1966 Buick Electra 225 Custom: Summer Splendor!
I truly miss the majestic land yachts of yore. Cars still had style in spades in 1966. Even within Buick, every single car—from the dreamboat Riviera (newly redesigned!) to the plainest, refrigerator-white Special four-door sedan—had attractive lines. One of the prettiest was the Wildcat two-door hardtop, but I haven’t run across one in a while. Soon, I hope!
But even more majestic was Buick’s traditional top-of-the-line model, the Electra 225. Electra. What a fantastic name! And these mid-’60s prairie schooners were smooth, quiet, large, and in charge!
As the full-size Buicks had been totally redone for 1965, only minor cosmetic changes were made for ’66, but the midsize Skylark, Special Deluxe, and Special were redesigned with even smoother, swoopier styling, along with the previously mentioned Riv.
The 1966 Electras came in two trim levels, the Electra 225 and the Electra 225 Custom. Although the Custom trim was essentially an option package, it was listed as a separate model. Both lines included a four-door sedan, four-door hardtop, and two-door hardtop (all with standard fender skirts!), but the Custom alone listed a convertible.
Series 48400, Model 48467, the Electra 225 Custom convertible sold for $4378 ($41,306 today), had a curb weight of 4298 pounds, and 7175 were sold. The most popular Electra 225 was the Custom four-door hardtop; at $4332 ($40,872), 34,149 were sold for the model year.
Buick’s theme for 1966 was “The year you discover the tuned car.” As the big, fat, gorgeous 1966 prestige brochure conferred: “What is the tuned car? I don’t know, but I sure like the way it feels. Let the Buick engineers tell you.
“We insist on tuning not only the engine, but every element of the car. The ride and handling. The styling. The performance. Only when they’re all tuned together are they a Buick … we could go on and on about the tuned car, but we leave you with this introductory thought. Buick tuning is a many faceted thing. Some may seem insignificant. Until you start to live with your Buick and begin comparing it with the four wheels you had before. Then you’ll agree with our theory that nothing is too small to be tuned to the rest of the car—not even a nut and a bolt.”
Whether or not you got all excited about tuning, there was no denying the Electra convertible was a beauty. It was especially fetching in Flame Red with white interior, as our featured car sports. The white interior was called dove by Buick; other available interior colors were red, black, and blue on the convertible. Strato bucket seats were also available as an option, in either dove or black.
Standard engine on Electra 225s was the 401-cubic-inch V-8 with 325 horsepower at 4400 rpm, and 445 lb-ft of torque at 2800 rpm. Optional was the “Wildcat 465,” so named due to its 465 lb-ft of torque. A 425-cu-in unit, it produced 340 hp at 4400 rpm. The “SuperTurbine” automatic transmission, power steering, power brakes, electric clock, door-operated courtesy lights, and deluxe wheel covers were all standard equipment.
The Custom added notchback front seats, more luxurious upholstery in a different sew style from regular Electra 225s, fancier door panels (with carpeting on the lower section) and other finery. Wheelbase was 126 inches; overall length was 223.5 inches.
It was getting near the end for big Buick convertibles. The end of the Electra convertible came in 1970; in 1971 it was no longer on the new Buick roster. The slightly less luxurious Centurion convertible would last through 1973, the LeSabre convertible through 1975. And that was it—until the Riviera convertible appeared in 1982!
I recently was at an antique mall in Davenport, Iowa, and found a huge, deluxe 1966 Buick brochure for a mere $3. I immediately bought it and spent some of the evening leafing through it. I commiserated with my friend Jayson at how beautiful cars were in 1966 and that today at least 60 percent of new cars are completely non-compelling and dull. But boy, in 1966 Buick sure had it all going on!