1966 Buick Electra 225 Custom
8-cyl. 401cid/325hp 4bbl
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
The king of full-size Buicks in the middle to late 1960s was the Electra 225. At 18 feet, 8 inches long, the Electra was Buick’s largest vehicle in 1965. The model year brought the same kind of redesign that characterized GM’s entire lineup that year, with the space-age, rocket-inspired lines of the Kennedy years being replaced by the hallmark coke-bottle styling of the muscle car era. Buick’s trademark ventiport holes in the fenders were now so stylized that they’re easy to miss in cars from this era.
Buick offered the Electra a four-door sedan or hardtop, or as a two-door coupe or convertible. As the big car, the Electra featured power everything, a cigar lighter for the back seat, a nice interior, and woodgrain accents on the dashboard. Two trim levels were offered, with the uplevel Custom trim featuring plusher upholstery. Electras also came with distinctive rear wheel skirts filling the aft wheel arches.
Under the hood, the Electra 225 offered Buick’s standard 401-cid “Nailhead” V-8 at 325 hp. Optional 425-cid Nailhead V-8s with one or two carburetors offered 340 or 360 hp, respectively. That power was delivered to the rear wheels through GM’s standard Turbo-Hydramatic 400 three-speed automatic transmission. Electra buyers needed all that horsepower, as the vehicle weighed in at a hefty 4,300 pounds.
The 1966 model year only saw trivial badging and taillight designs, while the 1967 model year brought a mid-cycle facelift with a new “Limited” trim level available on the four-door hardtop. Electra 225 Limited buyers received the best interior Buick could provide. The most notable switch for 1967 was the change to Buick’s new 430-cid V-8 at 360 hp, which replaced both the 401 and 425 Nailhead engines. Following this refresh, the 1968 model again saw only minor changes.
For 1969, the Buick Electra 225 series received a major restyle to keep pace with GM’s latest full-size designs. The car became a little less blocky and more graceful, greatly resembling Cadillacs of the same year. One notable addition was the option for Bendix front disc brakes with four-piston calipers. The 430-cid V-8 at 360 hp remained the only engine choice.
In 1970, Electras actually grew by an inch. Buick compensated for the additional mass by upgrading the engine to a massive 455-cid V-8 with 370 hp. This was the final year for the convertible in the Electra 225 series.
Buick Electra collectors mostly seek out convertibles from this era, though the four-door hardtop coupes are popular low-rider or custom candidates. In early cars, look for the dual-carb 425-cid engine. The 1969 and 1970 are arguably more beautiful than the older machines, but as always, that’s in the eye of the beholder.