Buick Electra Classic Cars Wiki

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Buick Electra

The Buick Electra was a full-size premium automobile built by the Buick division of General Motors. The Electra name (in various manners) was used by Buick between 1959 and 1990.

Contents

1959–1960 Edit

Prior to 1959, the Roadmaster and the Super constituted the upper echelon of Buick’s lineup. For 1959, they were renamed the Electra 225 and the Electra respectively.

The Electra 225 nameplate was a nod to the car’s overall length of over 225 in (5,715 mm), earning it the street name deuce and a quarter.

The Electra 225 Riviera was the top-line model and it shared its six window hardtop roofline exclusively with Cadillac (which offered it on all of its models). Buick first applied the Riviera name to a premium trimmed 2-door Roadmaster hardtop in the middle of the 1949 model year, and thereafter denoted all Buick hardtops Rivieras. Also, from 1950 through 1953, Buick made a premium trimmed, stretched wheelbase sedan, exclusively in the Roadmaster and Super lines, that was called Riviera. But 1959 was the first year that not all Buick hardtops were called Rivieras. A standard 4-window four-door hardtop was also available, as was a 4-door 6-window pillared sedan, along with a stripped chassis of which 144 were built in 1959 and 1960.

The two-door convertible was only available as an Electra 225, and the 2-door hardtop as an Electra.

1959

For 1959, the Electra and Electra 225 both used the General Motors C-body shared with the Oldsmobile 98 and all Cadillac, riding on a longer 126.3-inch (3,210 mm) wheelbase than the B-body LeSabre and Invicta, both of which rode on 123 inches (3,100 mm). The standard and only available engine was the 401 cubic-inch Wildcat V8 with four-barrel carburetor, 10.25 to 1 compression ratio and 325 horsepower (242 kW) mated to a two-speed Dynaflow automatic transmission, which was also standard equipment along with power steering and power brakes using Buick’s unique 12-inch (300 mm) finned aluminum brake drums. Power windows and seat and leather interiors were standard on the Electra 225 convertible and optional on all other models. Front bucket seats were optional on the convertible. Electra interiors were trimmed in nylon Mojave cloth or broadcloth combinations with Cordaveen.

Electra 225 convertibles were trimmed in leather. Standard Electra features included horizontal Red-line speedometer, two-speed electric windshield wipers, trip mileage indicator, cigar lighter, dual sunshades, Step-On parking brake, dual horns, Twin-Turbine automatic transmission, Foamtex seat cushions, electric clock, trunk light, glovebox light, power steering, power brakes, full wheelcovers and dual exhaust. In addition Electra 225s had Super Deluxe wheelcovers and an outside rearview mirror as standard equipment.

Padded dashboards were also standard.

The Electra, along with all other 1959 Buicks, featured all new styling shared with other GM divisions that included slanted headlights in front along with a highly chromed square grille somewhat similar to the 1958 Buick and Delta-Fins back along with round taillights. Exterior distinction from other Buicks came from extra-wide moldings, with a massive Electra emblem on the front fender extension. The Electra 225 script was found on the front fenders ahead of the wheelhouse.

The 4-door models had a lower bright rear fender molding as well.

1960

The 1960 Electra and Electra 225 received a minor facelift with a concave grille and horizontal headlights centered by Buick’s then-new Trishield logo, which is still in use today. Reintroduced to Electras and other Buicks for 1960 were the chrome VentiPorts first introduced in 1949 and last seen in 1957. Electra and Electra 225 models featured four VentiPorts on each front fender while lesser LeSabre and Invicta models had three VentiPorts.

Electras featured wider rocker panel bright moldings and the Electra script on the front fenders ahead of the wheelhouse. Electra 225s featured a badge that was circled on the deck lid. The Electra 225 name was found on the front fenders in place of the Electra name.

Inside, a revised instrument panel featured a Mirromatic speedometer for which the lens could be adjusted to better visibility to suit the driver. A new two-spoke steering wheel with horn bars was introduced, replacing the time honored horn ring then still common to most automobiles. Brisbane cloth interiors graced closed models while the convertible was trimmed in leather.

Convertibles also had a two way power seat adjuster and power windows standard.

The bucket seat option introduced on Electra 225 convertibles in 1959 was now available on Electra coupes and included a center consolette with storage compartment. Standard Electra features included windshield wipers, trip mileage indicator, cigar lighter, dual sunshades, Step-On parking brake, dual horns, a single-key locking system, Twin-Turbine automatic transmission, Foamtex seat cushions, electric clock, trunk light, license plate frames, glovebox light, power steering and power brakes. In addition Electra 225s had back-up lights, a Glare-proof rear view mirror, parking brake signal light, safety buzzer, map light and Super Deluxe wheelcovers as standard equipment.

1961–1964 Edit

1961

The Electra, along with the LeSabre, was redesigned for 1961 with drastically shrunken fins. Electras featured bright rocker panel and wheelhouse moldings. Four VentiPorts per front fender were a hallmark, with identification spelled out on the front fender plaques. Electra 225s had four hash marks interupting behind the wheelhouse of the rear fender. Electra 225 nameplates were found on the front fenders.

Electra interiors were trimmed in fabric. Electra 225s were trimmed in Calais cloth or leather trim, except for convertibles which were trimmed in vinyl. An optional Custom interior featured leather trim, while another featured vinyl with contrasting vertical stripes and front bucket seats with a storage consolex and power two-way seat adjustment. Standard equipment on the Electra included Turbine-Drive automatic transmission, Mirromagic instrument panel, directional signals, full-flow oil filter, electric windshield wipers, Deluxe steering wheel, trip mileage indicator, cigar lighter, Step-On brake, dual armrests, cloth and vinyl trim, combinations, carpeting, power steering, power brakes, two-speed windshield wiper/washer system, glovebox light, Custom-padded seat cushions and Deluxe wheelcovers.

Two-tone Electras had the color accent on the rear cove. In addition Electra 225s had back-up lights, Glare-proof rearview mirror, parking lights, signal light, safety buzzer, courtesy lights, two-way power seat, Super Deluxe wheelcovers with gold accents and power windows. The Electra and Electra 225 were the same length in 1961.

Buick discontinued the Electra nameplate at the end of the 1961 model year, leaving only the Electra 225 starting in 1962.

1962

The big Buick of 1962 carried four VentiPorts per front fender and featured a rakish sculptured restyle of its 1961 guise. The hardtop coupe and standard hardtop sedan featured a convertible inspired semi-formal roofline, while the Riviera hardtop sedan continued to use six-window pillarless configuration. Electra 225 rear fenders had a group of vertical hashmarks, with Electra 225 spelled out in block letters just above. A full length bright strip crowned the upper body ridge, while the tower rocker molding and wheelhouses were accented with bright trim. Wheelcovers had a gold accent ring.

Interiors were of the finest cloth and, on the convertible, leather was used. Standard features included directional signals, full-flow oil filter, dual speed electric windshield washer/wipers, Deluxe steering wheel, cigar lighter, Step-on parking brake, dual armrests, Turbine-Drive transmission, padded dashboard, heater, defroster, glovebox light, back-up lights, power steering, Glare-proof rearview mirror, power brakes, power brake signal light, safety buzer, courtesy lights, two-way power seats, power windows, Super Deluxe wheelcovers, Safety option group, custom padded cushions, Accessory Group options and custom moldings.

1963

Buick’s largest plushest and most expensive models were restyled for 1963, with distinctive rear fenders culminating in a sharp vertical edge housing narrow back-up lights. The taillights were horizontally placed in the vertical deck cove. A unique cast grille was used at the front.

Bright wheelhouse and lower body moldings, with ribbed rear fender panels were used. Red-filled Electra 225 badges were found on the rear fenders, while four VentiPorts lent status to the front fenders. Interiors were cloth and vinyl combinations, while a Custom interior in vinyl and leather, with front bucket seats and a storage console, was available for the convertible and sport coupe. Standard equipment included directional signals, full-flow oil filter, dual speed electric windshield wiper/washers, Deluxe steering wheel, cigar lighter, Step-On parking brake, dual armrests, Turbine-Drive automatic transmission, padded dashboard, heater, defroster, glovebox light, back-up lights, power steering, Glare-proof rearview mirror, power brakes, parking brake signal light, safety buzzer, courtesy lights, two-way power seats, power windows, Super Deluxe wheelcovers, Safety option group, custom padded cushions, Accessory Group options and custom moldings. Buick dropped the Riviera name as a body style designation after the 1963 model year, shifting the Riviera name exclusively to Buick’s new personal luxury coupe that had been introduced in 1963.

Buick added a 7-way tilt steering wheel in 1963 as an option.

1964

The large General Motors C-body was used to create the 1964 Electra 225, Buick’s richest full-size car. Vertical, narrow taillamps were found in the nearly straight-cut rear fender ends, and the so called Deuce-and-a Quarter came with fender skirts. Four traditional VentiPorts were found on the front fenders, with heavy heavy …-cast grille accenting the frontal aspect.

Wide front lower body moldings were used along with a bright deck cove insert. Electra 225 lettering was found on the rear fenders and specific full wheelcovers were featured. Vinyl and brocade cloth interior trims were found in closed models, while leather upholstery was offered for seats in the convertible. Among the Electra’s exclusive standard equipment were power steering; power brakes; two-speed electric wipers with windshield washer; foam padded seats; electric clock; license frame; trunk light; two-way power seat and power windows for the convertible; safety buzzer; and additional courtesy lights.

The 2-speed Dynaflow automatic was replaced by the 3-speed TH-400 as standard equipment.

1965–1970 Edit

1965

All GM passenger vehicles received a major redesign in 1965 dominated by flowing Coke bottle lines and fastback roof profiles on its coupe models, and the 6 window-body style was eliminated. For 1965, Buick also changed its marketing strategy and offering the Electra 225 in two trim levels, base and Custom. Along with the new body came a new chassis with a full perimeter frame including side rails that replaced the previous X frame used since 1961. Engine offerings were unchanged from 1964 including the standard 325-horsepower 401 V8, and two versions of the larger 425 V8 that were rated at 340 horsepower (250 kW) with a four-barrel carburetor or 360 horsepower (270 kW) with two four barrels.

The three-speed Super Turbine 400 automatic transmission was standard equipment.

1966

The 1966 Electra 225 saw only minor styling changes including a new grille and a revised full-width taillight and trunk led that included an Electra 225 script rather than the BUICK nameplate spelled out in 1965. Engine offerings were unchanged from 1965 with the exception that the dual-quad 360-horsepower 425 was downgraded from a factory option to dealer-installed. Inside, a revised instrument panel featured a horizontal sweep speedometer, fuel gauge and warning lights.

Front seat headrests became an option.

1967

A moderate facelift highlighted the 1967 Electra 225 including a Pontiac/Oldsmobile-like divided split grille. Both base and Custom models were continued with a new Limited option package available Electra 225 Custom 4-door hardtop reviving a nameplate that graced Buick’s ultra-luxury flagship in the late 1930s and again in 1958) which included an ultra-luxurious interior trim. Under the hood a new 430 cubic-inch V8 rated at 360 horsepower (270 kW) with four-barrel carburetor replaced the previous Nailhead 401 and 425 V8s.

Power front disc brakes were available as a new option along with a stereo 8-track tape player.

1968

The ’68 Electra 225 got a revised grille and taillight trim along with concealed windshield wipers. Inside, there was a revised instrument panel with a square speedometer and other instruments, plus a new steering wheel. Shoulder seat-belts were standard for the driver and right-front passenger.

Base and Custom models were still offered, with the Limited trim option available on the Electra 225 Custom hardtop sedan.

1969

The year 1969 also brought a major restyling to the Electra 225 and other GM B-body and C-body cars with somewhat crisper bodylines than 1965-68 models, but continued with the same chassis and inner body structure introduced with the 1965 model, however the wheelbase was increased one inch to 127-inch (3,200 mm). The 1969s were also the first to offer headrests as standard equipment due to a federal safety mandate, and the steering column with ignition switch that also locked the steering wheel with the transmission in Park, a feature found on all 1969 GM cars one year before it became a federal safety mandate in 1970. Also new was a variable-ratio power steering system combined with revised front suspension tuning called Accu-Drive.

Other changes included ventless front windows and the elimination of rear fender skirts. The same assortment of base and Custom models were offered in 1969 with the Limited trim package available on Custom sedans and coupes. A new option available with the Limited package was a split 60/40 bench seat with center armrest.

Braking: Standard finned aluminum drum brakes were again offered and were effective. The Bendix 4 piston disk brake units were available. 12 x 1 vented steel rotors were coupled with the cast iron caliper assemblies. Exhaust: Dual exhaust was available as an option.

Rear Axle Ratios: 2.56 Economy as well as 2.73, 3.08, 3.23:1 gear ratios were available. The special PX-Code AC Delete 3.91 performance gear option was available. Performance: 1/4 mile road course completed in 15.5 seconds at a terminal velocity of 90 mph (140 km/h) was achieved with the dual exhaust and 2.73 gear ratio in a 4,700 lb (2,100 kg) Custom Convertible.

1970

Only a minor facelift with revised grille and taillight trim marked the 1970 Electra 225. The big news was under the hood, where a new 370-horsepower 455 cubic-inch V8 replaced the 430 V8 used from 1967 to 1969. This was the final year for the Electra convertible, finned aluminum brake drums and high compression engines.

New this year was a concealed radio antenna, which amounted to two wires embedded in the windshield.

New for 1970 was the Estate Wagon, which shared the Electra’s 455 V8 and four VentiPorts, but was a B-body car like the LeSabre and the Wildcat and consequently shared the smaller cars’ 124.0-inch (3,150 mm) wheelbase and interior. This was Buick’s first full-sized station wagon since 1964. The following year the Buick Estate would move up to Electra’s larger body and more voluminous interior.

1971–1976 Edit

Like the other GM carmakers, Buick completely restyled its B-body and C-body cars for 1971. The full-size cars emerged larger and heavier than before and also ever after. The new GM full-size bodies, at 64.3 front shoulder room and 63.4 rear shoulder room set a record for interior width that would not be matched by any car until the full-size GM rear-wheel drive models of the early to mid 1990s.

The styling featured curved bodysides, long hoods and wide expanses of glass. All Electra 225s were hardtops in the 1971 to 1973 model years, eliminating the previous four-door pillared sedan variant and the convertible. In 1974 Buick adopted GM’s pillared coupe body and fitted it with the Landau option on the Electra Limited coupe.

Optional driver and passenger airbags were also available from 1974 to 1976, but they were unpopular due to their cost.

1971

In the first year for new GM C-body shared with Oldsmobile 98 and Cadillac, the 1971 Electra 225 rode on a new body chassis which retained the 127-inch (3,200 mm) wheelbase with styling evolutionary from previous models. The new design included a double-shell roof for improved roll-over protection and noise reduction. Inside was a new wrap-around cockpit style instrument panel shared with B-body LeSabre and Centurion models that grouped all instruments with easy reach of the driver.

Under the hood, the 455-cubic-inch V8 was retained as standard equipment, but featured a lower compression of 8.5 to 1 compared to 10.25 to 1 in 1970 as part of a GM corporate mandate requiring all engines to run on 91 Research octane regular leaded, low-lead or unleaded gasolines. Horsepower also dropped from 370 to 315 as a result. Standard equipment continued to consist of variable-ratio power steering and Turbo Hydra-matic transmission.

Power front disc brakes were now standard equipment on Electras, replacing the 12-inch (300 mm) finned aluminum drum brakes used in full-sized Buicks since the late 1950s.

Also new for the 1971 Electra 225, as well as the B-body LeSabre and Centurion, and E-body Riviera, was a new power ventilation system. The system, shared with other GM B-, C- and E-body cars along with the compact Chevrolet Vega, used the heater fan to draw air into the car from the cowl intake, and force it out through vents in the trunk lid or tailgate. In theory, passengers could enjoy fresh air even when the car was moving slowly or stopped, as in heavy traffic.

In practice, however, it didn’t work.

Within weeks of the 1971 models’ debut, however, Buick—and all other GM dealers—received multiple complaints from drivers who complained the ventilation system pulled cold air into the car before the heater could warm up—and could not be shut off. The ventilation system was extensively revised for 1972.

From 1971 to 1976, Buick’s full-sized Estate Wagon shared the 127.0-inch (3,230 mm) wheelbase and 455 cubic-inch V8 with the Electra 225, and shared its interior and exterior styling from 1971 to 1974 (complete with the prerequisite four VentiPorts). And although from 1975 to 1976 the number of VentiPorts were reduced by one, and the front fascia was downgraded to a LeSabre’s, the Electra 225 style chrome rocker panel moldings and distinctive Electra 225 style rear quarter panels (albeit without fender skirts) remained. These were the first Buick station wagons to be built on Buick’s largest chassis since the Roadmaster Estates of 1947-53. The Estate Wagons, as did other GM full-sized wagons during these years, used a unique rear suspension with multi-leaf springs instead of the coil springs used on other full-sized Buicks, and other full-sized GM cars. The Estate Wagons also featured a a new ‘Clamshell’ tailgate design where the rear power-operated glass slid up into the roof as the tailgate (manually or with power assist), slid into a recess under the cargo floor.

The power tailgate, the first in station wagon history, ultimately supplanted the manual tailgate, which required marked effort to lift from storage. It was operated by switches on the instrument panel or a key switch on the rear quarter panel. The Clamshell system, heavy and complex, made it easier to load and unload the extremely long wagons in tight spaces.


But it remained un-adopted by any other manufacturer, and would be eliminated when GM reduced the length of their wagons by about a foot in 1977, and the overriding concern became increased fuel economy.

At 5,182 lb (2,351 kg) shipping weight, or about 5,400 lb (2,400 kg) curb weight, the three-seat 1974 Estate Wagons are easily the heaviest Buicks ever built, even heavier than the Buick Limited limousines of 1936-42.

1972

New egg-crate grille and taillight trim highlighted the 1972 Electra 225s. The trouble-prone ventilation system used in 1971 was replaced by a new system using vents in the door jambs instead of the trunk-mounted vents of 1971. The 455 V8 was carried over and now rated at 250 net horsepower compared to 315 gross horsepower in 1971.

The differences in advertised horsepower in the two years was due to an industry-wide switch from gross (dynometer-rated and not installed in vehicle) to net (as installed in vehicle with accessories and emission controls installed) horsepower measurements.

1973

A revised egg-crate grille above a new federally-mandated 5 mph (8.0 km/h) front bumper and revised taillights were among the most noticeable changes for the 1973 Electra 225. All engines now featured EGR valves to meet increasingly stringent 1973 emission standards (the EGR valve was featured on Buick engines for California cars in 1972).

1974

New grillework and a new rear with revised taillights and a federally mandated 5 mph (8.0 km/h) rear bumper highlighted the 1974 Electra 225, still available in base and uplevel Custom models. The Electra Limited, previously a luxurious trim option on the Custom models, was upgraded to full model status. Electra Limited models also got power windows, power driver’s seat and a new digital clock as standard equipment, along with an optional leather upholstery trim, the first Buicks (along with that year’s Riviera) to offer real leather seats since the 1963 Riviera.

The 455 V8 was revised to meet the 1974 federal and California emission standards with horsepower dropping from 250 in 1972–73 to 230 for 1974. A one-year only option for the ’74 Electra was the high-performance Stage 1 455 with dual exhausts and a 245 horsepower (183 kW) rating.

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Inside, the wrap-around instrument panel was substantially revised and optionally available for the first time (and seldom ordered) was a driver’s side airbag system with an exclusive steering wheel design. 1974 was the final year for the Max Trac traction control option. New options for 1974 included radial tires and a low fuel warning light came on when the gas tank was down to only four gallons.

A new distinctive Landau option was available on the Limited coupe that included the now-popular rear side opera windows and rear-quarter vinyl roof.

1975

1975 brought about changes in all of General Motors C-body cars. In 1975, all Electra 225 coupes had fixed rear side windows and center posts. 1975 also brought along a newer front end and interior design. Rectangular headlights became standard on all GM C-body cars, along with many others. This supposedly would allow engineers to lower the front end to reduce wind resistance, but this wasn’t very apparent with the new design.

The Electra received a new metal eggcrate style grille, which covered most of the front end, and wrapping under the headlights. The grille included running lights on either side. There was a choice of a base model Electra 225 whose trim and appointments were upgraded to the same level as the previous year’s Electra 225 Custom and an upscale Limited. The 1975 Electra was also the longest Buick ever built at 233.4 inches (5,928 mm), which is over 19 feet.

These cars dwarfed the newer front-wheel drive Electras and Park Avenues in sheer size and weight.

Power windows and a power driver’s seat became standard on all Electra models in 1975. Also new to the standard equipment list were radial-ply tires. The 1975 Electra was one of the first GM vehicles to offer an Air Cushion Restraint System or airbag.

Inside, a new flat instrument panel (shared with LeSabre, Estate Wagon and Riviera) with horizontal sweep speedometer (silver facing with black lettering) replaced the wrap-around cockpit dash of previous years and door panel trim was revised. The speedometer was scaled back from 120 to 100 mph (160 km/h) and kilometer readings were added.

Technical changes for 1975 included the addition of a catalytic converter and electronic ignition to not only meet the stringent 1975 and later emission requirements, but also extended routine maintenance intervals, and improved fuel economy and driveability which was a must in the era immediately following the 1973–74 energy crisis, but also spelled the end of dual exhaust systems and mandated the use of unleaded gasoline as the converter could be rendered useless if contaminated with lead. Axle ratios were also numerically lowered to aid in improving gas mileage. The 455 four-barrel V8, now rated at 205 horsepower (153 kW), was retained as the standard and only available engine.

Electra Limited Park Avenue

The Park Avenue, originally an interior comfort and appearance package, gave buyers ultra-luxurious pillow-topped seating, a center console, velour headliner, thicker carpet, and an upscale door panel design. The Park Avenue’s seats were designed by Flexsteel. This seating design was shared by the Cadillac Sixty Special with the Talisman (1974–1976) option and stayed with Park Avenue through the 1980 model year. Many Park Avenues were built with the full size center console (unlike the Sixty Special’s Talisman’s half console), which eliminated the 6th passenger, in the front middle, between the driver and front passenger. 1975 also offered a more luxurious Park Avenue Deluxe, which was sold only in 1975, and included every option available on the Electra (posi-traction, 15 rallye sport wheels, rear automatic leveling, etc.).

The Park Avenue Deluxe was an expensive option not popular with buyers; only 37 were built. The Park Avenue would remain as the top level trim package through 1990. In 1991, the Electra name would be dropped and Park Avenue would replace it as the flagship Buick sedan.

1976

1976 brought about a few changes on the Electra. The front-end was reworked, including the grille and bumper. The new plastic grille featured 17 vertical bars and covered much of the radiator.

The grille did not extend under the headlights in 1976, but instead Buick moved the running lights and turn signal lights underneath the headlights, where the 1975 grille had once been. The bumper no longer housed running lights. There were also some minor interior differences. The brake release handle was black instead of chrome, the seat material was slightly different, on the limited, notch-back diamond pattern seating. The 1975 material appeared in a corduroy form, but the actual material was not corduroy.

The 1976 diamond pattern seating material did not have this appearance. The engine air cleaner did not have a cold-air ram air intake hose like the 1975 model did, and there were some carburetor changes and camshaft changes to meet EPA standards. The rear end ratio also was higher than the 1975 standard, at 2.56:1 instead of 2.73:1. The Park Avenue and leather seating in 1975 and 1976 were the same.

Once again, there was the base 225, the Limited, and the luxurious Park Avenue. The Park Avenue Deluxe vanished for 1976 due to poor sales. The 1976 Electra is about the same size as the 1975 at 233.3 inches (5,926 mm), making them among the biggest Buicks ever.

The 1975 Buick Electra 225 Limited was the longest 4-door hardtop car GM ever built, as the Cadillac Sixty Special (which was a bit longer) was unavailable as a hardtop sedan since the mid sixties. The model also ushered in a return of the six window configuration that Buick offered between 1959 and 1964.

All Electras were powered by Buick’s 455 in³ (7.5 L) engine between 1971 and 1976. The 1971 model had a respectable 315 hp (235 kW), but that was reduced to a mere 205 hp (153 kW) by the 1976 model year; ever increasing government mandated emission controls were the culprit for the drop in performance. Even at its weakest state, the Buick-built 455 engine still produced 345 lb·ft (468 N·m) of torque at 2000 rpm. The 455 was the standard engine on the Electra, but there were some built with Buick 350s during the GM strike, when 455 production halted. The 350 engine also came with a price rebate.

The once mighty 455 engine disappeared after the 1976 model year, in favor of smaller, more efficient powerplants.

Total production for this generation was 794,833.

1977–1984 Edit

GM downsized all C-body cars in 1977, including the Electra. It lost over 11 inches (279 mm) in length and quite a bit of weight too. The car was totally redesigned, but still offered base 225 and Limited trims, plus a top-line Park Avenue option package, which became available on the coupe.

The console option in the Park Avenue was gone, never to return to the rear wheel drive Electra. The downsized model brought increased sales, with 161,627 Electras produced in 1977.

The big-block 455 was gone forever. The base engine was now the Buick 350 with a 4-barrel carburetor. The Oldsmobile 403 was optional from 1977 to 1979.

Oldsmobile’s 350 diesel was added to the option list beginning in 1980.

A different grille was the only cosmetic change for 1978, but 1979 brought a redesigned, flat front end and a subtly different taillight treatment featuring a Buick crest and bisecting horizontal silver line. It didn’t last, and the 1980 Electra went back to its earlier 1977 roots, but with a new grille featuring vertical slats. Also in 1980, Buick finally completely dropped the 225 moniker in favor of Park Avenue, for obvious reasons.

For the first time since 1959, Electras didn’t have four VentiPorts in 1981. The 1981 model saw very few changes from the 1980 restyle but it got a modified grille, new powertrains (the Buick 350 V8 was dropped in favor of a standard Buick produced 252 in³ V6, and an optional Oldsmobile 307 in³ V8). The 350 in³ Oldsmobile-produced diesel was still available.

The top-line Electra Park Avenue model continued to show 4 small depressions with stickers in the chrome moulding on its front fenders until they were completely gone in 1985. Production of the rear-wheel drive Electra ceased in April 1984. Technically this was the last year of the rear wheel drive C-body, as it was renamed the D-body and would continue on under the Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham, and later the 1987-92 Cadillac Brougham and finally the 1993-96 Cadillac Fleetwood.

The next large rear wheel drive Buick sedan would be the 1992–1996 Roadmaster, sharing the same B-body as the Chevrolet Caprice and GM’s last full-size rear wheel drive station wagons.

The Buick Estate Wagon was also downsized for 1977. It had been a separate model in its own right since 1970, alternatively sharing chassis and styling with both the Electra and LeSabre. In stark contrast to 1975-76 when it shared Electra’s 127.0-inch (3,230 mm) wheelbase and used LeSabre’s front end styling, the new Estate Wagon shared LeSabre’s B-body and used Electra’s front-end styling.

After the rear wheel drive Electra was discontinued, the Estate Wagon continued to be produced with the rear wheel drive Electra’s front end fascia until 1990 when it was replaced by the Buick Roadmaster Estate.

Size comparison between 1974 and 1977 Buick Electra 225

1985–1990 Edit

In 1985, a redesigned front-wheel drive Electra debuted with the new C body, which was further downsized substantially, compared to the previous generation. Also, due with the model change, Buick discarded all V8 engines. Sales began in April 1984, alongside the previous rear-wheel-drive model, which had ceased production that month.

It was initially powered by either a carbureted 3.0 or a fuel injected 3.8 liter Buick V6 engines mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission with a .70:1 overdrive gear. The trim levels for the Electra included Limited, Park Avenue, performance-oriented T-Type, and later, Park Avenue Ultra. One of the distinctly unusual features of this car was that unlike most other passenger cars, its hood was hinged in the front thus opening towards the passenger compartment, opposite of the conventional setup.

In 1985, the Park Avenue badge became an official trim designation within the Electra series. It denoted, as it had in the past, the most luxuriously equipped and fully featured Electra available.

Although the overall design remained unchanged from 1985 to 1990, the Electra did undergo some noticeable changes. The first significant change came in 1987 when the Electra lineup lost the four-lamp quad headlights used in 1985–86 models in favor of composite one-piece headlights. In 1988 the Electra Park Avenue received what would later go on to become GM’s flagship engine, the 3800 V-6.

The original 3.8 L V-6 was still offered in some Electra models through the 1988 model year and was designated by the VIN code 3, while Electras with the 3800 V-6 were designated by the VIN code C. For 1989, the front seat belts became door-mounted, and back seat shoulder belts became standard.

The last Electra rolled off the assembly line on August 3, 1990.

The long running Electra name was dropped from Buick’s lineup at the end of the 1990 model year. Starting in 1991, Park Avenue became a distinct model instead of a trim designation as it had been in the past.

The Electra Estate station wagon model was an entirely different car that was based upon the 1977 full-size GM station wagon body (revised in 1980). 1990 saw the last of Electra production to make room for the Park Avenue.

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