6-Wheeler! 1971 Buick Electra Custom

This rather unique car has made its rounds of the internet over about a ten year period. It’s up for sale again and Bill W. was kind enough to bring it to our attention! The seller has it listed here on craigslist. The asking price now is $25,000–a third of what it has been listed for sale before. The unusual car is located in Hamburg, Pennsylvania.

A lot of these pictures have come from googling the car on the internet. Please understand, the ad itself has very little detail. Apparently it has both been represented as a factory prototype and as a custom conversion. Basically, the idea was to have two additional wheels that could be lowered to absorb more weight when towing. According to those that have looked the car over while the conversion is impressive, they don’t believe the job was completed by GM. Unfortunately, I haven’t come across any pictures of what’s inside the trunk.

This is one of the pictures from the advertisement. The ad describes the car as being an older restoration with 71,000 miles. I am hoping those custom side covers are still around, because they could be a bear to remake. However, the car as a whole looks solid. I should point out, though, that these same pictures have been used to advertise the car for a while. At one point in 2013, according to this forum post it was advertised for a much higher price: $75,000.

 

Personally, I think the car would look best with the wire wheel covers and whitewalls (as long as the covers would fit under the rear panels). But I think that’s missing the point. Whomever, whatever created this car–it’s cool! Seriously cool! There is some question as to whether the wheel mechanism still lowers the wheels, and I’d want to check that out myself before purchasing it, but wow!

Here’s the other shot from the ad itself. What do you think? Is the idea sound? Would you be interested? Could this actually be a GM prototype? Let us know what you think in our comment section!

 

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Comments

  1. electra

    GM prototype or mistype?

    1+
  2. bill d

    Perfect Example…….. Perfect example that proves that rare does not equate to valuable…. Just strange!

    13+
  3. Scot Douglas

    What’s missing is a photo of it hooked up to a large airstream. 🙂

    9+
  4. Jag-Yew-Arrrrrghhh

    GM Prototype? Possibly for the Terex Division.

    4+
  5. 86 Vette Convertible

    Why would you buy something like that (a unique one off) when you could have had a 3/4 or 1 ton truck that would have towed a trailer far better and have cost a lot less than this undoubtedly would have?

    5+
    • whippeteer

      Trucks at the time did not have the level of comfort and flexibility. It also meant that you would need two vehicles. Daily commute during the week, party on the weekend.

      2+
  6. Mike H

    Photos are obviously very unclear, but I can’t detect a trailer hitch at the back of this car. If you’re adding a tag axle to help with towing then shouldn’t the car have a hitch?

    I suppose it could be outfitted with a gooseneck or fifth wheel hitch in the trunk.

    2+
  7. jw454

    Why would GM expose themselves to the liability of designing something that could be and would be used beyond safe limits when they already were producing trucks that were better suited for the job. I may be wrong but, IMO GM had no hand in this effort.

    6+
  8. rustylink

    uh no..even in 1977 this made little sense. He’d have to show a stack of paper work to convince anyone this is a “factory” 6 wheeler so the ad is a bit misleading.

    7+
    • whippeteer

      1971

      1+
  9. Jay E.

    Seems odd to me that the extra wheels are full size. To support 1000 lbs of tongue weight only takes small trailer tires.

    1+
    • Lurker

      Most small trailer tires have a max speed rating of 50mph. Having full size tires would at least allow you to cruise the interstate. Still doesn’t make much sense or seem practical.

      0
  10. Coventrycat

    The weight added by those wheels lifts the front up, as the pictures show – looks like they ought to be used in everyday driving with that thing. Must have been something in the water back then.

    2+
  11. sir mike

    Pimp mobile from the 70’s

    2+
    • David

      I was thinking the same thing, I thought all the Supa-Fly rides had the spares mounted between the front tires and the doors!

      3+
  12. Fred W.

    Even General Motors would never design something as esthetically unpleasing as this. Looks like good workmanship for what it is though.

    2+
  13. leiniedude

    I wonder how it handles driving with that tag down ?

    1+
    • Willie

      I’d think it would scrub the hell outa the tag tires.

      2+
  14. Mark Member

    Kind of gross , maybe on an el Camino a better idea but not a luxury car.

    0
  15. AMXSTEVE

    Look’s cool and would work. Imagine the looks at car shows and boat ramps.

    I’m ready to leave this site due to all the negative old men commenting on here. It’s really depressing to hear these crabby bastards everyday on every post.

    11+
    • JCW Jr. Member

      I agree. I would not want most of the people that respond here to look at something I had for sale. The negativity is awful the one other thing that bugs me is in almost every write up of an automatic vehicle the writers almost always say if it had a stick it would be better. Alright after a couple hundred posts we get it you prefer a stick shift.

      6+
      • LAB3

        Chalk it up to being jealous. The whiners whine because they don’t, or can’t, have one!

        2+
      • KEN TILLY

        If you had ever been stuck in a ten mile tailback on London’s M25 ring road several times then you would be very grateful that you were driving an automatic and not a stick shift.

        0
    • leiniedude

      Hi Steve, I was not trying to be negative with my comment. Just curios about its drive ability. Interesting concept and I don’t think she looks to bad with the banjo skirts on.

      1+
    • Jag-Yew-Arrrrrghhh

      I’m guessing everybody on this site has tossed a fair amount of snark around on some of these listings. A lot of the comments are just plain funny. Glass houses/stones. Whatever.

      3+
    • rando

      Same here, except I thought it was the crabby YOUNG men… either way… I skim the comments pretty quick because of the negativity about anything on here.

      6+
    • 68 custom

      hey you kids stay off my lawn, 🙂 JK!

      3+
      • leiniedude

        Sorry Mr. Wilson! Dennis. Take care! LOL!

        1+
      • LAB3

        My favorite is “Watch your mouth or I’ll start dating your mom!”

        2+
  16. Joe Haska

    WHY? I just don’t get it, I wanted to read the posts, hoping someone would be able to explain it. I guess not!

    1+
  17. KevinW

    I can’t help but think this would be ill handling at the least. I like seeing weird cars that I’ve never seen before. Probably belongs in a museum.

    3+
  18. LAB3

    It COULD be a GM built concept car, think of all the ones we’ve seen over the years that never got built! It would seem to make sense though that the drive axle would have been relocated further forward to give it a better balance aesthetically. My guess is that it’s a custom job.

    1+
  19. wayne

    Wouldn’t the answer be a simple as contacting GM? There would be records somewhere.

    0
  20. nessy

    There are more of these around than we think. There was a brown Electra coupe just like this car, it was a year newer, a 72 at the Hershey car corral about 12 years ago. It was rough and rusty but did have the fender covers and the asking price as I recall was 3500. Anymore here recall that car at Hershey? I may have taken a few photos so I will look and post some if I can find them. I do not think the seller’s claim of only 2 in the US is correct. There is also a dark red 71 coupe floating around with the same feature. Buick must have had some kind of rights to this setup because I have only heard of this feature on 71 and 72 Electra coupes, no sedans. There was also a photo of a black 72 coupe in the old “Cars and Parts” magazine under their monthly “car spotter” short story. That issue may have been from the late 1980s. I’ll look for it. My first impression when I saw the brown car was pretty ugly, although it was brown and rusty. This seller is dreaming if he thinks anymore is going to pay 25000 just due to these silly looking extra wheels.

    4+
  21. Hot Wheels Calgary

    Years ago this thing was in a storage yard next door to the acreage I loved on.. this isn’t my picture, but I remember driving by and seeing it and just being floored… I read online that it had been bought by someone local and was to be restored, but that was a while ago… I often wonder how that is going…

    http://www.curbsideclassic.com/fieldside-classics/oldsmobile-toronado-custom/

    2+
    • C Carl

      Good link hot wheels, it looks like they tried a continental kit angle on the idea.

      0
  22. Mark Member

    Seen a bunch of these and eldorados with jacuzzi in the back or stretched for limo. Easier to do since both front wheel drive.

    0
  23. Mark P

    I want to see what’s in the trunk. Do the wheels lower electrically, hydraulicly or manually….

    1+
  24. D

    I think if someone was towing something heavy enough to require the extra wheels then they should have been driving a pickup.

    1+
  25. angliagt

    This caught my eye,as I had a ’72 LeSabre 2 door
    in this same color combination.I put the factory mag-type chromed
    wheels on it,& didn’t look too bad for a huge 2 door.
    It also had a 455 that would get up & go,when needed,
    & got about the same mileage as a 350,but would run forever.

    1+
  26. rando

    My uncle was a pastor back in the day of these behemoths. He and one of the church members loved camping. They both had nearly identical green Electra 4 dr cars for towing their campers. Large campers for the day. I assume the underpinnings of these was as heavy duty as you could get in a car. Being a younger pastor, I assume that he used the best vehicle he could and still keep his pastoral image intact? Pickups weren’t preacher cars. And his wife dang sure couldn’t be seen in a pickup in the early 70s. So this may have been a good idea for hte times.

    0
  27. John C Cargill

    Bases upon experience writing service at a big Buick dealer in the late 70s these cars didn’t need that much to tow a big trailer. With the right hitch and air shocks. No sweat. Somebodies experiment.

    0
  28. Jubjub

    Perhaps the answer lies in Elkhart Indiana, the RV capital of the world.

    1+
  29. Clay Byant

    I’m 72 and to offset some of the comments above………………Isn’t this beautiful?

    1+
    • JYA!

      I’m 64…….No

      3+
  30. Luke Fitzgerald

    The answer to an unasked question

    1+
  31. harold

    Make a great moonshiner’s car, the law swore theyed get him but the devil got him first.

    1+
  32. Harvey Peever

    If we’re only a four door I could carry my mother in law in there. Or, maybe not.

    1+
    • JYA!

      We’ll assume your wife does not visit this site or you are a really brave man.

      0
  33. Rodney

    The original “Junk in the Trunk”…

    1+
  34. Richard Gaskill

    I assume those posting that this is a good idea and would work abuse the same substance the person that designed this folly did.
    How much weight does this equipment add to the vehicle? You have to subtract that much from the factory towing limit.
    How much does fuel mileage drop due to the extra weight when not towing?
    A valid comment was made about tire scrubbing in turns.
    Anybody that thinks pointing out flaws in a poor design is being “crabby” obviously has no mechanical aptitude.

    1+
  35. Tom

    yes this is a custom done by a coach builder in i think indiana and they were bought new by an rv dealer sent to be customized and sold on that rv dealers lots in small quanties. my next door neighbor growing up was the sales man for the rv dealership that was put in charge of these orders he had a gold with gold interior buick wagon with the armstrong axle conversion and although he has since moved he i believe still has that car and pulls a small tear drop with it. So yes jub jub is 100% correct. the axle was activated by pulling a knob in the trunk to unlock then getting back into the car and pressing a “lower” momentary switch and the axle would drop, i was young when i saw him do this as a demo for me and im not sure if it was electronic or pneumatic

    0
  36. Tom

    The only reason this was done was to (as told to me by the neighbor) was cause in the late 60s some communities started having issues with rvs being parked on the road side or in peoples drive ways there was even a small housing development that frowned on pick ups being parked so this was an rv dealships way of still selling camper trailers. However i have seen this same exact conversion on a large 74 cadillac limo also.

    0
  37. Bart Van Valkenburgh

    Ok here is the true story of the car as I was painter who did the work.
    A gentleman/engineer from the Pottstown Pa area was given some grant money from the government ( I seem to remember $60K) to develop his idea to have believe it or not snow tires drop down at the push of a button for use when It snowed. This car had a hand crank and no power for the up/down cycle
    He came to Madden and Ryan Bodyworks in Radnor Pa in late 1971 or early 72 where owner Pat Ryan agreed to flesh out the 1/4 panels and paint the back end. If I remember the color was GM code 22.
    Fabricator Eric “Robby” Robinson who came to the US from England where he had been a body fabricator at Aston Martin. Robby took the stock skirts and added the big wheel opening panels using the same flange arrangement.
    The mechanicals inside were real basic just a steel rack of 2 inch box tubing which pivoted up and down on large jack screws and were cranked by hand on this prototype.
    all of us in the shop thought the guy was a little goofy as at the time Snow tires would be switched seasonally from the standard rims and studs were just gaining popularity and tearing up the roads. Penna’s laws even told drivers when they could put studded snows on and when to take them off.
    4-5 years ago I ran into this car at fall Hershey where the guy who owned it then tried to tell everyone the show the extra tires were for towing. I came back the next day wit photos of the body panels being made and this story, He did not like the truth and just kept telling everyone his version.
    The photo at Hershey wound up in Sports Car Market later asking for readers to put in a reason for this “thing”
    All of the replies in this blog as to what this car is about ….RVs, Gm Prototype , Terex idea are kind of what the replies in Sports Car Market magazine were like.
    I have some photos at the shop in Jan 72 but cant get my scanner to work Ill try later.
    Hope you enjoyed the true story of this folly
    Madden and Ryan is still in business but Pat Ryan passed away in the early 1980’s and the only other tech alive when this was made there Harvey Schlifer of Schlifer Automotive in Wayne Pa can vouch for the story. Look them up in the phone listing and give Harvey a call, I know he would laugh out loud if any one did call him… tell him that Van told you to call
    Bart

    2+

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