Buick LeSabre Gen 2
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 5
The 1961 Buick LeSabre
LeSabre and all other full-sized Buicks (joined by the compact Special this year) 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 Station Wagons received an all-vinyl interior as standard, with the regular cloth/vinyl combination interior available as an option. Engines were unchanged from previous years including the standard 250-horsepower 364-cubic-inch V8, no-cost regular fuel 235-horsepower 364 or the four-barrel 300-horsepower option of same engine available at extra cost. The two-speed Turbine Drive Dynaflow automatic transmission was standard equipment on LeSabres and all other full-sized Buicks this year, although a manual transmission was also available.
The 1962 Buick LeSabre
The 1962 Buick LeSabre was only moderately changed from the previous year with bodies taking on a few extra inches to give them a longer look along with new grilles and taillights. Two-door hardtop coupes received a new convertible-like roofline complete with simulated bows. Under the hood, the 364 cubic-inch V8 was replaced by the larger 401 cubic-inch V8 used in Invictas and Electra 225s. LeSabres came standard with a two-barrel high-compression (10.25 to 1) version rated at 280 horsepower with a low-compression regular fuel version of that same engine rated at 265 horsepower offered as a no-cost option.
Optional at extra cost was the four-barrel 325-horsepower 401 which was standard on the Invicta, Electra 225 and the mid-year Invicta-based Wildcat coupe. Inside, interiors were mildly revised with the "Mirrormatic" speedometer replaced by a conventional horizontal sweep unit.
The 1963 Buick LeSabre
The 1963 LeSabre received a major facelift with even boxier body contours than 1961-62 models and revised rooflines on four-door hardtop sedans. Inside was a new instrument panel with round instruments shared with other big Buicks and the new personal-luxury Riviera coupe. New options this year included a seven-position tilt steering
wheel/column, AM/FM radio and Electro-Cruise control. The same assortment of 401-cubic-inch V8s was carried over from 1962 but the three-speed manual transmission returned as standard equipment with the two-speed Turbine Drive automatic reverted to the option list. A new and rarely ordered option this year was a floor-mounted four-speed manual transmission.
The 1964 Buick LeSabre
Minor facelifting with new grille and horizontal taillights replacing the 1963's vertical units highlighted the 1964 LeSabre. A somewhat better equipped "Custom" version also joined the lineup this year, easily identifiable by its full length chrome side molding with a brushed metal insert. The regular LeSabre had a narrow trim piece on the rear third of the body. Under the hood, the 401-cubic-inch V8 was replaced in LeSabre sedans and coupes by a smaller 300-cubic-inch V8 designed for the upsized Special/Skylark intermediates that replaced the aluminum V8 in those vehicles. In standard form, the 300 was rated at 210 horsepower with two-barrel carburetor and 9 to 1 compression ratio for use of regular fuel. Optionally available was a 250-horsepower version of the same engine with four-barrel carburetor and higher 11 to 1 compression ratio mandating the use of premium fuel. The LeSabre Estate Wagon came standard with the larger 325-horsepower 401 V8 from the Wildcat and Electra 225 models.
Replacing the old Dynaflow-based two-speed automatic transmission were two new Super Turbine automatics. The two-speed Super Turbine 300 (shared with the intermediate-sized cars) was available with the standard two-barrel 300 V8 while the three-speed Super Turbine 400 (shared with other big Buicks and Rivieras) was standard with the 300 four-barrel and optional with the standard engine as well as the 401 in the Estate Wagon. The standard transmission with the base 300 two-barrel V8 was a three-speed column shift manual and a four-speed manual was available as an option with either engine. The new ST300 transmission carried over the variable pitch torque converter from the Dynaflow that had been used since the mid-1950s, while the first year for the ST400 featured a fixed-pitch converter. Inside, only minor trim/upholstery revisions were made.