Sunday 29 January 2017
The Buick LeSabre is a full-size car made by General Motors from 1959-2005. For many years, the LeSabre was considered as a full-size car, carrying the lowest base price in the Buick lineup. Prior to 1959, this position had been retained by the full-size Buick Special model (1936–58); in 1959 the LeSabre replaced the Special, a nameplate that was reintroduced in 1961 for Buick's line of compact cars. The name originated with the 1951 GM Le Sabre show car designed by Harley Earl; that car is often mistakenly attributed to the Buick division, but in fact it was presented as a GM vehicle without reference to a specific GM division. Buick closely related their 1956-1957 models to the GM LeSabre by replicating the top section of the rear wing into their design. The word LeSabre is French for sabre.
Like the other GM divisions, Buick completely restyled its B- and C-body cars for 1971. The full-size cars emerged larger and heavier than before and also ever after. The styling featured curved bodysides, long hoods and wide expanses of glass, similar to that of Chrysler Corporation's 1969 full-sized cars, but with a lower beltline than the Chrysler products. Semi-fastback rooflines were utilized on two-door hardtop coupes and convertibles had a new top design to permit a full-width rear seat.
The same assortment of 350 and 455 cubic-inch V8s were carried over but featured lowered compression ratios and other modifications in order to enable the use of lower-octane low-lead or unleaded gasoline as a result of a General Motors corporate mandate. Variable-ratio power steering and power front disc brakes were made standard equipment on all LeSabres at the start of the 1971 model year. In March, the Turbo Hydramatic transmission became standard equipment, and all Buick LeSabres would remain so equipped in base form until the nameplate's final year in 2005.
The new body also featured a double shell roof for improved roll-over protection. Also new for '71 was a flow-through ventilation system utilizing vents mounted in the trunklid shared with other full-sized GM cars and the compact Chevrolet Vega. It 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.
However, within weeks of the 1971 models' debut, Buick and all other GM dealers received multiple complaints from drivers who complained that the ventilation system pulled cold air into the car before the heater could warm up and could not be turned off. The ventilation system was extensively modified for 1972.
Also new for the 1971 was an optional MaxTrac computerized traction control system.
Inside was a new wrap-around cockpit style instrument panel that placed all controls and instruments within easy reach of the driver, along with easier servicability with instruments and switches accessible from the front when the faceplate was removed. The seats of a new full-foam design with headrests more squared off than 1969-70. Again, base and Custom model LeSabres were offered in the same sedan and coupe bodystyles while the convertible was a Custom-only offering. The LeSabre 455 model line was dropped for 1971 with the larger engine now being offered as an option on the regular base and Custom-series models. LeSabre Customs equipped with the optional 455 engine got a "455" badge underneath the LeSabre nameplates on the front fenders instead of the "Custom" badge normally used.
A revised grille and taillights lenses were among the styling changes for 1972. Out back, a small "BUICK" nameplate was located above the right side taillight replacing the larger block letters spelling "B U I C K" across the lower trunk lid between the taillights in 1971. Also new for '72 was a larger 5-mph front bumper introduced a year ahead of a federal safety mandate requiring such bumpers in 1973.
Interior trims received only slight revisions from 1971. A revised flow-through ventilation system utilizing vents in the doorjambs replaced the troublesome system used in 1971 with the trunklid vents.
Both the 350 and 455 V8s were carried over from 1971 with horsepower ratings switched the new SAE net figures based on an engine as installed in an automobile with accessories and emission controls hooked up, rather than the gross horsepower method of past years based upon a dynamometer rating from an engine not installed in a vehicle. With that, the standard 350 two-barrel V8 was rated at 160 net horsepower compared to 230 gross horsepower in 1971 while the top 455 V8 was rated at 250 net horsepower in 1972 compared to 315 in 1971. Engines were also revised to meet the 1972 federal and California emission standards with California-bound cars receiving EGR valves, which would be installed on engines of virtually all automobiles for nationwide sales in 1973.
Inside, the instrument panel featured a new "FASTEN SEAT BELTS" light due to a new federal safety regulation and the buzzer which sounded when the key was left in the ignition also sounded upon starting the car to remind the driver and passengers to buckle up.
A larger federally mandated "5 mph" front bumper and new vertical bar grille highlighted the 1973 LeSabre along with revised taillights set in the somewhat larger rear bumper. Both the 350 and 455 V8s were revised with EGR valves used on both federal and California-emission equipped cars.
The LeSabre Custom convertible was dropped this year leaving the short-lived Centurion as Buick's only ragtop that year as the intermediate Skylark (replaced by the Century for 1973) lost its ragtop completely after the 1972 model year. The engine options continued largely unchanged.
- engine: V8
- capacity: 5700 cc
- horsepower: 180 HP
- gearbox: 4+1
- top speed: 180 km/h