Rare Rides: The 1980 Buick Electra, Luxury on Park Avenue

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
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rare rides the 1980 buick electra luxury on park avenue

As we’ve arrived at another edition of Thanksgiving in this, the Most Awesome Current Year, let’s celebrate with a very American Rare Ride. Today’s big boat was the pinnacle of the Buick brand in 1980. Full of acres of ruched velour and wood-look trim, the Park Avenue took Electra to new heights before the fancy name ever became an independent model.

Come along and enjoy American Luxury, even if it’s not an Oldsmobile.

Buick’s Electra nameplate debuted for 1959, a year of change at Buick: The brand renamed all its models that year. At the time, Buick offered only three cars, all full-size. The Special became the LeSabre, the Century morphed into Invicta, the Super of ’58 vanished, and the range-topping Roadmaster was split, into the slightly lesser Electra, and the pinnacle Electra 225. The 225 moniker signified that version’s additional length over standard Electra, which in its first generation spanned over 225 inches.

For the next 30-plus years, Electra was Buick’s largest and most expensive sedan. Initially offered in two-and four-door guises, and pillared, hardtop, four- and six-window sedans, body styles were pared down over time like all large domestic offerings. The Electra’s Park Avenue trim appeared for 1975 as an option on the Limited. By that time the 225 was the base model, trumped by the Limited, which was supplemented by the luxury appearance package Park Avenue. The trim hierarchy continued onto the fifth generation Electra, which appeared as a downsized C-body for the 1977 model year (short 11 inches). Buick’s flagship was offered in coupe, sedan, and wagon variants; hardtops were gone for good.

A year after introduction, the Park Avenue name graduated from a mere appearance package on the Limited to a freestanding trim. For 1978 upgrades specific to Park Avenue were limited to the grille and tail lamps, but 1979 upgraded the trim further: A more vertical front end treatment appeared, as well as different tail lamps with an integrated Buick crest and additional trim. 1979’s over-the-top treatment was a big ask though, and for 1980 Park Avenue reverted mostly to the ’77 look, apart from a grille with vertical slats. Breaking from a tradition that dated to the model’s introduction in 1959, the 225 trim disappeared from Electra in 1980. Just as well, as the car was shortened a couple more inches that year, down to 220.9 from its original 222.1. More edits in ’80 saw the disappearance of the signature VentiPorts from the fender. A concession to Park Avenue’s upscale customers, faux VentiPorts appeared that year in the fender trim, as dents in the metal highlighted by black stickers.

Engine offerings varied by year, as emissions regulations quickly strangled out the big block. Offerings ranged from the smallest 4.1-liter Buick V6 through the Oldsmobile 403 (6.6L). Depending on trim, the transmission was either a three- or four-speed automatic.

1984 was the end of the rear-drive C-body Electra seen here, as in ’85 another serious downsizing at GM accompanied a swap to front-drive power trains. In 1991, Buick changed up its full-size lineup once more and offered two cars instead of one. The Electra which used the Park Avenue name as a trim replaced by the newly created Park Avenue. The front-drive C-body played second fiddle to the new flagship of the brand, the rear-drive B-body Roadmaster. You probably know the story after that point.

Today’s silver over luxurious burgundy Rare Ride was auctioned in 2018. Well equipped with air conditioning, 8 track player, and the 350 Buick V8, it sold for an unspecified sum. As a closing observation, I think the wrap-around tail lamp treatment and simple horizontal lines of the Electra make the Buick the best looking of any C-body of this era.

[Images: seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Writing things for TTAC since late 2016 from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio. You can find me on Twitter @CoreyLewis86, and I also contribute at Forbes Wheels.

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3 of 42 comments
  • Roberto Esponja Roberto Esponja on Nov 30, 2020

    If I'm not mistaken, this was the last year they had those beautiful silver background gauges. The next year they were replaced with these horrible black background ones with industrial-type number fonts, something that would have been suitable for a cargo van but certainly not a Buick. And the sad part is they continued with them until the mid 1980's. Awful move.

    • Sgeffe Sgeffe on Dec 03, 2020

      Interesting. They kept the gauges like this in the Regal until 1983. 1984 was the year Buick went to the sweep speedo cluster seen in the GNs up through the end of the run in 1987.

  • SportyClassic SportyClassic on Jan 30, 2022

    Bought one in 88 off the daughter of an old man passed away for $1,750 Canadian had 60,000 miles and new tires new battery just got certified a pillar on the passenger side had a 1" rotted out section because of the moonroof drains...leaves clog it up. Door skins were roached rear quarters bottoms were done car ran like a dream road like a dream had every single option except leather which was great. Cruise tilt/ tele, power windows, seats, gas cap trunk w remote release, turn signal indicators on the hood, factory alarm cigarette lighters, 6 speaker AM/FM cassette, wire wheels dark blue exterior with a baby blue top only thing that didn't work was the opera lights as it was about 400 bucks for the module. Sold it in 90 for $2650.

  • Ernesto Perez There's a line in the movie Armageddon where Bruce Willis says " is this the best idea NASA came up with?". Don't quote me. I'm asking is this the best idea NY came up with? What's next? Charging pedestrians to walk in certain parts of the city? Every year the price for everything gets more expensive and most of the services we pay for gets worse. Obviously more money is not the solution. What we need are better ideas, strategies and inventions. You want to charge drivers in the city - then put tolls on the free bridges like the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. There's always a better way or product. It's just the idiots on top think they know best.
  • Carsofchaos The bike lanes aren't even close to carrying "more than the car lanes replaced". You clearly don't drive in Midtown Manhattan on a daily like I do.
  • Carsofchaos The problem with congestion, dear friends, is not the cars per se. I drive into the city daily and the problem is this:Your average street in the area used to be 4 lanes. Now it is a bus lane, a bike lane (now you're down to two lanes), then you have delivery trucks double parking, along with the Uber and Lyft drivers also double parking. So your 4 lane avenue is now a 1.5 lane avenue. Do you now see the problem? Congestion pricing will fix none of these things....what it WILL do is fund persion plans.
  • FreedMike Many F150s I encounter are autonomously driven...and by that I mean they're driving themselves because the dips**ts at the wheel are paying attention to everything else but the road.
  • Tassos A "small car", TIM????????????This is the GLE. Have you even ever SEEN the huge thing at a dealer's??? NOT even the GLC,and Merc has TWO classes even SMALLER than the C (The A and the B, you guessed it? You must be a GENIUS!).THe E is a "MIDSIZED" crossover, NOT A SMALL ONE BY ANY STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION, oh CLUELESS one.I AM SICK AND TIRED OF THE NONSENSE you post here every god damned day.And I BET you will never even CORRECT your NONSENSE, much less APOLOGIZE for your cluelessness and unprofessionalism.