If your Ford had a Matthew McConaughey, it would be a Lincoln

1974 Buick Apollo - The Oppositelock Review.

I've mentioned my Buick a few times, and shown a few pictures, and each time, more have been requested. Since I have Columbus Day off, and my daughter is taking a nap, I thought I'd sit down and write an actual review. Actually, she's in her crib, playing with her stuffed animals instead of napping, but she's happy, so all is well.

(Full disclosure: I wanted to own a cool old car so badly, that after a year and a half of working a real job, living by myself, and saving literally tens of dollars, I decided to buy this Buick using one of those credit card cash advance checks. Pretty freaking stupid.)


Anyways, I bought the Buick seven years ago, from a body guy who had purchased it from the nephew of the original owner. It was your typical little old lady takes the car to church on Sunday car, complete with religious statues stuck to the dash, and hardware store letters reading "GAS" and "BRAKE" over their corresponding pedals (YIKES!!!). The car had 13k miles on it, when he purchased it. Because I live in the rust-belt, it still needed new quarters. So those were hung on the car, and it was repainted the original cinnamon color, but with extra metal flake mixed in, for some extra pop. All the rubber bits and bobbles were changed, rally wheels with BFG Radial TA tires were added, and dual straight pipes were installed (badly). He racked up another 10k miles on it, before selling to to me. I assume he used the cash to fix up one of the three Oldsmobiles, sitting under tarps in his driveway.

Exterior - 9/10

Being a '74 model, sold in America, automatically means it has giant bumpers, sticking out way too far. Other than those warts, this car is sexy. I get compliments all the time. Most people say something to the effect of, "Nice Nova!". The Nova is indeed the sister car to the Apollo (also the Pontiac Ventura/GTO, and Oldsmobile Omega, because GM). Although Chevy managed to tack a whole bunch of ugly onto the Nova in '73 and '74, which thankfully did not carry over onto the Apollo.


Interior - 5/10

The Apollo isn't old enough to have a really cool or stylish interior. It's pretty bland and whatever in there. I don't find the seat to be particularly comfortable either. All in all, it's fine. I would have given it a six, if the AC worked. The nicest feature, is that I can reach all four window cranks from the drivers seat (when stopped, obviously).


Acceleration - 6/10

I'm being REALLY generous here. It has enough low end torque to toss you back in the seats a bit, and spin the tires. If you stay on it, it'll even chirp the tires when it shifts into second. The 350 cubic inch Buick V8, with a 2-barrel carburetor was rated at a whopping 150 HP when new. This isn't new, although the previous owner did swap over to a 4-barrel carburetor and removed the emissions garbage, so lets be super optimistic, and say it sill makes over 100 horsepower. OK, it's terribly slow. My '11 V6 Malibu would whip its ass in a drag race, but I smile a LOT more when driving the Apollo.


Braking- 3/10

It was front disc/rear drum brakes. They're small, because they have to fit into a 14" wheel, but they do stop in an adequate distance for normal driving. Just be prepared, as it sometimes pulls pretty hard under braking, but not always, and not always the same direction.


Ride- 4/10

The ride is floaty, but not in a nice soft way, like an old Caddy, or a big Buick. It's floaty in a you really need to replace these 40 year old springs and shocks way.


Handling- 2/10

In handles like a bag of ball bearings. You can feel the completely cashed-out bushings deflecting as the rear end wobbles back and forth on a freeway ramp. If you hit a bump during a right hand turn, the left tire rubs the inner fender. It's not so bad that you can't drive it, but you really have to stay on top of it, and drive the thing, because it will try to kill you. Shortly after I bought it, my girlfriend at the time (now wife) started bugging me to let her drive it. I think she was doing it, just because she didn't think I'd let her. I'm a, "Hey, it's just a car, and it's insured," kind of guy, so I let her. She drove three blocks, pulled over, and said, "OK, I'm done."


Gearbox - 7/10

The Apollo has a column shifted automatic, as a Buick damn well should. It's a 3-speed turbo 350 hydromatic, and it gets the job done. I had the trans rebuilt a few years ago, and they're so simple and common, that the job only cost $650, including the labor to take the trans in and out. As I mentioned before, it'll chirp the tires shifting into second gear, if you stay on it. Not bad, for a stock rebuild. It also downshifts quick enough, when I stomp on it for passing power.


Toys- 8/10

It's a classic car, it is the toy. If it was faster, and handled/stopped better, I'd have given it a ten.


Audio - 8/10

If I could go back in time, and change one thing about the work the previous owned did, it would be installing a stereo. He cut the dash to put in an old Sony head unit, with no back light, he cut the door panels to put in some crappy speakers that don't work in all, and he cut the package tray to put in some 6x9's that do emit sound, but barely and terribly.


But none of that matters, because straight pipes. The problem with them, is they have a small leak somewhere, that I've never bothered to try and find or fix. However, despite the Buick's lack of horsepower, when you stomp on the loud pedal, the gates of hell open up, and the most beautiful, mean-ass, burbling, growling V8 sounds fill your ear holes, and the ear holes of everybody around for blocks. Every time I hit the gas, I get a huge shit-eating grin on my face. Yes, it is very illegal, but the cops around here don't seem to give a crap, as I take it easy near peoples' homes.

Value - 9/10

I paid $5800 (plus 3% interest) for this car. That's a lot of car for the money. Find a similar '74 Chevy Nova, and you'll pay $10k easily for it, and it'll be uglier.


Total - 61/100

Engine: 350 cubic inch naturally aspirated V8
Power: 150 HP/200+ LB-FT at some low RPM
Transmission: Thee speed column shifted automatic
0-60 Time: Laughable
Top Speed: I haven't had the guts to take it over 85 mph.
Drivetrain: Rear wheel drive (duh!)
Curb Weight: 3300-ish pounds (wild ass guess)
Seating: Technically 6 people, comfortably, 4 people
MPG: 13 city/17 highway (observed)
MSRP: More than a '74 Nova


Here's some more pictures, for your viewing pleasure.


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