Junkyard Find: 1986 Buick Somerset

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Ahhh, the Buick Somerset! One of my favorite obscure General Motors cars of the 1980s, right up there with the Oldsmobile Toronado Troféo and Buick Reatta. The Somerset started out in 1985 as the Somerset Regal, but then GM’s marketers must have become as confused as an octogenarian Buick shopper confronted in the showroom by this little coupe with thrashy four-banger and science-fiction radio pod, changing the name to just plain Somerset for 1986. Not easy to find, the Somerset, so I was happy to spot this one last winter in a Denver self-service yard.

Somerset buyers got this cool digital dash, which might have appealed to Japanese octogenarians but didn’t resonate so well with American ones who grew up with a more traditional sort of Buick coupe. No, I didn’t buy this cluster to add to my collection— I already have a Somerset digital cluster, pulled from another car that I found the week before photographing this one.

Want to upgrade to an aftermarket radio in your Somerset? Not with this setup in place, you won’t!

Nobody has ever been able to explain what GM was thinking when they came up with this idea.

Under the hood, the good old Iron Duke, the least luxurious engine available to General Motors at the time. The 3.0 liter Buick V6 was optional for the ’86 Somerset.

This one ran when crashed.


Give me the look. Give me the feel. Give me the magic. Give me the wheel.

Where better really matters.








Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Supercool Supercool on Sep 17, 2016

    My Folks bought an 85 Somerset in 86. V6 with the Digital Dash that always made people go WoW. I loved punching the gas ped! It did a lot of things right and I bought it from them in 94, my first decent car! I put one used tranny in for $320. and an alternator. It went to aprox 170k. (before meeting a dumb deer that jumped out from the safety of the ditch, at 40mph) The Car was comfortable, capable driver that Always started in the coldest sub-zero Winters. My neighbors could hardly believe it. I just assumed all cars didnt mind cold! It hated pot holes resulting from a weight distribution feeling like 1 anvil was on the front and 1 box of Twinkies were in back.

  • Jorel Price Jorel Price on Jan 29, 2024

    I currently owe this 1985 Buick Somerset Regal 2.5lt 4 cylinder 3 gear automatic from the block state mile high city. So let's get one thing straight yes if you can think out of the box you can put in a new stereo deck I did it myself also I'm surprised know brought up the fact it has no cup holders but once again I would think outside of the box and customize the center console so I could have a cup holder. My car is not to bad exspeaclly when it is 2024 and the car is 1 year younger then me but it only has 70k original miles which I have had to of course do some mechanical work exspeaclly the rubber parts and some gaskets. My only complaint is why would they put the distributor in the location that would make it a project to replace the icm, which are notorious for going out since the in side the distributor under the rotor. Excuse my punctuation, grammar, and spelling.

  • Ravenuer Looking forward to it!
  • Daniel J I love my mazda 6. It's getting harder and harder to drive it around where I live as municipalities fail to repair roads. SUVs are just easier to drive with all of the potholes.
  • 1995 SC On the plus side, I found a sedan I want to buy
  • Teddyc73 As I asked earlier under another article, when did "segment" or "class" become "space"? Does using that term make one feel more sophisticated? If GM's products in other segments...I mean "space" is more profitable then sedans then why shouldn't they discontinue it.
  • Robert Absolutely!!! I hate SUV's , I like the better gas milage and better ride and better handling!! Can't take a SUV 55mph into a highway exit ramp! I can in my Malibu and there's more than enough room for 5 and trunk is plenty big enough for me!
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