Carshow Capsule: 1960 Buick Invicta Hardtop – Never Heard Of It, But I Want One

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One of the wonders of a car show, and indeed CC, is finding the familiar car in the unfamiliar setting – a 1948 Morris Minor up against a 1975 Maserati; or as I saw yesterday, a 1990 Cadillac Brougham against a 1955 Morris Oxford and a cricket match. What can be even better is finding the unfamiliar car in the familiar setting – in this case a 1960 Buick Invicta against a Morris Minor Traveller at a predominantly steam traction oriented rally.

Let’s get the confession out of the way – despite too many years (with the Internet Explorer history files and bookcases to prove it) of intensive scholarship and academic rigour, I had not heard of the Invicta. Le Sabre, Electra, Riviera, Skylark were all familiar names, but not Invicta, so some study was required.

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From what I can discern, the Invicta was a combination of the body of the Le Sabre with the 325 hp 401 cu (6.6 litre) V8 (of course) engine from the larger Electra. So, this is a car with a length of 217 in. – rather than 225 in. like the top of the range Electra 225 – a wheelbase of over 10 ft and weight of 2 tons. All good reason to upgrade from a mere 6 litre V8, and perhaps why the car was known as the Banker’s Hot Rod. Hot Rods are for straight roads, not bends, as well, which may well be appropriate.

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This particular car is a 1960 Invicta hardtop, quite possibly the best looking of a striking range of options, privately imported to the UK recently from Lake Tahoe. It has been fitted with some air suspension mods and non-standard wheels, and is in pretty much concours condition, if modified visually by the non-stock wheels and ride height.

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This car does something else as well, in Curbsidelandia.  Paul Niedermayer recently showed us the Mercedes-Benz 300d Hardtop – a car with a very different heritage to the Buick but from the same year, and what I described in the comments as “the best looking car on CC this year”. Whether the Buick is better looking than the Mercedes is a personal preference; I’m hard pressed to make a choice but I could be swayed by the subtle references to the confidence and excitement of the jet age in the Buick.

For example, look at how the headlights pick up clues for the B52 engine pods, the rear lights and their surroundings look like afterburners (like this car needs afterburners), the drama of the interior with the mirro-magic instruments, aircraft style switches and the sort of style that only an 18 ft long car can manage.

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If you want to find out more about these cars (and I know you do) try this wonderful site, created by someone who clearly knows his stuff.