Junkyard Find: 1986 Buick Somerset

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1986 buick somerset

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.

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2 of 88 comments
  • Djfunkmasterg Djfunkmasterg on Mar 03, 2015

    My mother had one of these cars, a 1986 model. It was two Tone Green (light top, dark bottom. I remember she ended up trading it for one of the last GNX's produced in 1987. I was never a fan of the car as it constantly overheated when it hit 20,000 miles, and that radio pod was annoying. I remember it breaking loose from the mount and the dealer wanting around $250.00 to fix it. Her's had the 2.5L Tech 4, not a bad engine, but not great.

  • 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.

  • Tim Healey Have to check on the Last Call stuff. As for Hornet, will be on sale this year.
  • SCE to AUX It's worth considering the recall rate (recalled vehicles vs sales), rather than just recall notices or vehicles affected.The newest calculation for this that I could find was for 1985 - 2016, so not very relevant today.As for the Veloster, sealing printed circuit boards is not new tech, but it must be perfect to be truly effective. My son's 11 Sonata was recalled for a similar problem on the power steering circuit board.
  • MaintenanceCosts When is the actual new stuff coming out? I don't make shaky YouTube videos of myself running from the police, so yet another Hellcat is boring.
  • NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys hornet is an alfa with $15k on the hood from the factory in italy
  • Tassos This "Eldorado" is a sad caricature of the far more substantial Eldorado and esp "Biarritz"s of the late 50s and 60s.It belongs to the junkyard. I can see no reason why anybody would want to restore this loser.Instead, you can get a FLAGSHIP German Luxury Sedan from the Web auctions, such as this one that was just sold for a tiny fraction of its price new, and which is still eminently driveable with little or no improvements:https://carsandbids.com/auctions/3oeMDvJw/2011-audi-a8-42-quattro