But I’d dreamed bigger. Let the Russians do their lab experiments up there in space, let them divine the essence of the universe. For me and my country, I envisioned a sea-to-shining-sea stunt the Russians could never understand, much less duplicate.

I pictured a secret payload to be hurled into endless orbit around the Earth. There would be the whitewall tires, the eight-port front fenders with hooded headlights and enough chrome to warp the entire reflected world into gnarly absurdity — yes, a Buick Roadmaster.

The Buick Roadmaster of that era signaled not that it was going someplace, such as the end of history foreseen by the Russian Communists, but that it had already arrived. Unlike low-slung foreign jobs that looked like they were going 100 miles an hour while standing still, the Buick Roadmaster looked like it was standing still at 100 miles an hour. It was an ultimate in itself, maybe the Ultimate.