When I found this LeSabre T-Type on Craigslist, I thought two things. Firstly, this was a surprisingly attractive design for an American GM product from the 1980s. Secondly, didn’t our Jim Klein own one of these?
If you’ll recall from his Cars Of A Lifetime series, the LeSabre T-Type replaced a VW GTI as Jim’s car. A big Buick was an odd choice for a young man back then even in sporty T-Type trim. The magic of the Grand National wasn’t enough to counter the conservative image of most of the Buick lineup. And the brand’s image would only become less and less palatable to younger buyers as the 80s wore on. By the 1990s, the sporty T-Type Buicks were gone and the liveliest thing in the stable was a Skylark GS, hardly what young people were clamoring for.
The Ford Taurus made a lot of similarly-sized GM vehicles look instantly dated but the LeSabre came out looking better than most, including its own Oldsmobile Delta 88 stablemate. There were just enough curves and, remarkably for a 1980s GM product, the LeSabre coupe didn’t have a C-pillar you could straighten a painting against. The T-Type’s various cosmetic enhancements transform the already handsome LeSabre, making this one of the meanest-looking Buicks of the 1980s. Gotta love that clamshell hood, too.
The T-Type package was first introduced in 1987. Unlike other Buick T-Types like the Electra, it was only available on the coupe variant of the LeSabre. For just under $2000, the package included 15-inch aluminum wheels and Eagle GT tires, Gran Touring suspension, 2.97:1 axle ratio, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, red and amber taillights and blackout trim. The T-Type was available only in red, black, white and silver, and only with a black/gray interior with bucket seats and a console-mounted shifter for the mandatory four-speed automatic. There were also various cosmetic tweaks including a front air dam and a rear spoiler but the T-Type used the same 3.8 V6 as the regular LeSabre, good for 150 hp and 200 ft-lbs (165 hp and 210 ft-lbs from 1988).
After 1989, the T-Type was gone. Buick produced 4,123 in 1987, 6,426 in 1988 and an unknown number in 1989. The LeSabre coupe soon followed the T-Type to the automotive graveyard.
A LeSabre T-Type isn’t the fastest or most valuable GM vehicle from the 1980s but it’s distinctive, comfortable, reliable and fairly economical. The most glowing endorsement comes from Jim Klein himself. He seemed to really enjoy his T-Type, praising its throttle response and its buttoned-down suspension. Well Jim, this one’s for sale if you want to take a trip down Memory Lane.