I spotted this land yacht at a local cruise-in in Glendale, Arizona. The car’s enormous size piqued my curiosity and drew me in for a closer look.
It is a rare sight to see a B-body from this era on the road today. They are not beautiful enough to be collectible like the Impala or the Galaxie. They are not fast enough to be desireable like the Chevelle, Nova, Camaro, Mustang, or Charger. They are not fuel efficient enough to still be practical like an AMC or a Volkswagen.
Most of these mid-70s Buicks have been taken off the road by now, but not this car. It is a survivor. For 39 years it has soldiered on bravely as the world changed around it. Amazingly, it appears to be in almost showroom-new condition.
The owner saw me snapping pictures and was eager to answer my questions about the car. It has about 80,000 original miles and was kept in the garage by the owner’s father who had recently passed away.
I’ve gotta be honest, there’s really nothing endearing about the car’s styling or features. The four-eyed headlamps and the 2-barrel carburetor ensure that this car won’t be a future record breaker at an auction. But for some reason, I found myself staring at this car instead of the other muscle cars.
At 225.9 inches long, this ’74 LeSabre is enormous compared to any other car on the road today. It has an almond colored exterior with a vinyl roof. It has a brown interior and those God-awful hubcaps. Everything about it looks awkward, from the full-width front grille to that little upturn in the rear doors that meets the C-pillar.
As I mentioned, the four-eyed headlamps and 455 with a 2-barrel aren’t going to impress anyone. In fact, this LeSabre has every single item on the checklist of bad design. The car is SO BAD that it’s actually good. If you were to try to explain to someone what the phrase “malaise era” meant, this car would be a textbook example.
This car is not beautiful, nor efficient, nor safe or practical to drive on a daily basis. But I think it deserves to be featured for two reasons. First, it is a rolling time capsule of a specific time period in American automotive history. For better or worse, it shows what the prevailing styles were at the time.
Second, this car is from an era when things were built to last. This LeSabre was a completely average full size car for its time, and it is still running and driving almost four decades later. How many of today’s sedans will still be on the road 40 years from now, in an era of planned obsolescence and abundant plastic? Not many, I’ll bet.
So here’s to you, LeSabre! May you carry on for another 40+ years!