Home » What’s This Glorious American Beast Doing In France?: Cold Start

What’s This Glorious American Beast Doing In France?: Cold Start

Cs Vistacruiser Ac
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This morning, our very own stylish and cranky car designer Adrian Clarke emerged from the Chunnel, like an infant being reborn, and stepped onto French soil, with Le Mans as his destination. Almost immediately, he was greeted by a wildly improbable sight: a 1971 (a commenter says it’s ’72, so okay, ’72) Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser, a car about as well-suited to France as baloney and spray cheese are to a croissant. Look at that thing! These were huge even in America, but on French streets the proportions have to be genuinely Sasquatchean. Let’s just look at this thing.

The car is actually a UK car, and Adrian told me there’s some kids watching all the cool UK cars emerge from the tunnel into France, and I’m sure this – and Adrian’s own Ferrari Mondial, seen in the background there – didn’t disappoint. There’s some good details on the back of this thing worth pointing out, too:

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Cs Vistacruiser France Ac

First, look how clever this is: cars need to have amber rear indicators in Europe, and this Yank Tank never bothered with such frippery, so instead of clumsily tacking on some amber trailer lights to the bumper, look at this fantastic solution: lights hidden in fake dual exhausts. I’m normally anti fake exhausts, but in this particular case, I love it. The lenses are clear, but I’d bet Euros that the bulbs inside illuminate amber. I love it.

Also, see that little notch in the rear bumper? You know what that is? It’s the sorta-hidden hinge for the Drop-or-Swing tailgate! Look at this!

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Ah, that’s so cool.

Oh, one last detail, very unfamiliar to Americans like me are these:

Cs Vistalight

See that funny sticker on the headlight? Those are headlight beam deflectors. UK cars driving in the rest of Europe need them so they don’t blind people driving in oncoming traffic, because UK headlights are aimed for RHD driving.

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Man, what a glorious American unicorn that is over there. I wonder if seeing this for French people is similar to how I react when I see a Citroën DS Break over here?

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Tbird
Tbird
11 months ago

Saw a GMT400 Chevy Suburban street parked in Rome Italy a few days ago!

Last edited 11 months ago by Tbird
Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
11 months ago

“I wonder if seeing this for French people is similar to how I react when I see a Citroën DS Break over here?”

Do you REALLY want to know what French people think when they see this?

Sacred Bleu! Yet another fat/ugly/slow/old/smelly/ravenous/pushy American.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
11 months ago

I love this SO MUCH.

Myk El
Myk El
11 months ago

A friend of mine is of Swedish ancestry and still has cousins living there who’d come visit the US from time to time. Apparently there’s a fanbase in Sweden (and other parts of Europe) for big American iron. My friends family particularly liked the fairly unloved here 4 doors of the malaise era. The more couch-like, the better.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
11 months ago
Reply to  Myk El

There is a HUGE love of old American cars in Sweden. Especially Corvettes.

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
11 months ago

Applause! I wonder if those tires came with the car or were ordered to complete the look? 45,000 bonus points for the turn signal solution. I wish I could buy them a tank of gasoline….koff…petrol.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago
Reply to  Dodsworth

I doubt you could afford it.

Dudeoutwest
Dudeoutwest
11 months ago

These may seem very large today, but at the time, they were the mid sized wagons, if you can believe it.

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
11 months ago
Reply to  Dudeoutwest

If you’ve ever seen an early 70s Chevrolet Kingswood or Chrysler New Yorker wagon, it’s quite easy to believe.

Slirt
Slirt
11 months ago

Sorry to bubble-burst Torch, but the bumper notch is NOT a hinge, but rather a step to aide entry into the rear seat; the hinges are on the sides of the tailgate. I’m old, i grew up with & know these things.

Millermatic
Millermatic
11 months ago
Reply to  Slirt

The video embedded in the article suggests his bubble isn’t the one that will burst…

Fawgcutter
Fawgcutter
11 months ago
Reply to  Slirt

I’m old too and I remember it being a step. Look at the photo with the rear seat passenger. The tailgate is hinged on the driver side and the step is on the passenger side.

Ronald Pottol
Ronald Pottol
11 months ago
Reply to  Fawgcutter

Watch the video, it swings both ways.

W124
W124
11 months ago

Those are the greatest roof windows this side of Sonderbus.

Last edited 11 months ago by W124
Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
11 months ago

An American car in France is actually somewhat common.

Holly Birge
Holly Birge
11 months ago
Reply to  Slow Joe Crow

It’s true — I’m told that there is quite a community of people in France who collect old American cars.

Clear_prop
Clear_prop
11 months ago

The fake California plates annoy me. At least fake a real California plate color scheme if you’re going to bother faking the plates.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
11 months ago
Reply to  Clear_prop

Lots of UK American car owners do this. It’s about as legal as a £7 note but plod usually turns a blind eye (like they do if you still have flashing red indicators on an older American car).

Last edited 11 months ago by Adrian Clarke
Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
11 months ago

I’m reminded of Kevin Klein’s utterly disgusting character from “A Fish Called Wanda”. Drove a mid-’70’s Conti around London like it was a Golf. And constantly on the wrong side.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
11 months ago

A**hollllllllllle!

Beer-light Guidance
Beer-light Guidance
11 months ago

“Assshooole!”

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago

Asswholio

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
11 months ago

When I told him your daughter’s name was Portia he said, “Who would name their daughter after a car?”

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
11 months ago
Reply to  Dodsworth

Deep cut. Wait…are you calling me stupid?

Last edited 11 months ago by Jack Trade
Theotherotter
Theotherotter
11 months ago

And to think this was actually considered an ‘intermediate’ !

Millermatic
Millermatic
11 months ago

My father was in the Air Force – and we were stationed in Germany and England for a good chunk of my youth. We brought a ‘73 Chevy Chevelle Malibu over with us. It went to the same mechanic who took care of our Audi. They laughed whenever we brought it in.

AssMatt
AssMatt
11 months ago

So happy to hear the Mondial is intercontinental again, as it was meant to be!

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
11 months ago
Reply to  AssMatt

Did about 1000 miles to Le Mans and back, didn’t miss a beat, and was surprisingly comfortable (this trip was by far the longest I’ve taken it on).

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
11 months ago

Jason are there any other taillight/exhaust tip combos you can think of?

Drew Slaughter
Drew Slaughter
11 months ago

Can you talk about those fake California plates, with I assume the UK registration number?

Or Some
Or Some
11 months ago
Reply to  Drew Slaughter

UK law mandates that the front plate is white and the rear is yellow. There’s nothing to say you can’t have fake foreign plates, but there are size requirements for the letters. I’m not sure if this example is legal.

It has a K at the end because if the car had been sold in the UK when it was new, that was the series it would have been allocated. One year later and it would have had an L plate. And so on. When they reached Y (Z wasn’t allowed) they reversed the format, starting with A the next year.

Phuzz
Phuzz
11 months ago
Reply to  Drew Slaughter

You can look up UK registered cars and see their current MoT status (check-mot.service.gov.uk). So I can confirm that that is the UK number plate, but I’m pretty sure it’s illegal (because the digits are too small, and the worng colour*). Also, you can see that the MoT expired in 2021, so this car is doubly illegal on UK roads.
Good thing they’re in France really.

(*There’s a whole DVLA leaflet about numberplates, INF104)

Last edited 11 months ago by Phuzz
Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
11 months ago
Reply to  Phuzz

See my comment above. They’re not legal but the police are not really bothered. They’re more concerned about the current fashion for not having a front plate.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
11 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

We have a version of this in the States.

Some states require front plates, others don’t. And in those that do, there’s a growing number of people who want to omit that plate. They usually put it inside on the dash b/c you know, it was falling off, officer, need to fix that right away. Usually on a car that clearly has no front plate bracket at all.

Or Some
Or Some
11 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

No, officer, I had no idea there were any forward-facing speed cameras in this area. I didn’t know they existed at all. Why do you ask?

Bill D
Bill D
11 months ago
Reply to  Or Some

Also a lot of European cars that have the front bumper cutout sized for a Euro number plate look ugly with the standard American sized plate installed. The American plate is a lot taller (152mm vs 110-120mm).

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
11 months ago

If the French do notice, they’re either going to pretend they don’t see it or they’re going to rant about Americans defiling their local culture.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
11 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

I’m also imagining a lot of upturned noses and words that make a normally beautiful language sound gross.

DubblewhopperInDubblejeopardy
DubblewhopperInDubblejeopardy
11 months ago

Certain Europeans need to bury bodies in ditches too. You can’t just stuff a body in a Vauxhall and call it a day.

Outofstep
Outofstep
11 months ago

Damn that’s awesome and hilariously out of place. Whoever is driving that is an absolute legend.

3WiperB
3WiperB
11 months ago

I never realized, until that video, that there were sunvisors installed in the 2nd floor for the Vista roof window.

It’s lovely. It’s pretty impressive to drive one of those in Europe. My first car in the mid 90’s was a ’72 Cutlass S coupe. It was my daily driver through part of high school and most of college. It got about 10 mpg no matter what I did (city, highway, AC on, or windows down). It was a 350 with a 4 barrel carb. The Vista Cruiser is likely in the single digits for MPG. I wonder if it has the 350 or the 455, or if they swapped it for something else.

3WiperB
3WiperB
11 months ago
Reply to  3WiperB

Why did I say 2nd floor? I meant 2nd row of course. Noticed to late for the edit button.

Sid Bridge
Sid Bridge
11 months ago

Another admirable chess move in the endless quest to mess with future archaeologists.

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
11 months ago

I miss big wagons… Classy and comfortable, but still practical. And I’ve always had a soft spot for the Vista Cruiser’s glass roof panels.

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
11 months ago

What a glorious beast, and in terrific condition!
The wagon, not Adrian, though he also is a glorious beast.

I especially appreciate the Vista Cruiser’s ersatz California number plates.

Also (pushes up glasses), the egg-crate grille is from a ’72.

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