White-knuckled, I’m creeping into the heart of a nor’easter and the only things I can see in the milk bottle of snow and dark are the taillights of a semi swerving ahead. Luckily, I’m behind the wheel of the ultimate ski car: supercharged, traction control, buttery leather upholstery, and power everything. And I mean everything.
Did I mention that it’s a Buick? A 1997 Buick Regal GS, to be precise. A car that’s about as cool as ski ballet. You’re skeptical. I understand. But over the three years I’ve owned Black Beauty, she’s carried me through four-alarm blizzards in 10 states, endured two ditch incidents, and been my home for weeks at a time. And with a trunk designed to hold geriatric necessities like cases of Depends and Rascal motor scooters, it swallows up ski gear with ease. Four pairs of skis fit through the flip-down backseat console with plenty of room for boots, backpacks, and a cooler. No rack necessary.
As the years went by, I watched my buddies’ Toyota pickups, Subarus, and Jeeps succumb to head-gasket failures, cracked frames, and blown transmissions. When I’d come across the smoldering remains of each car, I’d roll down the power window and—over the silky purr of 240 horsepower—laugh my ass off.
I even special-ordered a trailer hitch (not a standard Buick option) to tow my sleds. The reaction from other skiers at the trailhead is pure shock. It’s as if they’ve never seen a Buick full of skiers towing two snowmobiles up a pass before.
Still not convinced? I once came upon a brand-new Toyota Tacoma four-by-four stuck in a snowbank after blowing an icy corner. The owner snorted when I suggested I give him a tow. “With that?” he asked. He changed his tune after the Tacoma popped out of the snow in three seconds. Black Beauty didn’t even break a sweat.
But no car lasts forever. When Black Beauty’s time comes, I’ll be sad. But I’ll be ready: There’s a killer Oldsmobile for sale down the street. I’m going to make an offer.
- SKIING MAGAZINE, FEBRUARY/MARCH 2009