General Motors looked to the full-size Buick Electra to pick up where the Roadmaster and Super left off. Manufactured between 1959 and 1990, the Electra featured primarily a front engine/rear-wheel drive layout. Initial body styles available were the two-door coupe, two-door convertible, and the four-door sedan. Some models featured the 225" demarcation, which was a nod to the car's original overall length: 225 inches. The first engine was a 401-cubic-inch (6.6 L) Nailhead V8, a muscle car staple of the time.
Manufacturers were keeping their options open with the Electra. The four-door model was a nod to the family needing extra space, while the optional bucket seats for the convertible courted the racing aficionado. Style was a major attribute of this ride; the concave grille and steering wheel spokes alluded to innovation. Extra storage in the center console made for a convenient ride that made use of what was usually dead space in coupes.
The first generation of Buick Electras was introduced in 1959 to 1960. Consumers chose coupe, sedan or convertible in the classic front engine/rear-wheel drive layout. The transmission was an automatic two-speed. The second generation spanned 1961 to 1964 and lost the distinctive fins. Transmission choices now included an automatic two-speed or three-speed. Third generation vehicles were built between 1965 and 1970. The three-speed automatic was the standard and engines varied between the 401-, 412-, 430- and 455-cubic-inch V8s. Between 1971 and 1976, the fourth generation Electra used the C-body platform and featured either a 350-cubic-inch (5.7 L) or 455-cubic-inch (7.5 L) Buick V8 engine. Length variations ranged from 226.2 inches in 1971 to 233.3 inches in 1976. A fifth generation brought new changes between 1977 and 1984; most notably, the two-door hardtop was out. The sixth generation lasted from 1985 to 1990. Rear-wheel drive had been abandoned in favor of front wheel drive capabilities. The length of the vehicle fell below 200 inches.
Stepping away from the sporty look and going after the business and luxury markets, General Motors offered Park Avenue and Limited trim levels. While the fifth generation Electra enjoyed resurgence in popularity due to its more manageable sizes, the last group of cars gave an unabashed nod to the options-conscious car buyer. Versatility also saw the addition of a 350-cubic-inch diesel V8 engine, which sought the business of the diesel-loyal consumer.
Not very big on awards and honorable mentions, the Buick Electra nevertheless excelled at setting up the Park Avenue model for a prolonged run that began in 1991 and lasted until 2005 in the United States. In China, the Park Avenue is still going strong. It is interesting to note that the U.S. Buick Estate station wagon was also called the Electra Estate, which was outfitted with an Olds 350 diesel engine.
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