds to his then-girlfriend, who was BLOWN AWAY by the car on a previous visit to see my family. (For me, it was like going from a Chevy to a Caddy, as my Mom stated, with Tilt-Wheel, ice-cold A/C and cruise; the t-w and cruise were luxuries on my Dad’s 1986 Century with the 2.8 V6 with 2-bbl carb., and I was overjoyed to have something “just like Dad!” Unfortunately, that car developed the “morning sickness” problem common to 1980s GM rack-and-pinion units, plus cost me $500 for a head-gasket replacement on a college-student’s budget! That, coupled with a driveability problem which plagued his Century (which would have been fixed, as he and a mechanic friend of the family discovered years later, by a TSB), soured my entire family on GMs, and my Dad’s now on his fifth Honda Accord in twenty years, me, my third, a brand-new 2013!) Unfortunately, she apparently drove the car into the ground, literally, hitting a curb at a strange angle, which took out the entire exhaust, brake lines AND part of the rotted rocker panel!

      Despite my Honda loyalty the last 19 or 20 years, I still respected the A/G-Bodies of old–I wish I could afford a 1970-1972 Cutlass, but those are now appreciating to ridiculous highs–my Mom had a fire-engine red 1971 “S” Coupe with the Rocket 350 2-barrel. Then, my Dad had two company cars, a 1980 Olds Cutlass Sedan (in base trim, which was the four-door equivalent of the Salon, which had a four-door “areoback” body to itself in 1978 and 1979–I cannot recall if the ’78-9 Buick Century, which shared the “areoback” shell with Olds, had the four-door), and a 1983 Buick Regal Custom Sedan. Both of these cars went from my Dad to my Mom as he replaced them–first the Regal, than the ’86 Century on the front-drive “A” platform; took my driver’s test in the ’80 Cutlass! Both the ’80 and ’83 cars had the venerable Buick V6–yes, it sounded tractorlike, but it could get out of it’s own way, and it kept me out of trouble!

      Finally, you state you had a 1987, the last of the breed! Again, despite my Honda preferences, I occasionally get a “wild hair,” and scan online for something likely unobtainable in 2013, since as I understand it, most of these remaining vehicles either wind up in the hands of a certain demographic with predelictions towards wheels and tires from the average 747 and sound-systems which will blow windows out of skyscrapers a half-mile away, or are used as demolition-derby or monster-truck fodder: a low-miles, mint-condition 1987 Cutlass Supreme Brougham Sedan with the 307 V8, automatic overdrive, and every option on the build sheet!! Yep, I’m talking WHITEWALLS, wire wheels, maybe two-tone paint! (Only changes I’d make are to swap out the radio for a later Delco unit with CD, auto day/night mirror from later Gs, and retrofitting a high-beam flash-to-pass!) Use as summer “fun” car, go to a car show/Olds meet or two and enjoy the company while sitting in a lawn chair next to said Olds, working on my tan, and making use of cooler full of adult beverages a convenient reach away!

  • avatar

    My dad had always bought small German cars when I was growing up. This changed in 1977 when he bought a Silver Delta 88 with a 403 Olds Rocket V8. This was the year of the big scandal at Olds when they were dropping Chevy 350 V8 engines in their cars. He wanted an Olds Rocket, and in his mind, the only guarantee was taking delivery of one with the 403. That car could haul. A month after delivery, we took a two week road trip from New Hampshire to Texas to Florida and back. On day two, we were making awesome time, passing cars left and right. My mom was at the wheel when we were pulled over by a Virginia State Trooper. The trooper said we were going 70mph; of course the posted limit was 55. My mother convinced him that she had been driving the speed limit; my dad informed him that the car was brand new, with optional Michelin tires. The trooper agreed to pace us at a speed of 55. Our speedometer read 45mph! Turned out that was a mismatched gear or something in the speedometer mechanism. The rest of the trip went by very slowly.

  • avatar

    In my family, it’s Dad’s ’73 F250. He bought it used in 1975 with something like 15,000 miles on it–today it has only 95,000 on the clock. Growing up, it was our vacation vehicle pulling the boat and carrying the camper. The 390 still runs fairly strong, but the twin I-beam suspension has seen better days. It was never used for a daily driver, always kept inside. What really sets it apart is that it’s an ‘Explorer’ model complete with the upgraded cab and bed rails. Those rails were stored above the garage for years (removed to accommodate the camper), but Dad put them back on after he retired and the camper was sold. Now the truck stays at his lake house and is driven less than 100 miles a year. Once in a while when one of us drives it into town, someone will offer to buy it–I bet it’s happened at least half a dozen times. The mostly-original orange paint with white roof really make it stand out and everyone comments on the bed rails. Other than a worn out spot at the drivers seat the interior is in remarkable condition. The lake house will have to go someday soon and my brother and I are already wondering how in the world we’ll ever be able to part with that truck–it’s been in the family for nearly 40 years.

  • avatar

    My father passed away in 1981. In 1979 he bought his last car, a 1972 Impala convertible. Black on black, white top. Fully loaded. Dad loved his cars. It went back and forth between my brothers for several years, and finally got dumped on me when it was worn out. I drove it for several more years, and over the last few years had the engine overhauled, and all kinds of expensive body and paint done on it. Man he had great taste. When I drop the top on that barge, it is the best looking car on the road. Nothing beat chrome on black! Thanks Dad, for everything!

  • avatar
    Chipper Carb

    Now that is a great story, I was just about ready to look online for any stories like this tonight. Last Sunday we brought home a 1986 Pontiac Parisienne that belonged to my wife’s grandfather who has since passed. This car is not in the greatest of shape, and looks really out of place with the Mopars that we have. But, “Gramps” wanted us to have it and for now it lives with us. With two daily drivers, two special occasion cars, I don’t know what to do with it. Wife says she wants to drive it, but I’m afraid it will be a money pit.

  • avatar

    Very nice story.
    Thank you

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Great story. I had an ’81 Olds Cutlass Supreme Brougham and I loved that car. To me it was the perfect size, not too big and not too small. Reliable and when something did break, parts were cheap and it was easy to fix/work on. Mine had the vinyl roof but they look so much better with a hard top.

  • avatar


    Great article. For me, it was my Grandpa’s 1977 Pontiac LeMons. Great car, and was super clean when I bought it from my Grandma 5 years after he passed (she never drove a day in her life, but wouldn’t sell it until she went into a nursing home). While I for one am glad they don’t build them like that anymore, there is something to be said to driving the same car too fast down the same curvey 2 lane just like Grandpa used to….

  • avatar

    Reminds me of my Dads 1983 f250. Only vehicle he has bought new. Just a working mans truck. 300 6 4 speed manual.

    A New England truck. 2wd so its got a tiny bit of cab rust. But, it hasn’t seen road salt in 20 years so its is very nice for its year but, could use a repaint.

    He had a solar business back in the day. He would haul ladders and tons of stuff. Over loaded the thing a few times.

    Gotta get that thing running. I have a 351w to replace the dead 300 6. I love straight sixes but i have a running engine for free.

    Has influenced me. Now i have way too many trucks. If you count this one that would be 3. One I’m using for parts, and my diesel daily driver. Sadly the diesel is falling apart as i look at it, New England winters haven’t been kind to it for the last 23 years and 359,000 miles.

    My dad had quite the car collection back in the day and a fair amount of neat old trucks. I love hearing his stories. Thats what got me into cars even if i only own trucks right now.

  • avatar

    I graduated college in 1997. My grandfather was a retired car dealer and, even though he was not a fan of ‘foreign’ cars, he knew the exact car that was the object of my desire- a 1994 Acura Legend L in Arctic White with Taupe Cloth interior. One exactly like that had just been turned in to the local Acura dealer at the end of a 3-year lease. I had went for a test drive and tried to obtain financing, but a 22-year old with little credit history and an annual income of less than $25k per year had a tough time qualifying for a loan and, even then, it was at a high interest rate that put payments out of my budget…

    I talked to ‘pop’ about cosigning and took him to see and drive the Legend on a Saturday. He would only do business with our hometown bank, so he said he’d go talk to them on Monday and see if they could offer terms that would fit my budget. To my utter devastation, he told me that the car was just too expensive to make the payments work out for me.

    My graduation ceremony was the following Friday evening of that same week. Being the first member of my family to graduate from college, I had quite an audience of aunts, uncles, cousins and, of course, my beloved Nanny & Poppa (grandparents)! After the ceremony was over, I found my entourage in the lobby and we decided to go have a late dinner together….

    As we left the auditorium, I more than a little freaked out to discover an empty parking spot where my ’92 Accord EX 4-door had been parked just an hour earlier!!! I absolutely lost it thinking that some jerk had ruined my night by stealing my car! I headed back toward the lobby to find a phone and call the police to report it stolen..

    Poppa put his arm around my shoulder and reassured me that it would be fine, not to let it upset me and ruin my happy night. Then he turned me around 180 degrees toward a corner of the parking lot and under a bright street light was my Arctic White 1994 Acura Legend L 4-door with a huge HAPPY GRADUATION card propped up against the side…I was speechless!

    After several minutes of checking out my dream ride and trying to regain my composure (I was actually crying in public), I pulled Pop aside and asked him how low he managed to get the payments. He told me to take a look at the Payment Book in the glovebox. I opened it and there was no Payment Book, just an Owners Manual and a folded document… turned out to be the TITLE to the $26k car because Pop had bought it as a graduation present from him and my Nanny!!! It was the single happiest moment of my life…

    Pop died in 1998, barely a year after he gave me the car. To this day, losing him was the most painful experience of my life and I miss the hell out of him every day! He was my hero and the greatest man I ever knew….

    After his death, the car felt like a special link to him and my memory of him. The thought of ever selling it was unthinkable and I planned to keep it forever…..

    Sixteen years have passed since then and I have still never thought about selling it for even a second! In one side of my garage sits a 1994 Acura Legend L with 378k miles on the odo, a fresh $2k Acura paint job done in 2010 and an interior that looks like brand new! Along with the 2010 paint job, I also spent $1500+ to replaced the worn driver’s seat and reupholster the interior using the same taupe premium cloth upholstery that it had the day I got it!

    Other than religious maintenance, a valve job just shy of 300k and a head gasket also at 300k, the engine is totally original. I’ve used Castrol Full Synthetic Oil from day one and it has paid off because even with almost 400k miles, the engine burns no oil and a compression test last year showed that it still performed within specs of a NEW engine!!! It still loves to rev and has plenty of power.

    Unlike most Legend Sedans, mine has a 5-speed manual instead of the far more common 4-speed automatic. It is all original, treated to fresh synthetic racing-quality gear oil every 30k miles. The original clutch survived well past the 250k mark and the replacement clutch still feels like a new one.

    It has always been my dream car and it is a precious connection to my Pop! I drive it on weekends and sometimes on trips up to 500 miles one-way to stretch its legs. Some days I even use it as my daily driver if the mood hits! Each morning as I walk into my garage, I am forced to decide which car to drive that day- my 2011 Acura TSX V6 or the ’94 Legend….and even thought the TSX is 17 years younger, has more technology and features and packs an extra 80hp over the Legend, sometimes the Legend wins and it actually drives even better than the TSX!

    Needless to say, I will ALWAYS own the car….hell, I may be buried in the damn thing!!!

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      Now that is a beautiful story. I would normally offer a personal thanks and an unofficial award for such a great effort. But this one sets a standard. If I were publishing a magazine, I would put your comment at the very front of the reader responses.

      This was a great story to share with everyone and I’m glad you took the time to write it.

      All the best!

    • 0 avatar

      Such great story, thank you for sharing it. This is exactly what I was hoping to elicit when I wrote this article. The way you honor your grandfather is wonderful.

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks for sharing this article with us! As you can tell, my family means everything to me and I love to hear other sentimental stories like yours. =)

        aka- Beelzebubba

    • 0 avatar

      Fantastic and touching story Beelzebubba.

    • 0 avatar

      Damn, onions are being peeled near me…

      Beelzebubba – that’s a great story, and well written, I may add.

      You touched me with your writing about your Poppa. My wife’s grandfather treated me like I was a blood relative, and was more of a father and grandfather to me than my own father and grandfather ever were. I knew him an all too brief dozen years until he passed from an aneurysm, but I spent many hours with him in his garage working on his vehicles (63 Parisienne droptop, 71 GMC 1/2 ton, and his pride and joy, a 1969 Buick Electra 225 Limited).

      I also spent many weekends at their cottage helping him perform whatever maintenance and repairs were deemed neccessary. I didn’t do it for any other reason than wanting to be in his company, and honestly, I think he wanted mine, as his useless sons, and one useless son-in-law wouldn’t give him the time of day unless they needed something. Myself and my own father-in-law (his other son-in-law) filled the void, I guess.

      I learned a lot from him – he, being a former service station owner and body-shop man, was fanatical about maintaining his cars, and was always bemoaning the use of salt on the raods, as it destroyed Grandma’s otherwise pristine ’63 Parisienne ragtop. But, because it was put up for storage every October, and stored until the last snowflake disappeared in the spring, the Buick was in almost showroom condition. One year we removed all four doors and rehung them, just because he didn’t like the way they sounded when being shut.

      When he and Grandma decided to sell the cabin, it was offered to me and my wife, for a song, but we just too damn poor to justify buying it, and it was sold to the useless daughter and son-in-law, but for much, much more than it had been offered to us. Somehow, in that very act, they let us know just how special we were to them.

      About a year before he passed, he mentioned to my wife and I that when he died, or became incapable of driving, he would gift the Buick to us. I, of course, did not get it in writing and I think he just never thought that they would be far away from us; he passed away in BC, where the eldest and most useless son lived. The son, of course, pounced on the car and still has it to this day, but doesn’t look after it (still riding on the tires it had almost 20 years ago). Luckily it’s stored indoors and never driven. The son can’t afford to insure or drive the car, but the prick reminds me of it’s existence every single f’ing time we see each other. He knows the car should’ve gone to me, but I’m taking the high road, and not complaining to Grandma. He’ll get his own version of karma (carma?) one day.

      No car in my lifetime is as imbued with memories as that Buick.

    • 0 avatar
      Johnny Wholesome

      I registered just to say that is a beautiful, touching story. Thanks for sharing.

      • 0 avatar

        Wow! I really appreciate all the comments and I’m so glad that others found my story touching.

        There is one thing that I regret (if that’s the right word) that I didn’t share in my original posting. A few months after I got my Legend, I was changing the oil at Pop’s house because he had a lift in the basement. Any time I came over to work on a car, he was right there with me. Those hours spent in the basement working, sometimes not even saying a word for hours, are my best memories and I am truly thankful for every moment we had together!

        He poked around the car and, when I was finished with the oil and lowered the car, he was under the hood double checking all the fluid levels, etc. I finally realized that he was genuinely impressed with the Legend, but I knew he could never say so.

        I can understand how anyone accustomed to domestic vehicles from the 70s and 80s would find a ’94 Acura Legend impressive. More than a few mechanics, engineers, auto journalists and other pros have stated that it was one of the most ‘over-engineered’ and ‘over-built’ cars ever made! All of the Hondas from the late 80s and early 90s were amazingly well built and engineered to near perfection. They finally realized the problem with making them so good was that buyers didn’t return in four or five years for a new one….many kept them for 10 years or more! But we’ll save that discussion for another day…

        Around six months after getting my Legend, I stopped by my grandparents’ house (which I did at least every other day). Pop was working in his garden, so I took off my tie, rolled up the sleeves of my dress shirt and went to help him pick beans (I decided to go barefoot rather than get my wingtips covered in mud). As soon as he saw that I was still in work clothes, he ran me out and told me he wanted to take a break and talk to me anyway. He told me that Nana’s Town Car was starting to have some electrical problems and he had spent hours trying to track down the source, but had no luck. It was time to think about ‘tradin’!

        I was still clueless where about where the conversation was heading. Then he said something that still doesn’t seem real…”Would you care to go back to that Acura dealer with me to look for Nana a car like yours”?!?! Even now, I got goose bumps remembering the conversation because I never imagined that they would never consider a ‘foreign’ car! It took a while, but I finally told him I’d be thrilled to go the following Saturday…

        We went on Saturday and drove a ’91 Legend LS that was beautiful, but it had just turned 100k miles. We were both amazed that a 7yr old car with 100k miles could feel so new, but he just couldn’t do it. If he only knew how far mine would go and keep going, 100k would have been nothing! We also looked a nice ’94 Vigor that had barely 40k miles on it. If you had never driven a Legend, the Vigor drove like a dream…but with the Legend as a benchmark, it just couldn’t cut it. He was also really puzzled by the 5-cylinder engine…much like the auto buying public at large…

        We didn’t find a car that day, but I planned to look around the area and line up some for the following Saturday. But two days before, on Thursday night, he went to E/R with chest pains and he was very confused and talking incoherently….it was the beginning of the end….and I never had the pleasure of helping him find the perfect Legend for my Nana! =(

        A few months after he died, I talked to Nana and insisted that she had to get a newer, more reliable car! As a new widow who had never dealt with finances or even paid a bill for herself, she was terrified at the thought of spending tens of thousands of dollars on a car. It took a LOT of patience, a visit from her favorite nephew who is also a bank VP and even getting her pastor involved, but finally she agreed to trust my judgement and choose a new (or newer) car for her! As much as I wanted to get her the Legend that Pop wanted to buy for her, I had to do what was best for her and her peace of mind. Ultimately, I found a like-new ’93 Accord LX Wagon with only 32k miles (amazingly low miles for a six year old car). It was teal green (Honda called it Arcadia Green) which was very popular in the early 90s. I liked the color but Nana said “it’s the ugliest damn thing I’ve ever seen….but I’ll always be able find it in a parking lot!”

        She loved that car more than every previous car put together! She died last February (2012) and I really hated to sell her “party wagon” as we jokingly called it. But fate intervened and one of my 2nd cousins desperately needed a larger car before her second child arrived (she was 7mos pregnant). She was wasn’t planning to return to work after the baby was born if they could find a way to make it work. I sold them the car for about $1500 less than it was worth, but it was an answer to their prayers. I even had the timing belt changed, put new tires on it and did several fluid and filter changes before I handed her the keys! Nana would have been happy and it stayed in the family…..

        • 0 avatar

          Another great story! Yes, Nana and your Poppa would be proud (and likely ARE, looking down on you)–of how the cars ended up, and of YOU!

          I’ve stated that the 4th-Gen (1990-1993) Accords are my “benchmark” for “bank vault” feel! My 2000 (6th-Gen) lost it after a couple years, my 2006 (7th-Gen) lost it after a longer time, let’s see how my 2013 (9th-Gen) holds up–800 miles in one month, and it’s nearly flawless so far! (First Honda, out of four I’ve owned, all bought new, where I haven’t had the car back to the dealer the first month to take care of a rattle or squeak, if that’s any indication! Though my sunroof’s “vent” feature may not be tilting the glass to the max, causing a rattle; this time, I’ll wait until my first oil change if I even have anything done at all about it, since taking the headliner apart could cause more trouble with noises down the line!)

          And IMHO, Honda could bring back those green shades again–the 1990 and 1991 Accords had a “Hampshire Green Pearl” which was a shade or two lighter, and Honda couldn’t sell enough of them; they were the “brochure car!” My Dad’s first Accord was a 1991 EX Sedan in that color, and that car helped make me a Honda fanatic to this day! Gorgeous car!

          • 0 avatar

            My sister actually had a ’93 Accord EX in Arcadia Green for a few years. Then she traded it for a ’96 EX 4-door in Heather Mist Metallic. The ’96 felt inferior in almost every way to the ’93 and she always regretted making the trade.

            I had a ’92 Accord EX 4-door until I graduated college and got the gift of a lifetime (my Legend). It bought it when the ’93 models were already on the lot, so I got about $800 off MSRP, which was a good deal on a Honda back then! I really wanted a certain color, Honda called it Rosewood Brown Metallic, and it was a very upscale, classy color. It came with the Brown-Red interior, which was also better looking than the name might imply. My second choice was Seattle Silver (dating back to the ’88 Accord) which also had Brown-Red interior.

            But I was shopping for an EX 5-speed from the outgoing model year, so my choices were very limited. I had two options, black or white (literally)! It was either Granada Black with Ivory interior OR Frost White with Blue interior….since I hate dark exterior colors, it was a no-brainer- the Frost White. To this day, I still can’t quite nail down exactly what shade of blue the interior was or how to properly describe it….it wasn’t quite a Smurf blue, almost dark enough to be Navy but not quite….regardless, I learned to love it!

            Most new cars today have two or three choices of interior color- Gray, Beige and/or Black…boring as hell! I miss some of the more colorful interior options that were available once upon a time. Honda’s Brown-Red and Blue That Defies Description were a nice change of pace from dull grays and beiges.

            BTW, I remember the Hampshire Green on the ’90-’91 EX that you mentioned. It was a great looking color also. There were a couple of other colors available on the ’90-’91 that I didn’t care for, though….Cobalt Blue and Cappuccino Brown! The Blue looked almost Black and Brown looked like sh!t, literally!

            But the worst color ever was only available on the ’92 LX- Opal Green! It was a hideous seafoam green that no one wanted, which is why is only lasted for a single year. When I was buying my ’92 EX, they had at least four or five LXs left in that color and they were discounting them by $3000+! I’m a little nauseous just from talking about it…

    • 0 avatar


      When I read this yesterday, the lump in my throat went to open weeping for at least two minutes! (Not ashamed to admit it!) And I’m about to read your second response, so I’d better get a box of tissues out!

      Family IS everything next to God! (To everyone in these comments WITHOUT such a great family dynamic, my prayer is that you find that dynamic in mentors or friends!)

      (Though, that TSX, with the J35 V6 unencumbered by the 6-4-3 cylinder-deactivation, with REAL VTEC, has got to be a SCREAMER!)

      • 0 avatar

        This is actually my second TSX. I bought a 2008 6-speed model new back in June 2008. When I saw how hideous the 2009 TL looked and that upcoming 2009 TSX would adopt the new corporate look, I panicked! I could only find one remaining 6-speed manual model anywhere in the Atlanta area, so I snagged it. It was Glacier Blue with Quartz (gray) interior, probably the last color I would have picked if I had the choice, but I bought it anyway. It stickered for just over $29k and I got it for $25k, so at least I got a deal.

        The color grew on me and I absolutely fell in love with that car! I financed it for five years, but managed to pay it off in just over four years. Six days after I received the title in the mail, a druggie ran a red light and nailed me at over 50mph in the passenger side as I was making a left turn! He was driving a Ford F250 work truck and the hit was centered on the A-pillar, if he had hit a few feet further back it probably would have killed me. As it was, passenger door panel crushed my right arm and the center console fractured my leg, ankle and foot in multiple places. The roof buckled and the rearview mirror broke away and hit me in the head, leaving most of the mirror glass in my skull…but I was alive and I fully recovered.

        I share custody of my niece and nephew (ages 6 and 2) with my mom and step-dad. After the wreck, my mom insisted that I drive her 2012 Mazda CX-9 until I settled the insurance claim and felt like shopping for a new car. They kept my dad’s 2004 Accord when he got a company car, so she would drive it while I had her CX-9. I’m usually the one who drives the kids everywhere, so it only made sense for me to use the safer vehicle.

        I kept the CX-9 for about two months and, much to my surprise, I was impressed (even amazed at times) by how much I loved driving it! I’ve never been an SUV or Crossover fan, but the CX-9 can eat the lunch of most mid-size sedans! I had always driven a manual transmission up to that point and I was blown away by the performance of the 6-speed Aisin automatic paired with the 273hp 3.7L DOHC V6. I couldn’t help but wonder, if a nearly full-size crossover was the much fun, how much better would a 700 pound lighter sedan be???

        It found a few leftover 2012 TSX models with the 2.4L and automatic at local dealers. The 2013 models had been out for months, so the 2012s were priced as low as $28k. But the automatic completely changed the personality of the 201hp 2.4L…it basically ‘neutered’ it and made it feel more like the last Camry I rented than the previous 6-speed TSX I owned. I also seriously considered a Mazda6 ‘s’ with the same sweet 3.7L V6 and 6-speed auto that I love in my mom’s CX-9, but they were too pricey, IMO. The dealer had several loaded 2012 CX-9s that were actually cheaper than the 2013 Mazda6 with incentives and discounts. But a 3-row large crossover is more car than I need or want…and with my heavy foot, I averaged barely 16mpg in my mom’s!

        One of the Acura dealers I visited had several CPO 2010 TSX V6s prominently displayed on the front lawn. (BTW, I just realized I made a typo above- my TSX V6 is a 2010, not a 2011). I had never seen the V6 model in person and addition of the polished 18” alloys and rear spoiler made a striking difference compared to the lesser TSX models. But I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend $26-$28k on a three year old car with 40-50k miles on it…

        I went back a few times to look and drive a couple of the CPO models. The salesman I dealt with was a genuinely nice guy and he knew that I loved the V6 model, but didn’t want to spend much over $20k. He called me on a Sunday afternoon from home and told me that their Honda store in Florida had a 2010 TSX V6 that had been sitting for almost six months and was headed for auction. He referred to it as an “ugly duckling” because it had high miles (67k), didn’t have the Tech Package (which the vast majority of V6 models have) and, most of all, because it was the least popular color available on the TSX- Vortex Blue Pearl (somewhere between ‘electric’ blue and royal blue). The 2011 models had some minor styling tweaks, making the 2009-2010 less desirable. But the TSX actually looked pretty good to me and wore the Acura signature ‘grille/nose/beak’ much better than any other model. I can hardly tell a 2011 from a 2009-2010.

        He couldn’t make any promises, but he told me if I offered $21k OTD, they’d take it! I offered $20,000 OTD and insisted that it be certified and covered as an Acura CPO. We finally met in the middle at $20,500 and the deal was contingent upon them shipping the car to Atlanta, me inspecting and test driving it and having my mechanic perform an inspection at my expense. When I saw it for the first time, I couldn’t believe that anyone could call it an ‘ugly duckling’, even as a metaphor! Granted, the color looks more like something you’d see on a BMW M3 or Audi RS4…it’s more of a performance car color than a ‘luxury’ car color. But it looks amazing to me (remember, I’m the dude who had an ice blue TSX for four years)!

        And the J35 280hp VTEC V6… redlines at 6800rpm but the rev limiter doesn’t kick in until around 7300rpm. I love to the stereo off and listen to the intoxicating sound as it rushes past 7000rpm, clicks off a seamless, instantaneous up shift and does it all again. Around 5000rpm, it will push you back in the seat and, if you stay on the gas, it will hit 110mph or more before you realize it. Not to be crude, but the best analogy for the experience and the effect it has comes from my middle school days. Remember when you were 11 or 12 and every time you saw a certain girl (or any girl, at that age), you had to cover your crotch with your notebook…the sound and rush of Honda’s J35 V6 revving has a similar effect! Maybe that’s why the Owner’s Manual is larger than usual, to use for coverage like a notebook???

  • avatar

    Nice story Tom, thanks.

    I’ve always been a sentimental/nostalgic kinda guy and although my Dad died in 1971, I have his last car, a ’67 Pontiac Catalina Venture Cpe(avatar), 63,000 miles. It’s never been out of the family. My Mom drove it for a few years after Dad passed then gave it to my brother who drove it a few years then parked it in his garage for about 30 years.

    My brother was cleaning out/downsizing a few years back and wanted to get rid of the car, he knew I wanted it and gave it to me. I love the car, going to cruise nights and Sunday drives. It’s my remaining link to my Dad after all these years. I hope one of my kids will keep it up and on the road after I go room temperature.

    Incidently, my sister still has my Dad’s ’66 Caprice Classic Cpe that he had prior to the ’67 Pontiac.

    • 0 avatar

      With the fender skirts? I’d come talk to you on cruise nights. What a great story and what a cool car – your old man had good taste in cars.

      • 0 avatar


        No, neither car has fender skirts, but back in the day I loved the cars with rear fender skirts, especially the customs with “cruiser” skirts or “bubble” skirts.

        BTW, thanks for complimenting Dad’s taste in cars. Yes he did have great car taste. He also owned a ’63 Buick Wildcat, white w/red interior. That was one of my favorites.

  • avatar

    Great story, well told. You are an outstanding writer, Mr. Kreutzer. Thank you for your stories.

  • avatar

    Thanks to everyone for sharing your personal tragedies and tales. So many of them are really touching tributes to people you care about. You honor their memories.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    Well written and moving story. Thanks for sharing. It sure brings back memories to this Olds man.

    I love the Cutlass, as did America when the car won 25% of the midsize sedan segment year after year! It was not like the Camry, it was more like the Camry plus the Accord in share.
    My own dad passed just a year ago, which makes your story more touching.

  • avatar

    Thank you, Thomas for not only writing an enjoyable story, but one that brought out such good ones as comments. This has been a great read. Not much to share from me on the subject, but maybe some day…

  • avatar

    Fantastic article.

    My Grams recently passed away, and left behind her pristine Sable. The rest of the family seemed to have no interest in such a car, so I feared it would just go straight to the junkyard or a loser who would just drive it into the ground and junk it when it needed an oil change (the typical used Taurus/Sable owner). I tried to get Sajeev to buy it, but it didn’t meet his specs. Fortunately, my niece has it now and it’s at a college somewhere.

    I care very little for Taurii, but there’s a lot of sentimental value tied to the car. I remember my grandparents always having a Sable (usually tan) and nothing else.

    If it was a G-body, I would have scooped it up for myself somehow.

  • avatar

    You have a gift for striking chords with your readers, Tom. I envy you. As you might guess, my dad was an Olds guy. He suffered from and died of cancer. Your story rings bells that are both painful and pleasant to hear; I know it wasn’t about me, but it was. Man, you’re good. And a good man. Thanks.

    • 0 avatar

      Just wait until Father’s Day. I already have something ready.

      • 0 avatar

        Thomas – don’t, please. This story made me emotional enough, I don’t need another one quite yet. There’s something very raw about memories of cars and fathers(or father-figures as referenced by me above).

        Kudos, Thomas. In a very short tenure here , you have already become one of my favourites on the site. Bravo.

        • 0 avatar

          I was in my early 20s when my father pased away. The hardest thought for me was the idea that my children, when I had them, would never get to know him. I have come to realize over the years, and take comfort in the fact, that my kids DO actually know him – all the best parts of him – through me.

          The only good thing anyone told me when he passed was, “You’ll be surprised how much you think about him.” I make it a point to think about him from time to time – whenever I go some place incredible or experience one of life’s highs I take his memory out of its special box so he is there with me.

          The pain you feel now doesn’t go away, it reminds you that you are alive. Your life honors his.

          • 0 avatar

            Thomas – fortunately my own father is still alive at 82, and still well. I love him dearly, but we never had as close a relationship as he has with my brother. I am my mother’s son, and my brother is his father’s son we like to say. He taught me a lot about cars and life, and I love and appreciate him for it, but I was far, far closer to my Grandfather-in-law than I ever was with my father, and not a day goes by that I don’t remember him, or see him in my son (his first and only great-grandson) who favours his great-grandfather in an almost spooky way.

            The best way to honour a good parent (or grandparent, I suppose) is to be as good a parent as they were, and if you had a bad parent is to break the cycle. Sounds like your dad was the cycle breaker, and for that you should be eternally grateful.

            I appreciate your stories, maybe because of this.

          • 0 avatar


            I too was in my 20s when Dad passed. I was lucky in that my oldest son was born two years prior to his death, so he died knowing his grandson who would carry on the family name.

            The day he died in 1971, he was out in the garage working on my sisters ’65 Pontiac Tempest, came in the house, said he felt weird, laid down on the couch and passed away.

            Sad part for me was the fact my Dad and I were just starting to get real close before he died. He was a business exec and traveled alot as I was growing up so we really didn’t have a close relationship. Later after he retired(because of health) and I married, we got close.

            Tom, if you’re ever out in Utah in your travels, you have my permission to contact me………….we’ll go for a nice cruise in the Catalina.

            Incidentally, my brothers name is Tom.

            Incidentally #2, my youngest son graduated from Niagara U. in 2009.

        • 0 avatar

          Monty, your posting about not being very close to your father but having such a close relationship with your grandfather-in-law really tugged at my heartstrings! Take off the ‘in-law’ suffix and I would swear that I had written it!

          Both of my parents are ‘only’ children and they married very young (my mom was 18 days shy of turning 16 and my dad as 19). Mom wasn’t even pregnant, but she plenty of reasons for wanting to escape the hell that she grew up in. It’s kind of sad that I don’t have any aunts, uncles or first cousins. But the benefits of my sister and I being the only grandchildren were truly life-altering. My dad’s sole focus was always on my sister, who is almost three years older than me. I was a momma’s boy and, even though my parents didn’t divorce until I was 14, I NEVER had a relationship of any kind with my dad. We were strangers who happened to live under the same roof.

          We lived next door to my dad’s parents and my sister and I adored our grandparents so much that I lack to words to explain our relationship in writing. I loved my grandfather (Pop or Poppa) more than I did my own father. Pop was the one who was at all my school events, games and even the one who came to eat lunch with me in elementary school on special occasions! He taught me how to work on cars, fix a leaky roof, install new plumbing and build just about anything possible using wood and nails! But far more important, he taught me how to treat people and what it meant to be a man of integrity and compassion. He died in 1998, but I always ask myself “What would Poppa do?” whenever I have the slightest doubt that I’m doing the right thing in any situation.

          I spoke briefly at his funeral (it took about 10 minutes for to say a few sentences because I was crying so hard that I couldn’t speak), but the one thing I did manage to say the most important thing. If I can be even a quarter of the man that my Pop was, I will a live that I can be proud of! Since I got 25% of my DNA from him, I’m hoping that I can pull it off!

          Losing him at the relatively young age of 72 felt so unfair. I was mad at God for years for that. But the most unfair thing of all was that he died before he got to have a great-grandchild. He adored children and they were naturally drawn to him. My sister and her hubby had been trying to get pregnant for four years, but she the only time that they succeeded she had a miscarriage. They weren’t sure if she could ever carry a baby to term…

          Four months after Pop died, my sister called to tell me that she was two months pregnant! If she could make it to the second trimester, the doctor was optimistic that this one might make it! She had a horrible pregnancy and was hospitalized around the five month mark because her body was trying to go into premature labor. They had to pump her full of drugs and keep her in the bed 24/7 for the rest of her pregnancy.

          I went to the hospital every day after work and slept there some nights when she wanted the company. We cried a lot of tears talking about how much Pop would love to meet her baby and why couldn’t it have happened before he died. I suggested that we make a memory book for the baby so he could know all about his Poppa and how much he would have loved him/her. We spent many hours making the book, mostly because we talked for hours about every single photo or newspaper clipping that went into it. But it helped pass time a little faster. After seven weeks in the hospital, her body couldn’t take any more. She had severe toxemia and her blood pressure was constantly at stroke-level no matter how many drugs they gave her to bring it down. They decided that the drugs to prevent going into labor had to be stopped and, within 10 hours of removing the IV, my nephew was born! He was nine weeks premature, tiny and didn’t start crying (or breathing) right when he popped out. A team of six doctors rushed into the birthing room and worked on him for several minutes with my sister screaming in horror. Suddenly, we heard the cry and it was the happiest moment of all of our lives. I snatched him up from the table where they were working on him and carried him over to my sister about 10 feet away. The first thing my brother-in-law said when he saw him was, “Wow, he looks just like your Poppa!”

          My nephew, Logan, is now 13 going on 30. If you compare a photo of Pop as a teenager with a photo of Logan, they look like twins! They’re so similar that it’s almost creepy. Logan also has a lot of Pop’s personality, including his kindness and compassion for others. He got into his first fight EVER a few months ago at school. Two little jerks were taunting and mocking a mentally-handicapped janitor and Logan stepped in to stop it! The only punches he threw were in self-defense after one of the boys punched him first. The principal called me because my sister and brother-in-law work an hour away and I’m just a few minutes from school. When I got there, he asked Logan why he physically stepped into the situation instead of reporting it to an adult. Logan’s response, “Because it was the only right thing to do and I couldn’t let it continue for another second in good conscience.” His next comment still gives me goose bumps, he said “It’s what my Poppa would have done and I know he’s proud of me for doing it!” The principal didn’t understand my reaction until I told him that Logan’s “Poppa” died 11 months before he was born!

          County school policy mandates at a minimum suspension of three days for ANY physical conflict. The other boys were already suspended for seven days. The principal said he had no choice, but I made it clear that my nephew would NOT be punished for defending himself and mentally handicapped school employee! After a few minutes of going back and forth but making no progress, I decided to call in the BIG GUN! Think of her as the human version of a shotgun, you just aim her in the general direction of the target and she’ll take it out along with anything else near it! Logan calls her “Mimi” but she’s just ‘Mom’ to me. I got her on speaker phone and, in just a few minutes, it ended with an ultimatum. If Logan was punished in any way or anything went into his record, she would be there within 30 minutes to ‘handle’ it in person…followed by “Don’t make me come down there because you won’t like what happens!” Logan went back to class and never heard another thing about it! And the two creeps that he stood up to never bothered him or anyone again! =)

  • avatar

    Thomas, you’ve struck a very deep chord in me, unfortunately not a good one. My father also owned an ’84 Cutlass with base options, trading in his equally base ’76 Granada, not because he was pragmatic, but because he was cheap. It was purchased off the lot, because he instinctively distrusted sales people due to his complete lack of negotiation skills. I remember clearly the engine blowing up within three weeks of purchase because someone at the dealership or from the factory, who knows, didn’t fill the oil resevoir of the motor. Not sure how that would happen, but he swore by it. He took a bath on it, buying an ’85 LeBaron Sport Coupe instead, swearing he’d never buy GM again.

    That was about the last I would see of my Dad. He loathed my Mother since their divorce fifeteen years before and willfully worked himself from my life by claiming the financial issues from the busted Oldsmobile. Haven’t had much to do with him and honestly couldn’t tell you if he’s still breathing. Irrationally I’ve hated these cars ever since. Wished I had what you had and hope my kids will respect me as you did yours.

    • 0 avatar

      I have a similar experience only it wasn’t over a car, evidently the number one thing in life was alcohol according to my father. In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Caesar says to his wife Calpurnia “Cowards die many times before their deaths” and this man was living proof. This may sound odd, but I saw the body prior to cremation so it gave me some closure.

      If there is anything positive to take from the experience, its that you know how you felt as a child and you know how NOT to treat your children.

    • 0 avatar

      There is no question that you were wronged. In my life when I have been wronged, and I think you will find from the rather downbeat tone of many of my stories that I have not always had a beer and skittles kind of life, I have usually responded the way you are. Some people are crushed by adversity, some of us devote our lives to becoming a bulwark against in for the sake of our children.

      I got to where I am in life because I stand on the shoulders of a giant. My childhood was different than my father’s because he decided that some things didn’t need to be passed on. You don’t have the advantage I did, you have to be the giant. Based on what you’ve written here, it sounds like you are on your way.

    • 0 avatar

      Dolorean, first I would like to say that I’m sorry about how things went between you and your dad, that is very unfortunate and I hope that things work out for you two someday.
      About the car, if it had the 231 Buick V6 those things were known for grenading themselves unexpectedly, as well as Buick built V8’s. Both engines used a crummy oil pump design, in which the oil pump gears rode inside the aluminum timing cover. The gears would rub against the aluminum cover, wearing it down and causing a loss of oil pressure. The oil pumps on those engines were known for failing without warning, causing the engine to lock up, or in some cases grenade itself. You can now buy redesigned timing covers for the 231 and the 350-455 from T/A Performance and Poston, which eliminate the problem. When the Buick V6 was redesigned in the 80’s they went with a much improved oiling system, finally turning the V6 into a reliable engine.

  • avatar

    Beautifully written, brother Thom. The only exception that I take is that the car was actually more of a champagne color- just a touch of pink. I still recall the day dad brought it home. I thought it was the most gorgeous car I had even seen. Dad was so proud and the car remained in pristine condition until the day he died. Looking at the pictures now- it’s boxy, sharp lines easily identify it as a vehicle of the past. The car of our childhood.

    After the car became yours, I used to love seeing you drive it around town. For just a brief second I would expect to see dad sitting behind the wheel.

    • 0 avatar

      Holy smokes!! I, too always called that color “Champagne,” and always wanted a GM car in that color.

      I got my wish around 1989, when I bought my late Aunt’s 1984 Sunbird hatch. And found out that the color was “Light Briar Brown,” as Supremebrougham noted up the Comments!

  • avatar

    A great story and a great car! I also inherited a Cutlass Supreme coupe but it was a 1985 and had the upgraded 307 with roller cam and lifters and the then new swirl port heads and it was from Grandpa instead of dad who at the time owned a 1982 Supreme coupe with 231 V6 and was nowhere near ready to part with it. Grandpa owned a 1980 Fairmont wagon with 200 six before and the 85 Olds was such a change from the noisy under powered Ford. The 307 had but 30k miles and made gobs of low and mid range torque, idled so smooth you didn’t know it was running an the car road and drove fantastic. It also had the F-41 suspension upgrade, half vinyl padded roof, chrome exterior mirrors instead of the more common sport versions, solid bench front seat, power everything and A/C. The car was as solid as a rock and never gave them a bit of trouble. When Grandma and then 4 months later Grandpa went into the nursing home, I was given the mint condition gold coupe and couldn’t have been happier as my 1981 Cutlass 260 with nearly 200k was getting pretty rusty.

    I too was very sentimental about that car and just could not let it go. But thanks to a low paying job at the time, the snow belt and loads of road salt and harsh Winters, the poor car was deteriorating quickly with rusted frame and doors etc so the decision was made to trade it on a newer Cutlass Ciera with FWD and more economical 2.8 V6.

    Fast forward many years later to 2012 and 8 years into a great job with reasonable pay, the Cutlass coupes were calling my name for some nostalgic times and now a clean 1979 light yellow Calais sits in my driveway from down south with no rust. Yes the Summer of 2013 is going to be very fun with this car. I literally can’t go anywhere without someone commenting on it. This one will never see any road salt. I’m sure grandma and grandpa would have loved it!

    • 0 avatar

      See my “War And Peace”-length response to Supremebrougham up the thread!! Any chance a Sedan version of your Grandfather’s car, loaded to the gills, exists any more?

      Forgot about the chrome remote mirrors–a little classier, but IIRC on the Buicks, at least, you could only get remote-control for the right side by getting the “sports”; maybe in the last few years of the run, you could get both sides in remote with chrome (after 1984, when the Buick got the “sweep” speedo you see in the GN(X)s instead of the three-guage cluster). And my “dream” Olds “time capsule” would have the F-41 suspension as well–forgot that both of the cars I detail in the other thread had the heavy-duty suspension, in order to handle the rigors of hauling my Dad’s medical supplies (of which he was a salesman) around. Made them handle reasonably well!

      • 0 avatar

        Whoops..the real-deal GNXs got a rev-counter and speedo from Borg-Warner! If memory serves, the ASC corporation in southeast Michigan took GNs and added the “X”-specific bits to the car. (Darth Vader’s personal transportation applicance when the X-Wing was in for an oil change! ;-) )

        There was a company in Michigan whose employees would buy various investment-grade cars, one of which was a 1987 GNX that they literally kept factory-pristine; IIRC, the car was shipped directly from the Buick dealer to the climate-controlled warehouse under cover, and placed immediately on stands. (Only problems seemed to be evident in a start-up YouTube video, where every dash light seemed to be on at a reduced intensity, leading me to think there’s some electrical gremlins lurking after twenty-something years!) I think the company may have finally sold the car to a collector, with all of ** 8 ** miles on the odo, for anywhere from high $60,000s to ~$100k, can’t recall! Helluva profit! 8-)

  • avatar

    Another great story Mr. Kreutzer. I’ve enjoyed reading your life’s tales. Keep ’em coming!

    My dad’s friend had an Olds that looked much like your dad’s, same color too. I was just a little kid though, but fondly remember those seats that made any sofa, couch, or any sitting implement feel under-padded and uncomfortable.

  • avatar

    Yes, enjoyed the story! Thanks for sharing.

    When I turned 16 my dad had a Delta 88. That was a fun car to drive as he handed me the keys often, before I had my own car. It was a tank! My buddy and I could fit two girls in the front seat with us and their bikes in the back seat. (Fortunately dad never knew about that.)

  • avatar
    wreath and crest

    Wow.Thank you all for sharing your lives in such a heartfelt manor.Once I dried my eyes,I remember the difficult decision I made to let my Dads late nineties Riviera go after cancer took him from me in 2003.The man was,and still is the finest person I’ve ever known.I struggled with that decision due to the fact that it had a “cold” rack,lock up torque converter that was starting to act up,and a weird wobble in the front end.In retrospect,I should have kept it for the sweet memories, and that was a cool car in a way that nobody makes anymore.There were also several Cutlass’ in my life.I had a ’70 in high school,my dad had a ’76 Salon in royal blue,white landau top with mandatory t-tops,and my wife had an ’85.All great cars with great memories.Thank you all again for sharing a part of yourselves,it makes this place different and special.Gotta go dry my eyes now,but there is a smile underneath.

  • avatar

    I’m really happy to read all the comments here as family is *so* important to me ~ I’m not close to my Father by his choice , I’ll never be any ‘giant’ but you can bet I made 1,000 % sure my Son knew how loved he was from the moment he was born and I got him before his Mother (who bugged out when he was 12) did .

    I hope all here will at least try to forgive and make peace with your parents , I did so with my Mother who’s soon to go but so far not so much with Pops and this kills me to know we could have been as close as my Son and I are .

    Life is a precious & short gift .

    Take Pops for a drive & buy him lunch / dinner , it’ll be O.K. sooner or later and yes , I’ll miss this man I barely know when he’s gone .

    Thomas , I eagerly await your Father’s Day missive .


    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know Nate – from what you write here it sounds like you have some pretty broad shoulders. You’re probably more of a giant than you realize.

      • 0 avatar

        No giant Thomas ~

        I’m just an uneducated guy who’s had an interesting life , mostly because I left home @ 8 and never looked back and was too stupid to listen until I was old & broken .

        I’m nuts about my Son who’s done so very well and gave me my first Grand Child this week .

        SWMBO & I also take in teenaged Foster boys , most of them are very good kids indeed , simply caught in life’s switches .

        I really enjoy reading about the fun times others had with their parents & families .


  • avatar

    Thaks for sharing.

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