By on November 1, 2011

One of the weirder byproducts of Buick’s Malaise Era genetic mixing with distant GM cousin Opel was the Luxus trim level. You could get Luxus badging on a Manta, a Kadett, an Ascona… or a Buick Century wagon. If only Buick had thought to append “Brougham d’Elegance” to this thing’s name… well, another lost opportunity for The General.
I found this well-used example in a Los Angeles junkyard, and in this case— for once— I feel certain that no vintage-wagon aficionados are going to rend their garments and bewail the impending destruction of another piece of our national heritage. This wagon is a straight-up hooptie, right down to the space-saver spare tire (which you know saw speeds in excess of 90 MPH while bolted finger-tight to this 4,227-pound monster).
Luxus. Yes.
I can’t help thinking of Bill Owens’ incredible book Suburbia when I see wagons like this one. You know, a time when life was simple.
Even better than a Century Luxus would have been a Buick Opel Luxus with Isuzu power and a landau roof.

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23 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1973 Buick Century Luxus Wagon...”


  • avatar
    racebeer

    Funny that this ole’ gal is flanked by a late model Firebird on one side, and a Grand Am to the rear. Does this yard have a method to their madness???

  • avatar
    roverv8i

    I sure hope they did not drive it at 90 on the doughnut. It has only two lug nuts on the same side and is not the right bolt pattern as evidenced by the hub not being centered and the other lug bold holes showing. Probably just there to move the thing around at some point.

  • avatar

    Looks well used up. Surprised it didn’t end its life in a demolition derby.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      Looks like someone at least tried to take the 18″ off the sides to narrow it to the firewall. Shame, as I could probably use some parts off of it for my Chevelle.

  • avatar
    pdieten

    You could get a LeSabre Luxus too. My parents had one, a ’74. Think they used that name on the higher trim level LeSabre after the Centurion was dropped.

    Their Luxus wasn’t a very good car. Threw a rod when it was 8 years old.

  • avatar
    cfclark

    About a dozen of my mom’s friends (all young mothers of course) had some variation of the Colonnade wagon in the mid-’70s–which one depended on (generally) the husband’s income level. One had the Century, a few had the Olds Vista Cruiser (or whatever it was called by that point), several had the Pontiac version. A few with larger families had the clamshell-door full-size wagon that was even larger than this (had to weigh north of 5000 lbs). Suburbia, exemplified. Lamented? Not really. I’m sure my sister-in-law enjoys her Odyssey much more than her mom enjoyed her Colonnade.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Yes, a different era in a multitude of ways but many similarities to the current USA.

    Cruising McHenry Ave in Modesto, CA.

    One year away from high school graduating and debarking for Asian waters.

    Watching the end of an era and the beginning of the “disco years.”

    Forrest Gump kinda’ sorta’ covers a minute aspect of the era.

    1973 population: 211,908,788

    2010 population: 312,536,836

    Both best estimates.

    You younguns better believe that today’s 100 MILLION more folks has a HUGE impact upon society, etc. and, in a multitude of ways, I hereby declare the negatives FAR outweigh the positives, in general, despite the improvements in over-all advances in parts of society, technology and and other areas.

    Just having fewer folks had inherent advantages back then.

    One major one being that the individual, I believe, “counted” for more… thus, earlier years with even fewer folks… the individual “counted” for even more within society despite the exceptions found in every era… crime, etc. It’s all subject to “the human condition.”

    I feel regret that so many of the younguns hereabouts will be unable to experience the lower population of my youth BUT… enjoy what you have now since our leaders fail to “see” what their actions and inactions are creating for the future when the USA is destined to reach a population of a half-billion then a billion if rational logical steps are not taken soon.

    See yah’.

    The Disgruntled Old Coot contemplating within his shanty thinking back several decades ago and hoping the best for so many of us, young and old, confronting today’s harsh economic realities.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    This is a minivan.
    A 1973 minivan.

    But instead of a transverse mounted front wheel drive upright seating box, it is a low slung, vinyl bench seat riding, car.

    You didn’t want one of these things in front of you in close traffic because the tail lamps were mounted in the rear bumper and with the high hoods of the days, you didn’t see them. While the design allowed for a wide hatch, it was not a great design.

    Like most of today’s minivans, these wagons got used up by families unconcerned about vehicular performance, quality or cost. Passengers in these vehicles needed to go somewhere.

    Being a Buick required it to go beyond simple styling and in some way incorporate the popular luxury styling cues of the times. This required wood grain applique, but without traditional fender framing, the wood grain appeared below the rub strips. The wood grain applique also pasted itself over the sliding front fender lines so it looked especially fake.

    There were rather ordinary cars, even in their days.

    These cars were that time’s minivans.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      Yup they were appliances to be used up and tossed out. My Chevy cousin of this car, is a good commuter, and hauls 6 in reasonable comfort. If you ask nothing more than that of it, it’s a perfectly willing partner. Even the 145hp 305 is perfectly adequate moving this 2 ton beast with some authority.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Let’s not forget that the minivan,(Chrysler)basically killed off the traditional family wagon to the point where even after all these years, has not really made a comeback.

  • avatar
    Jetstar 88

    Even if it is a hooptie, it’s still a little sad to see it go.
    On a lighter note, I reckon this would make one hell of a sleeper with an LS1 swap (and a proper wheel)

  • avatar
    beach cruiser

    I recognized that photo from Bill Owens’ book right away, bought my copy in early 1973 right after the first printing. It was a hot topic amongst us young college photography students. The photos really described the concept of suburbia far better than mere words could. As for the Lexus wagon, Meh.

  • avatar
    MusicMachine

    My aunt Susie had one of these 30 years ago. Hit a bridge one slippery TG night. A single mom w/ three boys in tow. She never fixed the car. Just kept on driving it. It very much resembled condition of the one pictured here–except hers had serious rust. No joke: I remember peering between my boots and seeing the road pass by through a hole in the floor.

  • avatar
    MusicMachine

    Reminds me of the cars my uncle would buy for a “winter beater”. Then he’d smash ‘em up in the following fall’s county demolition derby. He had a friend that’d do similarly. One day they saw each other in their cars in a parking lot. One greeted the other w/ a healthy smash followed by few more friendly whacks and some gut busting laughs.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    Wow, haven’t seen one of these in a LONG time.

    This one looks more than just worn out, but trashed beyond fixing, a hooptie indeed.

    Some of the dents look rather suspicious as to how they occurred.

  • avatar
    BoredOOMM

    That hood release over the TOP of the sticker says volumes for the UAW expertise that built this sled. In that all those CA Voter stickers are there, I would guess assembly was in Fremont.

  • avatar
    CougarXR7

    Blech. Uuuuugly. Old domestic malais-era behemoth wagons can be kinda cool nowadays, but not this thing. It’s hideous. Good riddance.

    Murilee- were you at Ecology Auto Wrecking or one of the two Pick-A-Parts in Wilminton by any chance? Or the PAP in Sun Valley?

  • avatar
    delmer

    This Buick may have been a hooptie since the Carter Amin. Any 70′s era Dertrot car within 5 years.

    I had a teacher in the early 80′s that drove a hooptie late seventies Eldo- torn leather, rotted bumper extenders, sagging headliner, leaking exhaust manifold, cracked dash. Yet these hoopties could keep groaning and chugging for years. Cheap parts and easy do it yo’ self.


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