The Book Of New Buicks – 1964 Edition: Quite Possibly My Favorite Textbook Ever

In the fall of 1963, when I was 10, I’d had enough of grade school and decided to pursue an independent study course in Autology. The first thing was to find a new institution of education. Fortunately, the Chevy-Buick-Cadillac dealer in downtown Iowa City fell within the range of my bike-riding endurance, and it quickly became my new school building. I spent time in its various classrooms, which were mobile and changed from time to time; my favorite was the 1964 Riviera. But the teachers weren’t very helpful; they just sat at their desks with a slightly disdainful look.

Fortunately, my new school was very well supplied with textbooks that I was allowed to take home for in-depth memorization. Although there was never a test, I could still pass one given today, so deeply etched were their contents on my young, desperate-for-information brain. The Buick textbook was easily the most comprehensive. Just one look at the cover tells you how serious it is. It contained 40 pages of the most wonderful information ever, presented in a way that really made the facts come alive. Just wait ’till you see the chapters on engines and even transmissions–and such cute models, too.

The index also could be my favorite page, being so educational by pointing out the fine differences in exterior trim details among the myriad Buick models. I’ve been waiting all my life to actually see a LeSabre convertible with dog dish hubcaps and blackwall tires, but you never know. Actually, every car here has blackwalls, since Buick didn’t want to misrepresent anything. And did you know that Buick actually made a stripper Special convertible? I would never have guessed.

While I can’t show you all 40 pages, I will give you an inkling of what I wallowed in. This is a picture of my favorite classroom, just to give you a sense of the fine ambiance I enjoyed during my intensive studies: an interior truly worthy of being fondled. I took turns studying in each of the four seats. The teachers didn’t seem all too thrilled with that, and would raise their eyebrows every time I switched seats, but none ever said a word. I guess they could see I was a serious student.

This page convinced me that my future was on the California coast. And also that I liked pretty women. And that I would drive an Electra 225, under the right circumstances.

Especially since its rear seat seemed so inviting and commodious.

The seats of each Buick model were pictured in great detail, and always with the right sort of person(s), which was a recurring theme in the Book of New Buicks. This Wildcat’s owner is about to go harpooning, which seems apt. But why is he driving a four-door hardtop? And with bucket seats? The brochure says the combo was available, but I’ve never seen that one in real life either. Have you? Do you know of other big four-doors of that era that could be had with buckets and console?


Only the lowliest Special didn’t get matched with a person; apparently, its upholstery is fit only for a dog.

Buick took this approach pretty far, trying hard to give their cars human-like personalities.  I found this page interesting on some subliminal level, but I still wanted more hard facts than it conveyed.

This is more like it, although still a bit short on raw details like bores and strokes. And I didn’t get why they matched up the prettiest girl with the little V6. It should have been an old flintskin.

Now who else could find such suitable human beings to represent the available transmissions? What a brilliant idea. If Buick had offered the Dynaflow in 1964, it would have been shown with a fat old lady sitting in an easy chair with her feet up.

So where’s that stripper Special convertible? Way in the back, of course, and sporting full wheel covers and whitewalls like all the other Buicks: so much for consistency. I’ve kept my eyeballs peeled for a Special convertible ever since I saw it in the Book of New Buicks, but I’ve never seen one. Could a textbook actually be misleading?

Here’s the whole 40 pages, at  There will be a test on Friday.