The Marine View Driver: Bringing Ya’ll Up to Date on the 1993 Buick Century


In which the author writes about actual current events.

by Mike Smith

Sandy and I have a reoccurring pattern in our lives. It has been a decades-long unbroken chain supplying us with the wheels we need without the need of a car payment and, in even more shocking fashion, without the mystery of having to shop for a car… which I will say is a real Godsend. I hate shopping for a new car.

So in true Smith family fashion, when our 1991 Honda died after nearly 400,000 miles, my brother offered me his low-mileage Buick. He did not even know about my car dying. He just happened to be buying a new Hyundai Genesis and was trolling around the family to see if anyone had an interest in his wife’s Buick. We saw the email on the morning my Honda blew its engine.

Capture2So we ended up with a Buick. It was a greenish-blue 1993 Buick Century. It didn’t have all the bells and whistles (like the demo model at right) but it had all the comforts we needed.

Plus, it had an industrial strength air conditioner. We could have stored ice cream in the front seat in the middle of the summer. We kept the switch on “low.”

What I really like about these older big cars is the power, lack of road noise, and smooth-cruisin’ suspensions. They are a tad bit boaty though. Boaty or not (or is it boatish… or boatesque?) this 1993 model served us well.

Soon after we got the Buick my wife and I took a weekend trip around the Olympic Peninsula. Buicks are great road trip cars. The ride is smooth and quiet. It was on this trip that we lost the two hub caps on the driver’s side of the car.

Out west near the coast there is a long straight stretch of highway. To keep people from snoozing, there is an unbroken line of rumble tabs. The technical term for them, I believe, is Road Turtles. They would rattle anyone awake if they weren’t already dead. But then they wouldn’t be driving would they? So yes, they are overkill.

While driving it is hard to maintain a strictly straight between-the-lines line on the monotonous straightaway. So I wandered a bit from shoulder to center line. Once I hit the turtles with both tires on the driver’s side and away sailed the two hub caps. They resembled a couple of Frisbees flying in formation. A photogenic moment as they peeled off like a couple of fighter jets heading back to the carrier. I believe the Air Force would have been proud to see it.

Capture3I tried to replace them but found it too expensive. I didn’t mind, though, as it made the Buick look a bit menacing and tough from that side of the car: in a phrase, kind of cool.

I concluded that would be my side of the car. Sandy could have the softer hub-equipped side. It is a bit illustrative of our basic personality differences. Our car became the yin and yang or give and take of our relationship. I made her keep her coupons on her side of the car.

So just the other day Sandy was driving home from the store and someone broadsides her. The technical term in this case is “T-Bone.”

She was driving on a four-lane one-way street (yes, those exist in Renton: four parallel lanes of traffic traveling the same direction). Sandy is in the curb lane and another car is in the lane next to her. Most often it is considered a middle lane, or more exactly one of the middle two lanes, but it was most certainly not a turn lane. But that fact does not matter to a person who is only paying attention to a cell phone mapping app. Siri says turn, you turn. I think Siri should add, “…when it is safe to do so.”

So this gal obediently turns right… right into my Buick with my beloved at the wheel. She was driving a small bulldozer SUV and shoved my heavy and boatesque Buick over the curb, around the corner, and halfway down the small side street that Siri indicated. They got their rearview mirrors locked and neither could move.

I bet Siri didn’t see that coming.  “You’ve stopped. Is there a problem?”

Our car was totaled.

CaptureOf course, “totaled” is a completely monetarily-driven description… as is “initial quality.” The Buick wasn’t worth much, so the caved-in door and front fender and hood amounted to more in repair than the car was worth. However, in my view, since my wife was neither injured nor upset, the sheer weight of the Buick protected her and added intrinsic value that cannot be calculated. And of course it isn’t. So the car is totaled.

The other car had a scrape down one side caused by the extrication of mirrors from each other.

By the way, if you are looking for a car that apparently can survive a pretty significant wreck with minimal damage, buy a “rugged yet luxurious” VW Touareg.

So… car number eighteen has bit the dust and gone to the great metal salvage yard in the sky. No human body was hurt, and a ticket was issued to the VW driver; insurance, police, and significant participants all performed flawlessly and we were awarded a rental till a check arrives for our Buick.

We are getting a check for almost $500.00 more than we paid for the car, and less than a week later a friend in need of cash asked, “Hey, would you like to buy my car cheap?”

The chain remains unbroken.


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