1977 Buick Nighthawk
There I was, reading The Truth About Cars instead of doing something work-related, when, lo and behold, they pushed out a capsule review of the 1977 Buick Nighthawk. I was immediately smitten; I fell head over heels.
The black paint. ... The gold hawk and the gigantic stripe on the side. ... The gold wheels. ... Those lines, evocative of a mutant offspring between a Datsun 240Z and an AMC Pacer... or was that an RX-7 crossbred with a Pinto? I couldn't decide, but it didn't matter. Is that a clam-like rear taillight? Why yes. Yes it is. Is it winking at me suggestively? Why yes. I think it is.
Then I was told about the paint.
Imagine, for a second, that a standard-issue household Twinkie represents the normal amount of awesomeness and cool in a normal automotive paint job. The amount of awesome in the Buick Nighthawk paint package, with apologies to Ghostbusters, would correspond to a 35-foot-long, 600-pound Twinkie. You see, the paint changes color depending on whether light is shining on it or not.
See that picture up top? That's what a Buick Nighthawk looks like during the day with only regular sunlight shining on it. If you take a picture with a flash, on the other hand, you get our next picture.
It's because you don't drive a Buick Nighthawk. In fact, I can safely say that nobody drives a Buick Nighthawk--at least, not for very long. The Buick Nighthawk was nothing more than a Buick Skyhawk with fancy paint, and a Buick Skyhawk was nothing more than a rebadged Monza, which we've had mixed feelings about in the past.
The good news, at least for those that yearn for a Skyhawk, was that it never came with the Vega's uber-destructible four cylinder engine; Buick *Hawks only came with the Buick 231 V-6. The bad news is that it did come with the exact same level of fit and finish that America had come to expect from GM's H-Body platform, which meant that it could do 0-Rust faster than it could do 0-60.
The worst news was that, owing to the 231's early '60s pedigree and the underlying design philosophy that thought creating a V-6 was as easy as taking a V-8 and chopping a couple of cylinders off (a philosophy which I deal with daily in my '93 Dakota, by the way), it ran roughly and moved slowly. This would almost certainly explain why the speedometer only went up to 80--anything past that and the sympathetic vibrations would have caused the rapidly rusting speedometer cable to disintegrate.
Even so, I still admire those funky lines and the mystery paint. Sure, if I had one, it would almost certainly have to be hermetically sealed at this point to prevent it from being naturally recycled, and yes, the antiquated engine would leave me pining for the performance and reliability of my significant other's Malibu, but no matter. If only for the briefest of moments, I would be able to say that I have a car that changes color in the light, and nobody, save for certain oxidizing chemical reactions, would ever be able to take that away from me.
Now, if only I could find a car that changed color in the rain...
(Pictures and details about the paint are courtesy of monza.homestead.com. As an aside, I'd like to shake the hands of whomever it was at GM that decided that everything should be a fastback. Genius.)