By on April 14, 2011


There’s the Buick Electra, the Buick Park Avenue, and the Buick Limited. Only during the depths of the Malaise Era, however, could you buy a Buick with all three names.

The ’76 was the last of the huge Electras, with the four-door hardtop Limited weighing in at a mighty 4,709 pounds. This was before Buick spun off the Park Avenue as a separate model and used the designation for the Electra’s top trim level.

This was also before The General started playing funny mix-and-match games with V8 engines, putting Olds engines in Pontiacs and I don’t know what all. In ’76 you still got a genuine Buick 455 in your Electra, with 345 pound-feet of torque compensating for its 205 horsepower.

Not a lot of Buick class remains in this much-thrashed, Crusher-bound veteran.

Those rain-soaked velour seats still look ready to swallow a half-dozen of so beefy passengers. Not many will miss the luxury cars of the Malaise Era, but let’s hope a few survive for future generations to contemplate.

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50 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1976 Buick Electra Limited Park Avenue...”


  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

  • avatar
    night driver

    My dad bought this car used in ’78 – I remember it well.  The yellow needle sticking up at around 65 MPH in the second picture was a “speed reminder” — the car would beep if you were going faster than the limit you set.

    • 0 avatar

      Ha. I remember that.  My Grandpa had a 78 as well.  We were on a family road trip in 3 cars, and we decided to race from one destination to the next.  I was riding with Gramps, and that stupid buzzer went off the whole time of a 45 minute trip.  My Grandma won in her Pacer.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      My Grandfather had one of those “speed reminder” cars.  My father said his dad figured out very quickly how to disconnect it.  He didn’t want it alerting my Grandmother at ANY speed.

  • avatar

    I’ve always loved the Electra name.  I hope they bring it back eventually.

    • 0 avatar
      BigOldChryslers

      I think the Chevy Volt should have been the new Buick Electra instead.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      I always liked the “Deuce-and-a-Quarter” moniker myself…

      • 0 avatar

        Robert, do people outside of Detroit call the Electra a “deuce & a quarter”?

      • 0 avatar
        Robert.Walter

        Hi Ronnie,

        Do you mean “Detroit” Detroit, or just “Detroit-metro-area” Detroit?

        I grew-up in an area that grew on the basis of white-flight, our next door neighbor was the Secretary-Treasurer of a large Detroit Metro construction firm (built hospitals and the like), and his company cars were Electra 2-2-5’s and later Park Avenues … somehow, I recall my father mentioning that the boys in the ‘hood’, actually, I think he might have use the term ‘inner city’ liked to refer to the car, abb. here, as a D-a-a-Q… no idea really how my dad, came up with that … except that he was a wheel down at AAA, and this was around the time that ‘chop-shops’ were on the way up… and these cars were popular for that… so I can imagine the grey-flannel c-suite guys at the board table asking “what’s a DaaQ?”…

  • avatar
    210delray

    I’ve always loved the font on those GM mechanical odometers, used from at least WWII to about 1990.  And you get tenths of a mile on both the odometer and trip odo.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      A little bizarre is that the speedo only goes up to 100… before 55 mph law, 120 was the obligatory top end, and after 85 was the mandated max.  I don’t get the 100 though (esp. on a 455-4bbl 8-porthole road-master)…

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Did the Big 3 know the new regs were coming?  It might have been a slow drop in the top speed listed to try to get us psychologically ready for what was coming.

    • 0 avatar
      210delray

      After the Arab oil embargo, the 55-mph speed limit, and the perceived need to save fuel, GM on its own volition lowered the top speed indicated on speedometers to 100 mph.

      I wish more automakers would do the same today (or at least make 120 mph the top indicated speed) simply to make the speedos more readable.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        There is something humorous about getting into a car that has a speedo that sweeps up to something like 150 miles and hour when the car couldn’t get there without being dropped off the top of the Empire State building.  Although it’s still better than when the 85mph speedometer in my Chevrolet Celebrity was a optimistic indicator of possible top speed.

  • avatar
    gottacook

    I especially enjoy the photo of the tail end, with the taillights floating in nothingness, the bumpers and their plastic surroundings having long since departed.

  • avatar
    lastwgn

    If you want to see some unbelievable examples of relics of this era take a look at both the current and sold inventory at http://www.mjcclassiccars.com  I have NO connection to that site, but stumbled upon a few months ago.  I have no idea where they find all of that pristine ’70’s era luxury, but it is sure an interesting trip down memory lane.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    It’s just a Buick Limited Park Avenue, no Electra or 225 anywhere to be found on that car, nor on the owners manual. The Electra was the middle model in those years.

    • 0 avatar
      tonyola

      Incorrect. According to the Buick brochures and list, the Electra came in two models for 1976 – 225 and Limited. The Park Avenue was a trim option that wasn’t listed as a separate model until 1978. You can check the 1976 Buick full-line brochure at:
      http://www.oldcarbrochures.com/static/NA/Buick/1976_Buick/dirindex.html

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Despite what the brochure may say the cars themselves are marked as a Limited, and Electra 225 or a Limited Park Avenue. The Limited carries only Limited badges no where is there a Electra badge, It appears 4 times on the car grille, each rear quarter and on the dash as you can verify in that brochure. The only where it says Electra is on the license plate.  Personally I have a Limited Coupe of the 75 vintage, but it looks identical to the one on pages 38-39. The Park Avenue is only noted on the quarter windows and otherwise carries the same Limited badging and again a complete lack of any Electra badges. If you go strictly by the brochure there still wasn’t an Electra 225 Limited Park Avenue, just an Electra Limited Park Avenue.

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    I actually like the brushed aluminum look of the speedometer/gauge cluster…reminds me of the ’70s Marantz receiver I have kicking around at home.

  • avatar
    william442

    GM started mixing V8s around 1970. The horsepower determined what engine you got. I am glad at least two of us know about it. Then there was the magic box to tick that turned your 400ci GTO into a 421. Great days.

  • avatar
    mechimike

    We’re working on a ’75 LTD right now for a LeMons race car…not just any LTD, but and LTD Landau.  I’m pretty sure there was a Brougham version, too.  The 70’s were just an awful time- the absolute height of the “appearance” packages that just made these bloated, overweight, underpowered vehicles even worse cariacatures of themselves.

    Brougham, Landau, Limited, LeBaron, Special Edition…

    • 0 avatar

      You should affix every malaise-era adjective you can find to that fine beast and try to pass it off as though that was the car’s actual title.

      • 0 avatar

        I once saw an Eldorado at the auto show that was equipped with a vinyl roof whose description was so poetic that I’ve remembered it to this day:
        Dark metallic mulberry elk grain vinyl roof.
        I think it’s the juxtaposition of vinyl and elk grain that really says it all.
         
        Repeat after me:
        dark metallic mulberry elk grain vinyl roof

      • 0 avatar

        Jake, awesome idea. Seconded.
        Ronnie, I’m sitting here laughing. “Dark metallic mulberry elk grain vinyl”? Jesus wept.

    • 0 avatar
      SimonAlberta

      You know, it’s easy to mock these things from afar so-to-speak and, granted, they were pretty sad. Yet, when you think about it, just about everything from that era looks pretty sad now too.
       
      I guess I’m just saying that a little perspective on things is perhaps needed, not that it isn’t fun to mock a bit too.

      Maybe its an age thing but I find I quite like those old boats.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    My family had a ’75 LeSabre and it was a sorry-a$% excuse for a car aside from its smooth ride. The rear differential in particular broke twice in two years, it couldn’t get more than 14mpg, and the quality control inside was just awful.
     
    Sorry folks but nostalgia just ain’t what it used to be.

  • avatar
    texan01

    Sadly even my admittledly low-quality ’77 Chevelle is better built than my girlfriends 98 Saturn. Heck, I’d rather spend 8 hours on the road behind the non-adjustable wheel, and acres of cheapish plastic of the Chevelle than 30 minutes in her SL1. I may only have 40 more HP than her 1.9, but by God, I’ve got oodles and oodles of torque to motivate its 3900 pounds!

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Dad had a 75 LeSabre baby blue coupe loaded.. Was a good car, went easily over 120k with no big issues.. Same dash the Riv’s had. I loved the little trash bucket on the pass floor right side. I owned two 79s (one Electra and one Park Ave) both did not make 90k without nearly every major component crapping out at some point, especially that god-awful auto climate control POS.
    Shoulda drove one of these pre77s.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    Despite the big Malaise bumpers, the ’76 Electra might well have been the best-looking GM biggie of the ’71-’76 generation.

  • avatar
    obbop

    There is or was a gulp valve somewhere within that engine compartment.

  • avatar

    I saw an Olds 88 of about the same vintage on the road today.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    I have nothing but fond memories for the malaise dreadnoughts. Say what you will about their power and handling, that’s not what they were all about. They exemplified quiet isolation. My neighborhood was full of these huge GM C platform cruisers.  In the midwest, when the only curves are the cloverleafs, they did the job they were built for.

    My folks bought a 1977 Electra Limited in the fall of ’76, when the Bs and Cs were freshly downsized. So-so build quality, but a few trips to the dealer straightened it out. Once the bugs were out, it was dependable for years.  But it was their last American car. It was replaced by an Accord. As you can imagine, handling and fuel economy were a revelation.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      In the midwest, when the only curves are the cloverleafs, they did the job they were built for.

      And being from the glacier bulldozed flat northern part of Ohio, let me say I had a hell of a lot of fun bombing around the back roads and hammering those cloverleafs in 1980s B-body wagons.  Fun in their own way and taught me much about basic RWD handling. 

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    I was watching a video about Jimmy Carter and when one considers events during that Malaise Era, this vehicle becomes so attractive. You just want to crawl right into that deep shag carpeting, those tufted pillowed seats, under that padded vinyl roof, slam the heavy massive doors shut, seal the electric windows, turn the ignition key, and float away from the reality outside this 5000 pound casket. The moment you hear Jimmy Carter’s soft ethereal southern accent purring out “nucla wahr”, “mah daughtah Ameh”, “moral equivalent of wahr”, you can better understand why Malaise Era vehicles presented themselves as isolation chambers from the insanity surrounding you.

    SUVs promised you safety and escape to isolated places free from daily life. This Buick promises you a warm floating womb from which to escape. In this day and age, I would not be surprised to see these attributes becoming attractive again.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    I guess you either love or hate these cars, but my grandfather had the 1971 version of one of these, and I loved it.  Same blue but with white interior, no vinyl top which made it unusual for those times.

    One thing that stumps me about this car is its center console, seen on photo #6.  I do not recall an Electra/Ninety Eight/Bonneville of that time having a center console of any type, could this be a homemade job?

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      I was wondering about the console too … it made it seems to contradict the 6 passenger statement in the write-up … unless that assumed 4 abreast in the rear seat … if this is a home-made job, the modifier would have had to remove material from one or both of the front seats, depending upon where the split was, and would have had to add a seat track to each seat, or somehow make up for the lost seat structure that had connected the seats … from my perspective, all that work would likely mean that this was some kind of factory special (this was, afterall, near the dawn of almost universal 60/40 seat splitting…)

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    When I was in highschool, a friend of mine liked Buick Electra 225s. His first was a cosmetically vulgar 1976. He removed various emissions controls, rebuilt the carburetor, and ordered an RV cam shaft. We yanked the radiator and installed the cam and lifters. The result was FAST for any car on the road in the mid to late ’80s. I recall driving my own car at its top speed of about 95 mph and seeing the Buick closing in my rear view mirror as if I was standing still. The Buick’s suspension was at full droop, and the car looked like it was about to take off as it blasted past with all windows open in fine 4-door hardtop form. Unfortunately, we didn’t upgrade the valve springs. This led to something bad happening, the engine ingesting a valve which I think led to a rod incident. Buick number 2 was a very clean green 1972 4 door hardtop 225 with another 455. It was reasonably quick too, but I think he left it stock.

  • avatar
    DIYer

    My neighbor used to have a 1975 powder blue Electra, with the driver’s side airbag option, up until the mid 1990’s.  They had caulked around the windows with blue silicone, just like in your first photo.  In the early 90’s, I owned a 1984 Buick Electra Park Avenue, with an Olds Y-engine, and a 1985 Pontiac Parisienne, with a Chevrolet C-engine.  The Parisienne was a Canadian version of the Chevy Caprice, and the one I had was a little old lady special with a 2.73 rear end, and a vacuum-operated fuel economy indicator.

  • avatar
    Towncar

    I love a big old Buick!  That one must have been awesome in its day.
     
    The velour-covered console was factory and quite a deluxe feature in its day.  If you’ve ever seen a ’74 Fleetwood Talisman, you’ll recall the unit.  The Talisman had one up front and one in the rear, making it undoubtedly history’s largest four-seater.  Caddy didn’t continue it for ’75, so the front console went over to the Electra Limited line.
     
    I remember gawking at one on the dealer’s lot that had cranberry velour–it did look good enough to eat.
     

  • avatar

    Murilee, I am restoring one just like this.  I see some parts I could use in the pics you posted.  I would be grateful if you would provide contact info for the salvage yard.

  • avatar
    Flybrian

    Rejoice, Malaise Lovers, for I am helping to keep hope alive with my ’76 LeSabre Custom – hardtop, padded roof, and 455cid = massive winning.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:1976_Buick_LeSabre_Custom.JPG

    That’s my $400 beauty enjoying its autumn years in the Florida climate, just like its original owner probably did, letting its very Seventies Musket Brown enjoy the sun.

    And given that my job involves selling fine pre-owned automobiles, I’ve driven lots of recent and vintage iron, but nothing has the pure ride quality of a large fullsized GM sedan from the 70s.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan Walker

      I just lucked on to this forum when I was Googling ‘1976 buick electra”I have one of these cars. It is a 76 buick electra limited [and it does not say electra on the car at all] ,just’Limited’. Years ago I owned one of these cars and it was the best car I ever owned. Rides like a dream,handles very well and has all the power I need .Gas milage is becoming a problem these days but if you want to own a classic you will pay for the gas..the first one I owned ended up getting so rusted[Alberta winters] I sold it
      My new 76 buick has only 32000 original miles on it and is in VERY good condition. This time I built a garage for it. I am looking for a power seat motor for the passenger side.. It’s funny how some cars came with some options and others did not.Mine also does not have the drivers side thermometer on the mirror,nor does it have the fiber optic fender monitors.there were a lot of options avaliable with these cars

      [IMG]http://i318.photobucket.com/albums/mm405/danwalker45/highrivercarshoow010Medium.jpg[/IMG]

      [IMG]http://i318.photobucket.com/albums/mm405/danwalker45/garage010Medium.jpg[/IMG]
      [IMG]http://i318.photobucket.com/albums/mm405/danwalker45/BlackDiamondcarshow012Medium.jpg[/IMG]

  • avatar
    dsmith3456

    Please let me know what junkyard has this vehicle if possible


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