Novelist Thomas Wolfe’s saying of “You can’t go home again” was tested by Tony Fotos in 2005.
In 1952, soon after acquiring a license to drive, young Fotos was the recipient of a two-month loan of a 1947 Buick Roadmaster convertible. His cousin instructed Fotos to use it as if it were his own.
“This made a deep impression on me,” Fotos says after returning the car to his cousin. “I always thought it would be nice to have that car as a mature adult.”
More than half a century passed when Fotos saw a 1947 Buick advertised for sale at an antique automobile museum in Chicago. Fotos and his wife, Anne, flew to Chicago to inspect the car similar to the one of his youth. The Buick was attractive and seemed to be in excellent condition. When he took it for a test drive however, Fotos says, “I didn’t feel the excitement I thought I would feel when I drove it.” Perhaps Thomas Wolfe was correct.
Returning to the car museum, the disappointed Fotos strolled through the rows of other antique vehicles that were for sale. That is when a sparkling Seminole Red 1956 four-hole Buick Roadmaster convertible with white sidewall tires, 84-spoke chrome wheels and a Continental Kit captured his attention.
Against his better judgment, Fotos continued on the tour to see the other available cars. When he returned to where the red Buick had been parked it was gone. He learned that right after he had seen the car it had been sold and was currently being prepared for shipment to California.
“I always wanted a red convertible,” Fotos says. He was determined that this one was not going to get away. He took action by offering the salesman a substantial amount of cash above what the asking price had been. A few minutes later the salesman returned to inform Fotos that the purchaser of the Buick had relented and the Buick was his. “I was elated,” Fotos recalls.
Fotos and his wife flew home to Riverdale, Md., where his automobile insurance agent informed him that the Buick had to be housed in a structural garage. Fotos promptly called the Chicago museum to ask them to hold the Buick until the new garage was constructed.
When the Buick finally arrived it had a new garage to park in, befitting such a car loaded with charm.