Though its nameplate dated back to the Thirties, the Century was an all-new model for Buick in 1973. The Century promised exciting value and (optional) power and luxury in the mid-size segment.
Let’s check out this very basic three on the tree coupe.
The first Century was offered in 1936, a year when Buick renamed their entire line to recognize new styling and engineering improvements. The name was discontinued after 1942 but returned in 1954 when Century was once more a full-size car. The first- and second-generation Century models followed the same formula: Use the body from Buick’s Special with its largest V8 engine. The second-generation Century lasted only through 1958 before the name was retired once again.
Not until 1973 did a Century return to Buick’s showroom floors, as a new midsize offering on the rear-drive A-body platform. Prior to ’73, Buick’s midsize was the Skylark, but that name went away for a while (to return later as a compact) and the Century took its place. The top Century trim was the Regal at the outset, a name which quickly became its own separate model. Century was available with two doors as a coupe, or with four as a sedan and wagon.
Worth mentioning, there was a class distinction amongst the Century coupes. Base models called Century 350 had a rear quarter window and fastback profile, while the more expensive Century Luxus had a notchback roof with opera windows. Century Regal (shown) also carried the more formal roof. The Luxus name was short-lived and was replaced by the more familiar Custom trim in 1975.
Base engine duty was handed to the 231 cubic-inch Buick V6 from 1975 onward. Customers who enjoyed eight cylinders had two or three options from which to choose. A Buick 350 was Century’s initial base engine, with the Buick 455 as a hi-po offering. At the top was Oldsmobile’s 403, but that was only offered as an option on wagon versions in 1977. Transmissions on offer were three-speed in manual or automatic guise, as well as a four-speed manual.
The third-gen Century lived through 1977 before it was downsized into a smaller A-body in 1978. That was the last of the rear-drive A cars, as in 1982 the fifth-generation Century debuted as a front-drive A-body. Today’s first-year Century has the base 350 engine, a manual transmission, and not much else aside from a radio. It’s for sale in salt-free New Mexico and asks $12,500.[Images: GM]