1973-1977 Buick Century/REGAL


General Motors' Colonnade styling, forced by impending safety rules, and actually introduced by the 1971 Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty Special, proved to be very successful with nearly 220,000 1973 Century/Regal Coupes (all with V8 5.7 or 7.5 engines) sold vs 100,000~150,000 each year for the 1968~1972 Special/Skylark Coupes.  But the real credit goes to the formal roofs of Century Luxus (later Custom) and especially Regal selling its name.  At the earlier generation the coupes vs sedans sold 2 to 1, growing to 3 to 1 now, and eventually 4 to 1 in 1977.  Century Custom and Regal received a hood ornament by 1975, the next year expanded to the full line.  Both sedans and coupes were called hardtops until 1977, although the B-pillar was fixed; the door windows however were frameless, also for the wagons.  These new GM intermediates were originally meant to be introduced for 1972.  Convertibles were denied, dropping from 5% to 2% in the 1968~1972 period.

When the 1976 2-door models received new sheet metal with flared wheel openings, replacing the sloping front fender-to-door line by a cleaner look, production soared after the oil crisis dip of 130,000 in the preceding years and came close to a quarter of a million the next year, when the front resembled a Cadillac and the grille looked like a Mercedes.  Rectangular headlights had come in for 1976 as well, vertical for the 4-door, and side by side for the 2-door models.  1976 also was the first year that the senior Buicks were outsold by the intermediates.

Under the skin:

The manual transmission was deleted in April 1973 at the release of the smaller Apollo, unaware of the upcoming fuel crisis in October.  By 1975 it returned in the (Century) Special, mated to the V6, bought back from American Motors, the new owner of Kaiser Jeep, to which the V6 machinery was sold in 1967, after which Chevrolet in-line 4.1 sixes were fitted in the Special/Skylark until 1972, when Buick disregarded these, possibly due to a net power output of only 110 hp, the same quotation as would eventually be used for the smaller and more economical 1975 Buick 3.8 V6.  The V8 7.5 was dropped.  By 1977, both Oldsmobile and Pontiac chose to replace their Chevrolet six by the Buick V6, then 105 hp, vs 110 hp for the Chevrolet at that time. Later on, Chevrolet itself would need the Buick V6 for their Californian intermediates.  But Buick used Chevrolet or Oldsmobile 5.7 engines for their 1977 top 170 hp Centurys.  High altitude wagons even were equipped with an Oldsmobile V8 6.6-liter engine.

Front disc brakes were obligatory for 1973, but not standard assisted for the base models, even by 1977.  Power steering became standard for 1974 (until 1978 when the models were downsized).  To further lower the fuel consumption, 15-inch wheels with radial tires replaced the 14-inch wheels by 1975.  Sales of V8 engines in the Century equalled V6 engines in 1977, while they outsold V6 engines 8 to 2 in the more popular Regal.

Now, after 45 years, the Buick Regal is still with us in 2017, thanks to the Germans (Opel) having designed and building this beauty, the French (Peugeot) selling it to GM and the Chinese (SAIC) who saved the Buick marque.





consulted: Norbye, Jan P: Buick, the postwar years, Motorbooks International, Osceola, WI, 1978


American Cars 1962-1977