By on August 10, 2013

ls2

Welcome to Atlanta, where the players play. But if you want to ride on those streets like ev-er-y day, your ride has arrived. Which leads to a question:

Full-sized coupes disappeared a long time ago. I’m sure many TTAC readers don’t remember ever seeing one in a new-car showroom. Conventional wisdom says the market for them is long gone. And yet… people still buy ‘em. They just insist on paying six figures for them. The Phaeton Turbo Fish-Face Edition Continental GT, the Mercedes CL, the Rolls-Royce Drophead Koo-Pay And Non-Drophead Koo-Pay. The appeal of rolling in a monstrous automobile with limited access to the rear seats still sells. It just doesn’t sell to the little people out there. The question is: why? Why are regular people willing to buy horrifying crap like the BMW X6, a vehicle which is designed to be as offensive as humanly possible and seemingly exists solely to convey the message that you can afford it, but they aren’t interested in the plush ride and placid demeanor of a proper coupe?

The hell with ‘em. If you want to get more house on the boulevard than any Conti GT around, pay this guy eighty-five hundred bucks and you can roll in style, with my full approval. And probably the approval of Andre 3000, as well.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

167 Comments on “What’s Bigger Than A Bentley And Twice As Cool?...”


  • avatar

    forget the puney pretender Verano, Encore, and Regal. Buicks are supposed to be BIG. distinctive, substantial, powerful, and mature. understated elegance in an American Automobile. designed, built, and sold in America to Americans who want what they want for the Great American Road.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Awe gawd!

      Some of like to move “fast with class” and have our fuel economy these days.

      • 0 avatar

        that’s why they make Chevrolets.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          Well, like Buick, Chevy buys little popped kernels of korean kar and calls them something vaugely American-sounding.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          This idea that Buick is different from Chevrolet is new to me.

          I guess 2005 was a long time ago, but I’m still getting used to the notion that a Buick is something other than a Chevy with leather seats.

          A lifetime (my lifetime) of selling the same car with different stickers will do that to a brand.

          The Varanos that I see on my commute do look like nice cars on their own design-merit, though.

    • 0 avatar
      twotone

      I’ll take a 2008 – 2011 Bentley Brooklands please and thank you. Bigger than most Bentleys and three times as cool.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      The real American Buick is only built in Australia and only sold in China.

      http://www.buick.com.cn/parkavenue/

      However, if someone can get their hands on a cop Caprice and a bumper cover, wheels, some lights and some trim pieces they could roll CDM Park Avenue style in the US.

      • 0 avatar
        vent-L-8

        behind the car is a row of flags on the building. I think the one on the far left is north korea.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @Buickman- better work to elect a different government to accomplish that! Death to CAFE- let consumers choose what they want!

        @racer-esq- Actually that big Australian based Buick would have been just an average mid-size in the day! A good friend was in the business of marketing the Caprices to government agencies. Said it felt like a ’70 W-30 (520 ft lb! high compression 455CI V8) but better! (he was originally an Olds guy too.) You may be interested to know a very significant number of Aussies like to rebadge their Commodores with Chevy details despite Chevrolet not being marketed there for decades.)

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        “The real American Buick is only built in Australia and only sold in China”…

        Real to who?

        • 0 avatar
          racer-esq.

          Agreed, times changes, better to put the old people in Chevy Spark based Buick Encores where they can cause less damage.

          Anyone who still thinks of “American” cars as large rear wheel drive sedans can get a Chrysler 300. Which is made in Canada by an Italian firm, but hey, close enough.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            The 300 is a mid-sized car by 1981 standards at less than 200 inches, and not available as a coupe. The Buick was 218 inches long, and the last full-sized Chrysler coupe, the 1981-83 Iacocca Imperial, was 213 inches.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @racer-esp.
            RWD US Sedans I thought had died.The 300C is still “compact” compared to the cars of yesteryear.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      “Buicks, Broads, and Buckley” – Steve Dallas

    • 0 avatar
      mklrivpwner

      That’s why I’m rebuilding a 1972 Buick Riviera. Boat-tail, baby!

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      Really? Historically buick has been the modest man’s upscale car. When cars were brash they followed but the modern design of buick seems very much inline with their ideological views. It just seems you’re a bit nostalgic, which is great, but encores and veranos are what are making buick relevant again.

      • 0 avatar
        Mark MacInnis

        Not quite.

        Chevy was for the proletariat.
        Olsmobile was for the managers of the proletariat.
        Pontiac was for the unmarried or married without children amount the managers of the proletariat.
        Buick was for the insurance men, bankers, and small businessmen.
        Caddilac was for the doctors, lawyers, and chairmen of the boards.

        “A car for every pocketbood” – Henry Leland.

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          That description is a bit harsh.

          Chevrolet was for the everyman, a solid car for a solid blue collar man.

          Oldsmobile was the car for the man willing to spend a bit more but wasn’t really chasing class, yes the managers had them but so did senior tenure blue collar workers.

          Pontiacs were for the young, sporty, and the upcoming. You were as likely to buy a catalina at 19 as you were to buy a Bonneville when you made salesmen of the month.

          Buicks and Cadillacs were chasing a good chunk of the same market by the mid-60s but they catered to opposing demographics. Doctors were never a core demographic of Cadillac unless they were plastic surgeons. Cadillac was glitz and glam, lawyers, small business owners, Buick was the understated power man, Doctors, Professors, and the like.

          It’s surprisingly similar today, go to the hospital lot, you’ll find as many Audis as E-classes. Go to the court house lots and you’ll find Caddies and Bimmers galore.

          But I think Buick is heading in the right direction after test driving an Encore which was both good looking and comfortable. I know this will draw ire but I wish Ford would look to Buick for Lincoln’s issues.

  • avatar
    April

    Smog gear addled engine with only 125 horsepower dragging a 4,000 pound car down the road. Numb steering and bloated ride with iffy build quality. Not to mention bordello blue velour upholstery.

    Maybe I’ll take it off their hands for $850

    • 0 avatar
      Flybrian

      Iffy build quality? Puleeze. I’ll put my weather-worn ’76 LeSabre up against a contemporary flagship BMW any day of the week for overall integrity and percentage of original equipment still functioning. In fact, I can since we have a 65k-mile ’06 750iL in inventory special-order for a customer. What garbage. Its telling that a $82k MSRP car can be bought 7 years-old for $13k with a clean title and no bad history.

      Big B-O-C cars like these have elegance, grace, presence, and *gasp* design that stand out and will continue to hold their own against any historic classic for decades to come.

    • 0 avatar
      AMC_CJ

      You don’t even know what you’re missing….

      Iffy build quality? I have a 79′ and 78′ Chevy. the 79′ looks nearly new, but it’s been taken care of. The 78′ is solid and gets driven daily, but has been used during it’s life.

      Now, compare that 35 year sedan to the 12 year old VW Jetta we have, and THEN you can talk about iffy build quality. Interior pieces completely falling apart, various electrical problems, engine compo nets that crack and disintegrate. Yeah, I’m talking about the VW here.

      That Jetta would have to make it a another 20 years just to catch up to where the Chevy is, and I just don’t see how that’s possible at this point. Piece of crap.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        I’ve tried out a few 80’90′s BOF American boats, yes their styling stands out (mostly their bumpers), yes they have nice soft suspensions but I wouldn’t call tyhem elegant nor graceful.

        Go around a corner and very low speeds and witness your bobblehead fly to the otherside of the car, close the door and watch the drivers window fall down, slam the gas and notice your hulky smogged V8 struggling to move 4000 pounds of steel and Kinder egg plastic.

        Compared to cars of their time these cars were duds, great second hand bargains at low prices but still nothing I’d call luxrious.

        If we’re going to call these old boats “good” by comparing them to German cars (with well known quality issues), lets compare them to a Smart while we’re at it and tout how they’re quicker, tougher, and roomier the BOF car is.

        A better comparison would be a RWD Volvo from the time period, similar merits in being simple and tough as heck with understated styling, also cheap on the second hand market.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Your standard of luxury is different from that of people who prefer these large cars. They weren’t interested in speed, acceleration or taut control around corners, they were interested in traveling in stately comfort at a leisurely pace. It’s all about letting people know you’ve arrived, not the exhilaration of getting there. That’s the difference between the American idea of “luxury” and European “premium”.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          @Ryoku75
          “I’ve tried out a few 80’90′s BOF American boats, yes their styling stands out (mostly their bumpers), yes they have nice soft suspensions but I wouldn’t call them elegant nor graceful”

          My Favourite US Cars outside of some of the classic of the 1930′s is the 1963 Lincoln(The One in the Ford museum in Detroit} and a 1972 Cadillac a very balanced and restrained design.

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        I guess our 77 Impala must have been built on a Monday or something.

        Examples:

        The GM “Mark of Excellence” cracked dash, right down the center.

        Dash clock that stopped working in the 1980s.

        The precision close trunk, that needed to be slammed directly in the center.

        “Impala” emblem on the dash, “Caprice Classic” on the rear pillar.

        Transmission lost 1st gear sometime in 1992–Rebuilt. 50k miles.

        Numerous Blower Motor resistors.

        Broken Window Cranks.

        I will say that it was better than the 79 LTD II, which decided to break a timing chain backing out of the garage.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      Blasphemy.

      This car is the definition of cool.

      • 0 avatar
        April

        Powder blue leisure suits were still the definition of cool in 1981.

        NEVER AGAIN

        (Along with bloated land yachts)

        • 0 avatar
          tresmonos

          I bask in my own manliness when I cruise in my ’84 Lincoln Continental, wearing my camel fur sport coat, making sure my Wayfarers don’t slip off my nose because I sweat like a pig when my AC is effin’ broke. And I generally don’t give a damn.

          I try not to trash anything with 4 wheels because there is an appreciation for all things automotive by somebody in some place. Diversity is what makes stuff cool.

  • avatar
    AoLetsGo

    Not a bad car. My personal favorite 2 door coupe from those years was the 76 Olds Cutlass — the best selling car in the country that year.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      My dream auto collection has one of those in light metallic blue with the Olds 350.

      • 0 avatar
        AoLetsGo

        Or the 455 Rocket was optional!

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          Eh, I’d rather have the 350 in the ’76 and a ’70 442 W-30 and ’71 88 coupe for my 455 needs.

          • 0 avatar
            doctor olds

            Those are Great choices, NoGoYo!

            I had a ’76 Salon Coupe, Silver Red trim, 455V8, THM400 and 3:08 posi. Bought I company used, owned it 5-7 months and got promoted to have a company car. I was really disappointed to let it go so soon. The ’98′s and Toronado company cars were “deep” rides, but I really wanted a HC 455CI W-30. That’s why I went to work for Olds as an engineering coop student in 1969. I could not possibly imagine what the next 39 1/2 years were going to hold!

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      @AoLetsGo- Cutlass owned 25% of the midsize segment for over a decade, selling in numbers equivalent to Camry and Accord today.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Aside from the 307 engine, the G-body Cutlass was way better than the corresponding Pontiacs and Chevrolets…I’d definitely rather have a “shovel nose” Cutlass than a non-SS Monte Carlo from the same time.

    • 0 avatar
      Willyam

      Ditto there. Rode many aimless hours in a friend’s ’76. Red, white vinyl interior, Olds 403, T-tops, Rallye wheels with Goodyear Eagles, dual-pipes. It was not fast (well, compared to my ’80 Grand Prix 301 it was) but boy was it cool. Dude sold it later for a late eighties T-bird. He was happy, but no one else understood.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        ’77. No 403 in anything until ’77.

        • 0 avatar
          doctor olds

          The 403 looked puny under the hoods of the ’77-78 Toronado after the 455V8s.

          In the day, the short deck Olds V8s had
          variations with both the largest cylinder bore, the 403CI, and the smallest, 260V8, of any engines available, or at least in engine parts catalogs. They shared the same stroke as the 307, 330, and 350 V8s.

          The 403 was specifically NOT recommended for police (i.e. high speed) use because the siamesed cylinders and huge bore led to hot spots and piston eating detonation! The 350, which still had about a 4″ bore, was the best performer of the lot because of its higher RPM capability. The 455 had more torque, but spun bearings at low RPMs, for a racer. The forged crank 425CI used in B,C, and E car from ’65-67 had more torque and could offer more performance than 350 since a street engine doesn’t sit at peak power.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            I guess a 403 into a “shovel nose” G-body wouldn’t be such a good idea, then.

          • 0 avatar
            doctor olds

            @NoGoYo- The 403V8 is fine for street use, unless you want to run miles at wide open throttle, as in police pursuit! Make sure you use premium fuel to help resist detonation, if you want to run one really hard. For street use, the 455V8 is the choice, simply because you spend much of your time at lower RPM and displacement=torque.

            The 403 with its bigger bore should theoretically be able to use larger valves and produce the most power, but it has too many weaknesses to have gained much interest or success in racing.

        • 0 avatar
          Willyam

          Ah, thank you, I’ve had it wrong all this time!

          Oh, and you’re dream garage candidate is out there (I had to search myself after this thread last night)

          http://www.autotraderclassics.com/classic-car/1976-Oldsmobile-Cutlass+Supreme-1179509.xhtml;jsessionid=5AA8251FECE3202482FC32E96FC6B16E?conversationId=8411

  • avatar

    when we built them big and built them in Flint, we hit 1,000,000 unit sales. case closed.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Polyester bell-bottom pants were cool once too. And platform shoes, and REALLY big collars. In just about the same era. Thankfully, people smartened up.

      • 0 avatar

        fickle fools are not the Buick demographic. our taste runs in a classic vein and never goes out of style.

        • 0 avatar
          Flybrian

          To paraphrase Ms. Mandrell, Buick was Premium Restrained Luxury when Premium Restrained Luxury wasn’t cool.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Until quite recently, the Buick demographic was literally dying off, and cars like these are the primary reason why.

          • 0 avatar
            Roberto Esponja

            You’ve got a Trabant as an avatar and criticize Buicks?

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            That’s not just A Trabant, that was MY Trabant, with me in it. Budapest, summer of ’92. And a fine piece of transportation it was. Bought it for 500 US dollars, drove it for a summer with perfect reliability, and sold it for $500. The purest transportation appliance ever made by the hand of man. No performance, no safety, no style, no extraneous anything, just a means to get from place to place faster than walking. At ~50mpg, trailing a blue cloud.

            Buick makes perfectly fine cars, now. 30-40 years ago they made dreck, regardless of how well it sold.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            At Roberto:

            I criticize animation and art all of the time and I have a cheaply MSpaint drawn snake as an avatar.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      @Buickman – I agree with you philosophically, summarizing with the simplistic statement that CAFE banned B-O-P and Cadillac.

      You are a little high on that number. Neither Buick nor Pontiac ever cracked a million, peaking in the 900,000 range, though. Oldsmobile was the only brand to surpass 1,000,000 CARS a year, beside values leaders Chevrolet and Ford who each had twice as many dealers as each of the B-O-P divisions. Olds averaged a million a year from 1973 through 1986, Cutlass owning the #1 slot, with Ciera and 88 also giving Olds 3 of the top 10 selling cars much of the time. No other brand surpassed 1M cars until Toyota, maybe Honda hit those numbers. Of course, trucks comprised 15-20% of the market vs. 50% today and along with so many brands, it is possible that none sell a million CARS.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    SNICKER

    I’m pleased to see there’s still a few who remember these fondly .

    As long as I didn’t have to drive nor work on them they were fine and I truly miss them .

    Boats , Land Yachts , Econo-Luxes , all gone now =8-( .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I remember these well. I find it hard to believe there is no market for a full size coupe, not even a small one. While the weaknesses mentioned by April a few clicks up were true, they are easily addressed. Malaise era engines wake up pretty easily, and they often can still pass emissions if required. Real suspension upgrades are just a few Google searches away. Even the iffy build quality is manageable. Quality lapses were not in every car, so you can find some that were well made among the lesser cars. At this age a paint job is probably in the wings, so spend some quality time (pun intended) and realign the body panels prior to painting. You will be surprised at how easy this is in cars of this era.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      While they are free to do whatever they want, I do hope that the eventual purchaser of this Lesabre keeps it as original as possible and only does enough to make it roadworthy.

      There are plenty of tired B-bodies out there that are prime candidates for the resto-mod treatment. This is a time capsule.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      “I find it hard to believe there is no market for a full size coupe, not even a small one.”

      Why? Most people don’t associate 2-doors with anything positive.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I remember my summer visits to New York as a kid. The outer boroughs were full of big coupes, particularly almost new Coupe de Villes driven by guys that slouched over the center armrest and steered with their left wrist wresting on the top of the wheel. Those guys drive over-styled, gadget-laden German luxury cars instead now. Their tastes somehow align better with those of prosperous Chinese far better than the preferences of the people that drove German cars in past decades.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      The ad says the car has been repainted. It’s nice that it only has 14k on it, but is it realy worth $8500 to someone? Seems high to me.

    • 0 avatar
      jimbob457

      Second your thought. Just revived a very low miler 15 year old Panther with some sway bars, premium tires, dual exhausts and a new ECU chip. Stiffer shocks and springs were a possibility, too. You can make it drive like a cop car if you want.

      Don’t forget to thoroughly examine and replace any oxidized rubber and soft parts. Have a few extra bucks set aside for gas.

      I have about $8k tied up in my car, so $8.5k for a properly restored (revived?) old GM coupe sounds reasonable.

      Lotsa miles and/or leaky seals? OK at a low price, just remember you are driving it to the junkyard.

  • avatar
    ajla

    As kind of a side quest to my life I’m trying to own every version of the Buick V6. I’m a ’04-’07 supercharged Grand Prix from having owned every FWD version.

    Hey, everyone needs a hobby.

    Anyway, the 4.1L is pretty rare. I’ve only ever seen them in for sale in Cadillacs and once in a Cutlass Supreme, and those are always quite far away from me. The 3.2L is impossible to find.

    Still, $8500 is clean Lesabre Sport Coupe or 368Ci Coupe de Ville money.

  • avatar
    Flybrian

    After my parents were divorced in ’89, my father had to take an early leave from his lucrative job at Florida Power as a lead steamfitter supervisor at the Crystal River nuclear plant to raise me as a newly-single dad. The beach condo went away. So did the boat. And so did his Toronado Trofeo, a black-on-black ’87 model that was the first Trofeo in Florida and one he ordered and picked up with pride.

    Now stuck with a lower-paying local job that still required dependable transportation,my father investigated a few options. I remember them vaguely (I was five at the time) – one was an older Dodge Daytona hatch, another a Hyundai Excel, another a rust-colored Corona I think. There were a few other equally horrifying choices, so he had a friend take us down to what was then Bert Smith Oldsmobile in St. Petersburg and picked out from the buy-here-pay-here section shared with the still-busy Diesel Center across the street from the main facility the most affordable American car they had – a triple-green 1979 LeSabre Landau Coupe. I guess you could consider it quadruple green since it was two-tone green with a green quarter top and a green weave interior. I can look back and picture it somewhere today with matching green spinners and old-English font on the backlight reading “KA$HMONEE.”

    We had the car for a decade. It shuttled me back and forth from school, my father from home to work and return. Took us to his brother’s onion farm in Valdosta a few times where my dad accidentally pulled out and clipped a young pine tree that pushed in the passenger front wraparound of the chrome bumper. The tree later died. The LeSabre? She soldiered on through the years until a company truck replaced it as a daily driver and a ’98 Regal GS replaced it completely. We didn’t trade it in, though. It just sat. And rotted. And was eventually hauled away. I really don’t know why we just let it go like that. Lack of money at one point, lack of time and interest later on I suppose. I never became seriously into cars until middle school and didn’t appreciate what simply was a fixture in our yard until it was too later.

    I feel I’ve made efforts atoning for the sins of sloth and ignorance through the ’76 LeSabre hardtop I now own. Its older. Bigger. Uglier. But I keep it running. Restoring it bit by bit and I’ll continue to do so until it becomes the low-mileage creampuff that ol’ 54k-mile ’79 LeSabre was when it rolled off the back lot of a St. Pete Olds dealership and into my young life.

  • avatar
    forraymond

    Best looking wheel design ever.

  • avatar
    talkstoanimals

    So Andre3000 and his manscaper like big coupes. But seldom is the question asked, what would Deltron 3030 drive? Probably something small, like an FR-S. And Deltron is, at heart, cooler than Andre…

  • avatar
    Prado

    I don’t see much appeal to these 80′s era GM full size cars. Very bland and very little differentiation between Buick, Olds, and Pontiac. Now the previous generation (pre 1977) B Bodies had style and character. I’d love to have a Centurion or LeSabre convertible of that era.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    From 77-80 There was the LeSabre Sport Coupe with the 3.8 turbo. Probably the most sporty of the 77-90 B-Bodies since Chevy ceased offering an Impala SS version. Finding one of these and turning it into a resto-mod by beefing it up with some Grand National or Keene-Bell aftermarket parts would be swell.

    • 0 avatar
      west-coaster

      Actually, in 1977 you could still get the 350/4BBL in the Caprice and Impala. (Maybe ’78 too, but I think the 305 was the top choice by then.) And, GM offered the F41 suspension package on them, which the car magazines raved about at the time.

      It was still no sports car, but considering its size, an F41-equipped Caprice could hustle around pretty well. CAFE strangulation hadn’t hit its low point yet (that would have been ’80 I believe) so you could also get a fairly responsive rear axle ratio.

      The Holy Grail of those 1977-onward GM cars, for me, would be a ’77 Caprice 2-door with that great angled rear window, the 350, F41 suspension, and all the other options, including the kitschy “rolling numbers” digital clock in the center of the dash. Somewhere out there, one exists, in the condition of the Buick shown above.

      • 0 avatar
        Superdessucke

        Here you go west-coaster, sort of. This is a ’79 and with the 305 but still mint with 9,5– on it.

        http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Capric-Classic-Coupe-original-low-miles-/330984052321?pt=US_Cars_Trucks&hash=item4d102fd661

        It’s bid up to 10.5k thus far with almost 4 days to go, so maybe this big Buick IS a bargain? Put period correct white letter tires or blackwalls on those rims and it certainly would look ok. If I only had more garage space!!

        • 0 avatar
          west-coaster

          Nope, not the one.

          1. The 305 just didn’t cut it.
          2. No F41 suspension. (The factory spare would be a GR70-15 with narrow white stripe.)
          3. Rectangular speedometer instead of the optional gauge package. It wasn’t much, but it got you a round speedo, a temperature gauge, and a Fuel Economy Gauge.
          4. Hideoous “bordello” color combo.

          And, I don’t care for the stupid cliche “Corvette Rallys” that everyone seems to want to put on everything with a Chevy bowtie on it. They were never available on any full-size Chevy after 1970, and the optional sporty-ish thing on a ’77 -> Caprice was a basket-weave wheel cover complete with faux lug nuts for a pseudo-BBS look.

          I’ll hold out for a 350 with F41, gauge package, and the factory uplevel wheel covers. Oh, and in a classier proper color of the era like blue, burgundy or silver.

          • 0 avatar
            Superdessucke

            The 305 was no 350 but moved the car along well enough. F41 would be mandatory though, and I’d definitely swap out the Rally Wheels for those you described. Those were pretty. Thx for the trip down memory lane there, ha!

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        You could get the 403 V8 up until ’80 and the 350 until ’81

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        We only had the 77 (Impala Aero Coupe) with the anemic 250 1 barrel….only options were AM-FM Radio, and A/C. Green on Green too. The “rolling clock” died in the early 1980′s.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        Yes, a fully optioned Caprice/Impala coupe with a 305 or 350 is quite nice though Chevy did have SS versions of other models, the last Impala SS was in 1970, thus making the Le Sabre Turbo coupe the “sportiest” of the B-Bodies. The Delta 88 Holiday coupe with the 403 and F-41 would fill the full-sized sport-luxury coupe niche too.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      The V8s were definitely ahead of the carb’d turbo 3.8 in those days, you could still get an Olds 403 in the Buick, though the LeSabre Sport Coupe was one of the first GMs with the blackout trim, it looked very cool.

      • 0 avatar
        west-coaster

        If the method to “black out” the trim on the LeSabre Sport Coupe was anything like what GM did with the Celebrity Eurosport, I’m guessing it didn’t look “very cool” for long.

        In typical of-the-era General Motors fashion, the blackout trim was just the regular stainless trim painted matte black. It didn’t take long (literally a year or two) for that black paint to start flaking off, making the whole car really look stupid.

        • 0 avatar
          Power6

          I think it depends on the year, more and more plastic trim each year. At least SEM trim black will paint it right back to where it should be!

          I had read on one of the other car sites autosofinterest I think, GM only spent an extra $1.50 to build the Eurosport, a big part of that savings was the black grille over the chrome base car.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    How does any nation get so lucky once, let alone twice?

    The Japanese auto execs surveying American production in the 70′s must have understood exactly how their fathers felt 30-odd years earlier when Destroyer Row and Hickam Field came into view that beautiful Sunday morning.

    突撃雷撃 = TOtsugeki RAigeki -> TORA x 3

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      The Japanese had decent (somewhat) product, but let’s be real…They were in the right place at the right time when the oil supply problems hit. They did not rise solely based on the fact American cars were bad. We had a maliase Toyota Corolla. It was marginally better than the malaise Plymouth it replaced but was utterly put to shame in every way by my clapped out first gen Saturn. And don’t get me started on the old Datsuns.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      The Japanese were put on the map by baby boomers rejecting their parent’s trappings of style and ideals. Yuppies who couldn’t afford the 2002/3-series or wanted a boxy 240. The buicks of this era didn’t make Camries desirable. In fact Taurus was a juggernaut for most of it’s run. It’s just a case of journalistic storytelling for convenience and a lack of sociological understanding.

      • 0 avatar
        DuVoe

        This is an important point. The late 1960′s, 1970′s and early 1980′s epitomized the term “generation gap” (don’t trust anyone over 30). If a GI-generation retiree was eying a new Riviera, an edgy, socially-conscious baby boomer son or daughter would in all likelihood prefer something European (failing that financially, Japanese). Principles of reverse snobbery against the Detroit-Baroque excesses could then be easily applied to defend that similar, if not higher, price tag for what the older generation of the time may have deemed a more austere product.

        The interesting thing about reverse snobbery is that one must be in the minority to apply it. No longer being able to play this role today due to being in the governing age and financial brackets themselves, we see many of these same people, now older, enjoying the styling of European cars as they get busier, swoopier, bigger and louder looking.

  • avatar
    doug-g

    The grandest of the great American coupes was the Cadillac Coupe deVille… air conditioned, of course.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    The biggest baddest and most pointless coupe of this era…

    http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5108/5641388599_af948994a6_z.jpg

    1976 Town Coupe’

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Wow, good eye, Lie2me.

      That’s about the most majestic piece of American Flotilla I’ve ever seen, especially in that grey.

      The bucolic college backdrop is particularly apropos considering all the drugs college kids bought so Raymone could buy that car.

    • 0 avatar
      Aleister Crowley

      I prefer the 1978 Chrysler New Yorker Coupe myself:

      http://www.newyorkeronline.org/membercars/74-78/dennisboyd/78NYB/image01.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        Number23

        Good Lord, that’s a good looking car. I have to think these 70′s luxury coupes will start appreciating.

        I’m thinking some light mods to perk up the V8 and a 5spd automatic transmission. would make for a great driver.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Why not a ’74? The last year the still used the name “Imperial” on a full size coupe

        http://automotivemileposts.com/imperial/images/1974/imperial1974lebaroncoupe.jpg

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Did you forget Lee Iacocca’s Sinatra Edition Imperial of 1981? That was a couple inches shorter than the ’81 LeSabre, a little narrower, and a slightly shorter wheelbase, but the biggest coupe Chrysler had. The New Yorker hardtop sedans were bigger than the LeSabre, but nobody bought them.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            No, I do remember the “Sinatra” Imperial, why, I don’t know, but I was thinking in terms of the most grandiose sedan based Imperial coupes. The “Sinatra” was a personal luxury coupe… and very short lived

            For those who may have blinked and missed it…

            http://trivianinjas.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/imperial_fs.jpg

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    besides the glorious 60′s there’s two 70-80′s coupes i like…

    the early 70′s chevy nova and the early 80′s chevy monte carlo

    ls1/t56 or maybe them new fangled 6L60s

    they just look the part

  • avatar
    George B

    I think the problem is insurance premium cost which is inversely proportional to passenger access. Four doors save money over two, especially for the young single people. In addition, the long coupe doors can be a pain to open if you park in a parking garage.

    I see a fairly large number of Dodge Challengers out on the road as the closest thing to a large non-luxury coupe available new. The other common coupe with at least some passenger room is the Honda Accord Coupe with examples from the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th generations being fairly common.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    meh. Owned two 79 Electras and an 80 Sedan Deville.
    More problems than you can shake a stick at. Multiple auto-temp control failures, all three suffering tranny failures, one oil pump died that resulted in complete engine failure and various suspension breakdowns. These three gems pushed me away from GM forever. Sorry, no love for that heap.

  • avatar
    AJ

    When I was 19, a buddy and I were shopping cars as we often did, and I was looking at an Accord coupe. The salesman suggested that I go with a four-door, “Having better access to the back seat.” I recall rolling my eyes and saying, “Yeah, if I was married with kids!” He shrugged as that was him… lol

    And 20+ years later, I’ve never owned a four-door car. My two rides are both two-doors. (However the wife does have a four-door SUV.)

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      He shrugged because when he was a teenager references to back seats were understood. Kids had these authority figures in their lives that were called parents, plural. One of them was often at home, and hell if she was going to let you have sex in her house.

  • avatar

    A long long time ago, my great-uncle traded in the ’71 Charger R/T 440 that his little nephew loved on a brand-new ’76 (I think, might have been a ’77) Chrysler Cordoba. That car didn’t have the speed of the Charger, but what I realized eventually was that it had its own kind of cool. I’d take one of those over the Buick (and I’d probably put a very quiet, smooth, crate Mopar big block in it), but I get it. And yeah, the Cordoba wasn’t technically “full-sized” by mid-’70s Chrysler standards, but it was pretty big.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      I rode around in one of these as a young’n, 76 Cordoba. Ours had all the options: Aluminum wheels bucket seats, sliding sunroof, 8-track and the leaded gas 400. My Mom blamed that car on her having to have “loaded” cars after than one. I thought it was so cool. Only 240 net HP but it was quite a bit faster than the ‘rents slant-6 LeBaron.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    “What’s Bigger Than A Bentley And Twice As Cool?”

    I was curious whether the Buick LeSabre coupe is truly bigger than Bentley coupe, and I also wanted to find out how it compares to modern GM and Chrysler personal luxury coupes, so I ran the following Comparison:

    2013 Chevy Camaro V6
    1988 Buick LeSabre Coupe
    2013 Dodge Challenger V6
    1996 Bentley Continental R (aka a real Bentley)
    2012 Bentley Continental GT (aka a fake Bentley)

    Interestingly the old Buick LeSabre Coupe is smaller in most measurements than a new Chevy Camaro V6. The Camaro has a two inch longer wheelbase, is three inches wider and weighs 500 pounds more. The LeSabre coupe is half an inch taller, and 6 inches longer (probably all front overhang).

    The new Dodge Challenger is larger in every measure than a Buick LeSabre coupe.

    The Buick LeSabre coupe is larger than a fake Bentley, but smaller than a real Bentley.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Here is the comparison link:

      http://autos.msn.com/research/compare/exterior.aspx?c=0&i=0&tb=0&ph1=t0&ph2=t0&dt=0&v=t115442&v=t1187&v=t115999&v=t5528&v=t114472

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Nice effort, but this 1981 is a previous generation Buick LeSabre. It was 218.4 inches long, built on a 116 inch wheelbase and 78 inches wide. The curb weight was probably similar to the V6 Camaro. The next phase of radical downsizing came in 1986, when the LeSabre went to FWD and lost over 2 feet in length.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    What a nice cruiser, although I hope it has the original Cobbledick Buick dealer insignia somewhere on the trunk lid.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    Pro tip:
    If it can fit on the turntable, it isn’t really that big.

  • avatar
    340-4

    Looked at a new Lacrosse recently, and test drove the new Impala.

    And couldn’t stop thinking ‘wow, what great full sized coupes these would make.’

    Is America ready again? I know I am.

    Maybe I will restore my 1975 Buick Century Gran Sport after all.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      The practicality of 4 doors seems to have eclipsed the desire of 2 door styling.

      I really like the post 72 colonnade coupes, the Century GS 455 is my favorite.

      • 0 avatar
        azmtbkr81

        The funny thing is vehicles per capita has gone up and children per couple down over the last 30 years; you’d think coupes would be more popular than ever.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          “children per couple down over the last 30 years”

          Or has merely the number of stable, reportable couples declined while the babies keep poppin elsewhere?

          Would the variegated spawn from a local faunal pool ever be counted in the type of study you reference?

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Remind me not to go swimming where you live…

            ewe

          • 0 avatar
            azmtbkr81

            “Would the variegated spawn from a local faunal pool ever be counted in the type of study you reference?”

            If by study you mean my own personal observations then no. I don’t know of many single mothers purchasing new near-luxury vehicles.

  • avatar
    patman

    I think it’s a combination of factors that started working against the big two door (and mid-sizers too). From the customer side, the rise of the car seat was certainly part of it and it’s no longer acceptable to expect grown ups to climb into the back of a 2 door anymore. For manufacturers, crash testing extra body styles is costly and maintaining an extra body style hurts the streamlined parts and manufacturing efficiency they love, and those relative cost goes up as 2 doors fall farther out of favor with buyers.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Right…especially when (as with the E-Class coupe), said coupe has more in common structurally with a different vehicle (C-Class) than its sedan, yet still has to have controls and general interfaces from the other vehicle.

      And yet none of this could save us from the horror that is the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet…

  • avatar
    bachewy

    My brother had fun with his Buick. Go to youtube and type “10 second buick lesabre”

    Old Grey car doing 10.3 at the track :)

  • avatar
    dolorean

    “…Continental GT, the Mercedes CL, the Rolls-Royce Drophead Koo-Pay And Non-Drophead Koo-Pay”

    What?! No Mer-loh Bro-ham?!

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    This mutt couldn’t get out of its own way. Make mine with the 3.8 liter turbo please.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    When I was a little kid (late nineties), I loved my grandmother’s brown-on-brown-leather 1985 Buick Riviera V8, and my great-grandfather’s white-on-blue-leather 1984 Buick Riviera T-Type. Unfortunately, neither of those land yachts is in the family anymore; the T-Type met its demise pretty recently.

    As far as your Bentley comment, the late Arnage, Brooklands and Azure leftovers from the Bentley/Rolls-Royce relationship still embody classic, large-vehicle, pushrod-V8 goodness. Really, the current Mulsanne carries that spirit (even if it is chock-full of Audi electronics). And I hear that any minute now, Bentley will get around to building coupe and cabriolet versions of said Mulsanne…

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Approved on the rims and seats alone…The rest of the car is an oh so sweet God bless America bonus!

  • avatar
    mkirk

    You know we talk about the limited access to the rear seats on a car like this but looking at it it seems easier to get in and out of without bonking your head than some of the ridiculous roofline 4 doors currently on sale. Looking at you Hyundai Elantra.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Whoa the baby IKE pram..or Frank Cannon curb bouncer & corner squealer now an up market Benny Hill head patter…

    Appeared to peak in FWD mode with Eldorado, Riviera & Toronado.

    House of Masters please.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    Wow. Very cool car. I would love to purchase this … if the owner interested. I am willing to make a great offer.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    The very first generation of Oldmobile Toronados and Buick Riveriras are some of the few full-size coupes I wouldn’t mind owning, the first years were built at a good time and had some pretty neat styling before everything began looking like psuedo-Caddillacs in the 70′s, the 80′s just repeated the styling on smaller cars.

    Otherwise if I wanted a big luxury car I’d feel better having four doors for friends andor cargo.

    Why people buylease junk like the X6 is beyond me, its a wonder why AMC Eagles aren’t being restored in hoards.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Great post Jack.

    Be forewarned this is lengthy…

    I think the coupe can be sub-divided in five categories, roadsters, pony cars, sedan based coupes, standalone coupes and personal luxury coupes. Roadsters are too small for rear doors (and they sometimes lack rear seats) and I think we have yet to see a pony car sedan (and hopefully never will). So we’re left with the sedan based coupe, standalone coupe, and my favorite the personal luxury coupe.

    Sedan based coupe/standalone coupe

    These are the models which are sold as the nearly identical coupe complement to a sedan, or in some cases a standalone model which may or may not share similarities or technology with a sedan model. So examples of the former include Caprice/Bonneville/Eighty Eight/Lesabre coupes of old, in Europe the MB E-series coupes, and more recently the Accord Coupe and Camry Coupe briefly in the 90s. The standalone coupe seems to have been popularized by the Japanese with the more prevalent examples in my mind being the Honda Prelude and second gen Mazda MX-6 (which also spawned the Ford Probe). The Prelude is interesting because it mechanically shared similarities with Accord, but was never marketed as an “Accord Coupe” but rather sold right alongside the Accord and its Coupe version. In fact as it went through its generations it drifted further apart from Accord to become its own unique “standalone” model. The MX-6 initially could be argued to have been a “sedan based coupe” in its first generation, it was even called the “626 Coupe” in Europe. But in its second generation it breaks away from 626 completely to become a standalone offering (also spawning another generation of Probe which was always a standalone model in the US).

    It seems to me both of these segments are in decline but will probably never go completely extinct. Examples since 2000 have included:

    Honda Accord Coupe
    Cavalier/Sunfire Coupe
    Cobalt/G5 Coupe
    Civic Coupe
    Honda Prelude (to ’01)
    Acura Integra/RSX
    BMW 3/6 Series Coupe
    MB E/C Coupe
    Mercury Cougar (to ’02).
    Nissan Altima Coupe
    Toyota Solara
    Chevrolet Monte Carlo
    Pontiac Grand Prix Coupe (to ’02)

    Personal Luxury Coupe

    This could be defined as a large model on a dedicated coupe platform complete with high power output, uber luxury, and garish (typically American) styling. The segment is unfortunately more or less dead (with the exception of MB CL class), effectively dying out in 2001 with the demise of the Eldorado (I would not classify the Bentley Conti GT as one since its not a dedicated platform (Phaeton and Flying Spur)). These beautiful behemoths probably peaked in the late 70s or early 80s, in fact the high water mark for Lincoln Mark Series production was just over 100K units in 1978. The PLC is often cited as a status symbol of its time, a signal “you’ve arrived” and you could afford a dedicated large powerful car of your own as you cruised down the boulevard (it was assumed wifey had her own if you had one, which was a big deal at the time I think based on what my grandmother told me). There is something very “American” about the segment (ironic in only the Germans continue it) and it was those same Americans who wholly rejected it starting in the mid 80s and it was eventually replaced by the ubiquitous SUV. Examples included since 1980 included:

    Cadillac Eldorado (to 01)
    Buick Riviera (to 99 limited edition)
    Olds Tornado (to 92)
    Lincoln Mark VI/VII/VIII (to 98)
    Mercury Cougar/Ford Thunderbird (to 97)
    Chrysler Imperial (to 83)
    Chevrolet Monte Carlo/Olds Cutlass/Pontiac Grand Prix (to 87)
    MB CL

    So why did the segment slowly die outside of the billionaire buyer?

    -Changing demographics and limited sales volume

    When coupes in general were more popular (as fake SUVs are now) they could move a fair amount of volume, couple that with high margins for the price of “luxury” and the models became profit centers. As time wore on and sales dropped, it did not become economically feasible to develop a dedicated coupe and only move 20,000 units per model year. A factor in this was the changing demographics of who was buying cars. I don’t have figures in front of me but starting in the eighties more women were making car purchases than ever had in the past. I can’t speak for a women’s tastes as a man but I can tell you my own mother detested driving my father’s succession of boats in the 70s (Electra coupe, Riv, late 70s Monte) and shortly after the birth of my brother, she insisted on a new car of her own and chose initially an ’84 GMC Astro van shortly followed by an ’87 Caravan and ’96 Caravan (in 2005 when her 96 gave up the ghost she really wanted another new van to “ride up high” but she couldn’t afford one and with much cajoling from my brother and I she purchased a used 2003 Jeep Liberty). The child aspect follows this whereas you could haul the whole neighborhood in a 70s PLC the downsized 80s offerings were much smaller and less practical. Then of course there’s the dreaded car seat which leads me to my next point.

    -Government strikes again

    You don’t have to be a hardcore Libertarian to agree our government (in the US) on all levels is getting a little big for its britches. Now I’m not going to go off on a rant here, but in the case of automobiles the Feds, NHSTA, and CARB have been dictating choices for at least the last thirty years. I’m honestly not up on CAFE rules but it seems to be even if you want to build a new coupe only model, if effectively can cost you fuel credits to do so since it adds one new model to the mix. So even if GM wants to build a real Eldorado again, they have to sell X amount of lo-po Daeworolets or Volts to make up for it. Even outside of the enthusiast community, people could see this is a bad practice and simply choose to vote with their feet/wallets if a mfg built models they didn’t want (thus a real market at work). Now, with regard to 86 airbags mandated and gigantic car seats, I’m not opposed to more people surviving accidents but like anything else it all has to be reasonable. I’m not married and I don’t have children but I hear about these blasted car seats all of the time, its to the point where your kids will be in them until they are 12, they’ll have to be replaced every year, oh and wait until someone does a study and next it will be wearing helmets IN the car for the kiddos. The system is out of control and it’s all being dictated by unaccountable bureaucrats, and *you* let it happen folks… which leads me to my final point.

    -American car buyers have become pus***s

    Hold back the hate for a sec, you’ve come this far. I present two cases in point, the first is a former co-worker I see every so often. He’s a nice guy, got married in 09, no kids, and until recently drove an ’04 350Z bought new and paid off. I run into him at the bar ask him about life and apparently he finally got out of my former employer and landed a job paying him much more than I know him to be worth. Because of this he and wifey now feel financially stable enough for children, so wifey a few months prior leased a CR-V and he the previous week traded his 350Z on a new TL because they agreed to buy cars that could fit car seats. Now this guy has always been a little emasculated since I met him so I wasn’t surprised but if I had a cherry T/A or some such and my gf/wife/whatever pitched that idea to me I’d tell her to cram it with walnuts. The second guy is in an identical situation except his wife is already pregnant by accident and he drives an 01 Audi TT Conv (with 30K no less). I’m not sure how he’s been her holding off, but so far he has made no *serious* attempt to sell the TT and I think he’s going to take my advice and keep it (for the time being) since its paid off and such good condition. He and wifey have been looking at fake SUVs to replace her… Prelude (seriously can’t make that stuff up).

    So whats the point of my diatribe? Simply this: so I’m married and now she’s pregnant and we only have enough income for one new car, what am I going to do? I’m going to say “honey we’ll get you [insert CUV/wagon here] and I’ll just buy my next car used” DING DING DING (I may be accused a misogynist but I’m not stupid). This is the answer to the $64,000 question and its why nobody will pony up a billion dollars to build a volume PLC like Eldorado, a Mark X, a Chrysler Imperial. The only potential buyers are young single people (who have no money for such things), empty nesters (whose market is slowly dwindling), billionaires who can afford what they want, and “car guys” buying used on the sly.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      The lower cost personal luxury coupe is not at all dead.

      The Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger are nothing if not personal luxury coupes. Especially if you are willing to count the Monte Carlo and Thunderbird as personal luxury coupes.

      What does Chrysler need do to get a boat on a 116 in wheelbase (compared to, for example 113 inches for the current Mercedes Benz E-Class) considered a personal luxury coupe, resurrect Ricardo Montalbán Tupac hologram style to talk about the fine Corinthian leather?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The more that I think about it the G-body coupes like Olds Cutlass weren’t on a dedicated platform and thus don’t technically fit the definition I laid out, so I’d have to retract them. The Ford coupes were Fox body but then went to a dedicated platform in 89 MN12/FN10 for Mark VIII. However you could make the argument those loaded up and the new Camaro/Challenger sort of fit the mold without the elegance.

      • 0 avatar
        ptschett

        Wheelbase isn’t everything… my 2010 Dodge Challenger R/T at 116″ WB outhandles my 1996 Ford Thunderbird 4.6L at 113″ WB. (245/45R20 tires vs. 215/70R15′s, & several years of suspension technology development probably have something to do with that…)

        FWIW my Challenger is the lowest package, a “27F” – meaning cloth interior & few possible options. But still it’s about equally as luxurious and spacious as my Thunderbird. At one point in time (around 2006, when I started to think about replacing the T-bird, which I’d owned since 1998) I was looking at a wide range of cars (from WRX’s & Civic Si’s, to early LX & 2nd-gen LH Chryslers, to used Cadillacs) but narrowed it to Mustang/Camaro/Challenger/Genesis coupe in 2010. Then after some test drives I decided that I wasn’t happy in any of them except the Challenger.

    • 0 avatar

      Nice post 28-Cars-Later. I come here for posts like your short essay on coupes. My other point is that two door coupe based on the identical sedan has the advantage of having more rigid body and therefore better handling. Regarding affordable luxury coupes – the reason why they disappeared is because, as you correctly pointed it out in your post, of lack of utility. They were SNUV – sport non-utility vehicle. Another reason is cars today cost so much more than in 60 and 70 and people simply cannot afford luxury coupes anymore. In addition people become less idealistic and too pragmatic and therefore invasion of Camrys and Accords. American idealism and exceptionalism are dead. New generations are more likely global citizens than uniquely American.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Thank you for the complement I appreciate it. You make an interesting point on the additional cost of autos in our times as well as a change in the thinking of the average citizen. I had an inkling the extinction of the segment had a tie in to American economics post 1980, but I couldn’t quite articulate it.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Very well done, 28. The G-body is a tough call since there was G-body RWD, G-body FWD, A-body which became G-special…on and on. One other, perhaps noteworthy reason for the popularity of coupes is that before car seats and seatbelts coupes were considered safer for children because of them being somewhat penned in and less likely to fall out without out rear doors. Many station wagons had only two doors plus the tailgate.

        Congrats on your up-coming fatherhood

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Thank you for the complement, Lie2Me. I wasn’t aware there was a time when the coupe was considered good for children but it seems to make sense. That bit at the end was me in a hypothetical situation as a buyer, nobody is or ever was pregnant by me that I am aware of, but I appreciate the good intention.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      @28CarsLater-You put a lot of thought into that post! My initial thought is that their are very few standalone coupes, in the context of chassis architecture and powertrains. It is amazing how many different cars, crossovers and vans Toyota gets off the Camry architecture today, for example. Every maker tries to spread development costs similarly so a lot more commonality likely exists under the skin than may be obvious from a styling standpoint.

      Adding models has no negative impact, and in fact, it is other attributes that create model groupings for CAFE calculation, which are actually not measured, but calculated from tailpipe emissions testing results.

      A regulatory concept, “engine family” was used to certify vehicles for emissions standards. Lotus once certified their turbo 4 cylinder Esprit as a Quad4 engine family for emissions purposes!, Only the control software was actually common, but the attributes regulators considered that allowed it were basic engine design details,4 valves, egr system design, 5 speed manual transmission, and other common emission control system design details that have escaped my memory now. Certification and CAFE calculation are almost more art than science, from my vantage point. It is the certification of a powertrain that is very costly, requiring lengthy and durability testing and monitoring. Body style proliferation is not a detriment, or even much of an impact as long as the powertrains are common as considered by emissions certification.
      My emissions compliance responsibilities ended with a job change in 1998, but I remained within the Certification and Compliance Staff at GM Powertrain until my retirement in 2008. My memory is not as clear as I’d like, but I think I hit the highlights reasonably accurately.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        You’ve certainly shed light on some of the CAFE questions I had Doc. Thank you for sharing your insider knowledge, I always enjoy getting a vicarious peek into the industry through your posts.

        • 0 avatar
          doctor olds

          @28-Cars-Later- You are welcome! And Thank you! It’s fun to share what I have learned and seen over so many years.I love cars and the business. Miss the excitement of “fighting the battle”, but retirement is pretty sweet, too!
          (I gotta stop getting “wrapped around the axle” in irritation at presumptuous know-nothings in some of these discussions, though! They do get under my skin ;)

  • avatar

    When I was a young lad running around upstate SC, one of my best friends parents had 2 of these barges. They were 4 doors, so not as cool, but still. He hated driving them, but we all couldn’t fit in his Karmen Ghia and he had access to the only car big enough for the lot of our social circle. Being the youngest and smallest I spent hours in the back with that same button style crushed velour listening to Ratt on casette, eating powered white doughnuts (it was our thing) and cruising while Scott would bitch about having to fill the tank when gas was $1.25 a gallon.

  • avatar
    Power6

    I grew up on these cars, they were cheap in the mid 90s most of my friends had one. I had the Park Avenue with the Olds 307 whopping 140hp. 4 door though, it was more convenient, and the styling is pretty much the same as the 2 door. Those long doors can be a pain in a tight parking spot.

    I would seriously consider any year T-Type LeSabre cooler than a Bentley, old 70s turbo or the FWD dickbill spoiler coupe.

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    Sweet. Jesus.

    This is a steal. I have close to that wrapped up in a 84 Continental and my trim bits and interior are a disaster (still).

    looks like I won’t be getting up to walk around for a while.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      You have 8 grand in your diesel Conti?

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        If I would really keep count – I wouldn’t want to know the count. I just paid 600 bucks to relocate it across the country. I had a cool 4 g’s in it upon acquisition.

        It’s cheaper than a psychiatrist. And if the shrink would fail, its certainly cheaper than another divorce, coke and hookers.

        Old cars are not cheap. And the results are more mixed than the illegit mexican strays I left roaming around the DF.

  • avatar
    Michael500

    This Buick is so cool! I owned the 1985 version of this LeSabre, “Limited,” this car was FUN. I got tapped/bumped twice from the back- didn’t stop, those 5 MPH battering ram bumpers could take a hit, literally, no damage. I had the GM mouse-fur interior. I looked down at most people around me because I felt I was driving a yacht with the dashboard “nautical” theme. NO ONE in a decent car ever parked next to this two-door leviathan.

  • avatar
    Scribe39

    Nice ride. When they quit making real Hudsons, I started looking into Buicks and drove them for a long time. That one looks good, likely had a 350. The Buick in my avatar was bought in 1960 (it is a ’55) and was as fine a car as anyone could want. And, yes, it was a Riviera 2-door. And, yes, that nailhead would run the speedo out… :-)

  • avatar
    xantia10000

    My dad had a 1977 Buick when I was a kid. It always seemed to be getting fixed for one reason or another. I remember one day we walked up to it and there was a big pool of antifreeze underneath it. Plus it created some nice oil spots in the garage. When it was working, the ride was so floaty that 4 year-old me invariably invariably vomited all over the back seat. It was renamed the “Puick” and in 1983, when it was only 5 years-old and developing some nice rust spots, it was sold to the school janitor. It was replaced with… a Honda Accord. And to this day no more American cars in the family garage…

  • avatar
    supremebrougham

    Well if this isn’t a good place to shamelessly plug The Brougham Society on Facebook, I don’t know what is…

  • avatar
    Blackcloud_9

    Love the velour upholstery! As they would say on Curbside Classics: It’S Brougham-tastic!

    My father had a Delta 88 “Royale” of this vintage, it did not wear well. Like an earlier poster said the emissions control choked engine could barely get out of it’s own way. Found out later that GM was bolting the V-8s to transmissions meant for their four cylinder cars. He only owned it for four years (in CA) and all sorts of things broke, fell off or faded – like the paint and the wood tone appliques. Sometimes I think we tend to look too fondly on past cars and seem to forget the mechanical nightmares they could be.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      @Blackcloud_9- “… GM was bolting the V-8s to transmissions meant for their four cylinder cars.” This is not true, just one of the myths that float around the auto world. In fact, the 4 cylinder version of the THM200 transmission had only 2 pinion gears in the planetary gear sets and fewer clutch plates than those designed for use with larger engines. The THM200 had some pleasability issues, primarily resulting from dealer technicians’ unfamiliarity with the new Throttle Valve Cable method of tailoring shift feel based on throttle opening- i.e. engine torque.

      A GM stockholder who voiced complaint of harsh shifts on her new ’77 Delta 88 at GM’s annual shareholder’s meeting happened to reside in my Oldsmobile District. We brought engineers from Hydramatic Division to her dealership and she exclaimed that “we were geniuses” because a 5 minute adjustment of the cable was all that was necessary to make it pleasant.

      There is no doubt that vehicles are very much more dependable now than during that era, but we sold a million Oldsmobiles a year for another 9 years. They couldn’t have been that bad!

      • 0 avatar
        Blackcloud_9

        If my information about the transmission was incorrect, I apologize. I had heard this story on an NBC “20/20 like” – I don’t remember off-hand what NBC called the program – news show a long time ago. Now of course, NBC was also responsible for putting explosives near Chevy pick-up gas tanks so they would catch fire more easily. So, I guess I should have been more skeptical in the first place.

        However, I do remember how poorly the car held up. I know everyone’s personal experiences with their cars can be summed up as anecdotal evidence but I believe GM vehicles from the late 70s to late 80s were at their nadir in terms of reliability and craftsmanship.

        My anecdotal evidence includes:
        Father’s 77 Olds Delta 88
        Oldest brother’s 76 Olds Starfire
        Older brother’s 78 and 85 Camaros
        My own 89 Pontiac Grand Am

        All of these cars had a variety of problems both mechanically and with fit & finish

        Today I own a Chevy Volt and I’m very happy with it and would not hesitate considering a GM car for a future vehicle purchase.

        • 0 avatar
          doctor olds

          @Blackcloud_9- No apology necessary! In fact, the Japanese dramatically raised the bar on quality and deserve accolades and recognition!
          On the other hand, misinformation, as you mentioned from NBC, is particularly maddening to see and hear when you know it is pure BS based on some journalist’s incompetence or worse- deep pockets trial lawyers planting false information so they can win lawsuits. These things have been far more prevalent than most people know.

          I am gratified that you are pleased with your Volt! Many of us worked vey hard for many years to improve quality and dependability so that GM could once again become the “mark of excellence”. It sure seems to be paying off!

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    “… horrifying crap like the BMW X6 …” – the only vehicle that makes the Acura ZDX look attractive.

    And underscoring the deep sadness the X6 induces, an E28 with dealer plates 535 parked next to me at work last week. A wave of nostalgia washed over me. This was my dream car when I was a kid and it reminded me how hard I lobbied my mom to buy one tax free for export when we left Munich.

  • avatar
    Reino

    ‘Welcome to Atlanta’ is a song by Jermaine Dupri and Ludacris. Andre 3000 didn’t appear in it.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    I grew up in Allen Park, MI, and one of my friends was from a family a step or two up the socio-economic ladder. So, his parents both drove Lincolns. (This was in the early 70′s.) Ron’s mom drove a ’63 Lincoln Continental, powder blue IIRC with the suicide doors. His dad drove a new 1973 Town Car sedan.

    Nothing felt so luxurious as sliding in and out of those 4-door beasts. My dad drove a 1970 Ford 500 Businessman’s coupe, which probably was a bit more nimble, but for sheer magnificence, those Lincolns were the shizzle. So, my response to the piece is yeah, a coupe might be nice, but when you want to load up a group of friends and head out for a night of hi-jinx or a good old fashioned pub crawl, nothing beats a big ol’ ‘Merican sedan.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    @doctor olds: Well a ’76 Cutlass Supreme Brougham showed up on a local used car lot for a short time…triple blue with that light metallic blue GM put on pretty much everything, a nice set of steelies with chrome Oldsmobile center caps and a 350 under the hood. It won me over so much that I’ve made it a life goal to buy a triple blue ’76 Cutlass Supreme 350.

  • avatar
    Dan R

    This is terrible.
    It looks like a Chrysler last ditch effort before the creditors approach.
    Vague, prestige-like radiator.
    However. with some thick sway bars and Bilsteins, it would be a great novelty ride.

  • avatar
    Dan R

    I just realized.
    As per the same styling cues of the pickups.
    Buick (GM) decided to copy Chrysler coupes in the front end “treatment”
    An incestuous bunch.
    No stone unturned.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India