From a Buick 8
is a supernatural horror fiction novel published in 2002 by American author Stephen King. Like his previous novel, Christine
, From a Buick 8
tells the story of an automobile that harms people through supernatural means. The book is named after the classic 1965 Bob Dylan song, "From a Buick 6."
The novel begins as Ned Wilcox is grieving the loss of his father, Curtis Wilcox, who was killed by a drunk driver. Curtis is a member of Troop D, a state police barracks based in Western Pennsylvania. As part of the grieving process, Ned begins visiting Troop D on a regular basis in order to learn more about his father from the people with whom he worked. What immediately follows is a series of episodes based on the various memories of members of Troop D, who all share "ghost stories" about a "Buick 8" associated with various mysterious events and which seems to the troopers, at least, to be of supernatural origin.
In 1979, the troopers retrieved the Buick after an unknown driver abandoned it at a local gas station. Since then, the Buick has been parked in a shed near the barracks. The troopers explain that while the car looks to be a regular 1953 Buick Roadmaster, it is not, in fact, a vehicle at all, at least not in any traditional, earthly sense. Its steering wheel doesn't move, and its dashboard instruments are not functional. In its hood, there is an engine, but the engine contains no moving parts. Perhaps most unsettlingly, the Buick has self-healing properties. It cannot be damaged or even dirtied, repelling any debris within moments of contact.
According to Sandy Dearborn, who has taken over as the barracks' commander in the wake of Curtis's death, Curtis was obsessed with the Buick and its supernatural properties. Frequently, the car emits extended flashes of purple light, causing strange plants and animals not of this earth to spontaneously appear in its vicinity. The car has been associated with other strange occurrences, like the disappearance of Curtis's old partner, Ennis Rafferty, who along with escaped con Brian Lippy, seems to have dropped off the face of the planet after being arrested for driving under the influence of the drug, angel dust. The stories Ned hears suggest to him that the Buick is some kind of portal between dimensions, sucking in humans or other objects and emitting out these otherworldly organisms.
In hearing these stories, Ned also realizes that the man who first reported the abandoned Buick to Troop D is the same man who killed his father in the drunk driving accident. This leads Ned to believe that his father's demise is somehow related to the Buick. Sandy advises Ned against obsessing over the Buick. Perhaps unwisely, Sandy then leaves Ned alone at the police barracks to go eat at a diner with the rest of Troop D. While eating, Sandy realizes that Ned never asked him if anyone has tried to destroy the car by lighting it on fire. He immediately understands that this is what Ned intends to do and rushes back to Troop D headquarters.
Sandy opens the door to the shed where the Buick is located and sees Ned sitting on top of the car, which is now soaked in gasoline. Ned is also holding a gun and a match. Sandy grabs Ned off the hood of the car just as the Buick is seen to be transforming into a portal. Sandy and Ned just barely avoid being sucked into the portal; Ned catches a glimpse inside the portal. What he sees is largely a blur; however, he sees a swastika necklace belonging to Brian Lippy as well as a hat and a gun belonging to Ennis Rafferty.
After this near disaster, the men of Troop D decide collectively that the transference of beings back and forth between the portal means that the car acts as something of a "regulator valve" that keeps the two dimensions from bleeding into one another. For that reason, they decide that it will be safer to simply leave the car alone instead of trying to do further harm to it. The experience also compels Ned to fill his father's shoes by joining Troop D as a state trooper.
In the final section, Ned hurriedly calls Sandy into the shed to show him something. They see that the car's windshield has been cracked, and the car has made no apparent effort to heal itself. Ned and Sandy, therefore, decide that the car is breaking down on its own, and there is nothing they can do but wait to see what happens after the Buick is gone.