My High School Sidekick, The ’73 Buick Electra 225
Man, nothing quite beats your first ride. Technically, “The Buick” was my 2nd car but I don’t really want to remember my Dodge Omni.
My grandparents were “big car” people. The 1973 Buick Electra 225 was my grandmother’s car. She paid cash for it and when I was a kid it was always a fascinating beast but my grandparents didn’t treat it like a classic. Instead, it sat in one on their 8 garages. Yes, they had 8 garages!
My grandmother lost her ability to drive when I was young so I never saw her drive it but my grandfather used it. But, he didn’t see it as a cool car. He ripped the skirts off it, put a towing hitch on it and used it like….a machine!
But I saw the beauty she was.
To my surprise….one day…my grandmother simply asked if I wanted it! I think she knew I loved it and it spent more time in the garage then on the road.
I “restored it” by putting the skirts back on. Put a new set of white walls on it. Freshened up the paint and polished it like a mirror.
Decked out in maroon, she caught the sun just right, turning heads everywhere we went.
Honestly, the first time I clapped eyes on her, I knew we were meant to be. Back then, you didn’t have all these fancy gadgets – standard but for it’s time it had all the bells and whistles. It had 6 cigarette lighters – basically, every arm rest and center console had a cigarette lighter. Automatic windows and automatic bench seats.
But boy, the rumble of that 225 V8…it was pure music.
Slipping behind that wheel for the first time, feeling the cool hardness under my hands, the scent of gasoline and well-worn leather hitting my nose, hearing the door shut behind me with a satisfying thud – it was like stepping into a different world. A world where I was the king. It was kinda like a tiny home.
High school was a blur of moments, and the Electra was there for every single one. She was there when I drove home in triumph after acing the toughest exam I’d ever had. She was there for those trips to the local diner with the gang, tunes blasting from the radio. And she was there for that jittery date when I was more worried about her getting a scratch than about making small talk.
It was great for camping in the woods because I didn’t need to bring a tent. If we partied a little too hard…it was like I had camper.
I’ll never forget the time I awoke from a party called “Project Liam” with a lovely blonde who was “camping” with me in the back seat.
The Electra was my escape pod. When the world got too much, I’d hit the road. Didn’t matter where to, as long as I was moving. There’s something about cruising down an open road that makes all your troubles seem kind of insignificant, you know?
Let’s talk about it’s state-of-the-art features!
This is the only vehicle I have ever driven that actually had the high beam switch on the floorboard! Bring this back!
- Size Matters: This ‘73 Buick Electra 225 is a beast, not just a car. It’s like driving a boat on land. You don’t park it, you dock it. Parallel parking? That’s a good one!
- Power Everything: Power steering, power brakes, power windows, power seats. If it could be powered, it was. I’d say the only thing that wasn’t powered was the driver.
- Gas Station’s Best Friend: Oh boy, did this beauty love to drink. I knew every gas station attendant in town by name, and they sent me Christmas cards every year. Who said cars can’t help you socialize?
- Climate Control (Sort of): It had air conditioning – when it felt like it. It was more of a suggestion than a feature, but boy, when it worked, it was like winter in July.
- Radio Ga Ga!: AM/FM radio? Check. 8-track player? Double-check. Nothing says ‘cutting edge’ like being able to switch between listening to the Bee Gees and the Beatles while cruising down Main Street.
- Seatbelt Optional: Sure, it had seatbelts, but they were more decoration than anything. Those were the days when safety meant driving with one hand on the wheel and the other around your sweetheart.
- Luxury Gym: Who needs a gym membership when you’ve got power steering that gives up halfway through a turn? I had muscles on my muscles by the time I graduated.
- Trunk Space For Days: The trunk was so big, I’m pretty sure you could fit a small country in there. I once lost a pair of sneakers in that thing. Found them three years later during a spring cleaning.
We went on some epic road trips, me and the Electra. Camping trips with my buddies, cross-state visits to family, you name it. She ate up those miles like a champ. Yeah, she guzzled gas like nobody’s business, but that was part of the adventure. We’d pool our cash for gas, grab a map, and hit the road.
Those summer nights, though…man, those were something else. Driving out to the lookout point, the Electra humming underneath me. Sitting on the hood, feeling the engine cool down, looking up at the stars…man, that was living.
Sure, she had her quirks.
I can’t tell you how many times I ran out of gas because I never did fix the busted gas gauge or had to sweet-talk that engine into starting on freezing winter mornings, or patch up a tire that decided to give up the ghost. But every bump in the road was a lesson, a chance to learn something new. I turned into a self-taught mechanic out of necessity, and I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything.
Life moved on. High school ended, college came and went, and the Electra was replaced by more “practical” rides. A brand new Dodge Neon. I regret that decision every day.
But no matter how many years pass, no matter how many cars I’ve owned since, a piece of my heart will always belong to that ’73 Buick Electra 225. She was more than a car. She was a buddy, a haven, a mentor.
Every so often, when I smell gasoline and old leather, or hear the roar of a V8, I’m transported back. Back to the freedom, the thrills, the sense of endless possibilities. Back to my ’73 Buick Electra. And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So here’s to you, old girl. Thanks for the rides, the lessons, and the memories. You’re not just a car in my book. You’re a part of my story, and I wouldn’t be the man I am today without you.