14 January 2014

Car Stuff: Random Sighting #18

Sometimes I seek out certain cars where they live after I've noticed them parked in the same place on different occasions; other times, those cars find me.

Back in the fall I was heading to an appointment one morning when I found this car parked across the street from the bus stop. I had passed it at least a dozen times in the car, parked several streets away, when we were driving to Medford Square. I kept meaning to go over there and take pictures of it where its owner presumably lives, but then on this particular day it was right in front of me, saving me the effort.
This is a 1986 Pontiac Parisienne, and you are forgiven if you've never heard of it. In the 1960s the top of the line Pontiac was the Bonneville, but in 1971 they added the Grand Ville at the top of the lineup. When General Motors' full-size cars got downsized for 1977, the Grand Ville was dropped and the Bonneville once again became the top-line Pontiac ride. Meanwhile up in Canada, what was called a Bonneville here was called a Parisienne, dating back to 1958 (which, coincidentally, is when the Bonneville was first introduced).
But wait, it gets more confusing: due to declining sales, the full-size Bonneville was dropped after 1981; Pontiac took what had been a mid-size LeMans, gave it a different front end, and slapped the Bonneville name on it. Almost immediately they regretted the decision, but up north they were still building the Parisienne. Since they had already given the Bonneville name to another car, they imported the Parisienne and kept its name.
For the final bit of weirdness, the Parisiennes sent here for sale in 1983 and '84 were really just Chevrolet Caprices with different grilles, tail lights, and trim. But for 1985 Pontiac went back to using the body panels that had been used on the Bonneville and Parisienne back in 1981, which differed from those on the Caprice, mainly at the rear of the car. See how this car has the gently sloping rear fenders and trunk lid? That's the older/newer version.

So how do I know this isn't a Canadian car from '81? Because it has the government-mandated center stop light, which first appeared on American cars for the 1986 model year.

As you can see, this car has been pounded on and is still going. Oxidized paint, missing trim, a vinyl top that appears to have psoriasis, a dented door, some sort of Pep Boys wheel covers—this is a true beater, and has earned the right to be called one.

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