By on October 23, 2012

One thing about the East Bay is that you see a lot of donks there. Last time I visited the area in which I had all my earliest formative automotive experiences, I spotted this ’69 Buick sedan sporting 22″ wire wheels in a local yard.
This car has been picked over pretty well, but nobody seemed interested in a full set of 22s. Perhaps they were just too beat-up.
Some vestiges of this car’s former luxurious glory were still visible. The vinyl-with-molded-in-stitching upholstery still had that Leather of the Future™ look, for example.
This “Sonomatic” AM radio probably cost the original purchaser the equivalent of 500 bucks in 2012 money. It was all worth it when this song came on.
The LeSabre’s standard 350-cubic-inch Buick V8 made 230 horsepower and oil-tanker-grade torque.
By 1968, the freedom-crushing nanny-staters had finally mandated shoulder belts for automobile front seats in US-market vehicles. Buick softened the blow by adding this tasteful request above the steering column.
There’s still a fair amount of useful stuff left on this car. Bumpers, taillights, instrument cluster, and so on. Let’s hope some of these parts get rescued before The Crusher eats this car.

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38 Comments on “Junkyard Find: Donked-Out 1969 Buick LeSabre...”


  • avatar
    jgcaulder

    what a shame. Why not sell it to someone to restore? It looks like it’s in pretty good shape for it’s age. Donk or not, it’s still a cool car.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Unfortunately big 4 doors from the late 60′s just don’t carry a lot of value on the west coast.

      What many of us would treasure here in the rust belt would be another man’s trash on the sunny dry west coast.

      • 0 avatar
        nikita

        Low-trim mid-priced car in a family body style is not very collectible. The only reason this thing survived so long is probably that it belonged to grandma and the last owner it picked it up cheap after she passed.

        My mom has a much more collectible one, a ’72 Skylark 2-door hardtop with bucket seats and the 4bbl version of that 350 Buick V-8.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        I never did understand why its a sin to have an extra set of doors in California, this is the state where its trendy to have a Prius.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        @Ryoku
        California is also known as one of the meccas of 20th century hod rodding. In the days before CAFE and the EPA, 2 door coupes and hardtops were the young hot rodders choice. 4 doors were for squares.

        Now that all those young hot rodders are grey haired with disposable income, they’re seeking out the tudors of their youth, driving the market.

        In another 30 years, you might see a change in the market when yoots of this generation seek out rust free CTS-Vs, Charger SRTs, G8s, C63 AMGs and E60 M5s as the hot rods of their hey day.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “this is the state where its trendy to have a Prius.”

        Trendy != Cool.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        I don’t think it’s just the west coast. Here in Texas 2 door cars get restored as hot rods while surviving 4 door cars may become a donk. Too bad. I like the look of the big GM low long wide 4 door sedans and hope some survive.

        The TV show Supernatural had a beautiful black 1967 Impala 4 door. Maybe other 4 door sedans will be restored.
        http://www.imcdb.org/vehicle_58758-Chevrolet-Impala-16387-1967.html

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Four-door SEDANS don’t get respect from this era – they were DESIGNED to be either PILLARLESS 2- or 4- door HARDTOPS. That’s the difference.

        Making these pillared sedans looks like an add-on because it was. They were purposefully ugly so one would buy the higher-priced models. Take a look at Murilee’s 1965 Impala “hell” project a year ago – it was ugly as a new car and he didn’t make it any better looking!

        I grew up in that era and you wouldn’t get me near a four-door sedan. A TWO-door sedan – well, I’d have to give it a little thought, but would more than likely pass it up for the pillarless version.

        For example: I learned to drive in Dad’s 1960 Impala pillarless sports sedan and cruised in his 1966 Impala pillaress sports sedan. I’d consider killing for one of those today.

      • 0 avatar
        jgcaulder

        I would take this in decent shape minus the 22′s any day of the week. It’s no 2 door Skylark, but it has more character than most of your 80′s to 90′s four door American sedans!

  • avatar
    Junebug

    A 69 LeSabre was the last new car my dad bought for himself, we kept it till the late 70′s – not a bad ride.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    That is one weird and crappy wiper control switch this car has. It’s almost like an aftermarket accessory. Must have been fun when driving in intermittent rain…

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    arent those wheels worth a bit to the urbane african american gentleman about town?

    • 0 avatar
      GoesLikeStink

      I was thinking how much the rubber must have cost. Looks to have decent tread too. Probably because the owner spent all their money on the shoes and none on the drivetrane/electrics.

      Went and took a closer look, the tires seem pretty dry and cracked. Still did not get many miles on them I bet.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I see both these and ricers at the junkyard, you gotta love it when people think that cosmetics are more important than an oil change.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    “By 1968, the freedom-crushing nanny-staters had finally mandated shoulder belts for automobile front seats in US-market vehicles. Buick softened the blow by adding this tasteful request above the steering column.”

    Still preferable to having your face and thorax crushed by the steering wheel and, regardless if whether you survived or not, spreading those costs onto the backs of your fellow insureds.

  • avatar
    autojim

    Willing to bet the wheels are still there because no one has figured out how to remove them yet. :)

  • avatar
    markholli

    I can’t believe this car lasted 43 years without anybody bothering to upgrade the AM radio! Do people actually listen to AM radio?

    • 0 avatar

      I think one of the first things I did on my 77 Chevelle was replace the Delco AM radio with a slightly updated Delco AM/FM/Cassette and add 4 speakers. And this was in 2009.

      Nothing wrong with the AM radio, but nothing to really listen to for any length of time in the DFW market. Radio Disney, and KAAM are great for a few minutes but the kids pop station wasn’t my cup of tea, and KAAMs selections of 30s to 70s was interesting but got stale after an hour or so. Talk radio was good for a little while as well, but again, got stale.

      • 0 avatar
        Wabbit3

        When I’m driving near Dallas I put on KHYI 95.3 (the Range). It’s rockabilly alt-country to classic country. Not something you could set and rip the knob off, but refreshing when I’m in town.

    • 0 avatar
      gottacook

      This car could have once had an under-dash aftermarket supplementary unit. In the 1970s I had a Pontiac of similar vintage with an AM radio (with front and rear speakers) and an aftermarket FM stereo/8-track unit (with left and right speakers).

    • 0 avatar
      chicagoland

      Older Generation [over 70] hates “Rock and Roll” on FM, so AM news stations are for them.

      The original owners I am sure refused to get FM, and only wanted time, temp, news and sports on AM.

    • 0 avatar
      ranwhenparked

      Yes. Frankly, I almost never switch to FM.

    • 0 avatar
      noxioux

      You would think those old AM radios were absolutely worthless. I know I did. Then someone stole the one out of my ’68 Camaro, along with some decidely NOT worthless interior parts (instrument cluster, etc. . .). Turns out a reproduction ‘correct’ pushbutton AM radio costs something North of $600 in the restoration catalogs. Go figure.

      I still don’t give a hoot about that radio, but I sure wish they’d left my instrument cluster alone. Odometer reading on the car was about 78,000.

      I tell myself whomever it was will get their Camaro all restored up and pretty, take it to a couple of shows, and then die in a fiery crash, gasping out their last breath looking at my speedometer.

  • avatar
    scrappy17

    Murilee, why dont you snag the wheels and put them on CL or ebay and make an easy buck or two?

    • 0 avatar
      Lt.BrunoStachel

      Do you have a clue what used wheels cost? Do you have a clue what those steel wheels weigh? Yep there’s a reason those wheels are still there.

      • 0 avatar
        scrappy17

        I have absolutely no clue except that the steel wheels do weigh much more than alloys. But for the crowd where cosmetic looks count for a lot, I imagine there will be some demand.

        Enlighten me, what do used 20″ wheels like these cost?

    • 0 avatar
      chicagoland

      The Pick n Pulls want good $$ for wheels like that. They are not free. Murlee has to remove, buy, store, move them. And buyers of used parts want cheap, cheap, cheap. So why bother?

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Looks like this car was well cared for to a certain point, possibly so much so that no one wanted to cut the IP to make way for a modern radio. This could have been grandma,grandpa or aunt/uncles ride that found its way to being “donked” somehow.

    Those are Pirelli Scorpions, not cheap rubber.Which is kind of unusual because most of these I see (or similar SUV with giant wheels) are wearing whatever was cheapest in that size.But they are tired looking, same with the wheels.

  • avatar
    Dynasty

    The aftermarket wheels really pull the whole look together.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    We had a ’69 LeSabre sedan just like this trim level in brown. The first family car to have A/C and AM/FM stereo. It replaced a revered ’61 LeSabre that lasted well into the late Seventies.

    Our ’69 was a nice ride as well, but it must have been built on Monday. It was hell to live with, though. Something always broke on it practically from Day 1.

    My parents got rid of it after 6 years and bought…another LeSabre, which was a little better in the reliability and fuel economy department, way worse in the power and fit-and-finish department.

  • avatar
    RatherhaveaBuick

    Love that instrument cluster…

  • avatar
    Mr Nosy

    …If only those deluxe vinyl door panels could talk.This sled, being an early ’69 model,swerved sharply to avoid Steve Mc Queen all balls out in a Mustang.Since this Buick’s owner(A budding Mc Queen of another sort.)was now a regular weekend acquaintance of Auntie Francesca By The Bay,then proceeded to pick up……and then deliver,the newly arrived Harvey Milk to the Castro.While on the way back to Redwood City to break the news to his wife(“Susan,I need to tell you something”…)he nearly ends up shredding those new Sears radials to avoid a collision with Ryan & Barbra’s madcap escape in a VW Beetle from various henchmen.Later on,La Le Sabre is sold at an ACT-UP fundraiser/estate sale to one of MC Hammer’s posse(Livin’ Large!!). A short time later, its sold (Hammertime!Posse Upgrade!Benzes!)to Tupac’s cousin’s homie,who gave this storied ride its dubstyle.Later on,Homie got a ‘Slade, this Buick wound up with a lot of unpaid tickets,so Homie just let the jura impound it. I do doubt if Ignatius The Popular ever graced this AM radio, until that Royal Caribbean commercial.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    @Mr.Nosy: Gee, here’s something new at TTAC — homophobic and racist rants. Very charming. What’s the matter, did you get kicked off the Fox News comments section?

    • 0 avatar
      Mr Nosy

      Oh bomberpete,how sensitive thou art! Have you never seen “What’s Up Doc”,or “Oscar Bait Sean Penn Movie”,or even “Taxi Zum Klo”? Ever hear tell of that queer demographic of a certain age that find the current hetero-normative,gay bourgeoisie being just a bit too conformist? The mid-century, Mamie Eisenhower generation? What about VH1′s “Behind The Music,MC Hammer”?(If I was in his posse,he probably wouldn’t have gone broke,well,at least not as quickly.).BTW, I was riffing,not ranting,Blanche. Vaginal Davis warned me about your type,before she moved to Berlin.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    Yes, I saw “What’s Up Doc?,” “Milk” and the MC Hammer story on “VHI Behind the Music.” “Bullit” too, of course. Liked them all.

    Oh so sorry that I didn’t get it…you’re just a poor misunderstood wannabee who needs attention by using the slang of people you don’t know that well who probably want little to do with you.

    Again, My bad. Tell me how to get in touch with mommy and daddy. I’ll make sure to them to up your November allowance this month because your widdle feelings wuz hurt.


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