(first posted 10/3/2012. Expanded and revised 7/22/2018) 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 63 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 inside cover started things off. Who were these magical people that rode around in Electra 225 convertibles? I sure didn’t know any.
The index 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.
Once past that, the real meat of the book starts, and the best chapter is first. Did I love the Riviera? Was I obsessed by it?
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.
These pages 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. or with the right pretty girl.
Now a convertible Electra on the coast of California, now that would be a dream worth pursuing. I’m not so sure I was into parasols, though.
The decision between a six window sedan or four door hardtop was always a challenge. Buick made it a bit easier by having the six window be a sedan, unlike the case with Cadillac.
This is sort of interesting, but I didn’t really get all the associations and it was still a bit short on raw details like bores and strokes. I didn’t get why they matched up the prettiest girl with the little V6. It should have been an old flintskin.
As much as I loved the idea of the Wildcat, I have to say that by 1964 its roof was starting to look a bit old hat, ever since the Riviera came along.
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?
Here’s the more typical bench seat in a four door Wildcat.
The Wildcat four door sedan seemed a bit off to me. Really? A Wildcat? More like a tame house cat.
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.
Speaking of tame, here’s the LeSabre. My scout leader in Iowa City, who was an accountant, drove a LeSabre sedan. I remember riding home with him in the front seat from summer camp. He was the total opposite of my dad: calm, a good driver, interested in what I had to say, and of course he drove a big Buick.
His LeSabre was gold colored, and had tan interior, with the fabric like the blue one. I can still feel it on my bare legs.
The LeSabre four door hardtop is missing from this page. I kind of wish a two door sedan would have been available.
Here’s the only big wagon. And that would soon disappear, as the Sportswagon would effectively replace it in 1965. Actually, they didn’t sell a lot of them. These were pretty rare, even back in the day.
A technical interlude…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.
The Skylark was a cutie.
I’ll take mine with buckets in vinyl.
Hiss! Boo! The Special hits too close to home. This is what we would have had, if my father had been a Buick man.
Only the lowliest Special didn’t get matched with a person; apparently, its upholstery is fit only for a dog.
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?
The Special wagon was a bit…basic.
Here’s some technical meat to sink my little teeth into.
And the options to MM over. Actually, it was easy for me: just get them all!
Last but not at all least, the specs. There will be a test on Friday.