1970 Buick LeSabre Custom Convertible: Really Red

Thomas Klockau

Nineteen-seventy was a good year for Buick. It built 459,931 cars for the calendar year and 666,501 for the model year. Buick had any number of gorgeous showroom attractants, such as the Gran Sport, over-the-top GSX, luxurious Electra 225, and Riviera, and both two- and three-seat woody Estate Wagon for aspiring Clark Griswolds. And even the bread-and-butter LeSabre was eye-catching. Especially the convertible.

Thomas Klockau

While the least-expensive Buick was the intermediate Skylark, the LeSabre remained Buick’s lowest-cost, full-size automobile. But that didn’t mean it was dull or cheap. It was still a Buick, after all, not a taxi-spec Chevy Biscayne.

Thomas Klockau

As the 1970 Buick brochure advised, “Did you know you’ll probably spend 600 hours or more behind the wheel of your car this year? Don’t you think you should enjoy every minute? You can. That’s the case for the 1970 Buick LeSabre.”

Thomas Klockau

There were three tiers of LeSabres this year: basic LeSabre, LeSabre Custom, and Custom 455. The Custom was the flossier variant and added bright wheel opening moldings, lower body moldings, the expected Custom badging on the flanks, and plusher interior upholstery and door panels. The Custom 455 was largely the same as the “regular” custom, but the standard 260-horsepower Buick 350 V-8 was replaced with the big-block, 370-hp 455 V-8 instead.

Thomas Klockau

The LeSabre Custom was the lowest-priced, full-size Buick drop top that year, with a base price of $3700 (about $28,688 today). It had a curb weight of 3947 pounds, and 2487 were produced. Like all ’70 LeSabres, it was similar to the redesigned 1969 model, but was facelifted front and rear, with more squared up nose and tail, as well as the expected seat and door panel style changes from model to model.

Thomas Klockau

The Wildcat (in its final year) also offered a convertible, or if you had money to burn, you could go whole-hog and spring for the Electra 225 convertible, also in its final year of availability.

Thomas Klockau

LeSabre Custom convertibles featured all-vinyl seating in a choice of blue, saddle, black, or red, as seen on our featured example. Overall length was 220.2 inches, wheelbase 124 inches, and width 80 inches. Just for a fun comparison, today’s new Buick Enclave is 204.8 inches long and has a 120.9-inch wheelbase.

Thomas Klockau

The aforementioned standard 260-hp Buick V-8 also had 360 lb-ft of torque and breathed through a two-barrel carburetor. However, a four-barrel 350 with 285 horses was optionally available, as well as a high-compression (10.25 compared to 9.0) four-barrel 350 with 315 horsepower.

Thomas Klockau

This was the final year for this body, as 1971 would usher in a complete restyling, with the cars even larger than before. The LeSabre would carry on, but the Wildcat would be gone, replaced in the line with the Centurion model to bridge the gap between LeSabre and Electra. The LeSabre itself would last all the way to 2005 before finally being retired, albeit only as a four-door sedan. The final LeSabre convertible appeared in 1975.

Thomas Klockau

This car was spotted by me and my friend Jayson Coombes at the BCA Nationals held in Lisle, Illinois, last June. It was a great event, and the CLC Grand National meet was just a few miles away at the Westin in Lombard. It was a full day for gawking at classic Buicks and Cadillacs!

I’ve already written up the ’58 Roadmaster 75 Riviera sedan I saw at this show, and there will be other attendees featured as well. There were so many nice cars. But I especially loved this Fire Red (paint code 2189) LeSabre Custom convertible, particularly with its matching red interior and white top!

Thomas Klockau

If you will permit me one final indulgence, I wrote this column on the 26th anniversary of my kidney transplant. I’d just like to say I’m grateful for every day, and I appreciate readers like you. Make every day count!


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    Cool example of those big Buicks. I’m thinking a top-down cruise for dinner with friends and a stop for ice cream on the way home would be perfect in this car.
    Congrats on 26 years of a better life, sir!

    I always make your articles my first stop on this webpage. I appreciate the interesting details about the options and the awesome photos. Regarding your transplant, I wish you continued good health. I am a registered donor, everyone should consider become a donor to help excellent people like Thomas K.

    In my state, one can just designate “organ donor” on their driver’s license, so that medical personnel and/or coroners can quickly decide if something is “harvestable” in the event of one’s death. It’s my understanding they don’t even have to take time to talk with next-of-kin.
    Now, at my age, “harvestable” might be debatable to those professionals, but I figure that’s their call, as I won’t care either way at that point!

    My Dad had a 1958 Buick Convertible. Silver with Black Interior, Light Grey Top. In 1962, we traded in for a 1962 Buick Convt. Dark Green with a Black Interior. Two cars we really enjoyed driving around with the top down,

    Congratulations on the long term success of your transplant. I’m sure that has really put life in perspective for you. Continued health!

    Aah Buick… Maybe the “finest-for-the-money”, of anything GM.
    Truly; Buicks, like all other GM labels, were in their very last days of independence and greatness.
    Soon, you’d find Oldsmobile motors in Cadillacs.

    As with every other American car, the early ’70’s brought us almost the worst in automobile quality.
    We’d not find our way again for a decade or more.

    These last, unemasculated American cars, signal the end of an era.
    Thankfully, we have literally come back from the dead, even if it took another few decades.

    Vive le USA!

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