The Buick Electra and the Buick Electra 225 were full-size premium automobiles built by the Buick division of General Motors. The Electra name (in various manners) was used by Buick between 1959 and 1990.
Prior to 1959, the Buick Super, Roadmaster and Limited constituted the upper echelon of Buick's lineup. In 1959, all of Buick's models were renamed, with the Electra taking the place of the Super, and the Electra 225 taking the place of the Roadmaster and Limited models.
The Electra 225 nameplate was a nod to the vehicle's overall length of 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 6-window hardtop roofline with the Cadillac Fleetwood. Buick had been using the "Riviera" name to indicate a premium trimmed hardtop body style beginning with the 1949 model year. A standard four-door hardtop and a two-door convertible were available, along with a stripped chassis of which 144 were built in 1959 and 1960
The Electra, along with the LeSabre, was redesigned for 1961 with drastically shrunken fins.
Buick discontinued the Electra nameplate at the end of the 1961 model year, leaving only the Electra 225 starting in 1962. Buick also dropped the Riviera name as a body style designation after the 1962 model year, shifting the Riviera name to Buick's new personal luxury coupe introduced in 1963.
Automatic transmissions were always standard. The 1959 to 1963 models had Twin Turbine Dynaflow 2-speed automatics (the Triple Turbine was available as an option in 1959) and starting in 1964, they were equipped with the Super Turbine 400 / THM 400 transmissions.
All GM passenger vehicles received a major restyling in 1965 dominated by flowing "Coke bottle" lines and fastback roof profiles on its coupe models, and the 6 window-body style was eliminated as GM moved to place more emphasis on the luxury provided by its four-door hardtop bodies. For 1965, Buick changed its marketing strategy and offering the Electra 225 in two trim levels, base and Custom. There was a new "Limited" option package on the Electra 225 Custom 4-door hardtop starting in 1967 (reviving a nameplate that graced Buick's ultra-luxury flagship in the late 1930s and again in 1958) and later became available on two-door hardtop models as well.
Windshield wiper blades were hidden in 1968 and 1969 saw the elimination of the vent windows on the front doors, as well as rear fender skirts.
The 1959 to 1966 Electras were powered by Buick's 401 in 6.6L V8 with an available 425 in version of the same engine from 1964 to 1966. The 1967 model had the new Buick 430 in 7.0L V8, and a 455 in 7.5L version of the same engine replaced it in 1970.
All Electra 225s were hardtops in the 1971 to 1973 model years, eliminating the previous 4-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 in 1974, but unpopular due to their cost; a crude version of traction control called Max Trac was an option as well. Leather upholstery became an extra cost option on the Electra Limited models beginning in 1974, when that trim-level models also gained power windows and driver's seat as standard equipment.
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 wrapped 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, an upscale "limited" model, and an even posher "Park-Avenue" trim package, which was an interior package, boasting extremely comfortable seats and a center console, velour headliner, thicker carpet, and a different door panel design. The Park Avenue's seats were designed by Flexsteel. Many Park Avenues were built with the full size center console (unlike the Cadillac Fleetwood Talisman's half console), which eliminated the 6th passenger, in the front middle, between the driver and front passenger. 1975 also offered an ultra-luxury "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 did not sell well as it was an expensive option and didn't sell very well (37 to be exact). The 1975 Electra was also the largest Buick ever built at 233.4 inches, which is over 19 feet. These cars truly dwarfed the newer front-wheel drive Electras and Park Avenues in terms of sheer size and weight. Power windows and driver's seat, which had been made standard on the Limited models in 1974, became standard on all Electra models in 1975. Also new to the standard equipment list were radial-ply tires.
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 model, 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, so basically these are the biggest Buicks that have ever been built.
The 1975 Buick Electra 225 Limited was the longest 4-door hardtop car GM ever built. At 233.4 in long, it was even longer than the 1975 Cadillac Deville; its last Fleetwood 4-door hardtop had been in 1964. 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 in 7.5L engine between 1971 and 1976. The 1971 model had a respectable 315 hp, but that was reduced to a mere 205 hp 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 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 genaration was 794,833.
GM downsized all C-body cars in 1977, including the Electra. It lost over 12 inches 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. It didn't last, and the 1980 Electra went back to its earlier 1977 roots, but with a new grille featuring vertical slats. 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 in V6, and an optional Oldsmobile 307 in V8). The 350 in Oldsmobile-produced diesel was still available. For the first time since 1959, Electras didn't have four ventiports in 1981. 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. This was the last year of the rear wheel drive C-body, as the Cadillac Fleetwood was now on the D platform. The next rear wheel drive Buick of this proportion would be the 1992-1996 Roadmaster, sharing the same platform as the Chevrolet Caprice and Impala SS.
In 1985, a redesigned front-wheel drive Electra debuted with the new C platform. Sales began in April 1984, alongside the previous rear-wheel-drive model, which had ceased production that month. It was initially powered by either 3.0 or 3.8 liter Buick V6 engines mated to a 4-speed automatic overdrive 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 to open towards the front, 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 3.8L 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. In 1989 and 1990, GM added a new trim level to the Electra's existing Limited, Park Avenue, and T-Type variants; the Park Avenue Ultra. The Ultra was essentially an upgrade to the Electra Park Avenue line and featured standard leather trim interior, a padded vinyl top, and a variety of otherwise minor changes. The Park Avenue Ultra did not gain much notoriety, however, until the following generation of Park Avenue, where the "Ultra" badge offered significantly more features.
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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