Curbside Classic: 1984 Buick LeSabre – When You Just Don’t Know What To Say

Have you ever been presented with a situation in which you just didn’t know what to say?  It could be a matter of simply being speechless or perhaps you truly want to say something but the words just aren’t there.

This Buick falls into that category because what is there to say about a 1984 LeSabre?  Let’s think about that.

My original idea was to compare this LeSabre to ordinary fountain soda with a dash of flavoring because if you get down to brass tacks this was primarily an Impala with more pizzaz.  It certainly seemed like a good idea as I noted how soda is nothing but empty calories and how a diet consisting of too many downsized General Motors B-bodies makes for poor reading nutrition.

The ideas just kept pouring like a soda fountain, with my even going so far as to compare the available 110 horsepower 3.8 and 125 horsepower 4.1 liter V6 engines to diet soda.  You know, for those concerned about their consumption.

I had almost found the definitive way to compare the still available Oldsmobile 350 diesel to some noxious brew created by mixing too many unharmonious flavors.  Having done it once myself, I got a nasty greaseball…which is not unlike how most of those diesels would leave this world.

But soon the ideas all fizzled out.  What a bummer.  I just didn’t know what to say beyond that point.

Life is full of situations in which knowing what to say can be rather elusive.  There was a time at work several years ago in which an employee was successful in doing something new and original.  It was a drive-by resignation.

The employee was not at work but had been talking to his supervisor and didn’t appreciate being reminded of the precarious situation he’d made for himself due to some poor choices in behavior.  As luck would have it the human resources manager, who also knew about the employee’s behavior, was outside when the employee drove up, threw their keys and identification card out the window, yelled an obscenity, and drove off.

The human resources manager wasn’t quite sure what to say other than “thank you”.

Let me rephrase that; she had a lot to say but she couldn’t quite determine what would be best for the situation.

Similar was likely the case at Buick showrooms in 1985.  The rear-drive Electra had gone away in favor of a new front-drive model.  The traditional rear-drive LeSabre, a car typically a notch just below the Electra, remained.  The rub was the LeSabre was physically larger, with a not insignificant portion of the customer base still likely subscribing to the age-old perception of larger size equating to being more upmarket.

Many a Buick salesman certainly had to navigate some strange currents throughout 1985.  No doubt there was a lot of searching for the right words to use with customers.

Buick propagandists appear to have had similar challenges.  In the 1985 Buick brochure at the LeSabre is shoved in the back, between the X-Car Skylark and the wagons.  You know somebody is having trouble with what to say when you come after an X-car.

There have certainly been times when interactions with others have rendered me speechless.  It happened one weekend this past summer when a manager who reports to me called.  Admitting to being in Central Oregon at the time, I knew if he was calling while on vacation something big was up.  The big item was, predictably, a routine thing.  What took my words away was an afterthought when he said “Oh, by the way, Hank is in the hospital.  His dog bit his finger off.”

Crafting a response to that was a fun endeavor.  But I knew Hank was now down a digit.  The same concept applied to some automatic transmissions available on the LeSabre.

One could purchase a new LeSabre with the standard three-speed automatic or an optional four-speed automatic overdrive.  The only caveat was anybody purchasing a LeSabre with the 3.8 V6 did not have the option of overdrive.  Buick likely figured that 3.8 would be in third gear the bulk of the time anyway, so why bother.  A 3,700 pound Buick with 110 horsepower was more lead weight than street racer.

Another potential angle for this LeSabre was talking about the same year LeSabre that my mother’s younger brother Ron bought new.

Incidentally, Ron would have been twenty-five years old when he purchased his LeSabre.

Ron’s red LeSabre was quite talented for handling three cars seats in the back as Ron and his wife had three kids in three years.  As those kids got older, I do know there was a lot of activity in the back seat as the two older boys were perpetually tormenting their younger sister who was forced to sit between them.  She held her own quite well.  Little did anyone know she would grow to be taller than her eldest brother who now treats her with great respect.

Those boys tormented their sister in startlingly creative ways.  There was a period of time in which my aunt thought the girl had profuse bed wetting problems.  However, when it was found out the boys were gorging water and later sneaking into their sister’s room to whiz in her bed while she slept, there was a day of reckoning.

There was also a sad day of reckoning for Ron’s Buick.  While I’ve never heard the complete story, at some point later in the Buick’s life with them, he had to pull out its 307 cubic inch (5.0 liter) V8 and perform some work on its innards.  After repairs, it ferried everyone around for another year or two before going away for a Chevrolet Suburban.

But saying anything about Ron’s LeSabre was a false hope.  I never rode in the car and there wasn’t much to say.  Like the soda analogy, and that 307, the ideas crapped out prematurely.

So perhaps we should discuss our featured LeSabre.  All this talk about not knowing what to say goes pretty deep because I photographed this car in 2012.  Seriously, what the hell can a person say about a 1984 LeSabre?  It’s like discussing tapioca pudding; it’s flavorful and all, but is there anything at all unique about it?

But tapioca is somewhat more interesting than chocolate pudding given the little nodules spread throughout.  So I will say the LeSabre is the tapioca of the post-1980 B-bodies based upon it having the most interesting frontal appearance.

For that matter it looked the best from the rear, also.  The LeSabre also has the exceedingly rare talent of successfully rocking wire wheel covers with raised white letter tires.  This is premium tapioca, ladies and gentlemen.

And to think I started off comparing the LeSabre to fountain soda only to end up talking about tapioca pudding.  It’s simply reinforces how one should consume each in careful moderation, just like with a B-body.

While there were no obvious physical differences between the 1984 and 1985 LeSabre, I’ve been saying 1984 based upon this sticker.  By 1985 the Los Angeles Olympics were so last year and I cannot imagine there being any mileage in continuing to tout Buick’s being a sponsor of the games.

Sorry to have enlivened the hopes of all the B-body fans, but I’ve been at a painfully awkward loss of what to say about this LeSabre.  Perhaps when I can come up with something we shall reconvene.

Found August 2012, Hannibal, Missouri