1966 Buick Electra 225 Custom: Summer Splendor!

Thomas Klockau

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!

Thomas Klockau

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!

Thomas Klockau

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.

Thomas Klockau

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.

Thomas Klockau

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.

Thomas Klockau

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.

Thomas Klockau

“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.”

Thomas Klockau

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.

Thomas Klockau

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.

Thomas Klockau

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.

Thomas Klockau

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!

Thomas Klockau

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!

Thomas Klockau



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    Thomas, yours is a dream job!
    This era of American cars may have been its finest hour.

    My Dad had a ’67 Electra 225, in Spice Gold. His had a 430 ci engine, and for the car’s size & weight, it was still damn quick. It also rode like it was on a cloud.
    A friend of mine had a Buick Wildcat convertible in the family, and that was also very fast.

    Those were the days when every brand had its own engineering and its own motors.
    Ah, c’est la vie…

    Agree that this land yacht (and I say that as a compliment) was quite a looker. I know we can’t turn back the clock, but I’m sure glad that a few groovy examples of such vehicles still exist and get shown so we can admire them (as Thomas does)!

    Not a day goes by without me thinking of the full-size sedans of the late 50s and all through the 60s. I was just a kid in the 1960s and was already an American car Gearhead. I knew every make and model the Big Three made. I already had my favorites and they all came from the big Three, they were mostly Fords and Chryslers. The biggest mistake we all made was thinking our beloved traditional American luxury cars were just the beginning of the great styling still to come. Those Big Three’s cars were the top global automotive manufacturers. GM alone. They owned 50% of the market total and owned 5 of the great 60s brands, Chrysler had Dodge, Desoto, Plymouth and of course Chryslers. As I said, Detroit was building great cars, maybe not the most efficient, but they but they were beautiful detailed works of art, had more design there was more creative designs in just one of these car’s taillights, than anything I saw up close from most imported brands. No one cared about gas mileage, we didn’t have to.

    All of the cars I read about on here are from other places and states probably because Mn. is smack dab in salt country.
    So I was pleasantly surprised to see the Swanberg & Scheffe dealer emblem on the trunk. That was a dealer just across the Mississippi River from downtown Minneapolis.
    This is a beauty of a car what with the color combination. Too bad it doesn’t have a/c, but that option in those days in Mn. was about as popular as an automatic transmission in a pickup especially in N. Mn. where I’m from.

    I rode in these drop top Buicks and cadillacs when they were brand new as a kid and they were extraordinary vehicles.

    Yes they were extraordinary. Unfortunately all the Big Three lost their mojo around 1976 when convertibles were no longer built or sold. A convertible was the ultimate dream machine and when I couldn’t buy anymore in North America, I looked to Europe where every automobile manufacturer built and sold cabriolets. I stayed with European brands since then. Currently I own a Mercedes SL500 and a BMW X5.

    Love it! Dad just broke into three holers in ’66 with a beautiful metallic blue Le Sabre 400 four door hardtop. Believe it had the big Wildcat in a lighter car. Both older brothers smoked the tires for a quarter block…it was light in the rear end and hard not to make em chirp. It was my turn with the ’70 Electra with 455. Dad, forgive us…

    Too bad I can’t post a picture here of my Brother-in-law’s recently restored 1970 Buick Electra 225. He’s owned it basically since new (the person who ordered it new failed to buy it). It’s Black, with a black top and white interior, and gorgeous. He recently entered it in a local car show and won a “Top Twenty” award for it, the first time it was shown. These are great cars. I have many fond memories of our family’s 1959 Electra 225 four-door hardtop. It was a beautiful metallic blue with matching fabric interior. It literally ate up the miles (and the fuel
    !) We also had a 1953 four door, a 1955 four-door hardtop and a 1958 Roadmaster. My dad loved Buicks, and his last car was a 2005 Model that he drove until he quit driving – at age of 91.

    My father had a ‘68 Electra convertible.
    It was a handsome car, seemed as long as a Greyhound bus and was a great driving vehicle. Was a much bigger statement than anything you can buy today! His was a dark metallic sort of olive color with a black interior and a 430 cu in V8 that moved it along very briskly. When these land yachts disappeared we all lost a great era of

    My Best Man and later I was his, had a 66 Electra 225 convertible in 1970. It was triple black, had wire hubcaps and was the definition of a land yacht. That beast was a dream to drive. He loved it except for the gas mileage . He said it would wake him at night when he could hear it sucking gas out of the lawn mower. Still was the beast ride on the road and Cadillacs had nothing on it.

    Gorgeous car, and nothing today, not the most expensive luxury car you can buy, rides like the Buicks, Olds, and Cadillacs of that era. But Thomas, “60 percent of new cars are completely non-compelling and dull”? Come on now – the number has to be north of 90%! P.S. Can we just outlaw fuzzy dice please?

    Those of us who were there should all be thankful we got to live through those times. Now it’s just a contest for the biggest touch screen.

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