1987 Buick Century Limited Landau: Broughamtastic in blue


Wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick? That was the slogan for years for the one-rung-below-Cadillac marque. And Buicks used to be everywhere … when Buick still made cars, that is, back in the last century. It seems everyone has to have an SUV these days.


Picture it. It’s 1987. You walk into your local Buick dealer and you’re spoiled for choice. There’s the subcompact Skyhawk (the Cadillac version, the Cimarron, gets way more internet hatred than it deserves, yet never a peep about the Buick and Olds versions. Strange) … and the compact four-door Skylark … and the two-door version, initially dubbed Somerset. The two-door would finally become a Skylark too, for the ’88 model year.


Big, comfy, and recently downsized front-wheel-drive LeSabres and Electras, along with the majestic, gigantic wood-paneled Estate Wagon (a key plot point in one of my favorite ’80s movies, Adventures in Babysitting), and today’s subject, the front-wheel-drive, midsize Century.


The Century, the new A-body starting in 1982, replaced the earlier 1978-vintage A-bodies: the rear-wheel-drive Century, Cutlass, LeMans, and Malibu Classic. These new FWD A-bodies themselves were an enlarged and improved X-body (you know, the Chevy Citation—another ’80s car that most love to hate). The initial offerings were the Chevy Celebrity, Pontiac 6000, Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, and the Buick Century.


I need to be careful; if I get too deep into A-body history, we’ll be here all day! But, as usual, the Buick was the fanciest version. And the Limited was the fanciest Century model. The coupe and sedan were available from the beginning, and the station wagon was added for the 1984 model year. A redesign for 1986 resulted in a new forward-leaning nose; for 1987, things more or less stood pat.


The 1987 Century came, as usual, as a coupe, sedan, or wagon, in Custom and Limited trim. I remember seeing a lot of these when I was a kid. I recall a first- or second-grade field trip to Eagle Supermarket, and my friend Brian Macomber’s mom had a burgundy ’84 or ’85 Limited sedan with decadent burgundy velour seats. A few years later they traded it for a GMC Safari minivan. I kept it to myself, but considered it a downgrade. Not Broughamy enough.


But back then the volume seller of the Century line was the four-door sedan. No combovers—oops, I mean crossovers. Most popular was the Custom four-door sedan, with 80,445 built. Second-most popular was the Limited sedan, to the tune of 71,340 sold.


The biggest draw for spiffing the Limited was the lush interior. As the brochure said, “The Limited’s 55/45 notchback seats are covered by luxurious velour, and its 45/45 seats are available with cloth or leather trim in the seating areas. New shale-gray dash and door trim appears on 1987 Century Coupes, and brushed pewter trim is used on Sedan models.”


Today’s subject is one of 4384 Century Limited coupes built for the year. MSRP was $11,397 ($30,282 today). The coupes are the scarcest Centurys; the $10,844 Custom coupe sold even fewer copies, 2878. This one appears to be exceptionally nice, in Dark Blue, code 31, with matching interior and top. At the time, early in 2022, it was for sale on Craigslist in Colonial Heights, Virginia, though (of course) the ad is long gone now.


As the then-seller related, “I have for sale a real time capsule. 1987 Buick Century Limited Coupe. Undercoated by the selling dealer in 1987. Zero rust. I have never seen another 1987 Buick Century Coupe! They are all four-door sedans or station wagons. 46,500 actual miles documented on the Clean CARFAX, as well as the clean Virginia title.


“No damage ever. Power Steering, Power Brakes, Tilt Steering Wheel, Power Door Locks, Power Windows, Cruise Control, AM/FM/Cassette Player with Automatic up and down Antenna. New Virginia State Police Safety Inspection Sticker. The car is extremely clean inside, outside and underneath. All of the options work as new. All of the outside and inside lights work as new. All of the gauges work as new.”


This one also has the optional 2.8-liter V-6 engine, a step up from the “Tech IV” four-cylinder that was standard equipment on Century models. All Centurys had a standard automatic transmission, however, regardless of engine choice.


I really liked this one. I don’t recall seeing many Century coupes back then, and in looking up the production records for this column, I now see why. Hopefully it found a caring new owner and is still in showroom condition somewhere!



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    This generation of GM product did not survive well in our salt/rust belt area. Late 90s early 00s Grand Ams and Aleros for example seemed much sturdier.

    WOW – down memory lane, when Buick still made Buicks. Owned an ’86 four door Limited in ice blue with this same dark blue interior. Quiet, comfortable, loaded with options and reliable to boot. Bring back cloth interiors! Cooler in summer, warmer in winter. Who decided that what passes for leather in every common car today is more “luxurious”?

    I hated that era’s velour-y cloth interiors; they grabbed a person’s pants, and twisted and pulled, as one tried to slide in and get comfortable. And yes, I did own one for a while. Give me (heated) leather or vinyl any day!

    I had the 4-door T-Type version with the 3800. We collectively called it the UWC (Ugly White Car) because it was from the era when they were spraying a single coat of paint directly on to galvanized and half the paint was peeled off. Other than that, great car. Scooted along pretty good and it was pretty much bulletproof. I had it for years and it went through several members of the family before finally dying… although after hearing the report I suspect all it needed was a coil pack

    +2 on the 3.8. Had one too.
    It was pretty decent for a front driver, but rust got it and the abomination GM 10 came after. Somehow next to the 91 Caprice, the Lumina wasn’t hideous. That 3.1 was horrible compared to the 3.8

    No one was applying a single coat of paint to sheetmetal. EPA regulations of the era forced manufacturers into water-based sealers applied under the paint. Unfortunately, many of them developed adhesion problems later on, which required the body to be stripped to bare metal for a proper repair. This issue showed itself with any US/Canadian manufactured vehicle of the era, including import brands.

    Had a new 86 silver Custom 4 door with the Iron Duke as my company car. Piled the miles on it with little maintenance. Nice ride once you got over the steering wheel shake at idle from the Duke.

    Mike, if you recall I had the 78 Buick Century Custom fastback. Red velour, looked real nice but Fowlers painted it 7 times. The engine was smooth but a gutless 231 V6. I sold ghat for a Pontiac 6000 STE. Paint issues, but the interior and the 2.8 litre V6 was great. Later in 94, I bought a Regal Custom with the 231 V6 fwd. A great car. I now own a 18 Buick Regal Tour X Essence. What a great car m

    Mom and Dad got new Lesabre Limited in that blue in 87. Very nice in the new FWD style with that interior.

    I remember that interior, so plush!

    Speaking of interesting, the Skyhawk Turbo motor had a lot of red on it. A decent amount of flash for a plain motor.

    How can the author talk about walking into a Buick dealer in 1987, and mention being spoiled for choice, but not mention the Regals??? Especially the Turbos, GNs, and maybe you might have even spotted a GNX!

    Although it’s been a while since I’ve seen on one the road, this era of GM A-bodies was certainly a sales success. They were comfy, quiet, thrifty, and fairly long-lived. Built in Kansas City, right?

    My dad (then 65, and a lifelong Buick 2-door man) talked about buying one of these kitschy boxes, padded roof and all. I did my best to steer him into a 1987 LeSabre coupe; once he saw the much sleeker (relatively – it was the square 1980’s, after all) style, he liked it. He bought a burgundy red LeSabre Limited coupe, with the Gran Touring package; aside from a slightly firmer ride (likely due to the suspension package) than his 1976 Regal gave him, he never regretted it. And that 3.8 was a great, durable engine; not a huge amount of HP, but good torque down low, and great throttle response. And yes, it did handle quite well for a car of that type and era. It went over 160,000 miles, thru him, my daughter, and me, without much rust.

    Funny thing that the 2.8 and 3.1 were some of the best motors of that era… most likely why they got rid of them. I had many Z24’s, Buicks, and an amazing Regal GranSport that was bulletproof. Todays throwaway cars can’t come close. Cheers

    Regal GS had a 3.8/3800.

    Sorry, but the 60* V6, esp early 2.8 and 3.1 are largely, and accurately, regarded as poor examples of engineering design. The 3.8 and updated 3800 was a vastly superior engine. The later 3400 was a further quality nightmare when manufactured in China.

    My folks bought one brand new – it was a light metallic gold colored coupe, don’t recall the trim but it was hard loaded with sunroof, digital dash, alloys, three spoke leather wrapped wheel and Bose sound. I think it had a floor mounted shifter too. I was a junior in HS and this was a fine machine for going to prom etc. My best firends folks bought a new 6000 STE which was “cool” in 86-87 time frame, the Century was just as neat. Not that I’ve spent much time looking, but I’ve never seen another like it. I believe our Century was powered by a fuel injected 3.3L Buick V6 too. It ran neck and neck with the STE and it’s aggressive sounding 2.8 V6. Neither car would be considered fast by today’s standards. One interesting thing that happened, my folks returned home from a road trip and parked the Century in the garage. A friend had parked his 69 Firebird across the street from our house. That day the Buick decided to roll out of our garage, down the driveway (fortunately not too steep) and into the side of the Firebird. Car was still in “Park” lol.. trans was fixed under warranty and insurance probably paid for the damage to the Pontiac, but our Buick’s attempt at self driving was a fail

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