Curbside Classic: 1974 Buick Century Luxus Colonnade Coupe – It’s Impolite To Stare

1974 Buick Century Luxus Colonnade Coupe. Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois. Tuesday, May 24, 2022.

It had been a normal Tuesday at the office as I rode my northbound Red Line train back to my neighborhood from the Loop.  The trains are rarely filled to the same capacity as before the pandemic, with the exception being during Cubs baseball night games.  This was not one of those days.  I was able to get a seat with at least a little space between the individuals sitting to my left and my right.  Maybe ten years ago, I would have been solving a Sudoku puzzle in pen on the printed Red Eye entertainment newspaper.  These days, I’m often focused on my smartphone while also being on the lookout for nonsense in my peripheral vision.  The Red Line hadn’t quite emerged from the subway to the elevated tracks starting at Fullerton before I heard loud talking over the tunes coming through my earbuds.

1974 Buick Century Luxus Colonnade Coupe. Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois. Tuesday, May 24, 2022.

Out of instinct, I looked around my train car to see if a situation was escalating, or if there was a panhandler making her way down the aisle.  It turned out to be a woman who appeared to be in her sixties squawking increasingly louder into her phone, with the volume in her voice rising to a crescendo with each dramatic inflection.  She didn’t sound angry, but merely excited with the telling of what sounded like so many mundane details of her life.  In fact, she seemed to act as though “Doris”, or whoever she was talking to, could see all of her hand gestures and grand expressions.  This wasn’t a video call, as far as I could tell.  This woman didn’t look around at any other riders (perhaps she had forgotten she wasn’t alone), but simply kept talking and letting everyone else in the train car know her and Doris’s business seemingly without a care.  Her phone conversation finally ended when I was maybe fifteen minutes from home.

1974 Buick Century Luxus Colonnade Coupe. Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois. Tuesday, May 24, 2022.

Standing up from my seat after the train departed the station before mine to put on my backpack and shoulder my camera strap, I felt someone’s eyes on me and turned to see this woman staring right at me.  I was not the only other passenger in the train car, but I was the sole recipient of her attention for some reason, with her ’70s-style, overplucked, tadpole eyebrows slightly furrowed in an expression that wasn’t pleasant.  Was she giving me nonverbal communication that I had better not try to take her picture?  Did she find something interesting about my appearance, or did I remind her of someone?  Was she trying to make me uncomfortable for wearing a face mask on the train, which is now optional?  Or, was she so tired after being downtown that she found herself inadvertently focusing on me without knowing she was doing it?

I’m not a confrontational person, so even if this woman was trying to intimidate or engage with me for some reason, it was an utter waste of her energy, but it did make me think about a childhood lesson learned that it’s not polite to stare at people.  Anyway, had I not stood up on the train to stand by the doors when I did, I would have completely missed seeing the very top of our featured Colonnade in a parking lot shared by local outposts of two well-known, nationwide drug store and exercise club chains.

1974 Buick Century Luxus Colonnade Coupe. Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois. Tuesday, May 24, 2022.

“Oh, goody!”, I thought as the train car doors opened.  I made up my mind to wind my way through a couple of city blocks to get to this car, though with that woman’s sour, staring face with those unflattering eyebrows still burned into the retinas of my mind.  From the train station platform, I was able to see that it was an example of Buick’s version of the Colonnade.  I grew up in the GM manufacturing town of Flint, Michigan, where these A-bodies were a dime-a-dozen.  I had even owned a ’76 Chevelle Malibu Classic for a while.  I didn’t know which exact Buick midsizer was going to be waiting for me, but when I rounded the corner to the parking lot, I smiled as I recognized those jutting headlights bulging out of the leading edges of heavily-sculpted, pontoon fenders.  This car seemed to be focusing straight ahead like that woman who had been boring her unwanted gaze seemingly right into me just minutes before.

1974 Buick Century Luxus and Gran Sport brochure photo, as sourced from

The front end, with its woven biscuit-textured grille and round turning lights said “Century”, but when I walked around to the side of the car, the opera windows and artfully vee’d backlight said “Regal”.  Curiously, the taillamps were also those of a Century, which was also the nameplate on the front fender.  Was this car some sort of shop class special?  As it turns out, I had forgotten all about the Century Luxus, which was like a Regal-lite that cost about $200 (about $1,200 / adjusted for 2022) less than one.  The Luxus coupe got the Regal’s more formal roofline, but retained the same basic dimensions with the base “Century 350” and Gran Sport.  Both the GS and the Luxus were in their final year for 1974.

The ’74 Century factory brochure shows the differentiators of the Regal to be its unique frontal styling which featured a vertically-slatted grille and taillamp pattern, rectangular turn signals up front, about 2.5 inches in added overall length, and interior appointments that were generally nicer than in the lesser cars.  All models were V8 powered, coming standard with a 350 with 150-horsepower with the two-barrel carburetor and 175-hp with the 4-bbl., and a couple of 455’s available with 175 or 210 hp (2- and 4-bbl.), with a third “Stage 1” 245-horse 455 reserved for the high-performance Gran Sport.

1974 Buick Century engine options from factory brochure, as sourced from

The base price of the Luxus coupe, at around $4,100, was $300 (7.3%) more than the entry-level Century 350, and about $200 (4.8%) less than the Regal, so it sat comfortably in the middle of the range.  More importantly, it was successful, with the Luxus coupe being the second-most popular of Buick’s intermediates for ’74 with almost 45,000 units sold, behind the Regal coupe’s 57,500 figure.  Total sales of the entire Century line that year were about 191,000, which represented a sharp drop from the nearly 300,000 sold for ’73.  I thought it was particularly telling that this Luxus was parked next to a Lexus, which appeared to be a 2002 – ’04 ES 300.  Both of these cars, built roughly three decades apart, would have appealed to those in the the same basic demographic who wanted something nicer than just a Chevrolet or a Toyota.

Of the different versions of a given GM corporate platform, I’m usually going to try to root for the home team, which in my case was Buick as I originate from Flint, where this marque was headquartered for close to a century.  However, back in 2015 I had written about how a ’74 Regal I had seen back home seemed to give off grandma vibes based on its styling and the condition of that particular example.  While there’s nothing inherently wrong with being any age, to my eyes, this Century resembles a sixty-something year old woman with something to prove.

1974 Buick Century Luxus Colonnade Coupe. Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois. Tuesday, May 24, 2022.

Looking at it directly from the front, the sculptural lines of its hood even seem to mimic the overly-arched eyebrows that were in vogue in the ’70s and ’80s when I was growing up.  The absence of the chrome headlamp surrounds on this particular car seem to make the headlights appear to bug out even more than they normally would on a factory-stock example… like the eyes of that loud, unpleasant woman on the train.  Maybe this is how associations are formed, but I’m not going to give it too much more thought.  In the meantime, I’m also going to work on trying to become less sensitive to RBF: Resting Buick Face.

Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois.
Tuesday, May 24, 2022.