- The Washington Times - Friday, July 31, 2009

Large cars, especially Buicks, have always held an appeal for Phil Judson. Twenty-five years ago, General Motors was downsizing its cars. When Mr. Judson learned of GM’s plan, he took action to acquire one of the last big Buicks.

At the Jack Winters Buick dealership in Waukegan, Ill., Mr. Judson located a 1984 Buick Electra Park Avenue four-door sedan with only nine miles showing on the odometer.

As it was equipped, the 3,994-pound large car had a Large cars, especially Buicks, have always held an appeal for Phil Judson. Twenty-five years ago, General Motors was downsizing its cars. When Mr. Judson learned of GM’s plan, he took action to acquire one of the last big Buicks.

At the Jack Winters Buick dealership in Waukegan, Ill., Mr. Judson located a 1984 Buick Electra Park Avenue four-door sedan with only nine miles showing on the odometer.

As it was equipped, the 3,994-pound large car had a window sticker price of $17,177.60, including an optional 5.0-liter V-8. The Buick was nice, but not that nice, and after some negotiating, a more reasonable price in the $15,000 range was agreed upon. “I purchased this 17-foot-long Buick on May 5, 1984,” he says. He drove it to his home, at the time in Zion, Ill., enjoying the cushioned ride provided by the 118.9-inch wheelbase.

Mr. Judson has had other cars to drive in the winter months and inclement weather, which has helped preserve his Buick.

“I have kept this Buick in like-new condition and parked in the garage every night the whole time I have had it,” he says. “For the past 20 years, it has seen very little rain and no snow or ice.”

In the first two years he owned the Electra Park Avenue, Mr. Judson drove it 24,000 miles, and the four-speed automatic transmission began slipping. His regular mechanic repaired the problem, and then handed him a document to sign, which the mechanic said would be sent to General Motors. Much to his surprise, GM promptly notified him that the company was going to pay half of the repair bill.

The only other difficulty Mr. Judson has experienced with his car involves the air conditioner. A few years back, he explains, “The A/C wasn’t blowing cold air.” He followed the advice of his auto technician, and after overhauling the air conditioner, switched from the tried and true - but ever more expensive - old-style R12 Freon to the new R134.

In the 63,000 miles that he has driven his Buick, he has gone as far south as Kentucky and as far north as the upper reaches of Maine, almost into Canada. The Buick is the perfect car for long-distance runs.

The crushed velour upholstery is exquisite and comfortable, but Mr. Judson acknowledges that sliding across leather upholstery is easier.

If ever there was a sign that good things come to the owners of antique cars, it was when he was out strolling in his Gurnee, Ill., neighborhood and he came across a pristine wire-wheel hubcap that matches the four on his car. It’s always nice to have a spare.

One feature that endears Mr. Judson to his Buick is the standup chrome ornament at the end of a long strip of chrome on the engine hood.

Everyone could take a few tips from Mr. Judson on how to keep an old car looking young. “Every autumn,” he explains, “I take the battery out and put a fuel stabilizer in the gas tank.”

After the car has hibernated during the winter, he says, “I pump the pedal a few times, and she starts.”

As for keeping his car looking good, he always parks in shopping lots as far away as possible from the store to avoid dings on the side of his car from the doors of other cars. There is another benefit from his parking habit, he says: “We need extra walking.”

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