Junkyard Find: 1977 Buick Electra Limited

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Back in 2011 we admired a discarded example of the last of the true Buick Electra land yachts: a 1976 Electra Park Avenue Limited four-door hardtop found in a Northern California wrecking yard. What happened in 1977? General Motors, suffering from plummeting sales of thirsty big Buicks in the wake of events beyond its control, shrank the Electra, ditching the pillarless hardtop in the process.

Here’s one of those downsized Electras — a Limited, spotted in a Denver self-service yard.

Even though the ’77 Electra was nearly a foot shorter and correspondingly lighter than its predecessor, The General didn’t skimp on the gingerbread. On the outside, a swanky padded vinyl roof with heraldic-crest badging showed the neighbors that Electra owners had almost as much class as Sedan DeVille buyers.

Inside, large swaths of Whorehouse Red button-tufted velour made the Electra Limited’s interior feel like Hugh Hefner’s guest bathroom.

Now I am wishing I had purchased these exquisitely mid-1970s-GM fake-wood “coffin handle” door pulls for my next junkyard-parts boombox project.

The base engine in the 1977 Electra was a Buick 350 cubic-inch V8 making 155 horsepower. This car has the optional Oldsmobile 403, same as the 1977 Pontiac Trans Am of Smokey and the Bandit fame (the cars used in the film had beefed-up Pontiac 400s swapped in, because the stock 403 wasn’t capable of sufficiently gnarly burnouts), rated at 185 horses.

In the oddly cadenced words of the highly Buickian Glenn Ford, “For 75 years, the attribute that most people have been willing to give to the name Buick… is luxury. That’s been true from the very beginning, on through the touring cars and what was fondly called… the doctor’s cars.”

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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  • Ponchoman49 Ponchoman49 on Nov 29, 2017

    My cousin still has a 1982 Electra Limited in dark green with the original 307 Olds with 320K miles on it. The 200R4 was rebuilt once and the engine was treated to a timing chain and gears and new valve cover gaskets a few years back but it otherwise has never been opened up. Driving the car you would never know it had that many miles. He changes the oil at 3000 miles on the dot and fully services that car each year. That is his around town car. His road trip car is a 2000 Park Avenue in pearl white that is closing in on 200K! Again it has the original drivetrain and the only thing replaced on the engine was the upper and lower intake gaskets. He loves both cars

  • 74DodgeD300 74DodgeD300 on Jan 08, 2018

    My dad had one of these cars. I can remember riding in the back seat, barely able to look over the dash from the rear seats, it always felt like the front end was higher going down the highway. We never put on the seat belts. My siblings and I would always argue over who's turn it was to ride lying down on the rear deck :) oohh the days.

  • Varezhka The biggest underlying issue of Mitsubishi Motors was that for most of its history the commercial vehicles division was where all the profit was being made, subsidizing the passenger vehicle division losses. Just like Isuzu.And because it was a runt of a giant conglomerate who mainly operated B2G and B2B, it never got the attention it needed to really succeed. So when Daimler came in early 2000s and took away the money making Mitsubishi-Fuso commercial division, it was screwed.Right now it's living off of its legacy user base in SE Asia, while its new parent Nissan is sucking away at its remaining engineering expertise in EV and kei cars. I'd love to see the upcoming US market Delica, so crossing fingers they will last that long.
  • ToolGuy A deep-dive of the TTAC Podcast Archives gleans some valuable insight here.
  • Tassos I heard the same clueless, bigoted BULLSHEET about the Chinese brands, 40 years ago about the Japanese Brands, and more recently about the Koreans.If the Japanese and the Koreans have succeeded in the US market, at the expense of losers such as Fiat, Alfa, Peugeot, and the Domestics,there is ZERO DOUBT in my mind, that if the Chinese want to succeed here, THEY WILL. No matter what one or two bigots do about it.PS try to distinguish between the hard working CHINESE PEOPLE and their GOVERNMENT once in your miserable lives.
  • 28-Cars-Later I guess Santa showed up with bales of cash for Mitsu this past Christmas.
  • Lou_BC I was looking at an extended warranty for my truck. The F&I guy was trying to sell me on the idea by telling me how his wife's Cadillac had 2 infotainment failures costing $4,600 dollars each and how it was very common in all of their products. These idiots can't build a reliable vehicle and they want me to trust them with the vehicle "taking over" for me.