Cohort Sighting/Vintage Ad: 1976 Buick Regal – Call The Fashion Police


Call the Curbside Police as well. When I posted a 1975 Grand LeMans recently, investigating the reasons for its unpopularity, I got a lot of responses saying that the car was simply overstyled and ungainly. To that I say, well, it’s a Colonnade, that’s just how they look. And to that end, I think the Pontiac’s treatment complemented the basic body pretty well. Nevertheless, I suspect this 1976 Regal that Eric Clem spotted will be more popular among curbistas.


That strikes me as questionable, as it wears Sheer Look front and rear clips on a body never meant to convey that design language. Even with two looks on one car, though, watch it be better received than last week’s LeMans. In as much as opinions can be “wrong,” I’m sure my take on the Pontiac is considered “incorrect,” but I would argue that the quad rectangular headlights on the later Colonnades simply don’t belong and that versions of the platform with more squared-off ends don’t work as well as those with a flowier interpretation of the basic shape (except the Cutlass, which still looked good).


What’s more important for our purposes this summer is how excellent this shot is; there’s a 1970 AMC Rebel as well as a Benz W123 captured here. I’ll keep the focus of this sighting limited, so you’ll hear about the Rebel later.


This ad for a ’77 Model, from a November ’76 Sports Illustrated, perfectly captures the spirit of the time.  Like our featured car, the one in the ad features Rallye wheels; just the thing to underscore the sporty image Buick was trying to cultivate in the ad.  Note the contrast between the trim, athletic bodies of the models and the overall avoirdupois of the Regal.  GM was at the head of the pack when it came to intermediate chassis handling, but somehow I still imagine real-life basketball players driving something a bit leaner once they had enough money to choose.  


The downsized models which came immediately after these still seemed a bit less than sporty, although the T-Type and Grand National models would finally make good on the promises of this ad a few years later.  They traded these cool wheels for proper machined aluminum pieces; these Rallyes are more reminiscent of GM’s Big Block performance heritage.  With the disc brakes poking through those holes, this shot is a good example of the cars’ overall 1970s-transition.


The squared off rear end deserves more large, upright glass to go with it; the pre-’76 horizontal treatments worked a lot better but as styling went, Buick intenders could do worse with the more expensive contemporary Riviera.  Especially when the Regal could still be optioned as lavishly as anyone could need; with this car, and the Riv in addition to the Century, the LeSabre and the Electra, Buick had personal luxury fairly well covered.  And all those coupes carried on for a few more generations before being canned, with the 1978-1981 Century being the first to go into terminal decline once the aeroback model came out.  This slanted and rectangular rear treatment was possibly meant to prepare people for that ultimately disappointing styling solution, but luckily the Regal made it through the turn of the decade with its dignity comparatively intact.



Related reading:

Curbside Classic: 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham – Finest Brougham In All Of Hampton, IL!

Curbside Classic: 1977-78 Buick Riviera – A Short Life In Hard Times

Curbside Classic: 1977 Pontiac Grand LeMans – Retrograde Colonnade