By on March 31, 2015

09 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe General shrank the Buick Electra for the 1977 model year and then ditched the model entirely in 1990, so the ’76 was the last of the proper single-digit-fuel-economy Electras. These comfy gerontocrusiers used to be everywhere on American roads, even in the dark days after gas prices went crazy, and you still see them in wrecking yards today, but for some reason I’ve photographed just one prior to today’s Junkyard Find.
15 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSir Mix-a-Lot immortalized the beat-up Electra as the iconic hooptie 26 years ago (not long before I photographed this ’73 on a Stockton highway).
07 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 455-cubic-inch V8 was down to a mere 205 horsepower in 1976 (27 more than the base four-cylinder engine in the 2015 Camry), but it still had (and needed) a fairly healthy 345 lb-ft of torque.
17 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI have never seen one of these “digital” GM dash clocks with the scrolling seconds reel that worked, not even when they were new.
05 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAM, FM, 8-track— just the thing for your Gary Wright tapes (although your typical Buick buyer in 1976 most likely listened to something more like this tape).
03 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBuick stuck with the black-on-silver gauge schtick for quite a few years after this.

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65 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1976 Buick Electra Limited Coupe...”


  • avatar
    danio3834

    Those seats! What a classy interior that would have been in the disco era. I’m pretty sure my grandma had wall paper in her house made from that material.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      Classy? No. That interior looked like sh_t. I remember these when new, heck, my grandfather had the first year of this platform, a 1971. His was a lot more subdued, it didn’t have the humongous bumpers and its design just “flowed” better. A 1971 Buick Electra still looked distinguished, like what a traditional Buick should look like. This one is more like what 1966 Don Draper would probably have looked like by 1976: side burns, poofy hair, wide-lapeled plaid jacket, a checkered vest, polyblend Pierre Cardin shirt and solid flannel pants. Ugh…

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Of course I used “classy” in the subjective sense.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Except like others of his type he would have the ‘Disco Stu’ perm.

        The older I get the more I miss the styling of the Malaise Era. I did prefer the look that Ford gave their automobiles, far more baroque. For example the full size LTD and the Granada Ghia.

        However, who am I to judge? We had one of the very first Cordobas in Canada and I still have nothing bad to say about it. A fully loaded model with the big engine, ‘Corinthian Leather’ interior and matching vinyl half-roof. Used to flip the air filter when we went cruising to make it sound meaner.

    • 0 avatar
      Crabspirits

      Indeed.
      If I was there, I would toss that seat back into place and try it out. After giving it a light sniff test, of course.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Cars like this were training coffins for the Greatest Generation who gave us boomers our uniquely privileged lives. I begrudge them nothing, however excessive or opulent.

  • avatar
    friedclams

    I like land yachts, but even for me, this car is kinda gross — bloated and not very handsome. I much prefer the downsized Electras. But those silver gauges are awesome!

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    I see one of these in the same color every day during my commute. It moves to a different spot every now and then in the driveway so it must get driven now and then.

  • avatar
    miketve

    Amusingly, there are quite a few classic vendors around the country that have managed to accumulate absolute mint survivors of these and others, Olds, Lincoln, etc. Some do live to waft on, and that’s a great thing.

    But really they are like caricatures of themselves, so bloated in appearance that they actually look like they will sag and collapse under their own weight.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    This may be the most gauche malaise product ever produced. And the side rear window makes no sense to the design of the car, at all.

  • avatar

    General Motors was at the top of its game in the early 1960s. In my opinion, 1962 and 1963 Buick Electras were too large, but they were handsome cars. They went down hill after that. This 1976 version is simply cheezy!

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      Agree, Redbat01. The ’61-’64 C-bodies were a high point for the General. It would have been fun to cross-shop that generation Cadillac against its 98 and Electra sister cars as well as the Elwood Engel-penned Contintental.

  • avatar
    zamoti

    Can someone please tell me what that odd strip is over the front wheel arch? I recall those on Buicks and ONLY Buicks, but have for the life of me never been able to tell what they were supposed to be. It’s not like today’s lame fake cooling portals, or something that may have been functional in some way. It’s just this plastic thing that I always thought were tiny ramps when I would wash my mom’s car. In this picture it looks like a light, but I know for a fact that the ones I saw were black and gray and were not lights. I’ve seen them described as louvers, but that appears to be a stretch.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      That’s a stylized faux-ventiport strip an iconic Buick symbol of the ventiports going back to the 40s

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Those be the 70’s interpretation of venti-ports. The number of ports total if you add the sides up, reflects the number of cylinders in the engine. They still do this today, though the number of ports no longer means anything.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        As far as I know when used the ventiport trim pieces still indicate the number of cylinders

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          http://static.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/images/Auto/izmo/366122/2015_buick_encore_angularfront.jpg

          Encore, 1.4L 4-cyl only, 6 ventiports.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Ok, you win

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            On-topic: http://www.motortrend.com/classic/features/1006_buick_ventriports_the_early_years/

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            “1960: Ventiports return, with four on the Electra 225 and Electra, three on the Invicta and LeSabre. Until the modern era, the ventiports would come and go, tied into model hierarchy rather than engine size or power.”

            Ugh, they aren’t even bothering to do THIS now. The Regal has four. Encore has six.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        They never represented the cylinder count they represented the model hierarchy. Top models (Electra) were “4 holers” while the lesser models sported only 3 holes (LeSabre). Buick did not offer a 6cyl in their full size cars until the 70’s.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I certainly read this somewhere, so I was under an incorrect assumption for a long time! At least now I know it was in order of “prestige.” Even though they aren’t applying that philosophy nowadays.

  • avatar
    rpm773

    “although your typical Buick buyer in 1976 most likely listened to something more like this tape)”

    If I may say, this seems to be a really inappropriate time to post this Junkyard Find.

    I mean, Buick has just spent the last several weeks incessantly running March Madness ads, trying to disassociate itself from the WWII, Silent, and aging Boomer generations.

    And along comes Murilee, with a picture of a gigantic 76 Electra and jab involving the Andrews Sisters…

  • avatar
    skor

    The body still looks pretty solid. Solid or not, with a few exceptions, no one is interested in restoring these 70s disco sleds, so I’m not surprised they end up in the junkyard after grandma kicks off.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    This is one of the cars that I wish I could shove in the faces of people who try to call something a “land yacht” today.

    I guess I should just snap back with a quote from Al Czervik – “Hey Judge, my boat’s bigger than your whole dingy!”

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Since you brought up Gary Wright, I once went on a blind date with a girl who baby-sat his children. Man, that was a loooong time ago.

  • avatar
    GS 455

    If I could find a 76 Park Avenue Coupe I’d buy it in a heartbeat. And I would rather listen to the Andrews Sisters than Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Maroon 5 etc.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Option #3: Go full prog(ressive rock).

      (10 minutes later) “Why isn’t this song over yet?”

      “Shh! We’re just getting to the saxophone/Moog duet in 13/8 time!”

  • avatar
    rpm773

    With someone having run off with the turning signals under the front headlights, the fascia of this thing has look running mascara.

    The car weeps silently, slowly being picked apart, as it waits for its date of doom with the crusher

  • avatar
    rpm1200

    I love the Speed Alert! My Grandma’s Buick Wildcat had that feature too. Looks like it is set to 70 MPH.

  • avatar

    I have this car. Well. Similar. I have a Musket Brown ’76 LeSabre Custom 4D Hardtop w/455cid, a/c, monaural AM radio, and ZERO other options. Paid $300 for it and it cost me $450 to drive it down from PA circa ~2006 with my buddy – averaged about 8MPG since the carburetor wasn’t tuned and the needles were left wide open.

    • 0 avatar

      sounds like my 77 chevelle when i got it.. $300 and it came home on a flatbed as it had no reverse and no 3rd gear out of the Th350. I had to take it on a roadtrip the next week as my DD ate a fuel pump that morning before i was to leave so i jumped in it and drove it 200 miles, I had to fill it up once because it got such miserable mileage (8mpg!) out of the 2bbl 305 that it drank the 22 gallon tank dry in 200 miles.

      Now… it gets 22mpg doing the same thing. still has 145hp though.

  • avatar
    Omnifan

    I think that GM was putting 3.8L engines in these cars around 75 or 76. Talk about a lump.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      They were but not in the Electra, only the LeSabre. They had the V6 badging on the front of each fender. I’m sure they must have been quite pokey. The 231 was quite popular in the later 76-77 colonnade Regal’s and Specials. The Regal being the personal luxury coupe similar to the Monte Carlo and the GP and the Special which was akin to the Malibu. I had a neighbor with a Special coupe. It was quite stylish with rally wheels and a stripe that ran from the lower front fender up across the door. IIRC they got a reasonable malaise era 18-20 mpg.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Anyone can have faux wood trim, but it takes a certain chutzpah to sport carved faux wood trim. Bravo Buick!

    I love these things. Piloting a car this size around town can be a real blast. And its probably lighter and shorter(lengthwise) than today’s full size extended cab pickup!

  • avatar
    70Cougar

    My dad had a ’76 LeSabre hard top. It had a slate gray/blue corduroy interior that was down right tasteful compared to the featured Electra. My dad bought it used in 78 or so, when the smaller full-sizers were available from GM. My mom was pissed that he bought such a boat.

    I remember always thinking it would be more aerodynamic driven backwards.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Man, look at the paint. Someone loved this poor old beast. Shame for it to go.

  • avatar
    matador

    205 HP!? Wow, even for the Malaise Era, that sounds depressing!

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      I don’t think the big blocks dipped below 240, but I could be wrong. 205 sounds more like Pontiac 400 territory.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      HP may have been low, but the torque was always good on these cars.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      Two things happened after the Feds shut down Detroit’s horsepower wars: 1) Smog controls that seriously choked the life out of these engines. 2) Detroit was required to report HP numbers using actual production engines and the rating went from gross to net.

      Back in the day Ford claimed that their 289 Hi-Po engine put out 271HP. In reality the net number was probably closer to 210. This was before the smog controls.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Sad to see another 455 go to the junkyard. The world needs more hot rods that don’t have SBCs in them, like the Nailhead, Oldsmobile 371, and Dodge 270 Hemi powered ones I saw at a car show last year.

  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    Oh you youngins. I took my drivers test in a 1950 Buick Special, then came the Super and then the Roadmaster which had 4 holes , the other two had 3 holes. I think they all had straight eights.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I think that exact shade of brown is back in vogue.

  • avatar
    dtremit

    Is the 8-track slot behind the radio dial? I can’t decide whether to be impressed that Delco engineered that or terrified at how many times it must have broken.

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    Today I picked up my 1972 Toronado from the transmission shop. The modulator rubber line had split and that was the reason for the hard second gear. Diagnosed and repaired free of charge by Leon’s Transmission in La Mirada, CA. Even though the big GMs from 1971 to 1976 shared a platform it is true that the 1975 and 1976 did have that “maybe too much cushy” look to them but I still love them!
    Recently a lot of Oldsmobile Club members have taken to restoring the big 88s and 98s from this era.
    Why?

    Quality
    Style
    Presence
    Made in the USA!!
    ‘Nuff said!
    Today: Driving my just-acquired 2000 Eldorado ETC with the aircraft-precision head bolts done by Carroll Custom Cadillac in Texas.
    What GM did incorrectly with the Northstar V8 CCC will make new again!

  • avatar
    Moparmann

    This version also had the “soft” plastic extension (removed from this car) surrounding the ends of the bumper assembly. Oftentimes, they would disintergrate, leaving the bumper ends appearing to “float” clear of the quarter panels! :-)

  • avatar
    spreadsheet monkey

    Keep the Buick junkyard finds coming! As a Brit looking in on the US car market, I always struggled to understand Oldsmobile and Buick’s position in the GM portfolio of brands. Both seemed to be for people who wanted a bit of luxury without the ostentatiousness of a Cadillac, but Buick was slightly more upmarket – right?

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      Yes. The hierarchical order was supposed to be Chevrolet-Pontiac-Oldsmobile-Buick-Cadillac, but it began to get fuzzy after the mid-1960’s or so.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        John Diefenbaker who was the ‘populist’ ‘Progressive’ Conservative Prime Minister of Canada in the late 50’s and early 60’s, although unable to drive himself was quite aware of the image surrounding Cadillac.

        Rather than being accused of being out of touch with the people, he insisted that he be driven in a Buick rather than a Cadillac.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Cadillacs were for movie stars, mobsters, and brash nouveau-riche types. Buicks were for more respectable, upstanding citizens with family money, and Oldsmobile was upper-middle-class, entrepreneurial self-starter types.

  • avatar
    DownUnder2014

    I wouldn’t mind this at all, even if it only gets single digit mileage.

  • avatar
    Nick

    I can’t believe the 455 from this and the other big block are still in the cars. Is there some secret engine surplus out there? Chevy 454s but the other big blocks you’ve got to look for.

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