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My GS400 Convertible
By Erich Koehler, Tavernier, FL

My Karmann Ghia I grew up in Northern Wisconsin as a Preacher's kid. After I graduated from high school in 1969 my dad accepted a call to St. John's United Church of Christ in Monroe, Wisconsin (Southern Wisconsin), so I moved down along with them. My first real job that summer of '69 was as a tire builder at Kelly Spring Field Tire Co. in Freeport, Illinois. My plans were to go to TV and Radio repair school at Blackhawk Tech in Beloit, Wisconsin. I needed a car by fall that year to take me to school from Monroe to Beloit each day.

I found a 1963 Olds Cutlass F85 convertible with bucket seats, 4-speed, 215 CI aluminum block for $460. I drove it for the first year in school, and then in August of 1970 I saw a beautiful 1968 Buick GS400 convertible, Mist Blue with white top and buckets on the Monroe Buick dealer's used lot. I had to have it. I got it for $2800 with only 16,000 miles on the odometer. It was very fast and, unfortunately, I was still very young at 19 years old. So within five years I had put over 100,000 miles on it and the engine had a terrible knock. I actually gave the car away and left to join the Navy.

As the years went on I started to miss my old GS400 convertible really badly and by that time had read some articles written on the 1968 Buick GS400, about how rare a car they actually were. This made me even angrier with myself for how I had treated that first one and then just let it go. All during my Navy years I looked long and hard for another one but to avail. After I got out of the Navy I started my career in Nuclear Power at Clinton Power Station in Clinton, Illinois. One of my coworkers had a nice Harley Davidson for sale for only $4,000. I decided I would probably never find another 1968 Buick GS400 convertible so I succumbed to him to buy his Harley. After work one day I pulled $4,000 from my savings and called him to say I was on my way to buy his bike.

As I was leaving Clinton I stopped at the IGA to grab a soda and as usual I went to the magazine rack to look at the latest issue of Wheels and Deals Auto Trader. When I pulled the magazine out from the rack it slipped from my hands and fell open, face up on the floor. When I looked down I couldn't believe my eyes. It was like an omen. There, staring up at me from the floor, out of the page it fell open to, was a 1968 Buick GS400 convertible Gray Green for sale at $3200. I couldn't believe it! I was actually shaking as I picked the magazine up off the floor. The car was in Rock Island, Illinois, a pretty good drive from Clinton, so I knew I couldn't make it there that night. I immediately paid for the magazine and soda, got a pocket full of change to make a long distance call and called him. Yes, he still had the car and had already come down from $3600 to $3200. I told him I would be there FOR SURE on Friday evening with $2800 cash. He said he really didn't want to come down any more than he has but if I show up I could have it for $2800. I called my friend with the Harley and told him what happened and that I wouldn't be buying his bike from him. This was a Wednesday so you can imagine my anticipation all through Thursday and Friday. Friday evening when I arrived to the sellers place and saw it, the car was just as beautiful as I remembered my first one. I felt like a 19 year old all over again (except a little wiser this time) and I got it for the same price as the first one. I paid him the $2800 and I was on my way to a long-lasting relationship with my beloved 1968 Buick GS400 convertible.

This was in August of 1986, my son was born on September 30th 1986 and he too has served the US Navy and works with me at the Nuclear Plant South of Miami. We live in the Keys and the GS400 makes a GREAT Keys Cruiser for my wife and I from Key Largo to Key West. I guess you could say the car is enjoying semi-retirement in the Keys. I picked my son up in it from the hospital in Clinton when he was born. Now he drives me around in it at times.

P.S. I also saved that Auto Trader all these years.

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