Here at Curbside Classic, there’s plenty of B-Body love among the writers and the readers, so when I saw this LeSabre, I slid my car to the curb and grabbed the camera. An iconic cornerstone of mid-west sensibilities, this car represents my automotive roots more than my automotive passions. My personal vehicle preferences lean towards the smaller end of the size spectrum, but as a native born Minnesotan, the big American car is imprinted on my soul. I also enjoy the sharp edge styling GM specialized in during the late seventies and early eighties, and firmly believe a white car shows that style to the best effect. So when it was all said and done, I knew finding this Buick was a home run.
Note: Jim Grey posted a Curbside Capsule on a similar LeSabre Coupe back in January. To review his take, click here.
But what to say about it? While I grew up living and breathing automobiles, the early eighties saw a drop off in my interest level (for a few years). In addition to working a full time job, I was involved in the production of a yearly Science Fiction Convention (a major time suck). Spending eighty hours a week on other projects significantly cut into my car magazine review time. In addition to my time issues, Detroit was still climbing out of its 1970s trough and their designs didn’t really inspire me.
So while I remembered (and approved) GM downsizing their B-Bodies in 1977, I couldn’t nail down the exact model year of this iteration. I recalled Buick building a pretty flashy coupe in 1977, but this example didn’t seem to live up to my memory.
A quick Google search reinforced my recollection. The 77-79 LeSabres used this sharp roofline (shared with Pontiac), and included a pronounced drop off on the back edge of the trunklid that helped distinguish it from the other B-Bodies. I prefer the ’77 Chevy coupe roofline with the bent glass back light, but this comes in a close second. Clearly, the Buick I photographed lacked these lines, so I started checking the later years of this series, and discovered that this formal white coupe represented the end of the line (at least for RWD Buick B-body coupes and sedans).
The internet points to this being a 1984 or ’85 model. There were very few trim differences between these two final years, but some internet sites say all the ’85 LeSabre Limiteds came with “Collector Edition” Badges. If so, this badge free model is a 1984. Unlike the clean lines offered in 1977, this LeSabre offered a formal roofline, vinyl top, and wire wheel covers. When you throw in the squared off trunk lid, the early exuberance of the coupe body was now buried in an avalanche of dowdy. To go with the vanilla exterior, these cars offered two very average engine choices, a 3.8 liter Buick V-6, or a 5.0 liter (307) Oldsmobile V-8.
Looking at this rear quarter shot, I realized that in the early eighties, Buick COMPLETELY screwed up their B-body coupes. I recall my disappointment when Chevy squared off the back of their coupe in 1980- it was no surprise to me that the two door Chevy coupe disappeared a few years later. What I didn’t realize is that Buick took that same roof, and mounted it on the LeSabre. Perhaps I missed it because the car now looked liked an oversized Cutlass Supreme. How do I really feel? How about this- GM phoned in this roofline. While the basic B-body goodness remains, I no longer feel the love.
Alright, enough negativity. Let’s admire this interior shot and take in that massive chrome trimmed dashboard. Once again, I feel that big American car vibe tugging at my soul. I don’t care for filigree on the exterior of my cars, but I’ll let you brougham up the interior all you want. I may prefer a smaller car, but my ancestral homeland is a distant 2,000 mile drive. During such a trek, I can picture my butt firmly ensconced in that blue velour seat, enjoying the ride as the miles click off. When it comes to comfort, this interior delivers like a UPS truck.
In closing, let me share this rear view. Based on that blue and white license plate and dealer nameplate from Austin, I’m not the only Minnesota native who’s made the trip out here to California. I’m sure neither one of us miss the snow and slush of our native state.
I’m not sure how long this Buick has been hanging around Los Angeles, but I’d recommend that it stick around. While the ultraviolet and ozone may remove the last of that plastic filler panel behind the bumper, the dry climate will protect the sheet metal from further corrosion. Based on the license plate frame, this Buick needs to keep its body in shape. LA is an unforgiving town, and a car has to stay in top shape while pursuing those expensive, shapely redheads.