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The Carchive: Buick in 1966

Not every volume protected in the dank recesses of The Carchive is in the best possible condition. The truth is that certain documents of note would be worth far too much to be owned by the likes of me if they were as crisp and glossy as when they were new.

I don’t so much care about an immaculate front page, though. It’s the wealth of vintage imagery and information inside that counts, and never was that more the case than with this 1966 Buick line-up catalogue.

Click on the pics to read (most of) the words clearly

“A car is performance, styling, ride and handling. When all those elements are tuned together, the car is a Buick. The tuned car”

Can I get an Amen to that?

This is a brochure positively brimming with pride and progressive thinking. It contains not one jot of lifestyle bullshit, just a confident treatise on what Buick cars were all about for the ’66 model year.

Of course, it’s the delicious Riviera that offers us the greatest opportunity for lip-smacking.

 

“We regret to destroy (again) the old theory that great road machines always come from Europe. But this one comes from exotic, far away Flint, Michigan”

I’ve mentioned my fascination with the disparate nature of European and North American 60s cars many, many times, and here’s a great time to do it again. North America, largely self-contained, was an entirely separate world. A world in which the Riviera was, ostensibly, a normal car. Sure, it was a range-topping model beyond the reach of the average Joe, but it came from a regular production car, and was sold by a regular GM dealer.

In Europe, a car with this kind of elan, power and status would be the preserve of the low-volume builders. You’d commission it as a one-off from a coachbuilder, and it would cost a quite sensational amount of cash. And even then, you can bet it wouldn’t have swing-down retractable headlights (which must have been a bugger for alignment), or a throttle-quadrant style gear shifter.

It was so much more interesting than some rich guy’s Ferrari, because it was almost attainable.

“Everyone should have a standard of excellence to reach for, so we present the Electra 225”

The Electra stood out for entirely separate reasons. Its values were all-American, it didn’t pretend to offer an alternative to high-buck imports. It was absolutely colossal, too, and featured the slickest, most disciplined yet interpretation of the Buick Ventiports.

“Why squeeze yourself into a small, lively car, when you can take the entire family and climb into a big, lively car like the 1966 Buick Wildcat?”

Wildcat was a terrifically appealing name, but more at home on the two-door hardtop than the four-door sedan. Grand Sport gave it even more magnetism, with the 340hp (gross) engine, positraction and heavy-duty suspension. The same package could be had with the Skylark Coupe and convertible, albeit with a 325hp V8 – which was likely still pretty enjoyable.

“The 1966 Buick Sportwagon. Pack up the gang; see the world. See the world. See it better; see more of it.”

Can I get an Amen to that?

Oh, the Sportwagon. Oh, skylight windows in glare and heat-reducing glass. Space for nine in the three-row version! This or a minivan? Or an SUV?

“While thinking about the ’66 Special, remember there are no neglected children in the Buick family”

As entry-level models went, the Special certainly had a swagger in its step, the two-door coupe looked every bit as confident as many notably costlier cars, while offering an attractive blank canvas of you had the wallet for optional extras. There was a V6, but you didn’t want that, did you? You wanted the 260hp (gross) V8.

You could take the latter in the Special Wagon, too, which must have given it mild sleeper credentials.

“Things of interest, interesting things you can add”

There were ‘notch-back’ seats which, in black ‘n chrome had a vague hint of the Le Corbusier recliner, ‘electro-cruise’ speed control, cornering lights (it took European manufacturers, Citroen’s linked-headlamps aside, decades to offer these as standard), a tilt steering wheel and, naturally, air-conditioning.

All of these were available in Europe, but not unless you ventured to a pretty salubrious neighborhood that played host to Jaguar, Mercedes or an even ritzier dealer than that.

With the halo-effect of the Riviera now a distant memory, the USP of today’s Buick is rather less easy to discern. Visit the website and the landing page bellows with attractive finance offers, rather than attractive cars.

(All images are of original manufacturer publicity materials, photographed by me. Copyright remains property of Buick, a marque that, in light of the Riviera, I never imagined would end up selling re-badged Opels)