(first posted 5/27/2016) For me, summer is very much about exaggerated flavors and colors. Of course, every season brings its own set of sensory experiences. Of the four three-month spans, though, summer seems to be the one to best showcase the sweetest treats and the most vibrant hues. There are the lush greens of lawns and trees, and the brilliant blues of the sky, lakes, rivers and swimming pools. There’s the tangy pop of bright yellow mustard on a hot dog at a street festival. This LeSabre, in its bright, custom red metallic paint, very much embodies the celebratory spirit of a big, juicy candy apple at a Midwestern county fair.
It’s true that no LeSabre ever rolled off an assembly line in Flint, Michigan wearing anything close to this shade of red. I look at it this way, though: the paint and other accessories on this car (the aftermarket chrome strips over the wheel arches) appear to be fully reversible should the owner choose to make his or her treasure look “factory” again. This one still looks pretty stock, and it is still riding on what must be in my top-three favorite wheel designs, ever – Buick’s styled Rallye Road Wheels. A tall security fence prevented me from getting closer than the sidewalk, but this car’s allure for me was a powerful one.
Maybe this LeSabre’s custom paint color appeals to that part of me that still feels very much connected to my 80’s childhood, reminding me as it does of the color of my all-time favorite flavor of Hi-C soft drink, Candy Apple Cooler, with citrus-flavored Ecto-Cooler running a close second. (Check out the commercial above, which I remember vividly from grade school, featuring a young Alyssa Milano.) This red also reminds me of the color of raspberry sherbet. The memories of being treated to a cone at the local Baskin-Robbins after a family outing can still make my mouth water.
The color of this LeSabre is also very much a shade that would be found on a Matchbox or Hot Wheels toy car. So many of us car fans grew up with those, and few (if any) of us knew or cared whether our favorite, miniaturized boat-tail Riviera was in a factory-correct shade of dark green developed by Dupont and authorized by General Motors. Bright colors, especially in metallic shades like on our featured car, usually make us feel happy – even when we aren’t feeling so cheerful. Summer is all about cheer, even if you’re now a working adult stuck behind a desk and a computer monitor during the week, all season long. (Summer weekends are to be cherished.)
The vanilla-colored vinyl interior of this car makes it seem all the more like a tasty, frozen summer treat on wheels. Go ahead – drop the top and crank the A/C. You’ve already resigned yourself to regular single-digit MPG’s from its 455 big-block V8 and three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic auto. You have just over 200-hp to lug around over two tons (roughly 4,400 lbs.) of big, red deliciousness. What are a few less MPG’s to be able to cruise with both cold air and fresh air at the same time? The drop in the already abysmal gas mileage can’t be that significant. Efficient top-down motoring is not your priority with this car. This ain’t no Volkswagen Eos. It’s your ride, and it’s one of only 5,300 swan-song ’75 LeSabre convertibles originally produced, so you go ahead and do you.
Early summer, in many ways, seems like the most exciting time of the entire season. Anticipation, in itself, can be intoxicating. Just remember the times when you counted the days before the school year was over with the same mounting excitement as before Christmas or your birthday. My recent recollection of this LeSabre (spotted four years ago in my neighborhood), and its bright, candy-colored coat, helped set the stage for summer 2016’s unofficial start this upcoming Memorial Day Weekend. This is the jump-off point for the brightest, tastiest, most celebratory season of all.
Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois.
Saturday, June 23, 2012.
Related reading on the ’75 Buick LeSabre Custom convertible:
- From Paul Neidermeyer; and
- From Brendan Saur.
I once owned a ’75 LeSabre (pillared) sedan in Burgundy (yes, that’s what they called the color in the literature). Terrible to keep a shine on, especially after mediocre body work. The example featured here probably began its life in that very shade, and, on top of that, received not the authentic Buick road wheels, but rather simulations thereof. My personal snobbery notwithstanding, I hope the current owner of this ’75 derives much pleasure from many more years of comfortable motoring!
My Pop had a ’75 LeSabre pillar sedan in Burgundy as well. His had a white top and burgundy vinyl interior. The exterior color was nice, and looked especially good with the sunlight hitting the metallic flakes.
This convertible is a nice one! I know this shot is from four years ago, but I’d bet this LeSabre droptop is out and about this week enjoying the nice weather we are having in Chicago right now.
While it might look like a wide palette of colors, a lot of them are model-specific. Is this the case with any current vehicles? Seems like there are only about a half dozen colors, anymore (white, black, red, silver, dark grey, blue) for any given manufacturer, and that covers their entire model line-up.
Likewise, could it really be true that it was not possible to get black on a 1975 Skyhawk, Apollo or Skylark?
With new Hondas, colors aren’t just model-specific. They are often limited to a specific trim level of a particular model.
The Cadillac colors seem to be the same for the CTS and ATS, but interior colors depend on the level of trim, with more colors available at the top end. There are 10 exterior colors, but some are variations on black or silver.
I believe the current crop of pony cars have, at least in years past, resurrected colors last seen on the late 1960s/early 1970s cars that the current cars emulate. Dodge Challenger had Curious Yellow, Panther Pink, Go Mango, Plum Crazy and B5 Blue; Mustangs, in different model years, have offered a dark red, yellow, Grabber Blue, two different greens and a butterscotch-looking color. Camaros have had yellow, Hugger Orange
and a medium metallic blue.
Thanks for attaching that ’75 Buick paint chart, GN. After looking at it, I (also) found it interesting that some of the color choices were car-specific. Looking closer at some of the choices, I wonder if “Pumpkin” (Skyhawk-only) was offered instead of “Bittersweet” (N/A on Skyhawk) since the former was a brighter color more fitting than the latter for a sporty, subcompact hatchback like the Skyhawk.
And also to your and Ryan’s (above) point, I think you’re both probably right that the featured car probably started out as factory “Burgundy”.
It’s sort of like how some wilder GM colors were only on F bodies or Chevettes/Vegas back in the day.
Try to imagine a Canary Yellow Electra!
Although, for ’76, Lime Green [which is somewhat vivid] was on nearly every GM car and truck. It’s just one bit of GM trivia drilled in my head. Could tell if a pickup was a ’76 just from that color. Also, a 2 tone white and lime one was done up by ‘Fast & Loud’.
There was a sort of muted yellow available on all Buick models (including Electra) in 1976. It was called “Congressional Cream”, as one of the special color names to “celebrate” the Bicentennial. I’ll attempt to attach a color chart and a photo of an Electra in that color.
The Electra –
Kind of says something about their QC that they can’t get a colour sample square on the chart…..
Love the colour, I had a Diablo red Peugeot 406 wagon very similar shade of red it glowed.
Now this is a GORGEOUS aftermarket colour.
Reminds me of Grand Theft Auto V’s Albany Manana.
Will, I clicked on the picture thinking it was perhaps a facsimile ’73 Caprice Classic convertible. Instead, it’s a non-make / model specific combo of a bunch of period features! Love it! It would be fun to dissect that example to cite where we think its different styling cues came from. Hmmm…. 🙂
Whoever at Rockstar who’s in charge of the vehicle modeling must be a huge car nut. All the models are so good- American, European, and Japanese cars are very clearly delineated, and are all extremely period correct, whether that’s 70s, 80s, 90s, or more modern. The vehicles are really the best part of those games.
I opened the picture and…….you mean there was a car there!
I remember the Candy Apple Cooler commercial. But at my house, we were fiercely loyal to Kool-Aid, the kind where you add your own sugar. Mom always put in 3/4 cup instead of a full cup, and to this day Kool-Aid made according to package directions tastes WAY TOO SWEET to me.
Nice, Jim! To clarify, Hi-C wasn’t a thing we regularly got to have, as we were a very, um, frugal family. We got Hi-C when Mom had a coupon on double-coupon day at Meijer. We usually (also) got the add-your-own-sugar Kool-Aid packets, but I do remember also getting the fancy, pre-made mix. I remember (and miss) the days when eating a lot of sugar made me hyper and gave me energy. These days, I rely on coffee, tea and the occasional 5-Hour Energy.
Must be nice to get 3/4 cup…my mom used about a half cup, and it still tastes “right” to me that way.
I love your style of writing so very much! The perfect blend of sensory imagery, poetry, and nostalgia.
Scott, thank you so much for the kind words. I wonder if my middle school English teacher (with whom I’m connected on social media) ever checks out my posts. 🙂 I have Dr. Dorothy Sample to thank for helping me develop my writing “voice”. I’ll tell people all day long that I got a great education in the Flint Public School System.
Those exaggerated chrome wheel arch mouldings never looked right to me….I have seen those types of mouldings on contemporary Grand Marquis cars, combined with the aftermarket vinyl roofs, an old retiree in Florida type of car…..The chrome mouldings look like some sort of portrayal of ‘bling’……
I agree, But on this car they dont’t look ENTIRELY hideous, perhaps they’re narrower than some, or perhaps its just the grand scale of the car. If it were mine, I’d lose ’em. But the aftermarket color, I’d probably live with.
Dave, I think like James stated, the chrome moldings aren’t necessarily what *I* would have on this car, but these are more subtle than other ones that I’ve seen. I don’t find them offensive. I think they split the difference between the thin-lipped chrome moldings from the factory and ones that are just too big.
I agree. The wheel moldings are not garish by any means. I’ll bet the owner/ restorer installed them after a repaint to replace the dinged up originals because they were available. There is no reproduction trim, bumper rubber inserts, ect. for this era of B body. If this is the case l could understand this minor concession to originality. I very recently researched all of this deliberating the puchase of a 73 Centuion convertible. I passed on it when l realized there would be an indefinite amount of time,let alone cost in rounding up the bits and pieces.
I laughed when you mentioned you were a koolaid kid too in your comment above. Bet ya didn’t have any of that sugar encrusted cereal either. Thanks for sharing this with us.?
The featured car is equipped with the hard lid tonnaue boot cover for the top. This was an additional cost option, shipped in the trunk with some hardware and latches to be installed by the dealer. These are the holy grail of part finds on the LeSabre/Centurion forums.
As much as I could go on about just about any 20th century (pardon any pun) Buick, I have to step in to the Kool-Aid business. We in my family too grew up using the original old school unsweetened Kool-Aid, in the face of Wyler’s and, ironically Funny Face! But on cereal: Lucky Charms!!! (45 years and it’s still “crack” for me!) I was “on” Post Toasties before (Corn Flakes ,sans-Kelloggs…) But once we found the “hard stuf….” No goin back! LOL!
My brothers and I each used to get a box of Lucky Charms for Christmas!! Seriously, that was one of our gifts – no fooling. We weren’t allowed to have “sugar” cereals when we were growing up, so we would just load up our Cheerios with heaping teaspoons of sugar. (I did, anyway.) Then when I hit my college years, I would just eat an entire box of frosted flakes as a snack, just because I could. LOL I eat much better these days. 🙂
Rich, you are 100% correct – “sugar” cereals were banned in my parents’ household!
I hadn’t noticed the tonneau cover! Eagle eye – thanks for pointing that out.
Great post and beautiful car. There are few color combos that “pop” like red over white on a big ’70’s cruiser. That color is hard to keep fresh though unless it’s kept out of harsh UV light. My own car (below) is a very similar shade, which was an extra cost paint option when my grandfather ordered it 17 years ago. Having been garaged its entire life it’s still vibrant and shiny, but now that it’s in daily service and unfortunately not garage kept in the beating sun of Florida I’m concerned about it keeping its lustrous hue.
Nice 300 and color, MTN – very similar to that of this LeSabre. I love that it was your grandfather’s car. I still have many of my grandparents’ things, though not on that scale. 🙂
I know exactly what you’re talking about with the Florida sun. It wreaked havoc on the finish of my non-garaged ’94 Ford Probe in short order.
I normally don’t care for these barges all that much, but that color really sets it off. Very nice.
Sleek lines, jewel colors, and sparkling chrome – perfect, classic, American style.
When I was in high school, the school librarian was driving one of these that he bought new, in baby blue with white top/interior. I was not much of a GM guy, but I kind of liked that Buick convertible.
Your post today really puts me in a summer mood!
LeSabre convertibles from 1975 show up regularly at the various Carlisle swap meets, and at least 75 percent of them are painted that baby blue, with a white interior.
A fair number of the final Pontiac and Oldsmobile full-size convertibles from 1975 were apparently painted that color, too.
That Majestic Blue is another GM color that I can go “that’s a 1975!”
My folks had a Glacier Blue Skyhawk as a 2nd car, with a manual, trans, and I learned the hard way how to drive it.
Perfect find for the day in Richmond. Riding the scooter to work, watching the packs of Harley’s heading north on US1, heading to DC for Rolling Thunder. (Yeah, I have to work this weekend. Retirement in 35 days or less.)
Summer has finally arrived.
It has been so wet and cool around here that it seems as though we went straight from late March to the middle of June in one week.
Summer is definitely (finally!) in the air. This big red Buick would be perfect to enjoy it in!
I think it was a convertible Buick like this (not red however) driven by the handsome rake who arrived to pick up his date (actually intended for his dorky friend) in the 1976 film “Car Wash.”
My 76 Buick Riviera’s fuel consumption was not all that bad. In city driving in the winter, perhaps under 10 MPG is likely, but summer driving and not so much stop and go should give 12 MPG. On the highway I think I got about 15.
The new LaCrosse is OK but man-oh-man compared to this red beauty it is so drab. I do like that carmakers are bringing back chrome trim but I don’t think we’ll ever see another era where cars like this Buick with over-the-top decadent elegance ruled the American road.
Blorf. FWIS the ’71-’76 GM B-for-bloat bodies will never not be hideous—no matter how well preserved, no matter what colour, no matter what bodystyle. They were ridiculous cars in every respect, from the cynical engineering to the drugly “design” and drunken build “quality” (if we must).
Tsk Tsk, now ya gone and dun it. We had been reserving Blorf for something of more meaning here north of the border. Now (or then) ya gone and let it out.
A neighbour had one of these Buick boats, It took up half the street or more.
I thought it was larger than my friend’s 66 Cadillac. And nothing should ever have exceeded a Caddy is size.
(…though Chrysler evidently liked the taillamps on this Buick enough to use them for a bunch of years on the M-body Diplomat/Gran Fury/Caravelle/New Yorker 5th Avenue…)
Happy pre-summer, everyone – glad you enjoyed this one and thanks for stopping to read this. (Is it Saturday, yet?)
Buick returned the “favor” by making the a$$ end of the 1980-84 Electra/Park Avenue look like an “R” Body New Yorker.
Don’t forget the 1988-1991 Mercury Grand Marquis. The rear end is a carbon copy of the 1984-85 Buick LeSabre.
I always thought so, too. This specific horizontal-taillight arrangement just seemed to get passed around!
I’ll reiterate how nice it is to live within an hour of Flint, which is basically the epicenter of all that is old Buick, so I can enjoy them more often than most. Great looking find, Joseph. It must remind you of home.
It absolutely did remind me of home, Aaron. I’m hoping to see more classic Buicks and Chevrolets (and all makes) at the Sloan Museum Auto Fair in Flint next month. Maybe you’ll be there with one or both of your Skylarks!
I usually prefer the ’73 version of this body, but being a convertible in that color combo makes this one awfully appealing.
Also, I was very disappointed when they stopped selling Ecto-Cooler.
On the subject of yellow full size cars, a friend’s family had a pale yellow ’74 Lincoln Town Car with tan leather and a slightly more vibrant yellow ’75 Buick LeSabre…I seem to recall that it was a 2 door and I don’t recall what color the interior was. The friend’s grandfather owned the long-gone Hagen Buick on Ferguson Avenue in Cincinnati, so they had access to nice used cars, which I presume both of these were…
Discovered this post late, had to chime in because I owned one very similar. Mine was also a non original color, but it was a straight non metallic red (car originally white). White interior with red dash and doors. Rust free California car. Mine had the 455 (350 was standard), “parade boots” top covers like this one has (also optional) and original Buick road wheels (this one looks to have hubcaps, not sure if that was available originally). It also had the fiber optic bulb monitors on the fenders like this has as well. I had mine in the early 90’s, when I was too young to really properly care for it. I didn’t have a garage or enough money to provide what it needed. It was still pretty nice, but was going to need a new top before long and new paint. And tires. I reluctantly sold it.
Great catch and call by Ryan and Jon7190 – those are wheel covers and not the actual Buick Rallye wheels! I still think they look darned good. 🙂
That Hi-C commercial is trying to channel 1950s doo-wop music and styles but still is unmistakably ’80s.
Did GM publicize that B body convertibles wouldn’t be returning for 1976? There was endless hype about the 1976 Eldorado being the “last American convertible”; still seems odd to me that they didn’t keep the B body ‘verts in production for one last year of the 71-76 generation.
OMG! What will “they” think of next??
COLORS instead of boring WGB (WhiteGreyBlack) that covers most of today’s achromatic automotive scene. Thank God I had a nice palette of colors to $ell on Oldsmobiles back in 1969!! 🙂 DFO
I suspect the large chrome rocker panels are aftermarket, too.
No they are factory, was an option, just like the cornering lamps on the front fender.
I had a 1974 LeSabre Luxus ragtop for many years, 455 V8, it got 13mpg at best! And yes I’d run the AC with top down at lights, as you’d bake on the white vinyl seats….fun times!