1961 Buick LeSabre and the Wildcat 445

My dear Mom makes sure I get a car calendar at the new year and this February the model is a 1961 Buick LeSabre. This car ushered in a new style for GM and changed how we thought about cars in the ’60’s.

LeSabre and all other full-sized Buicks were completely restyled for 1961 featuring finless rear ends, more restrained use of chrome, and boxier sheetmetal. Wheelbases remained at 123 inches (3,100 mm) but the new cars were slightly downsized in both length and width, and rode on a new X-frame chassis which included a conventional rear axle and driveshaft replacing the decades-old torque tube design. Inside were revised instrument panels retaining the “Mirrormatic” speedometer and new upholstery trims.

The 401ci Nailhead V8 engine in a 1964 Buick Wildcat. “Wildcat 445” is the name of this engine, with “445” referring to the engine’s torque (in foot-pounds).

Wildcat 445

1961 Buick LeSabre gallery

LeSabres were rear-drive six-passenger vehicles from 1959 to 1985 (station wagons through 1990) featuring separate body-on-frame construction along with a longitudinally mounted front engine. The first downsized generation of LeSabres introduced in 1977 retained the rear-drive and body-on-frame construction, while the later-generation models introduced in 1986 switched to front-wheel-drive, unit-body construction and transversely mounted engine. Convertibles were offered each year through 1975 while two- and four-door hardtops were dropped after 1976 and only pillared body styles were offered from 1977 to 2005. Station wagons were offered through 1964 and then dropped for several years until being reintroduced in 1970 and continued until 1990 after which year they were moved to the revived Roadmaster series. LeSabres come in two versions: Custom and Limited.

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