The end of 2020 meant that my 1974 “rolling restoration” Buick Apollo wore a few coats of primer and ran well enough for longer road trips. It still needed some attention paid to small items after five years of heavy lifting.
A few things inside the car have been bothering me a great deal. As always, my mistakes and small triumphs are here to encourage readers to pick up the tools and DIY it. An average Joe, even one who is a faculty member in an English Department, can get an average old car back on the road. Why wait for that perfect (mentioning my favorites) E-type or GTO? Start with something you can afford, even something with four doors, and learn by doing.
After my last column on the car, we did indeed go apple-picking before the arrival of what passes for winter in Virginia these edgy days. I was working on other projects during the cool months, so the Apollo went only on a few jaunts.
Then, around New Years, I removed the dash to put in a vintage radio and address a few other issues. I’d yanked a hideous aftermarket RADwood-era FM radio with a cassette player, a box with flashing turquoise lights and busy displays, taking it to the electronics recycler. Begone! Then I began to hunt down a Delco from the mid-1970s that would fit. Or mostly fit.
I imagined that as soon as I switched my radio on, I’d hear songs coming from David Bowie’s swan-song to Glam, Diamond Dogs. You remember? Halloween Jack who lived in Hunger City, atop the ruins of “Manhattan Chase”? There was nothing cooler for a 14-year-old in the second half of the Cold War. Our parents had built fallout shelters just before we were born; we early Generation Xers joked about rushing with tanning blankets to Ground Zero. Bowie was whistling with us in the Atomic Dark.
With my luck, however, I figured the first sound I’d hear would be “Muskrat Love” by the Captain and Tennille.