Niagara Gazette

Columns

March 7, 2014

HAMILTON: The Niagara Edition SUV and 1st Friday Club

Niagara Gazette — Even though Niagara Falls already has a tremendously famous name, can we make it even more famous than Nik Wallenda’s Niagara tightrope walk here, was spray starch and shredded cereal enough for us? Do you think having a Niagara version of a major vehicle manufacturer’s automobile is too much to ask?

As a young sailor, my first automobile was a five-year old 1967 Buick that I bought off a grass lot in south San Diego. I liked the name of the big red machine, ‘Riviera’, as it conjured up feelings of the luxury of its namesake, that strip of sea and sunshine in southern France, and I felt good driving it. 

However, even on a good day, the huge 430 c.i./360hp engine got a mere eight miles per gallon. The gas needle continuously raced in the opposite direction of the sweeping second hand on the dashboard clock. The following year when, in 1973, the Arab oil embargo hit, there was never a good day, and I could hardly afford the gasoline needed to run it.

I was transferred to Philadelphia in the following year, and with still soaring gasoline prices, I couldn’t risk the long drive through the desert and across the country; so I left the Riviera with a fellow student who was supposed to take over payments. I often wondered whatever happened to that car.

Five years after driving my unaffordable Riv’, I found myself actually on the French Riviera in ‘Monaco’ and in ‘Monte Carlo’ section where the ‘Grand Prix’ race is run. Though I had an increase in pay through promotion and time in service, like the Buick Riviera, the French Riviera was still too rich for my wallet, and the illusive luxury again managed to escape me.

Ironically, some years later, I even owned a 1980 Chevrolet ‘Monte Carlo’. I really liked that car, and its better than Riviera’s gas mileage, and I kept it for quite some time.

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