1976 Buick Electra Limited Coupe: Sun-Kissed Yacht

If you’ve been reading my columns long enough, you’ll know I’m a big fan of the full-size, “Nimitz Class” cars GM built from 1971 to ’76, from Caprices to Delta 88 Royales to Fleetwood Talismans. They were the last GM hardtops, and the last GM full-sizers that were available in every basic body style: coupe, sedan, convertible, and station wagon.

Thomas Klockau

Buicks were still pretty big in 1976—in fact, this was last call for truly unapologetic room and length. In 1977 all the big Buicks—indeed, all big GM cars—would be downsized to tidier dimensions, except for the Olds Toronado and Cadillac Eldorado, who had to wait until the 1979 model year.

Thomas Klockau

There were three versions of Electra for 1976: The Electra 225, the Electra Limited, and the super plush Electra Park Avenue, the last of which had a center console—though the transmission lever was still mounted on the steering column. The Park Avenue was available as a sedan only.

Thomas Klockau

I have seen two very nice Park Avenues too, and will be writing at least one of them up sometime, but that’s for another day!

Thomas Klockau

Technically, the Limited was also an Electra 225, though it was not badged as such. The lowest priced Electra was the 225 coupe, at $6367. GM built 18,442. Limited coupes started at $6689 and were more popular, to the tune of 28,395 units sold.

Thomas Klockau

Most popular Electra of all was the Limited four-door hardtop, with 51,067 cars built at a starting price of $6852. For comparison, the priciest ’76 LeSabre was the Custom four-door hardtop, at $5166. LeSabres looked more like their flossier Electra brethren this year as well, adding the quad rectangular lights the Electras first gained in 1975.

Thomas Klockau

As one would expect, there were plenty of standard features on the Electras, including the 455-cubic-inch V-8, Turbo Hydra-matic automatic transmission, power front disc/rear drum brakes, High Energy ignition, power windows, and Custom seat and shoulder belts. The Limited added a two-way power seat, a 60/40 divided front seat upholstered in cloth, a quartz crystal digital clock, and of course the much more luxurious seats and door panels. The 225 interior was nice too, but it was a bit plain in comparison.

Thomas Klockau

And there were still many optional extras, as you’d expect of Detroit in the ’70s. Such as the Landau roof seen on our featured example. You could also get steel-belted whitewall tires (steel-belted blackwalls were standard), automatic level control, a four-note horn (these were loud and well worth the extra charge), carpet savers, a litter container, power antenna, automatic climate control, power door locks, power trunk release, and more.

Thomas Klockau

The seats, of course, were really plush. While they perhaps were not as scientifically fashioned as Volvo’s famous orthopedically designed chairs (I can speak to those seats too, as a former Volvo owner) they were definitely cushy. It was the kind of car that was pretty much like driving around in your living room.

Thomas Klockau

And if you were on a business trip to Omaha and the Holidome was full up for the night, the Limited’s seats made for rather nice first-class sleeping quarters—in a pinch!

Thomas Klockau

I saw our featured car at the annual car show held indoors each January in downtown Rock Island, Illinois. I had seen the car before a couple of times, but hadn’t gotten any really good pictures. It was interesting, of course, due to its color. I recall seeing it the previous summer and thinking if it wasn’t the original color, the paint was done very well.

Thomas Klockau

Well as it turns out, the car came out of the factory wearing this color. I did recognize the color, but believe it was limited to the smaller Buicks like the Skyhawk (Buick’s version of the Chevrolet Monza 2+2) and Skylark coupe, sedan, and hatchback. But I was fairly certain it was not available on the LeSabre/Electra/Estate Wagon.

Thomas Klockau

Shortly before I began this column, I saw the car advertised on my local Marketplace: “All original 76 Electra Limited. 2 door, 455/400. 37K original miles. Factory optioned “Firecracker Orange” paint only offered in 76.” So the car apparently was special-ordered in this color. Of course, back then, you could do such things. Today, not so much!

Thomas Klockau

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Comments

    Man, I like that car! A loud-and-proud nostalgic memento from the early childhood of a Gen-Xer. I have also referred to these cars as a rolling living-room. Only disappointment is that it was not covering a car that is for sale.

    It’s a beautiful car! No doubt about it…from the time when GM was still on top, those were the days!

    Man I’d love to have this for a Swag-Mobile to market my business. Same as my company colors too. Load up the trunk with give aways and hit the beaches fairs and car shows.

    The customer was not shy about checking all the option boxes on his or her special order car. It has the rare for Buick temperature regulated climate control where you set the temperature you wanted and just left it there. Also as Tom knows when the customer special ordered paint, the order for the car was paid in full before the car was built, the car was yours. Also GM put four quarts of the special order color in the trunk. A different time and place.

    That interior is identical to the one in my brown 1975. It was a great car i bought from a little old lady who had moved it into her “extra car” position when she bought a Camry in 1985. When that was due to be replaced in 1995 it moved into the extra car position and the Buick had to go. Gas was only $1 or so at the time so we used it to tow a vintage travel trailer and make other road trips. Can’t beat that Harrison R12 A/C when it is over 100 out. I’d probably still have it if someone hadn’t run into it when parked on the street.

    Park Avenue only available as a sedan? ..The rear window clearly says Park Avenue on this coupe

    That’s a Ruby Red ’75 Park Avenue sedan, seen at the 2022 Buick Nationals in Lisle. Will be doing a separate column on it at some point.

    My Grandfather special ordered a 76′ Electra 224 Limited Coupe in white with a Blue Landau top for my Grandmother. He lived off the highway into town and saw it arrive on the car carrier, so he knew when it came in before the dealer did. Nimitz-sized it was, It was she took one look at it and said, “That is way too long for me to drive and park in the church parking lot. Take it back”

    Not wanting to return it, he bought a Demo 1976 Buick Skylark for her to drive, and my Grandmother drove a series of Skylarks. My grandfather drove the Electra only to Church and on long trips; by the early 1990s, it only had about 36k on it. I remember him coming down to see us, and the Electra was so long and wide compared to our 1987 Taurus Wagon, which was parked beside it in the driveway.

    Eventually, he wanted to own a Cadillac, so he sold the Electra for a 1991 Sedan DeVille, which was his last car but a great one.

    Deuce and Quarter a Victor Victoria two flat,Navy gets the Gravy,Leaner after intro of UN LEADED fuel prohibited intake nozzles to pump LEAD ⛽ .Your engine would run backwards if fueled when turn off.

    I liked the early models but by this point the big bumpers killed the car. Also the quality slipped and rust was an even greater issue.

    My great uncle got a new 225 for years and I csn recall the decline by this point even as a kid.

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