Amy Lowell’s poem “Patterns” has nothing to do with Buicks, and everything to do with the stifling societal restrictions that women have faced and a not so vague condemnation of war. Nonetheless, taken out of context, “I am very like to swoon with the weight of this brocade” sounds eerily appropriate when considering the upholstery pattern in a 1974 LeSabre.
This low-mileage Buick is, as of this writing, for sale on the Canadian equivalent of Craigslist, Kijiji. I noticed a link to the advertisement on a Buick forum I frequent, and I’ve immediately fallen prey to the 1970s charm of the brocade upholstery. Ah, the LeSabre. It’s perfect. It’s blue on blue on blue, and as clean an original sedan as one could find.
What’s more, the seller is asking $3900, and I assume that’s in Canadian dollars. I am not interested in actually buying a LeSabre sedan, but as I so often do, I have become hopelessly lost in 1970s love today.
It wasn’t too long ago that I paid no attention to 1970s cars at all, aside from a few early decade muscle car types such as Mustang Mach 1’s or Firebird Formulas. But since I bought my ’74 Firebird, my automotive interests have stretched homeward toward the present by about a decade, and I find myself more closely examining cars on which I never before would have wasted film or hard drive space. The decade’s lack of taste is ironically tasteful. For such a turbulent decade, it seems that the world refused to take itself seriously when styling its hair, wearing its clothes, or upholstering its cars.
In some ways, 1974 was the nadir of the 1970s: It was the last year before catalytic converters, so the engines suffered from dismal compression ratios, retarded cam and ignition timing, air pumps, and any number of patched up ignominies that caused poor running even when new. This Buick’s considerable heft blunted a once reasonably potent Buick 350, an engine that still produced 175 Net horsepower and 260 lb./ft. of torque, even in its emasculated form. If my Firebird is any indication, even a smogger V8 has plenty of torque for around town duties, but its shortcomings manifest themselves in the passing lane; the lung capacity just isn’t there.
Even so, corporate powerplants were still a few years off in 1974, and most Buicks still had Buick V8 engines under the hood, even though they would soon become early casualties of product integration, most famously in the Oldsmobile lineup, where many an unsatisfied customer bemoaned the Chevy engine where a “Rocket” engine should be.
As we put aside emissions tuning and corporate politics and focus on the car itself, it’s clear that the seller of this LeSabre has included a lot of the original paperwork in the sale, which is never a bad thing when one buys an old car.
The trunk is large enough for all kinds of activities, and it looks as clean as the rest of the car, even if it could use some light vacuuming.
The popular for about five years in the early-’70s “drivercentric” dashboard with faux-woodgraining remains nearly spotless. The original owner or ordering dealer chose power windows, which may or may not be a selling point in 2020, as complexity breeds trouble in old cars. In no way should something that trivial, however, stand in one’s way of what looks like a very appealing old car.
I’ll digress for a minute and say that someone will probably call this a “starter car” for a collector. I’ve always hated that attitude, because it assumes that a buyer automatically wants to “move up” to a Hemi ‘Cuda some day, and this is just a “toe in the water,” so to speak. That kind of elitism leaves me cold.
Regardless of one’s place in the collector car buying hierarchy, one could certainly do worse than buying this LeSabre. I have too much automotive responsibility as is, and border customs would make me nervous, but if I were buying another old car right at this second, this would be it. In every picture, it seems to say, “I too am a rare pattern.”
For further reading: Car Show Classics: 1970s Buicks in Flint – Not The Button On Fortune’s Cap Nor The Soles Of Her Shoes
$3900 for about 4,200 pounds of very well preserved Buick? That’s a bargain.
Being left cold about “starter” collector cars is spot-on and is a sentiment shared by others. The Buick also has the “curse” of having been born with two too-many doors, a mindset that is truly sad. Having spent the last 18 months trying to sell a 1963 model four-door, that weak-kneed philosophy gets really old, really fast.
This Buick would be a lot of fun to cruise around in.
That’s $2,793 in US dollars. Even more of a bargain.
Agree on the four door sentiments. Many classic 4 door full size cars are very attractive. All that length looks a bit fat and awkward as a 2 door. Many mid size classics had a longer wheelbase in the 4 door models, so the coupes look better. But for the full size, I hold 2 doors and 4 in equal regard. BTW this is a nice Buick. If it weren’t 3000 miles away, I’d be interested.
I get the sense that four door cars from the 50s, 60s, and 70s are starting to catch on with collectors who, like new-car buyers, no longer consider rear doors and sportiness incompatible. Likewise with automatic transmissions, which are the only type many people nowadays know how to drive.
A Buick LeSabre is definitely a car that works well as a four door. It benefits from not having a sibling that is a star. Something like an early 70’s Chevelle sedan has SS as a fanous celebrity sibling and would be seen by many as the inferior member of the family. The LeSabre still had a drop top available in 1974, but even that is hardly a blue chip collectible.
I love any well preserved original car and would seriously consider this car if I had an extra spot in the garage!
It is well-known hereabouts that I am no fan of the GM B/C body cars of this generation, but if I were to buy one, it would be one just like this. The 4 door hardtop is the best looking of the bunch, IMHO, and the color combo is fabulous. price seems really reasonable for a car of this quality. And the headlamp sentinel! I think Dean Edwards needs to adopt this car.
That brocade fabric is sort of a throwback to the late 60s, as I recall. The upper end cars were going to velour by 1973-74 but these brocades stuck around for awhile in the low end of the high end.
That 4 bbl Buick 350 would be interesting to drive. That engine’s architecture was based on the old aluminum 215 so it has a smaller bore and longer stroke than any of the other 350s coming out of GM. That tendency towards lower end torque plus the 4 bbl for a little breathing aid might be better than we might think. I certainly remember my mother’s 1974 2 bbl Pontiac 350 as a real dog, with my stepmom’s 4 bbl 74 Olds 350 being a lot peppier.
When I was learning to drive, we had a ’72 Buick Skylark 4-door with a 350-2bbl engine. It was a torquey engine, but had no top end power. In comparison to the Chevy 350 in Dad’s Malibu, it had stronger low end but was considerably slower overall. It was also slower than the 350 Olds we had in a late 70s Delta 88. While the 4-bbl version in this ’74 was rated at about 20 more hp than the 2bbl 1972 version we had, the extra weight of this big Buick means it probably didn’t perform as well as our ’72 Skylark.
FWIW, I recall the Buick 350 being run in the Michigan State Police tests in the late 70s and it performed poorly compared to other mid-sized V8s. The 350 Buick had the smallest bore and longest stroke of and of the GM 350s (3.80 x 3.85″) as it only had a 4.24″ bore spacing.
I can vouch for you….my first car was a used 70 Skylark with the 350-2. It had lots of torque, but humiliated me in a 1/4 mile run against a 73 Lemans with a 350-4….a friends Mom’s car no less.
I was as certain as any 17 year old can be that my 70 would outrun a 73 tuned for smog. A good car length ahead at 1/8th, feeling good, but the top end completely failed me and he had me by a fender at the 1/4.
A great easy cruiser motor, but done at 4000 rpm (perfectly suited for this LeSabre). Good times.
It’s got a 350 V8 in it, yet there are only three ventiports on each side…hmmm.
Also, power windows but no power locks. In my experience, GM cars that were equipped with one but not both of those options usually had the opposite: power locks but not windows, as their owners saw the power locks as “utilitarian” while still seeing power windows as “too fancy”. The vast majority of the time though, if you got one you got both.
What a great find this car is though. I wish I had the space for it myself!
I think the 3-holer vs 4-holer (Six vs Eight, respectively) was more of a fifties thing. If I’m not mistaken, by this time (the seventies) it was more a differentiation of trim level, in this case, LeSabre vs Electra.
But this is a guess on my part, so please feel free to correct me.
It was always to differentiate lower vs higher models, as all Buick engines were eight cylinder before 1962. I dont think a full-size RWD Buick was ever equipped with a six, at least since 1930.
The last time full sized Buicks had a six cylinder engine prior to 1976 was in 1930. All eights. The port holes always differentiated the lower and higher versions.
LeSabres typically had 3 portholes while Electras had 4.
The lowest trim (Special, LeSabre) always had three. The highest trim (Roadmaster, Electra) always had four. The middle trims (Century, Super) had three or four depending on year.
What a beast, love that upholstery pattern. It’s way too big a car for my little single garage though, and since it’s on the other side of the country I’m not feeling too tempted .
Amazing to think back to the times when this was normal transportation. 🙂
As I’m on the other side of the hemishpere, there’s no way I can get that home (Uruguay allows imports of 25 year old more cars, but you have to pay the around 100% import tax)…let’s say it’s 3900 for the car+3900 of taxes +4500 of freight, that would make it a 12.3 K car. Gas is at 1.30 a liter, it doesn’t fit in my garage, and it probably wouldn’t fit either in any of the scarse parking spots around my home. Hell, it wouldn’t be able to negotiate my work’s parking entrance. So, it’s utterly irrational. But as my wife isn’t looking, I’ll close the deal in a few hours!!!!
Great find! One owner Canadian cars of this vintage, and excellent condition, almost invariably always appear in the Kijiji listings from British Columbia, Alberta, or Saskatchewan. Surprisingly, this one is in Toronto. And after a day online, it already has 3,000 views. Vintage cars of any description usually get very high online traffic in Canada, as they are harder to find here.
A high school history teacher was driving one of these in the mid 80s, and it looked like a big beast then.
Not in Toronto. It’s located in Vancouver per the ad. The buyer correctly thinks the market in Toronto values these cars more than the local market and is willing to pay extra to ship it, hence the attractive price
You’re right. The ad is posted in Toronto’s Kijiji.
This is probably why the car has 3300 views and no buyer. Probably every Toronto enthusiast has taken a look only to find the distance and shipping just isn’t worth the hassle for a classic of modest value.
The floating headlight treatment also sets this Buick apart. A steal at $2700 US
This is the most awesomely’70s thing I’ve seen on the internet perhaps so far this year! I also bristle at the thought of this beautiful, blue LeSabre becoming someone’s “starter” classic, as others have also opined.
Now, pardon me while I queue up some “Wrap Around Joy” and search eBay for a living room couch in the same pattern as this car’s bench seats.
That’s the same color as my 1974 LeSabre ragtop that I had years ago! Seeing this brings back memories, it’s a great buy. I paid $3300 for my 455 ragtop in 1989!
It should came with a 455. The body is about the same as electra. And let me tell ya! I restored my dads old 1971 buick electra Coupe 455 4bbl with 400 trans. It is a beast, And it ride like a Cadillac. The term endless gas pedal go alone with the 455.
I’m burned out on late-60s and early-70s muscle and pony cars, preferring more typical mid and full size American cars from that era like this Buick. Awesome brocade upholstery. Not-so-awesome obviously fake wood on the door panels, and to a lesser extent, everywhere else. Hard plastic on the lower door panel and HVAC controls where only the driver could access them were part of the package, as was real three-across seating.
I would think this could be a pretty sweet frequent, if not daily, driver for the mechanically inclined. The majority, if not all of the “hard parts” would be easy and cheap to source, and the trim and interior are near mint, so no worries there, as least for awhile.
I think if you kept it out of the weather, there’s no reason it couldn’t last someone decades.
I just can’t get over that upholstery pattern! In a Buick!
The ‘control center’ dashboard brings back memories of riding in a ‘72 Pontiac & ‘72 Oldsmobile, both green. I believe Grand Prix and the big Ford were first in ‘69 with a curved area for the driver – very space age. Sitting in a Hummer or Ford F-250 at a car show reminded me how wide that Pontiac Catalina was.
Buick’s ‘74 frontend update was my less favorite of the gargantuan generation, but this one is in really nice condition. It’s a shame four doors never gained more traction in the collectible car market, at least that allows some folks to enjoy a low mileage old car for not a huge amount of money.
It’s amazing to me that the Electra and LeSabre each had its own passenger console in ‘74. Because it mattered back then, to squeeze a few more $$ from the Electra buyer. Now, its the same difference…SO different to today’s offerings, and effectively identical.
Aaron – I am sure I will be scolded for correcting you when you called it “an original sedan” – but it is not. It is a four door hardtop – as the owner knows. You could have a ’74 LeSabre four door sedan but why would you?
Another 1974 issue, A ’74 Buick, or any other car, had the ignition interlock “feature”. It was a simple system that made the car incapable of starting prior to fastening the shoulder harness. That feature may be one that irritated customers more than any other that car makers ever used before or since.
Others have said, on this and other postings, something like “I’d buy the car if it was closer/wasn’t in Canada/fit in my garage/I didn’t have too many cars” etc. It is a wimpy excuse and I am guilty too. This is a fine car and would be a fun car as a four door hardtop. Try to find another one.
Finally, I believe with some American cars a four door hardtop may be more desirable or valuable than the corresponding two door sedan – especially early GM examples. I’d like to hear other’s comments about this. I had a ’76 Electra four door hardtop and loved the car.
No scolding…you’re right about its being a hardtop. 🙂
What a nice find Aaron! What a cool interior, it just screams 1970s to me. I concur with your sentiment that this shouldn’t be classed as a starter car. This is a great collector car for an excellent price and I hope it goes to loving owner that will enjoy it for many more years. A car like this is great for a collector without a lot of money. It’s cheap to buy, it probably doesn’t need much if any work to enjoy. Parts are still cheap and easy to find, while servicing is also very straight forward. I have a few family members or friends who would love to have an old car, and this one would fit the bill perfectly.
With the comments about the 4-door cars, I have to admit that I have long preferred 2-door cars, but this is mostly a styling thing for me. Often times the 2-doors just look far better in my eyes. That said, as time has gone on, there are many cars I actually prefer the 4-door versions, or at least like the 4-doors as much as the 2-doors. This Buick would be an example of one. I have also been longing for another 77-90 B-body, and for those cars, I’d gladly take a 4-door, and in some cases would prefer one. I also mentioned that ’72 Skylark we used to own and that is a another 4-door I’d gladly own. I found one locally a few years back that I was sorely tempted to buy, just to relive the old car I used to drive.
Wow. Good job this local car isn’t four or five years newer or I’d be sorely tempted!
As a very short person, the bench seat is off putting. Any passenger of decent height would be wedged into the glove compartment. I love cars like this but they need a split bench. The ergonomics of American cars were unfortunately terrible. And a 455 would be nice. Yes, I’m picky.
As a very short person, the bench seat is off putting. Any passenger of decent height would be wedged into the glove compartment. I love cars like this but they need a split bench. The ergonomics of American cars were unfortunately terrible. And a 455 would be nice. OK, I’m picky.
I know what you mean. Separate seats, be they split bench or bucket, are a modern convenience it’s hard to believe people ever lived without. My prior 94 Caprice wagon I believe was the last car offered with a true bench seat. I liked the throwback nature of the car, but on trips when my wife would drive occasionally, it didnt work well as she is much shorter than me.
The short driver with a passenger is the glaring weakness of that seat style. I also don’t like the lack of center armrest. Another modern convenience I don’t like to live without.
What, indeed, is summer on a fine brocaded bench seat? Probably better than on the all-vinyl alternative.
My daughter just found this post/site. I purchased this car April 2nd, and on June 27th we flew to Vancouver to start our 2 week 4500km adventure to drive her back to Ottawa. As I type we’re in Sudbury, Ontario, only 500km from home. Before leaving BC we put on a new set of tires, changed oil, filter, plugs, belts, rear end oil, and had the tanks serviced. The alternator light came on after about 800km, but it goes off when we turn off any unnecessary electrical, so we’ve been pushing on! I picked up a generic alternator that will fit in an emergency. But basically we’ve been driving during the day only and had no problems, we even ended up sleeping in her one night when we couldn’t get a motel!