BLUFFTON — Two memorable things happened to Dennis Morrison after a young woman caught his eye when he returned from Vietnam in 1969.
The best was to have a date with former classmate Donna McCluer, to whom he will be married for 50 years on October 7.
The second had to deal with fast cars and his 1967 Buick GS 400.
“It’s a fun car to drive, especially for those who think it doesn’t have a lot of power,” Dennis said. “They don’t know what’s under the hood. Buick kept listed horsepower low to keep insurance rates lower. The 340 horsepower is probably a lot more.
The 1967 Buick GS 400 was the first car Donna ever bought. She bought it at Clark’s Buick in Bluffton after the original owner traded it in. He owned it only a few months after buying it new.
“At that time he said he didn’t know why he bought it,” Dennis said. “Now he says he would have liked to keep it.”
That’s true for many people who have owned a Gran Sport before, according to Hot Cars magazine.
The Buick 400 is the result of General Motors’ efforts to create sporty models at a time when muscle cars ruled the streets. The 400 was supposed to be the most beautifully equipped GM sports model of that era. However, the Gran Sport never claimed the “in-face magnetism” of GM cars like the Pontiac GTO or Chevrolet Camaro. They were called “Jimi Hendrix cars” by Muscle Car magazine, while the Buick GS-400 was supposed to be easier to listen to, more Herb Alpert.
Everything has changed now.
Today, the Buick Gran Sport is a classic car highly sought after by muscle enthusiasts. Donna Morrison is one of the few who can say she has owned her 1967 model for 55 years.
“We like to take it to car shows like the Lions Club Festival of Wheels in Bluffton or Pioneer Days in Kalida. It gets a lot of attention,” Dennis says.
The Buick GS 400 isn’t the only classic vehicle the Morrisons own. The other end of the spectrum puts them in the seats of a 1992 Eddie Bauer Ford Aerostar minivan.
The Aerostar was Ford’s answer to the Chevrolet Astro in the 1980s. It was a time when the humble minivan turned out to be one of the automotive industry’s greatest success stories. Minivans opened up an untapped market for affordable and efficient family transportation that continued well into the 1990s. Ford produced over 2 million Aerostars from 1986 to 1997.
Morrison’s 1992 Eddie Bauer Aerostar is now a show car for Dennis, who worked at Ford’s Lima engine plant for 41 years. And like his wife did when she bought her GS 400, Dennis got a bargain buying the Aerostar.
“I bought it from my superintendent at the Ford engine plant in Lima. He only had the Aerostar for a short time. I owned it for all but two months of its life,” Dennis said. .
And while there’s no such thing as a “hip minivan,” many people can relate to Morrison’s Aerostar when he takes it to car shows.
“We’ve taken it on many family trips to Florida,” he said. “It seems like a lot of people our age have had a minivan before.”
When the original owner traded in this 1967 Buick GS 400 convertible shortly after buying it, Donna Morrison was quick to buy it. This is the first car she owns.
Dennis and Donna Morrison each have classic cars.
Dennis Morrison bought this 1992 Eddie Bauer Aerostar from the superintendent of the Ford engine plant in Lima. The executive only had the Aerostar for a few months when he sold it.
With 340 horsepower and 440 pounds per foot of torque, the 1967 Buick GS 400 was able to snatch from zero to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds.