By on June 9, 2012

Last week, we admired this fine slab of Oldsmobile Broughamitude, and the very same Denver wrecking yard also boasts the 88′s Buick B-Body sibling. It’s no Brougham, but it is a Limited!
The LeSabre got smaller in 1977, but it was still quite a substantial machine.
I didn’t shoot many engine photos, and LeSabres came with a mix-and-match assortment of Buick, Olds, and Pontiac engines during the Malaise Era, but the front-mounted distributor seems to indicate that this car has Buick 350 power. 150 horses of Buick 350 power.
The ’79 LeSabre may have been a bit underpowered (especially if it came with the base V6 engine), but observe the luxury!
Silver-faced gauges. Actually, these look pretty good.
I might have to come back with a source of 12 volts and test this clock, because it would be a nice addition to my collection. There’s about a 3% chance that it will work, but I’m willing to take a shot.

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53 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1979 Buick LeSabre Limited...”


  • avatar
    georgie

    Look where Buick put the clock………..Talk about distracted driving!!!

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Amazed at the condition of the interior. Only minor cracking in the dash. High School friend’s mom had one of these. I remember his pushing a classmate’s Fiat forward while the Fiat was in reverse…smoke billowed out of the Fiat’s wheel well….That Buick had typical GM build quality of the era, but they put a lot of miles on it. Next car was an Audi 5000…

  • avatar
    erock1

    Mom had a ’78 two door in brown with a landau top. I used to ride up front on top of the armrest so I had a better view. I remember that clock glowing at night.

  • avatar
    mies

    My old man had one of these in silver. He got rid of it when I was 4 or 5 because the bank said he had too much debt to be approved for a mortgage. He sold it, and the same day they were approved for the mortgage, he went and got an ’84 Electra Station Wagon. The one with the fake wood panelling. He had alot of headaches with that car.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    We had one as well, in green.

    The car was a total pile, and after awhile unsafe. Never have known a car other than that one to blow all the brake lines.

  • avatar
    Ex Radio Operator

    Had a 1978 Park Avenue. IIRC it had the 350. Brown, of course. Nice car. Except for the pillow top seats. There was no sliding in and out in that one. Last car I bought with a velour interior. My wife loved it. The only problem I had with it was the rear end started leaking at the seal on the yoke. There was a grinding gash on the shaft directly in line with the seal. Thanks, uaw.

  • avatar
    markholli

    That’s an exceptionally handsome gauge cluster, even by 2012 standards: the silver-faced gauges surrounded by thick chrome bezels surrounded by the matte faux wood trim. Sign me up.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I was always a fan of the 2dr T-Type turbo. I used to see a few of them in white. Powerful enough, almost V8 like but quite advanced for the era.

  • avatar
    Loser

    I had a gold 1977 4 door with the Buick 350, the Pontiac 301 seemed to be a pretty common engine in these. I got it used while stationed in North Dakota back in 1987. Was a very reliable car for the few years I had it and was great in the snow. I liked the car a lot but wished it was a 2 door with the Olds 403. Only problem was when we forgot to plug in the block heater during sub zero nights it would not start in the morning. This was not an issue with our Toyota pick up or Escort.

  • avatar
    pdieten

    Dammit. The family car through my teens, and the car I got my driver’s license in, was a ’77 very similar to this other than the color (had the 301 instead though.) Now I’m feeling all nostalgic. That instrument panel is as familiar to me as the back of my hand. That was a very good car, Dad’s only complaint was the aluminum brakes that kept heating up and going out of round.

    When I was 16 a relative got a ’79 exactly like this one as a dealer loaner when their own car was in the shop. I campaigned hard for my parents to let me buy it as my first car from the dealer when they were done with it, but they thought I should have a more fuel-efficient FWD car instead. Shortly afterward I got an ’82 Century, which admittedly was a nice car but not quite as durable as that LeSabre would have been.

  • avatar

    I learned to drive in one of these land yachts.

  • avatar
    Joss

    I lent co-worker cash for a brake job on one of these. They got fired and I never got the money back. Sucker.

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    That dash is surprisingly attractive, even the fake wood works well, since its not overly glossed.

    GM did a lot of things right in designing these cars, and I always thought the Buicks were the best looking of the bunch, I like the way they push the grille forward and angled back the trim around the headlights.

    Its a shame the build quality was so spotty back then, because these B-bodies can last almost indefinitely with careful maintenance.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      The last enormo sleds ended in ’76, and these downsizers came in for ’77.

      GM knew the buyers would never judge the new ones by the longevity of the old ones, so they cynically used the worst quality sheetmetal imaginable for the outgoing models. They rusted to powder at a rate unseen since in anything this side of a Dodge or Chevy pickup.

      The newer ones, however, were just the opposite. I think GM was really fearful these cars were going to be rejected by the public as too small, so they put real effort into them, just as you said. One of those areas evidently was the quality of the sheet steel. I live in the Midwest, and there’s a ’77 Impala (sister to this car) that often parks where I do. The paint is much the worse for wear, but astonishingly, the car does not have one single hole in it. For that era, that’s saying a lot.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        General Motors rolled out new, more extensive corrosion systems beginning with the ’77 B/C cars, ’78 G cars, ’79 E/K’s, and the ’80 X cars. Not sure exactly when the 10 year rust perforation warrantywas release.

        A 1977 Olds 98 coupe weighed exactly the same, to the pound, as that year’s Cutlass Salon Coupe. This Buick is lighter.

        GM did not expect the polularity of these cars, which were constrained by production capacity.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    Buick motor for sure, with dist in front. Olds’ had oil fillers in front.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    That is one goofily ordered car, though. Why would a dealer order a Limited with crank windows and base hubcaps? Heck, at the dealership my dad worked at they ordered ALL LeSabres with power windows, even if they were Customs!

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      My school disrict (in 1991) purchased LeSabres with crank windows and no options. Most of them ended up in the hands of the Special Education Department.

    • 0 avatar
      mccall52

      I don’t have any substantial evidence to back this up, but I’m under the suspicion that this is a base model with Limited badges tacked on after the fact. Misalignment of the Limited badges notwithstanding, the noticeable lack of options tells me something’s not right.

      • 0 avatar
        MadHungarian

        no, it’s got all the Limited trim inside, such as it is. Back then, power windows were not considered a must have item unless you were buying a luxury car (i.e. an Electra).

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Probably not an ordered car but one that GM sent to a dealership as a ‘loss-leader’ for stock. In typical GM style, power windows were an option to ostensively keep the advertised price low but, in reality, added to nearly every car built.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Had an 81 Regal as a first car (in 1994) Only 65k on the clock. It was light green on top and dark green on the sides in a factory two-tone. The top was REALLY light because it had oxidized so badly. Eventually had Earl Scheib respray a dark green. Light green interior in that classic couch cushion velour.

    Slow as slow could be with a smog choked 3.8 V6, but it was all mine. I loved those silver faced gauges. Well, only two gauges, a speedo and fuel gauge. Don’t think a clock counts as a gauge.

    I wish I had that car sometimes. Now I could do the V8 swap my 16 year old heart desired.

  • avatar
    CliffG

    Ah yes, a ’79 Buick. After almost 35 years of owning a vast assortment of Buicks (and Chevies), that one killed off that desire. Over the last almost 30 years of his life if you even mentioned the possibility of him buying another GM you were likely to get slapped. Goodness gracious that was a horribly built automobile. If I recall correctly he paid $9k for that Buick and was happy to get $1500 for it 10 years later. For an immaculately maintained low mileage car.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    The gauge cluster of the Skylark circa 1980 was similar to this one and that is why I chose it over the Citation which had been my original choice, not that it would have made any diff, both cars sucked equally

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    That looks pretty close in year and color to the car Dick Hallorann rented at Denver Stapleton Airport one winter to check back on that family up at the Overlook Hotel. Same car?

  • avatar
    scottcom36

    Those were among the first car clocks NOT to die after two or three years. I think the odds are pretty good that it still works.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      My mom had an ’83 Regal Custom Sedan which my dad purchased after using it as a company car–Delco AM/FM stereo, A/C, Gran Touring suspension and one of those quartz clocks as the only options. The 3.8L V6 was a little slow, but it kept me out of trouble learning to drive. (GM had even figured out the computer-controlled carburator by then; the car was a little bit of a handful at fast idle, but then settled down like a Buick should!) And that clock was still running the day the car was traded seven years later, so yes, this one may work.

      Too bad somebody can’t swoop in and save this car, or at least part it out completely, just like that Olds Delta from a Murilee’s other post. Too good to be shredded into (a) Chinese junk!

  • avatar
    volksman

    My grandmother had a 2 door version of one of these. White with a red landau roof. We called it the 1,000 pound door car because it’s two doors were so huge and heavy. I remember having to stand on the ground, pull the door almost closed, before getting in the car to pull it shut. The door was too heavy for my 5 year old self to pull closed from sitting inside the car, haha.
    It did last her a while, she had it until around 1996 or so and IIRC it still ran at that time but was pretty tired.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Interesting factoid: In ’77, the GM “full size” cars were actually smaller than the “mid-size” cars, because the A-body didn’t downsize until ’78.

  • avatar
    BoredOOMM

    I had a two-tone unknown year (79?) Buick that had a white interior with a tan vinyl roof. It never did well in the carb adjustment area. My wife had it to drive when I was working out of town. She stalled it at every intersection with a stop sign. My driving had enough experience to drop it in neutral and rev the motor. I had to get another…. car. As I recall, the Buick floated like the land yacht it was, and drank fuel greedily.

  • avatar
    mr_mike

    This one is either a 78, or has 77/78 tail lights on it, as the 79 had amber on the corners, and stacked brake lights between those and the back up lights.

    This is a nostalgic choice, as my parents had a 79 two door base model from 79 until 85, and I remember it well. 231 V6, baby blue, am/fm, ac, full wheel covers and full size spare… with 4 kids, our last big car before going the full size van route. Like all the cars of my predriving days, would love to have it back, if just to see what it was like to drive the car I couldn’t see over the dash in when we got it!!!!

  • avatar
    mccall52

    Never cared for the way the trunk lid takes a sharp slope downward towards the end, just looks goofy. If I had to guess, I would say it’s the same lid used on the Electra/Park Avenue of the era. It really worked for the 1978 and later, not so much the 1977. Made for such a (IMO) sharp looking rear, with it’s mini-fins and MUCH nicer tail lamps. The trunk lid I despise so much on the lesser car seems to make it all work.

  • avatar
    musicalmcs8706

    A dealership in the small town where my dad grew up has an 82 LeSabre two door in its showroom. It has less than 90,000 miles and is completely original. The owner bought it new and kept it indoors and it never went out in any sort of bad weather. It only got traded in when he needed to make space for something else. So the dealer bought it back and it’s now a showroom piece!

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Our ’84 Buick LeSabre Limited 2-door with the Oldsmobile 307 V-8 was easily the best car we ever owned. Safe, comfortable and reliable, it was passed down through the family over 13-years and 300,000 miles. Finally rusted out at the windshield header. Not worth repairing.

    Repairs included a half-dozen sets of tires and brakes, about five water pumps, a couple of radiators, and recharging the air conditioner several times.

    Highway gas mileage was unbelievable, 28 miles per imperial gallon. It was hard on gas in the city.

    If GM still made the B-bodies I don’t think they would have gotten into deep doo-doo.

  • avatar
    sportsuburbangt

    My parents bought a 78 Buick wagon in 80 or 81. It was a sharp wagon, blue on blue with the Buick rims. They had it for 1.5 years and it gave them nothing but trouble. The engine went, cracked block, it never overheated and the coolant was good. Apparently this was a common problem with the Buick 350 in the late 70′s. The mechanic saw several Buick’s with the same problem. My folks replaced the engine and sold the Buick. Replaced it with a 75 Buick wagon with a 455, that is another set of issues for the 75 full size Buick junkyard find. It was not as bad as the blue 78 however.

    • 0 avatar
      Moparman426W

      The buick 231, 350 and 455 had an atrocious oiling system. Besides having poorly designed passages that led to oil starvation under certain conditions they also had a crummy oil pump design. The gears rode against the aluminum timing cover, which would wear excessively and cause low oil pressure. The pumps were known to fail without warning, the result being a grenaded engine.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @Moparman426W- I remember, around ’77-’78, when Olds started using the 231, we had customer complaints of oil pressure warning light coming on a hot idle on some cars. The “fix” was to install a new switch the opened at 1 psi, if memory serves!
        We were always competitive with Buick and our 260 V8 actually got better mileage than the V6 in development. Buick had to calibrate the carb so lean that we then had drivability complaints! couldn’t believe how many carburetors dealers replaced to try to fix them.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    I had two of the Electra 225′s which are more or less the same. The gauges could glare badly if the angle was right.. While they look nice, they could be a problem in certain lighting. Anemic/fragile drivetrain and the dreaded auto climate control make for one forgettable ride.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Not very common to see a 79 LeSabre with the Buick 350 4BBL V8 which made 155 Hp and 280 torque. Most I have seen came with the Pontiac 301 2 BBL vin “Y” motor, at least in coupe/sedan guise. Really none of the available engines in this car, 115 Hp 3.8, 175 Hp turbo 3.8, 140 Hp 4.9 or 155 HP 5.7 were really very durable engines with the crappy external oil pump design on the Buick engines or the lightweight fragile bottom end Pontiac 301. The best bet on the 70′s B-bodies were always the Olds models with the 260-350 or 403 engines connected to the THM 350 or 400 transmission. I have seen a few well cared for 150K mile 301 powered LeSabres but usually were elderly owned and never saw more than 3000 RPM’s. The 3.8 was a real slug in these cars.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    My parents had a ’78 Electra Limited 2-door very much like this.

    I agree with the other commenters, I think the faux wood is better than average and the gauges are quite readable. I always liked the effect lighting at night. That was a nice car until the power window switches went south on the driver’s door at 105,000.

  • avatar
    biggreencar

    …i still drive one of these, it’s sort of a light green color, and the clock still works. it has almost 300,000 miles on the mostly original motor/trans./diff. the motor is the 350 buick engine, maybe they did have bad oiling, carb. troubles etc. but mine is running fine. i put an auburn true track 3.23 posi. diff in it and it gets up to 80 mph pretty fast. the fuel economy is about the same as most SUV’s, and it will haul around whatever i want. i bought it from the first owner who drove it for 24 years, then i took over. it has the 15X7 chrome wheels and the limited pkg. it didn’t come with power windows or door locks, it does have tilt, cruise and 60/40, well maybe 55/45 dual control power front seats. mice ate the bottom out of the passenger side when i was living in it up in idaho, so i put the seat bottom/foam/pans from a ’77 delta 88 royale, matchs pretty good, and i kinda’ like the drivers side seat belt coming out of the seat cusion instead of between the seats. also put what olds. called the FE2 rally suspension in it, with some big a** rear sway bar from a caprice taxi cab. recently i had someone put a AGR 12:1 steering box in it and someone may be surprised how well one of the road couch’s will handle, it’s basically the same chassis as the early 70′s “a” body olds/buicks/chevys. then i pieced together the 4-core rad./7 blade fan/air seal kit. i’ve driven this car all over the west in all sorts of temps. without any problems. also has some big coil overs i pulled out of a 79′ pontiac catalina i have parts on this car from all the GM divisions .for durability/dependability/economy and availability of parts these tanks are hard to beat. i paid $900.00 for mine and it had over 200,000 miles when i got it. i hope to get another one, if someones interested i’d suggest getting one with the standard front disc breaks not the HD 5 on 5 wheels. it makes using stuff off my 76′ cutlass simpler, bye.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Anyone with the slightest amount of knowledge on buick engines knows that one could never make it to 300k with the crummy oiling system that they came from the factory with. Many didn’t even make it to 100k. If one was rebuilt properly and one of the redesigned oil pumps/timing covers made by poston or T/A performance was installed then you just may get 300k out of one if it was babied and well maintained.


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