A big, big love

Swing low (and long and wide), sweet chariot...

Swing low (and long and wide), sweet chariot…

I’m not ashamed – I’ll proudly admit to having a fetish for large American cars.

Even as a kid, when the other boys drooled solely over Mustangs and Z-28s, I gave equal eye time to the old 1970s and 80s barges that plied the highways and byways of my corner of small-town Ontario. Oldsmobile 88s and Ford LTDs were everywhere; so too was the Grand Marquis and deVille.

Yes, these baroque land yachts sure temped me, flaunting their landau roofs, opera windows, sagging springs, pillowed velour bench seats and faux wood grain trim. Like rolling bordellos, they were – the kind that the bad guy would try and get away in before Jim Rockford headed them off in his Firebird Esprit.

When driving age rolled around I was tempted by cheap Crown Vics that seemed to populate the back of every used car lot, but their appeal always lost out to my more pressing need for economy and gas mileage. School, you know.

Since then, prices have only risen higher into the stratosphere, so the dream of land yacht ownership remains just that – a dream. A big, hulking, wallowing dream.

Growing up, not many people close to me shared my passion – something that changed when I entered adulthood. I then encountered other people with an equal interest in square-rigged, city-block-long Detroit steel. Sometimes we talk over drinks, musing about how much smog-strangled horsepower a Lincoln 460 puts out, or what TV show/movie had the best shots of these Earth-bound Queen Marys in action (hint: Kojak).

Finances and market forces are against it, but that dream won’t ever die, nor does my appreciation of the new crop of large American cars. The Charger/300 siblings were just the thing society needed to get over the XXL-sized SUV craze of the late-90s and early 2000s (gas prices helped in that regard, too), and I find the new 2014 Impala to be a shapely, desirable beast.

Hell, I liked the anachronistic Impala that came before it. There were retro sensibilities to be had there, and without a hint of irony.

I’m fully convinced that if a new car as large and excessive as a 70s-era Chrysler was produced and was somehow able to achieve 50 mpg, there’d be a respectable lineup of buyers wanting to berth the thing in their driveways.

For a long time, those big cars commanded respect through presence and panache, and I can be forgiven for wanting to return to that era.