Curbside Outtake: The Dwindling A-Body Buick Century – Four Sealed Beam Headlight Version At That

How many of these have we looked at over the years here? How many of us used to drive one? And if not, how many of us never rented one?

Yes, the A-Body FWD Century and its stablemates were once everywhere; now they’re becoming worthy of respect for those ever-fewer survivors, especially the earlier (pre-1989) four sealed beam headlight versions. Like this one spotted on our early morning walk.

My first direct experience with one of these is when our downstairs apartment neighbor in Santa Monica finally got tired of the endless issues with his beautiful W108 280SEL that he had picked up used a year or so earlier. It was his dream car, but given his long commute, it was becoming a bad (and expensive) dream. So he ditched it and bought a brand new Buick Century shortly after they came out in 1982. Same color as this one, at that.

I saw it coming; not the Century, but the issues with the big Benz. He didn’t know how to work on it, so was at the mercy of the expensive independent Mercedes mechanics that did a very brisk business in that part of the world at the time. Klaus and Wolfgang and Dieter and all the others were minting it. Some even changed their names and put on a fake German accent.



I don’t think his had the ever-so useful trunk-top luggage rack. Did you ever see one with luggage attached? Not me. Where did this idiotic fad start anyway?

The Century’s interior was hardly up to the standards of the 280SEL, but if you want GM reliability, you make sacrifices.

It was comfortable enough, and his Saturday morning stress level seemed decidedly lower. Instead of peering into the Mercedes’ engine compartment with a worried and frustrated look, he and his wife and their new kid drove off somewhere. Wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick?