(first posted 1/21/2013) In 1985, Buick still had an enviable position in the GM hierarchy. Though plenty of older folks gravitated to the make, Buick was not yet known as a senior special. Cars like the N-body Somerset and G-Body Regal coupe–particularly the Grand National–meant there were still plenty of younger buyers interested in a Buick. Though the LeSabre and Electra were quite traditional–and big–in 1984, that started to change with the 1985 C-Body Electra and Park Avenue and their very modern makeover.
But not everyone was quite ready to join the future. The 1977-vintage full-size Buicks, refreshed for 1980, were quite plush, roomy, and stately cars. The term, “big as a Buick” was and is a common term, and there was no denying the 1984 models were Buicks. They just had that look.
In fact, the push-back on the 1985 C-bodies was more or less due to the styling, or rather, the idea of paying similar or more money for a smaller, less-prestigious looking (for the time) car. Indeed, the ’85s, were only slightly smaller in terms of interior space than the outgoing ’84 land yachts. But well-to-do middle aged professionals who had been buying Buicks for years had been raised on the idea of bigger is better, and some were resistant to the change.
Still, the 1985 Electra was a revelation in American cars. Much like the contemporary Volvo 740 and Audi 5000, the styling was trim and clean, with great space utilization. And the forward-hinged hood was very unusual for a domestic car. This was a Buick?
Well, yes. Despite the modern style and space efficiency, there was still plenty of chrome and interior features to remind you that you were in one of Flint’s finest. Interiors were done up in high-quality cloth in Electras and velour or optional leather in Park Avenues. There was no shortage of faux-wood trim or power assists inside, either.
Despite all the newness, and heavy comparison with German luxury cars in period ads, there was still an Electra coupe, a throwback of sorts, as the Sport Sedan Era was well on its way to permanently displacing the Great Brougham Epoch.
Even Buick was getting in on this new direction, with the Electra T-Type. True, there were T-Type Regals before, but this was the first time the big Buick got the treatment. Much of the chrome trim was replaced with black or gray moldings, and the faux wood trim found inside other Electras was replaced with brushed gray trim.
This time it wasn’t strictly an appearance package, as in many “appearance muscle cars” seen in the late ’70s. T-Type Electras gained a firmer suspension, quicker steering ratio, and standard alloy wheels with Eagle GT performance tires. A leather-wrapped sport steering wheel and 135-hp 3.8L V6 were also included. The 3.8 was shared with the Park Avenue, while base Electras got the 110-hp 181 CID V6. 4,644 T-Type sedans and coupes were built for inaugural ’85, and while the sedan would last through 1990, the coupe was gone after one year. All in all, it was an attractive model–a mix of traditional GM biggie and BMW. The Great American Driving Machine?
Models came in base Electra, Park Avenue, and T-Type models. The Park Avenue was still the top of the line, with wide chrome rocker moldings, opera lamps set into the B-pillar and pillowed velour interior trim. And despite the hemming and hawing from some quarters, 1985 Electras sold just fine, thank you very much.
The top-trim Park Avenue sedans wildly outsold the coupes, with 131,011 sedans and 5,852 coupes sold. Finding any Electra coupe would be a real find today, as they were only built from 1985-87 and never sold like the 1977-84 Electra 2-doors.
As befitting of a Buick, the Park Avenues were not cheap, but not quite as dear as a comparable shrunken Cadillac de Ville or Fleetwood. Park Avenue sedans started at $16,240, with the comparable coupe selling for $160 less. The third member of the new FWD GM full-sizers was the Olds Ninety Eight Regency, which went for a bit less than the Electra, but was a lot Broughamier. While the Electra was sleek and modern despite its chrome, the Olds (CC here) was geared more to the traditional buyer, with fussier grillework and trim. To this day, the Buick version is my favorite.
And the Caddy? Well, its styling didn’t translate near as well as its two corporate siblings, and it was further burdened with the “Hand Tighten” HT4100 V8. Smart shoppers who just had to be the first on the block with a new C-body chose the Regency or Park Avenue instead, with their proven powerplants. But all of these cars had initial electrical and mechanical troubles regardless of brand. The problems were especially prominent on the ’85s, and were largely solved by the 1987 model year.
For such a modern car, the quad rectangular headlights looked a little out of place on such a smooth design. It did not last long; only the 1985-86 models got them. Starting in 1987, the Electra and its Olds Ninety-Eight and Cadillac de Ville/Fleetwood siblings would receive the flush composite headlights, with fixed glass and replaceable bulbs accessed from under the hood.
The interiors of these cars were as traditional as the exteriors were modern. Ample faux wood trim, velour (or optional leather), and ample power assists were all prominent features. Quite cushy, and incredible space for both driver and passengers. My aunt had (and still has) a 1986 Park Avenue sedan, ice blue metallic with navy velour and navy vinyl roof. I drove it on several occasions and the comfort and space were most impressive. Quite different from the Volvo 940 I had at the time, but I grew to love the car, with its cushy front bench seat, fold-down armrest and smooth 3.8L V6–which was standard equipment on all Electras starting in 1986.
There was just as much room in the back seat, owed in part to the squared off roofline and near-vertical C-pillar. And it sported one feature of GM cars of old: rear seat ashtrays. In fact, save for the remaining B-body and D-body GMs in production at the same time, I believe these were the last GM sedans to feature the rear-seat ashtrays.
Even in the ’80s, GM didn’t skimp on trim bits. Ample jewelry, chrome and otherwise, was in evidence on the beltline, door handles, opera lamps and window trim. Plasti-chrome was still a few years off, at least on the pricier GM models. And I love those heavy chrome push-button door handles! I can tell you that they are solid little ingots.
Some cheapness was evident in Aunt Candy’s Park Avenue, though. The driver’s window loved to jump out of its track. My Uncle Don was a master mechanic and he could fix it himself easily, but it was still a pain to pull off the door panel to fix it. One time it happened when I was driving it and was freaked out that I’d screwed up the car. When I got back, Candy told me to not worry, it happened all the time. The culprit? Cheap press-on plastic flanges held the window in place, and would happily drop the window at the slightest provocation. Thanks GM!
Although bedecked with plenty of simu-wood trim, the dash had a very clean, functional design. This one appears to have the automatic climate control, with touch-screen buttons. My aunt’s ’86 had the less fancy “slider” controls but otherwise looked just like this one, albeit in navy blue.
The other thing I love about these cars is the glass area. Much like the contemporary Volvo 740 and 760, the bottom of the window extended well below your shoulder, for excellent visibility. Much nicer than today’s cars, with castle loophole window size and a big honking console stealing space up front.
This generation lasted all the way to 1990 in sedan form, and still looked good when it departed. They seem to have largely disappeared from the roads around here, though I still see plenty of 1989-93 Cadillac versions. I spotted this one, like many other CC’s I’ve found, while driving in a part of town I usually do not frequent. I really liked the steel roof and green color, and had to pull over to check it out.
As you can see, it was for sale, and although it had a bit of minor rust, it looked really solid. I loved it all the more when I spotted the rare green interior. Other than a couple of broken grille bars and missing center caps on the wheel covers, it looked ready to go.
It also sported the ubiquitous chrome luggage rack on the trunk, a wildly popular accessory on GM cars in the ’80s, from Cutlass Supremes to Electras, and A-body Cieras and Centurys. I never, ever once saw one of these carrying luggage. I guess it was just for looks.
The $1750 asking price seemed a bargain considering all the new parts on it. Apparently someone else agreed, as I’ve recently seen it in traffic a couple of times with new plates. Seems that the new owner is having good luck with it, since I shot these photos back in October.
While this vintage Electra and Park Avenue did well for Buick, it was a little too square for many tastes; the 1986 LeSabre and Delta 88 corrected that with faster C-pillars, and the best Buick followed suit in 1991 with a new Jaguar-like Park Avenue. The Electra name was sadly retired after 1990, and the Park Avenue itself was discontinued after a short 2006 run. Will we ever get another big Buick? I hope so!
That is a nice old Buick. I didn’t much care for these when they were newer, but they have been slowly growing on me over the years. These were once all over the place in the midwest, and I still see one on the road every once in awhile.
I still believe that as well as these sold, they still helped sell a lot of Grand Marquis, Town Cars and (to a lesser extent) Chrysler Fifth Avenues. There was still some significant resistance to a “big” expensive car that was six cylinders and front drive. I recall some neighbors who had been GM people all of my life. In 1986, a big gray loaded up Grand Marquis showed up in the drive and stayed there for several years.
This car was made when GM was really paying attention to rust. This was one of the most rust-resistant cars ever, and even the beater-type versions I see these days have solid looking bodies. As for this one, I do not recall that color of green. It seems that most of them were maroon, navy, gray or white.
I had an 89 Bonneville (same body) and it was not rust resistant. Bottoms of the doors went first and then the rear quarters just behind the rear doors. At least the floor plan was solid. One other fault I had with the car was the outside door handles. Occasionally, they would quit working. You had to pull the door panel off (fun when the door is closed) and grease up the labyrinth called the door lock linkage.
That is a classy looking old Buick. Its amazing to see these moving through traffic. Who would have thought they’d look so light and compact. I’m always struck at how low they are compared to 99% of todays offerings, and they have such open sight lights. I really like this car.
I’ll take an 88 T-type please
That blue 84 Electra Coupe in the brochure is a fine looking car too. Swap in an LS1, some bilstein shocks, some fat sway bars and mellow dual exhaust…that would be a nice long distance cruiser…
At the risk of echoing JP, I also find myself liking these more and more as time goes on. They also appear to be as durable as an anvil.
A cousin of my mother’s had one of these; I believe it was an ’86. I drove it briefly a time or two and was impressed with the openness in a car that seemed so petite for the time. They would keep it parked in the garage next to their ’80 or ’81 LeSabre – yes, there was a difference.
And the CC effect strikes again….Yesterday I saw the ’85 Olds featured in the CC linked above. As soon as I turned around, I saw a LeSabre of this vintage in a nearby parking lot.
OK so explain this to me (cause I know there are some experts around here.) Wikipedia list the 1985-1991 Electra and Park Avenue as C-bodys BUT was there actually ANY difference between them and the H-body LeSabre?
I’m talking about wheelbase, width, trunk room, interior room, etc…
Roofline, maybe an inch or so more of overall length. And more standard equipment. Not the big gulf of extra wheelbase or anything when these were the BOF designations. There’d be more difference in the 1991-96 versions when the extra length/prestige was brought back.
More standard equip was obvious, according to Wikipedia (not always the most reliable source) the H-body and C-body from 1985 to 1991 shared the same wheelbase. It must have been an extra inch of trunks space. OBVIOUSLY the 2nd gen were much more differentiated, there was a clear reason to choose a Park Avenue over a LeSabre in the 90s.
The difference between the two was everything after the rear doors or C-pillars. The doors were shared with the H but the quarter panels and deck lid are different. Just like the the older models when they were B/C/D-Bodies.
Did’t the Cs and Ds have longer wheelbases than the Bs pre 1985?
I think the Cadillac “D” had a 121.5 wheelbase, but I think the B/C’s were still pretty similar in wheelbase from Chevrolet to Buick. I’m too lazy to look, but I think the deeper in the past you go the more different they were.
I think the ’77-84 Bs had a 116 and the Cs (Buick and Olds) had a 119. The Cadillac was also a C then, just with a stretched 121.5. The D at that time I believe was still the Cadillac limousines which were still actually made by Cadillac. I think the Cadillac only became a D in 1985, after Electra, 98, and DeVille were shrunken onto the new “C”.
Looking at it now, I am realizing that Buick missed out on the opportunity to make a fine Estate Wagon out of ths. I realize they already had the perfect full size wagon in production for many more years, but in looking at the upright profile of this car, it just screams for a wagon version.
By the way, the coupe? Meh. The giant rear window behind the door, and the vertical roofline are way out of proportion. No wonder it didn’t last.
So-the exterior was modern, in an Audi or Volvo sort of way, but the interior was traditional. Looking back, one might think GM was up to its bad habits, but I’m assuming that was all by design. They probably viewed this as a transitional model and feared that going all the way with a European inspired interior might have killed the brand.
I was just a kid when these came out and the thing I liked best was the new(er) electronic features available: electronic dash/electronic HVAC systems/power mirrors/memory seats/Delco-Bose $900 cassette system. Although they certainly weren’t as stately and elegant as the 1980-1984 models, for me, the tech features were a selling point.
Although the Park Avenue was nice looking, the 98 Regency Brougham sedan was still an impressive little cruiser. In ’85, my mom had an ’83 Regency Brougham sedan. When the ’85 came out, our neighbor was approached by the Olds salesguy with a brochure for the ’85 98. They weren’t interested at all so they gave the brochure to my mom. She did not care for the “small” 98 RB sedan at all. I liked it, though.
1985 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight Regency Brougham sedan:
And although the Electra/Park Avenue coupes weren’t all that great looking, the 98 Regency coupe was quite nice, I think…
1986 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight Regency Brougham coupe:
The quarter window in the Olds (I was once a passenger in one), with its rounded corners, was weirder-looking than this photo indicates; see another angle at http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8352/8346022206_54d5776d62.jpg.
I owned 2 of the slightly lesser version of this car, an ’87 and an ”88 LeSabre, both Customs I believe. The ”87 was Burgandy with a dark Burgandy/Wine interior and the ’88 was Light Blue metallic with a Dark Blue interior, both Velour. The customs were slightly lesser trimmed models, but both had A/C and a decent stereo/tape deck combo.
I bought both these cars used for around $1,000.00 each and the ’87 with slightly north of 150k on the clock. Loved ’em both….LOVED ‘EM!
Relatively quick under acceleration, soft, cushy ride, relatively well isolated except for a bit of wind noise around the A-Pillars and quite respectable fuel mileage for their size.
Both of these were pretty well used by the time I aquired them, the ’87 more-so than the ’88, and by the time I picked up the ’87 it was 15 years old. Never-the-less, both gave surprisingly trouble-free service while I had them.
From my experience, there were several week spots that eventially reared their heads with both cars. The rack-and-pinion in both eventually wore out, probably not surprising considering their age when I had them, but the ’88 only had about 85k on it when it’s went south. The AC-Delco tape decks were crappy to, both eventually replaced with a decent aftermarket CD player and upgraded speakers. Both also suffered from some flimsy GM bits in the interior, The front door armrests on both of mine broke away from their mounts at their leading edges in both cars and flapped about some….I’m not very hard on a car’s interior and at the time never carried many passengers, so this wasn’t much of a wear issue..All of them were intact when I bought the cars, so maybe it was a stress issue, plastic degradation thing…Mine also suffered from the infamous plastic clips that held the windows in place…A GM bugaboo that crosses many make/model lines …My ’95 Fleetwood Broagham..(YES, Broagham!) had the same annoying issue. and the headliners in both cars also started to sag/pull away from their backings…If I recall correctly, the both startred to exibit some dash-pad warpage, even though both had been garaged their entire lives, including my ownership.
The 3800 series V6 won my admiration with these two cars and I’m a bit surprised that it was not further refined for GM’s current lineup…It’s smaller derivatives all seem to have annoying faults that make them less reliable.
I’d own another LeSabre in a heartbeat and am actually considering an ’04-’05 as my next used car purchase…Maybe I’ll up for the Park Avenue this time!
i feel the last body LeSabres were a step down from the 92-99, both in size and refinement.
Mom’s 92 was quick and roomy, and when we went to look at an ’04 LeSabre to replace it, Mom, Dad and I were all disappointed in the new LeSabre.
They got a Rendezvous instead.
By the way, the green color of the featured car is quite nice. I don’t recall ever seeing one in that particular color.
Nice lookin car strange to see 1960s door handles on a supposed modern luxury car from the 80s door handles here went flush in about 1971 and havent hung out like that since no matter the brand.Will you get another big Buick nar I doubt it now there was talk of Holdens being Buick badged for the Chinese market but since Holdens are rebadged as Chevrolets for world consumption thats unlikely to happen now.
They’ve been doing it in China for several years. The Buick Royaum and Park Avenue are Holden Statesman based.
The first car I drove when 16 was my mom’s `87 Park Avenue. It was an awesome car! I fondly remember the “4 speed” emblem on the back.
I love the door handles, too. They are kind of old fashioned and feel very solid. I’m a big fan of the thin rim, hard plastic steering wheels from this era, too. This one is nice, it doesn’t look cracked like they can get in the sun and heat.
Over all, I also didn’t like this car much when new but it has grown on me. I didn’t like the FWD V6 replacing the RWD V8 and the big cars loosing their bigness. However, these Buicks’ styling has aged well, I think. Very clean and light looking, which was a detriment when new, but today it makes it unique. And apart from some minor penny pinching decisions, they seem to have been pretty well engineered, too. I still love V8’s, but I have to admit that the FI 3.8 V6 is a better engine to own than the 307 carbuerated V8 it replaced.
That 3.8 engine got a whole new lease on life downunder Holden adopted it for their Catera lookalike Commodore in 88 and it remained in production untill the alloytech replaced it circa 2005, Having spent a week in an alloy6 Holden give me an old 3.8 with some lowdown torque thanks
Love the plastic wheel too, the great thing about these is how “light” they drive, the injected V6 gives it great twist, everything is assisted to the max, you can just push it along with your finger tips.
I wouldn’t like that, Carmine. I need road feel. I need build-up when I turn the wheel away from center, and a quick return to center coming out of a turn. I’m already a twitchy, drifty driver who can’t stay in his own lane on an interstate. I’d probably wreck one of these gems because of “fingertip” steering like a rotary dial phone.
No question, the Buick was the best of the ’85 crop of the big GM FWD cars. Really quite impressive, considering the task at hand. It gave me some hope…an American Volvo or such. Such stellar space efficiency. And the T-Type was highly lauded in the press. Ahead of its time, but not in sync with the bulk of Buick’s clientele. And by 1985, it was already to late for Buick to effectively compete with the upscale imports.
Also typical for GM, they were priced right up there with upscale imports. Even at this point the vinyl roof- wire-wheelcap-fuzzy-steering-wheel-cover set was taking their final ride (often in a Buick) and there were no new customers to replace them. The T-Type was an attempt to get some new blood but it didn’t do anything to stop Yuppies buying Bimmers.
I never really gave these cars any notice when new. They were part of the automotive background. Still a decent number about here which means they likely have no fatal vices. They are quite an attractive design and that green colour is fantastic. Subtle but still special.
My boss had one of these, probably an ’88 or ’89 Park Avenue. He gave me the keys a couple of times to take it out for an errand, and it was a hoot to drive. You sat in not on those big, plush split-bench seats, but they were comfortable. And the torquey 3800 had strong & authoritative throttle response in around-town traffic. Today’s big cars feel so confining with high beltlines and foot-sized footwells. A big, open full-sized car like this would be refreshing today.
These were not only the best looking among its cohort of big GM cars, but I think they also wear the Sheer Look better than all but a few GM cars of the ’70s and ’80s, easily in the same league as the ’76 Seville. I still find them attractive.
*You’re* on camera
The first time I drove one of these things it was a total revelation: I had never driven an American car that felt that solid and well connected to the road. GM was actually in a good period when these cars were designed and for the most part by engineers.
The less good part, especially on the earlier years (and typically for GM) was the cars used a completely new electrical system. The old GM cassette-radio (the one that was bullet-proof but weighed like 5 kg) for example, was replaced my a much lighter (and cheaper) model. Same for the HVAC and everything else. Keeping the MIL off in these things was a real financial battle. Keeping any accessory working was also a real challenge.
Still, I really like these cars because they did something really different. I also loved the visibility one had when driving them.
I remember sitting in one of these in a Buick display a local dealer had set up in the mall(remember when they used to do that?) they had a Regal Limited, Riviera, Skyhawk, Collectors Edition LeSabre and a new cream on cream Park Avenue, to this day I will recall that it had the softest leather seats of any car I had sat in or have sat in since.
This 85 has the electroluminesent coach lamps which were very cool, and for 85 only, the illuminated passenger side dash trim, the area over the glove compartment that reads “Buick Park Avenue” illuminates too, like it did on the 1980-1984 Park Avenues.
It’s GM, it’s a piece of crap and it’s butt-ugly. And it falls apart, as you noted. Period.
Are we sure that is an ’85? It has a CHMSL (third brake light) which wasn’t standard until ’86.
The lamp looks a bit too tall to be the usual GM pedestal-style CHMSL. I suspect it’s aftermarket.
It’s an aftermarket lamp.
It’s got to be an ’85; it has the EL “Park Avenue” logo on the dash (my aunt’s ’86 has a little chrome logo instead) and according to my ’86 brochure, the green interior was no longer available. I suspect the green paint may also have been ’85-only.
If I remember correctly, the CHMSL was available as an option in 1985. I remember a physician on staff at the hospital I was affiliated with at the time having one of the first ’85 Park Avenues. His had the optional luggage rack like this one and I believe the CHMSL on this particular Park Avenue was mounted on the rack.
Agreed, it was sold as optional equipment in 85.
I also recall a few folks retrofitting their pre-86 cars with the high stop light to keep from showing the car’s age.
Didn’t like them then and still don’t. And it doesn’t have anything to do with the size of it. The cheaper Century was better proportioned, better looking, cheaper and almost the same size. The brochure pics of the 1984’s though. Sigh…
I’m with you on the ’84s. I’d love to find an ’80-’84 Electra coupe for a CC!
Stephen, I am right there with you. Please have the Cocoa Brown 1984 Park Avenue Sedan delivered to my house asap.
I have been a Cadillac freak since I was 5yo, but, as a boy and growing up… I always had a thing for the Buick Electra and Park Avenue line. Family members and bosses owned them. Late ’60s, ’74, ’76, ’77-’79, ’84s. I owned Ninety Eight Regency Sedans and Cadillacs, Even short-term drove and flipped a Mark VI 4-door! But, of 20+ cars, never owned a Buick Electra. I REALLY love the ’84. The pitch back of the headlamps against the more vertical grille with the fade-out power dome lines carried thru across the hood. Elegant tail-lamp treatments, and always, Brougham+++ interior choices.
What a stately, purely American and gorgeous luxury automobile. Somehow the Buicks always seemed to have an awesome profile, and some of the best front and rear-ends through the years, right up there with Cadillac’s beautiful fins, faces and deck lids.
Let me put it this way… Buick, was one of the few who had the Brand’s signature styling cues carried across decades & various bodies that just always worked without fault. Then, you get inside, and they have these great dash-boards (as did several Pontiacs in those years). To top it all off, you get a bullet-proof drive-train to keep you rolling along, trouble-free, (which sadly I can’t say was always the case with my beloved Cadillacs).
Oh how I want that exact car parked next to the Seville in the garage and ready for some serious summer cruising.
I got one of these, not by choice, as a rental in Los Angeles in December of ’84 (just a couple of months after introduction), and they became one of my top rental picks for years to come.
Roomy, comfortable….and a consistent 33 mpg on the highway. Sure, my ’84 Civic got 44, but this was a Buick. Best of all, I never had to keep one for more than a week, so stuff falling off wasn’t an issue.
33 mpg, sigh. Neither of my 2000s so-called economy cars can do that.
I should note that back in ’84, the speed limit in California was 55 and the CHP would write you for 56. I doubt I ever got them over 60.
However, I do remember running a next-gen Park Avenue renter (’92) like a bat out of hell between LAX and Palm Springs (rushing to an earthquake in the middle of the night as a journalist)…cruise control set at 85, brakes tapped only to make the transition from the 405 to the 10 and then at the bottom of the off-ramp in Palm Springs…and I think that run was 28 mpg, so they were still really impressive.
I am in China for two weeks and Buicks are everywhere … including many Park Avenues. They are Buick badged and styled versions of the Australian RWD platform sold in the US as the Pontiac G8 and Chevy PPV. I have read about Buick’s sales succes here, but seeing them (as well as Chevies) everywhere on the streets here is a good reminder that GM can do some things well.
Absolutely did not like these cars, coupe or sedan. Test drove a Olds coupe when new. Drove pretty much like it should, but too small. Felt like a full size traditional car when driving, though. Now, they look a lot better.
Once the early kinks were sorted out, these were excellent cars. Roomy, fuel efficient, comfortable. If you got a good one, these things are practically bulletproof; I’m amazed at how many well-preserved examples of ’80s H/C Oldsmobuicks are still rolling around.
The Electra/Park Avenue is easily the best styled of the entire lot. Yes, it’s boxy, but it’s also very clean and coherent. Look at the way the cut line of the clamshell hood merges into the beltline and finishes as a character crease in the rear quarter. It has just the right amount of brightwork, and I’ve always loved those doorhandles.
The second generation H/Cs were certainly flashier (and the Park Avenue was gorgeous), but I don’t think they were made as well. The interiors were cheaper, anyway. Still, they were the best American cars you could buy. And that’s a shame, because the third generation models were mostly trash.
Also, the next generation brought back the concept of rusting rocker panels, something I had thought went out with the 1950s (except at Studebaker).
An ’89 Electra PA replaced my Diplomat. It’s a good car, and it’s neat to have a Buick-powered Buick. Taking suspension parts off a junkyard FE3 Olds was a good call to help the handling..
It serves as a reliable backup for when my SSEi chokes (which is often).
… and just like that the Bonneville won’t start.
“In fact, save for the remaining B-body and D-body GMs in production at the same time, I believe these were the last GM sedans to feature the rear-seat ashtrays.”
I have a friend who has a 1998 LeSabre and it has ashtrays on all four doors. I think the rear ones even have cigarette lighters on both sides!
The C/H-body cars were probably the best new GM product of the 1980’s. I’ve seen so many of these with crazy amounts of mileage, and they generally aren’t cars that people are willing to spend a fortune on to keep running. The Buick V6 really came into it’s own in this era and became one of the bright spots for GM over the next two decades. Great looking cars they were not – I like the front half of it, but there’s some awkward relationship inherent in all of them between the C-pillar, rear wheelwell and completely horizontal trunk. The coupes were downright strange, I can’t remember the last time I saw one. I actually prefer the Olds 98 to this and the Cadillac, but this particular Electra looks excellent in this color and with the Park Avenue trim. This is an absolute steal at $1,750, probably one of the best used cars you could get for that price anywhere.
Even though the look must have been shocking to full-size diehards, the new Electra and LeSabre actually sold better than the RWD cars they replaced. They were quicker, handled better, got much better gas mileage and didn’t really give too much up in comfort or space.
In addition to the 1985-only 3.0l V6 there was also a 1985-only Olds diesel V6 available on these (and the Olds/Cadillac too). I suppose GM must have still had some faith in diesel power back then to launch an all new platform with it available. From what I understand, all of the kinks had been worked out of those engines by this time, but nobody was buying them anyway. I’ve never seen a diesel C-Body, and if any of them were actually ordered I’m sure they must have been pretty painful to drive… 85HP in a car this size/price is a little silly.
I was going to add the same, rear seat ashtrays were around until at least the end of the 1997-2002(?) Park Avenue. The only C-body coupe that sold in decent numbers was the Coupe deVille, it managed to survive all the way to 1993, inspite of the Oldsmobile and Buick versions not making it past 1987.
The Olds Diesel 4.3 V6 was pretty good, but by then the diesels rep was ruined from the bad 350 and 260 diesels, and unleaded was cheap again, why suffer with a diesel, and it was gone almost as soon as it arrived.
Everyonce in a while a C-body with a diesel will turn up, there was an 85 Regency 98 on ebay a month or so ago with the 4.3 diesel. I have seen whats possibly the rarest of the rare of these, a diesel engined 85 Regency 98 COUPE.
Wow so they do exist… I thought it might’ve been one of those situations where it was available on paper, but none were actually built. 99% of the V6 diesels I’ve seen were in A-bodies, but I Googled them after your reply and found this ad for the 98 diesel. I love that they’re touting it’s “exceptional performance” and use a 0-50 figure of 13.5 seconds to back it up. This car would have been quite a hot rod in the 1930’s!
Remember were talking diesel here, GM diesels from this era were like the hot rods of the diesel world before turbocharging started popping up, 18-20 second 0-50 times were common at the time.
I saw that ’85 diesel 98 on ebay too–it was especially sharp in black with dark red vinyl top and dark red interior.
It was sharp, it had the “Auto-Calculator” trip computer too.
I’ve been waiting for an Auto-Calculator-equipped car to hit the scrapyard for a few years now but it evidently was not a popular option.
I’m curious to know if its wiring was piggybacked onto the car’s main wiring harness or if Auto-Calculator cars had a unique main dash wiring harness.
I want a Touring Sedan so bad I can taste it.
They are rare but they were availble on several Oldsmobiles, the 98, 88 Ciera and Calais. I’m not sure, but I think the Auto-Calculator later became the Oldsmobile Driver Information Center trip computer on later cars without the “auto-calculator” designation.
Another interesting bit of trivia, some of these Oldsmobiles talked.
Did the “Auto-Calculator” have the steering wheel with the keypad in the middle? I’ve seen something like that in a Pontiac Firebird.
No the auto calculator was a trip computer mounted in the dash that gave you mpg, eta, range, etc. The Pontiac you’re thinking about had steering wheel radio controls.
Sean, to clarify, the C body Oldsmobuicks were decent. The 85-86 C Cadillacs most definitely were not, due to the 4.1 V8’s tendency to self destruct by 75,000 miles
Agreed, I guess I should have mentioned that as the one exception.
Although I think by this time the 4100 actually wasn’t that bad anymore. I know the later 4.5l and 4.9l versions are generally considered very sturdy engines.
Unfortunately, it still was, at least for a while.
I’m aware they started fixing the problems by mid-85 production, I believe, and after that they finally became more reliable.
In 84, my dad bought an 85 DeVille with the bad 4.1. Fortunately he traded it after less than 5 years and it had very low miles on it, so we avoided anything major; but, I do remember a flywheel breaking off at one point. The failure was related to that ridiculous serpentine belt in some way. Of course, the car stopped dead in the middle of the road and had o be towed.
I would say that our car’s replacement, a 90 Seville with the 4.5, turned out actually to be a very reliable car for many years. Kind of fugly, but quite reliable.
Paul, another DS maybe? The GM serpentine belt experiment?? 🙂
I LOVE LOVE LOVE these cars. In fact, I was happy to shoot pics of one recently when visiting Carmel, CA. http://www.flickr.com/photos/mistergreen/8308004320
Something about the styling was just right on these, all glassy and formal and square, but rounded in just enough places, like that nice tight curve on the top of the rear backlight. It’s the ultimate expression of what I like to call the “Seville school of styling”, beginning with the 1976 Seville. The rare coupe would be really be a find. I don’t think I’ve seen one in 20 years. I would seriously want a T-Type, coupe or sedan, although the plastik-i-ness on the interiors is a little off-putting.
I recall seeing a dark gray coupe parked in Clinton, IA last summer. I should have stopped for pics, as they’re really, REALLY rare.
“In 1985, Buick still had an enviable position in the GM hierarchy. Though plenty of older folks gravitated to the make, Buick was not yet known as a senior special. Cars like the N-body Somerset and G-Body Regal coupe–particularly the Grand National–meant there were still plenty of younger buyers interested in a Buick. Though the LeSabre and Electra were quite traditional–and big–in 1984, that started to change with the 1985 C-Body Electra and Park Avenue and their very modern makeover.”
For me,this statement is true. I bought my first Buick,a barely used 86 GN in late 1987. And I was 27 at the time.I never thought I’d be that young but on the other hand I don’t consider myself old,either. I’ve always liked Buicks but they were unoptanium for me seeing as I worked for a Chevy dealer and you just didn’t buy anything new unless it had a bowtie on it. I grew up with the old Buick GS455 and other GS models and to me they were just a tad bit better than the lesser Chevys. And growing up in the midwest I noticed that most people bought a Buick instead of a Cadillac, as far as GM buyers went anyway. There were always way more Buicks in the boneyards for me to source parts from for my projects and flips. When I moved to FL just the opposite. Not enough of the older Buicks. I can remember one day as I was driving through one of the toll booths with my 85 Rivera Collectors Edition, the booth guy(with a rather thick European accent) asked, what type of car is that? It’s beautiful! Nothing like being the only guy with a classic Riv. I still see lots of these 85-90 C/H Bodies on the road. But I see way more of the 91 and newer vintage. As has been stated, for the Buicks I think it was a combination of styling and a bullet proof(yes even the transaxle) drive train made them best sellers. I’ve owned a few of these. My only complaints were the cloth interiors and no 4 wheel disc brakes. And not enough horsepower but that would not keep me from buying one in a second. But I regress. Today I’m looking for leather interiors and full gauge packages when I’m out looking for a project. Double points if it’s a coupe or T-Type. One thing is for sure. You won’t see a Buick Brougham unless you’re at an AACA show.
My favorite C-Body Buicks would be…..
1985 Electra T-Type Coupe(1 year model)
1987 T-Type(only year for floor shift)
89-90 Ultra(quasi proto for the 2nd gen Ultra)
1985 4.3 Diesel(’cause I have farmer DNA)
1990 T-Type(only 478 built)
I’m a fan of 1979-85 Rivs too, I woudn’t mind finding a clean Park Avenue sedan with the leather and digital dash, I like the early cars with the electroluminesent dash emblem.
Terribly sorry for the very poor photo, but I chase this 6door LeSabre version of this era Buick all over my area trying to get a better shot; it’s a total daily driver. I see it all the time, just never stopped!
That’s awesome! You gotta catch up to the guy one day, I’d love to know the story behind it…
Cadillac actually built a factory C-Body limo (the Series 75) for a few years, which wasn’t very popular. That Buick has to be a one-off custom but it looks really well done. How cool is it that some guy uses this as a daily driver?
When I got my learners permit my mom had a 90 Park Ave (White w/ blue velour). Still remember how well that car drove.They had for 5+ years and hardly any issues. Dad said worst mistake he ever made was trading it on a 95 Cadillac Concours.
I’m actually old enough to remember back when the average owner of an American luxury car *wasn’t* 50 or older, and these Electra/Park Avenues were all over the place. Even in the ’80s, Alfred P. Sloan’s “a car for every purse and purpose” doctrine still held; I recall cars like the above featured model being (not surprisingly) driven by middle- and upper-management types, professionals, well-to-do salesmen, and the like. And, believe it or not, all without the stigma of being caught driving “an old man’s car.” But…oh my…the years have passed, and all those people I remember driving these things are (gasp!) pushing 70 or have passed 70. Tempus fugit!
And the yuppies (of “thirtysomething” fame) were/are the generation that followed the generation I just described. No longer could GM rely on all the people who said “If GM was good enough for Dad, GM is good enough for me…”
Of course you know I’m going to like it!
When I first got to drive one of these, I was blown away at how well they drove.
Even though I find the older rear-drive ones to be a good deal classier, these still manage to fill the bill, in that late-1980’s way that looking back I find so enduring.
A quick note about GM stereos from this period. The Delco UM6 that car has was indeed known for having the cassette players quit after a while. As a teen and in my early twenties I had acquired several from junk yards for the parts. When the deck quit on either my Skylark or my Cutlass, I could yank the radio out, and replace the cassette parts and re-assemble the radio and have it back in the car in under twenty minutes!
As for the mystery color….It was called Dark Sage. It was a new color for 1985, and somewhat rare, as most people that ordered green during the mid-80’s (and there weren’t that many of them) preferred the Light Sage. Personally, I like this color. In the fall of 1984 my fourth grade teacher purchased a brand new 1985 Olds Delta 88 Royale Brougham in this color, and I thought it looked amazing!
Great find Tom! If it was me, I would have had a hard time waking away from this one…
Here’s a fun fact: both this car and my aunt’s came from the same dealership, Geneseo Motors. I guess they sold a lot of Buicks!
I love these cars and always will, except for the uber sweet Grand National and GNX I cant think of ANY other GM product from 1980’s I would want more and yes I’m including the C3 and C4 Corvettes. Just a very nicely designed and executed car from a company who was known for both of those things not all that long ago.
I’m a sucker for any ’80s Buick T-Type–give me a Century T-Type and I’d be happy–but the four-door Electra version is probably the closest they got to being sophisticated.
Always thought these were handsome, classy looking cars- a good take on “Modern American” for the time. They seem to have aged well too!
“The rack-and-pinion in both eventually wore out, probably not surprising considering their age when I had them.”
My buddy’s went at 4 years old, 45k. And those falling arm rests! Anyway, he had been a Buick man, coming from a Buick family. His next car was an Acura.
I remember when these came out, how similar they and the Volvo were. A very classy, aging-well design.
A lovely car, almost spoiled by GM’s “Not Quite Ready” product development. These literally made my life hell in the summer of 1984 (yes- early launch) when I was a member of Buick’s just-announced Toll Free Customer Service phone team. The teething pains were quite severe, indeed and lasted into the 1986 model year. Let’s see- windows crashing into the door and shattering, 72 degrees and auto fan no matter what the customer selected, clever boomerang serpentine belt that flew off at highway speed, transmissions held in by velcro for ease of replacement- (did you know there was a THM-440 Series K? ) and a fuel pump so loud that it woke the dead.
By ’87, it was well sorted and with the addition of the balance shafted 3800 for 1988, it was a delightful car indeed. The Electra T-Type became my company car of choice (white with red leather, please.) I’d be happy to find a nice one today.
Summer 84 was right, Buick wanted these out for their Olympics ad campaign.
Serpentine belt thing happened to our 85 SDV, taking a pulley with it.
I bet you have a lot of interesting tales to tell….:)
For 1988 model year, Roger Smith ordered Buick and Olds to switch images, or marketing. So, Buicks became sedate, and dropped T types. Olds removed hood ornaments, and got the “Not your Father’s…” ads.
See how well that worked out?
Pop Brougham Quiz:
Lets see who knows these cars well, were would the “famous” light monitor option go on these Park Avenues, and does the featured car have them?
Well let’s see…If I recall correctly, I think there was a little pod that was mounted on the top of the dash that had the lamp monitors. Due to the design of the hood, they couldn’t be placed on the tops of the fenders like they traditionally would be. I don’t see a pod on the dash of this car, so I am going to say it is not equipped with them.
The were on the defroster grilles for the front monitors and the rear ones were over the back window were they normally would be.
The Olds and Cadillac had them on the traditional hood mounted location.
I have always had a thing for lamp monitors for some reason.
These also had the cornering lamps in the white turnsignal where the LeSabre had them down on the lower rocker from what I recall.
My 1988 Electra T-Type had the fiber-optic light monitor. The only time I ever lost a bulb while driving, my roommate was driving and he didn’t even notice it! I was following him home from a repair shop (theft damage repair) and noticed the headlamp out.
It’s still a great feature and I wish that all the new luxury cars had it.
How about by the rear window so you can see them through the rear view mirror a la Cadillacs rear brake light monitors??
You can see in both the catalog photos and the interior photos of the for-sale Park Avenue how the seats were bolstered and cushioned for four passengers. The space in between is very uninviting; it looks like it is going to be cramped and lumpy. It barely looks like it was meant to be a seating position. Although GM was able to game the interior volume formula to be able to claim these were as roomy as their RWD predecessors, their interior designers seem to have given up on genuine three-across seating.
These cars had a little over 59″ of shoulder room, more than a lot of cars that can seat 5 or 6 with no problem. I was never impressed with the way the RWD B and C bodies accommodated 3 across; even in a Cadillac Limousine 3 across was a crowd, withe the center passenger perching on the differential hump and the other 2 sliding into him due to the contours of the wheel housings. The FWD C bodies had the advantage of almost no center tunnel, but the seats do seem contoured for 2. The FWD B bodies had more bench-like seats that might have been kinder to the center passengers. The contouring of the C body rear seats was also probably intended to place the outer 2 passengers a bit further back for more legroom.
I had a better shot of that 6 door LeSabre all along…. Never had any idea anyone made this kind of thing on this platform.
There were some 6 door and hearse combos done for the FWD H and C bodies, there were 6 door/hearse RWD Buick and Olds versions of the previous generation big car, I guess the hearse/limo makers though there would still be a demand for a “less than a Cadillac” hearse/limo combo, but there were very few takers. I think Superior offered a 6 door/hearse version of the 1992-1996 Roadmaster, I think that was the last Buick chassised hearse ever offered.
That 6 door treatment looks like something from Armbruster Stageway. They did a lot of 6 door stretches going back to the 1960s and before.
A stretch LeSabre! lol
You know, if I could redesign any popular car from 2010 forward, it would have a low ‘belt-line'(door sill where the window lowers into) similar to what is in Matchjames’ contribution.
I’m (currently) 5’7″, down one inch from my high school height, and in my 2010 Honda Accord I feel like a 6 year old sitting in an old fashion soaker bathtub in homes from 100 years ago! I have to raise the drivers seat almost all the way up just to get a feel where my car is in a highway lane, or relative to other objects when parking. And no cameras – to the rear, front, sides, etc – can make up for lack of such a basic element as good outward visibility in all directions.
Case in point – my 1981 Buick Century limited, with the electric drivers seat up halfway between its highest and lowest position, had better outward visibility in any direction than just about any car manufactured since the late 2000s. It seems that appearances have over-ridden driver ergonomics, including visibility from the helm.
Was surprised to read that these were favorable cars for the most part, I often assumed they were something of a flop, but were actually very good cars. I could never see trading in a previous full-sized model for this if it were the 80s, but they were obviously the right car for the times. I always really liked the cutaway view of the cars in many of GM’s 1980’s brochures, they really showed how efficiently they used their space.
These were very space efficient and not bad looking but the greenhouse was overly delicate and that bothered me. I think overtime they reminded me too much of the 86 K-bodies which I hated. The suspension made annoying popping sounds even when new.
I much prefer the 91-96 generation. It had a nice combination of strength and beauty and almost looked European. It kept the wonderful grip style door handles but they were updated to a more contemporary look.
The 97 was a pretty car but it looked bloated and much bigger than the 96, even though it wasn’t. And I didn’t like the flush door handles.
I have the 84 Electra park ave it is a beautiful car no body damage and 96, 000 miles on it. I am having an issue locating a door electrical harness for it can anyone offer advice on locating one? Pleaseeee, I have looked everywhere but can’t find anything.
I would’ve been 13 in 1986, right when the whole car bug was really hitting me stronger than ever! Growing up where I did, in a suburb that ranged from lower middle class to well into upper middle class territory, I saw it when kid after kid’s parents were buying these cars, they were very popular where I lived. (popular among the upper middle class parents of course!)
One thing that doesn’t often get mentioned but is darn true is the incredible mileage, especially highway mileage these cars (and other big cars equipped with versions of GM’s 3.8L V6) I had a friend who owned one that he bought used in the 90’s that served him so well for probably 5 years until unfortunately being totaled in an accident. Besides being pretty much bulletproof, the car got well over 20, even over 25 MPG on the highway-no lying! We took a few long road trips with that car and besides being smooth as a rock at speed, it returned downright incredible mileage! That’s part of the reason why I think the pushrod motor still isn’t necessarily dead, as many would like you to think for years!
These cars have never really done anything for me. I am not saying they are bad cars but all these Buicks look like big pontiacs. This to me always made the car feel less like a premium good, looking at this car now it doesn’t have a stately feel or high end feel, and its hard to imagine it ever feeling top of the line. All I see when I look at buicks of this model year is my wifes 80 something grand am she drove when we were dating, and it was a peice of junk. The only thing that sets these cars apart from the grand am was their hood, and their width. I never noticed how wide these cars are until you see them stopped and you walk around one, these cars have some interesting proporsions.
I think the test of a good classic is when you see the car 20~30 years later and you can still feel the vibe its supposed to. The classic sports car should still feel sporty, and want to take corners, the muscle car should still seem strong, the classic luxury car should make you feel exclusive, and it should feel like a premium good even after 20 years, and this doesn’t do that for me. Does anyone else get what I am saying.
1) Did the Coupe on the Olds ONLY come with the padded roof? I have never seen a non-padded Olds, although I have seen both padded and non-padded Buicks.
2) How did you get 5,852 Electra coupes? I have read in many auto books there was NO breakdown between any coupe/sedan models.
85-87 is it for coupes? That’s not long…
I have seen 2–one on 6/19/94 in Mentor (black 87 Electra w/padded roof) and once in ’12 near Warrensville Heights (grey 87 w/o padded roof). I have seen a few Olds 98 coupes but all have padded roofs.
As I recall, the figure on the coupes came from my Encyclopedia of American Cars From 1930. And I believe the Ninety-Eight coupes always had the landau top. They were always shown in the brochure and I have never seen one without.
I actually remember someone posted an interior shot of a 98 Coupe here once. Rounded windows.
I like the T-Type coupe, but put in an L67 Series II and let’s go hunting E30s! 🙂
I have a 1985 Buick Park Avenue with a 4.3 diesel. It has 251k miles on it and does not leak or burn oil. I really enjoy this car and would drive it anywhere. It is one of the most reliable cars I have ever owned. FYI…I am not crazy.
My Father bought my Mother an 85 Buick Electra. The car had only had one owner before, and he was a lawyer. My Mother passed away shortly after Dad bought the car. Afterwards, he would only take the car out of the garage on Sundays, drive around town and thats about it. It has always been kept in a garage, and was in one 2 years after Dad passed, and has now been in mine for the past 3years. I am now selling it because it needs to be drivin…My Father loved this car, and took excellent care of it. It has 113,000 miles on it.
do you steal have the car
Just to add a few things to this old thread.
I was the Fleet Manager at Fanning Cadillac-Buick in Chicago back then, and ordered hundreds of these FWD Buick’s.
The `85 FWD Buick’s & Cadillac’s were introduced in April of `84 to garner wider acceptance of their drastic size reduction.
We mailed out a promotional flyer that opened up to 24 inches, the amount the cars had been downsized.
We began receiving “new” `85’s, while we were still receiving `84’s.
There was initially an Electra 300, equipped with a 3.0, as well as the Electra 380, Park Ave. & T-Type, all with the 3.8.
There was an Electra 300 on the Chicago Auto Show floor in February `85, even though it had already been discontinued. I pointed it out to our Buick Zone Rep, who had no idea how it snuck through.
The Electra 380 named was changed to Limited I think in `87 or `88.
Our dealership did well with the Electra & Park Avenue coupes, though I ordered more base Electra 380 coupes than Parks, because it provided us with a cheap alternative for customers who wanted a Cadillac or Park Avenue, but didn’t have the budget.
I would dress the Electra 380’s up with aftermarket tops and wheels, which we could slash all the profit out of, and still make full sticker on the car itself.
The `85 Electra T-Type coupes were quite expensive, but I did manage to get two of them.
One was an ordered/sold car that fell through. The other was a changed order I was able to do, because I wanted it as a demo. It was too nice though, and we put it on the floor instead. The T-Type coupe was an `85 only model.
T-Type Electra’s were all 4 doors `86-`90.
I did order Electra 380/Limited & Park Ave. coupes up through their demise.
And still saw a few floating around Chicago up until a few years ago.
I truly regret not taking pics at the time of the aftermarket modifications we did to our inventory back then.
But they proved to be quite profitable.
A few things:
1) Did they say Electra 380 at the time?
2) Did the coupes look awesome with the blackout trim?
3) I’m 35 but have only seen 3 coupes in my lifetime. I wish I had one now. One without a landau and two with. I like it without, honestly. Reminds me a little of an ’87-92 notch ‘Stang, but classier.
I also wonder how many Electra 300 coupes were made, and also if any Diesel Electra 430 coupes were made.
Put in an L36 or L67 and let’s rock!
I can imagine surprising a C4 owner (stock) at a light with a T-Type Electra, but with a Series II L67 under the hood. 🙂
I had a 1985 Park Avenue (Blue), and contrary to most belief I loved that car. It had power, get up and go and the square features were great to me. I loved the hood being raised in the opposite direction than conventional cars at the time and loved the comfort (cloth ribbed seats), of the ride. For me it was easy to work on and maintain and a pleasure to ride in on long (Houston to Dallas, Houston to San Antonio), trips. If I could find another one now that was in good/great shape I would buy it in a heart beat for a daily driver.
GM should have retained the current C-bodies at the time and introduced these cars as B-bodies instead. A newer C-body could have been introduced a few years later.
My dad bought an ’87 T Type when he was 59, replacing a 77 standard Electra, which had replaced a 68 one. The smaller size didn’t bother him, but it was his first non-V8 since his first new car (Pontiac) in 1950. I talked him into the T Type because the regular suspension would have made his passengers ill, the way he drove back then. It didn’t look under-tired like the others. After a few years in the sun, the paint came off the roof, as did the headliner.
I believe these were the last GM sedans to feature the rear-seat ashtrays.
No, my 04 Deville and 08 DTS had/has them, with lighters.
By 1985, GM had long marketed “drivers cars” as an appearance package. Blacked out chrome. Sometimes lurid decals. Then came the ’98 Intrigue. It had the clean, unadorned look baked in. Ditto the Euro- tuned handling characteristics. The Electra T Type should have been the base styling, albeit with a bit more chrome molding. That would leave the
Park Avenue as an “appearance package”: wire wheels, padded roof, white walls, bench seat, pin stripping., etc.
I had an ’85 Park Avenue for a couple of years as a commuter (we traded it in on our ’03 Miata).
I LOVED that car! Almost identical to the one for sale other than mine was white, with blue velour interior. The 3.8 had plenty of power, got incredible mileage – 30+ mpg, and had just an incredibly smooth ride. Electronic climate control! How cool was that. The reverse opening hood was really neat. The only issue I ever had was the cam sensor. Otherwise, all that car ever needed was the occasional oil change.
My Dad was a big (as in large-sized as well as preference) Buick buyer, and in ’85 he traded his gorgeous light metallic green ’77 Electra 225 LTD for, not a new Electra, which had shrunk to an unacceptable-to-him smallish fwd car, but a beige ’85 LeSabre Collector Series (does anyone actually collect these?). To him it was what a traditional Buick should be. Unfortunately it proved to be much more flimsy and cheap feeling than his ’77, due to GM’s further weight reduction program of 1980. It was so flimsy that when he closed the trunk on a protruding suitcase the trunk lid actually bent, and he was not pleased. I’m not sure if the new fwd ’85 Electra would have been any better, but the ’85 LeS was replaced by a rwd ’91 Caprice, then finally a loaded ’96 Roadmonster with the great LT 350, a proper, if not Buick, engine in a proper rwd car, his very last. Personally, if confronted with the choice in ’85, I’d have picked the new Electra, they were an excellent modern interpretation of the big comfortable long-distance US road cruiser.
BTW we bought a similar C-body ’90 Olds 98, a one owner babied car with only 62 K miles, for our daughter. I loved the ride, comfort, pep and economy of that car, but the fwd THM trans failed at 85k miles and I understand that was not at all unusual, so did GM ever fix this problem, and if so, when?
My dad’s 87 had no trans problems in 13 years, but my 88 Bonneville’s got stuck in second at ~150k and had to be rebuilt about a year before I wrecked it.
This seems like a triumph of packaging over styling considerations, like an Austin 1800. Not that it looks anything like an 1800, but it seems to have the same problem with style-defying proportions, although it does seem to avoid looking GM-generic. Undoubtedly super-practical, and roomy, but compared to the previous model what a shock! Maybe this was just too much downsizing to do in one bite?
And I agree that the two-door model just looks ‘unfortunate’; that’s being tactful. 🙂
What GM body letter code were the downsized for 1985 full-sized(98, Electra, DeVille, etc)? And where can a comprehensive writeup be found of the development of this next generation of downsized cars, which I understand, started in the late 1970s?