1 Of 1,290! 1976 Buick Century Pace Car

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While this 1976 Buick Century Indy Pace Car replica looks plenty tired, the original graphics are still visible and some of the distinct features of the 1,290 replicas produced are still present. The car is listed for sale here on eBay with no bids being placed yet against the opening figure of $4,500. The Century is located in New Alexandria, Pennsylvania.

It was very common from the 1960s to the 80s for auto manufacturers to produce “replicas” of vehicles that were chosen to be the pace car for the Indianapolis 500 (and to some lesser extent, the Daytona 500) as a way of jazzing up sales. Of course, the “replicas” generally weren’t exact duplicates of the real pace cars as typically the stock vehicles would not meet the performance requirements of the real pace cars. Buick frequently campaigned for their cars to be chosen, and in both 1975 and 1976, it was the Century model pacing the field. Although the actual 1975 pace car was equipped with Buick’s giant 455-cubic-inch V8, the car was barely able to meet the necessary speeds at Indy even with the emissions equipment removed. Buick took care of that in 1976 by equipping the actual pace cars with preliminary versions of their 3.8-liter turbo V6, but unfortunately, the production version either got 350 V8s (still the Buick design at that point) or 3.8-liter non-turbo V6s. The real pace cars also had aluminum fenders and hoods and were said to be ~650 pounds lighter than the 1975 version. No, the replicas didn’t get the aluminum body panels, either, as you can see by the surface rust on the car above. They did get the cool-looking rear spoiler, however!

 

The rust doesn’t stop at the surface, either, with bad spots appearing at the base of the rear window and lower fenders. But what’s this we see up top? It’s the optional (not all replicas had them) “Hurst Hatch” T-top roof and a brushed aluminum or stainless (sources differ) basket handle applique, possibly to hide the massive blind spots in the Century’s hardtop design.

The interior appears largely stock apart from the two additional gauges on the center console; the gauges don’t appear in other Pace Car replicas I found online. The sporty three-spoke steering wheel was optional. I wasn’t able to find reupholstery kits for 1976 Centurys after a quick search; perhaps there’s a specialist somewhere that produces them. I did find a replica of the factory decals here for the low, low price of $1,724.65 (!). After looking over some past Barn Finds features of cars in better cosmetic shape here and here, I might bypass this car and try to find a better one somewhere.

Honestly, the engine compartment has a lot more going for it than the interior! As noted above, assuming this is the original engine, this is a 350-cubic-inch Buick V8–but the ad calls it a 455! As best as I can tell, it’s a 350, but I’m guessing Buick experts among our readers can tell us for sure. The other depressing thing about the listing is that we’re told the car doesn’t presently run, but no reason is given. Let us know what you think about this Century, and tell us below about any pace car replicas from any make that you’ve owned!

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Comments

  1. Big C

    This looks like another car that was owned by a hoarder, that was always going to get around restoring the car. And spent the last 4 decades, turning down offers to buy. Now? Here we are. Good luck.

    Like 13
    • $ where mouth is

      seems that was ‘said’ in a derogatory mannor ?..

      Ahhh YA, those “hoarders” are the heros of this whole genre !, the cars that are ‘hoarded’ are
      ‘ BARN FINDS ‘ ;)

      ‘ Hoarding ‘ (not the disorder) takes effort, care, time, space, money, for thought..
      If you love a barn find, thank a ‘hoarder’ !

      Like 3
      • Big C

        Leaving a rare classic car rotting in a field, isn’t doing any justice to said vehicle. In an enclosure? Fine.

        Like 3
    • Dan Dugan

      I’m pretty sure I know this car. There is a used car dealer in New Alexandria who is also a Buick collector and he had one of these. I haven’t seen it in years but it did run. Ron….the owner…..drove it in to a Buick car show we had several years ago
      It was heavily patinaed then but it was solid and I’m pretty sure it is stored inside and the floors are probably good

      Like 0
  2. Matt Murray

    I say lose the stainless trim over roof
    Paint it whatever color you want.
    Build the 350 for tourqe and enjoy it for a 70s
    Oddity.
    The pace car angle doesn’t help this car in my opinion and just deleting the decal kit could almost pay for basic interior kit

    Like 4
  3. Bick Banter

    Love the patina. Spay on some clear, put in a modded 3.8 SFI turbo from an 86-87 GN, clean and rework the interior so you don’t get some kind of unexplained rash, and have fun terrorizing the neighbourhood.

    Like 5
    • Craig Baloga Craig Baloga

      Bick, right on!

      Stick in a blown 3.8 from a GN and go dust some unsuspecting 3 Series and A4’s…..😂

      Like 4
  4. Tbone

    The graphics make it faster

    Like 10
    • Rumpledoorskin

      Just imagine how fast it’ll be once you flip over the air cleaner lid.

      Like 20
  5. George Mattar

    Rare Buick with those Hurst Hatches. Had two cars with them, my 76 Cutlass Salon and 77 Grand Prix SJ. Miss those cars. Both silver.

    Like 4
  6. Daniel

    Ls swap with turbo would be fun and low buck.

    Like 4
  7. bone

    What are the minimum speeds for a pace car at Indy in ’76 ? Seems odd a 455 couldn’t keep up , While it looks large, its still a mid size Collonade platform and should have had no problem with the right gearing and a 650 pound weight reduction . Changing to a turbo 3.8 doesn’t make sense to me, while the later GN Regals put out some power, the 70s 3.8s were nothing to brag about .My buddy had a Regal T type coupe with a turbo 3.8 and it was a joke power wise

    Like 4
  8. Mark

    Assume find, I had the Regal verison, transmission gave out in “92” with 130 thousand on the OD!

    Like 0
    • $ where mouth is

      something about transmission fluid..

      Like 0
  9. Shuttle Guy Shuttle GuyMember

    I’d love to own one. Just not this one.

    Like 4
    • Darla Spurgeon

      I have one that runs!! Needs restored but only has 7300 miles on the original motor. I’m located in Wash State. I can provide pictures.

      Like 0
  10. John M Stecz

    I do not think any of these cars that were sold to the public had anything bigger than the 350 V8. I still have my all original 1976 S/R Buick that I special ordered in 1976 with the Hurst T Tops all original with 38000 miles on the odometer,only driven in good weather. Paid 6200.00 for it new

    Like 5
    • $ where mouth is

      your teasing !, PLEASE share a pic ?

      Like 1
      • John M Stecz

        I’ll try to put a picture on.im an old man and I’m not sure how to get a photo on here with my smart phone

        Like 2
      • John M Stecz

        I sent a photo to barn finds so I don’t think you will get it

        Like 0
  11. morrisangelo

    This car screams “no floors”.

    Like 1
  12. ACZ

    The car came new with a 350 as shown by the VIN in the eBay auction. However, this could be a 455 that someone added later. Pictures aren’t quite good enough to be certain, plus someone has removed half the A/C equipment. This is a Hurst Hatch that never had the recall done. It still has the glass panels with the surround chrome. Leaked like Niagra Falls. The car has been road hard and put up wet a few times too many. Would make a great parts car if you could find a clean low mile Century Special but not sure this one is worth trying to put back on the road.

    Like 2
    • John M.Stecs

      I have the same T Tops that this car has and have never had any leaks except where the t top and the rain gutter meet. When you open the door the water would drip straight down onto the lower door seal

      Like 0
      • $ where mouth is

        Dear John,
        I could contact BFs and ask how best to get in contact with you, is the car for sale ?

        Like 0
  13. $ where mouth is

    Ive always appreciated these, especially as a Laguna enthusiast.
    This car has refinements and evolutions of this eras form and function. To get the T-tops and a perfectly sculpted spoiler/bumpers, plush leather, contoured rear window, Our bi-centennial ‘Free Spirit’ with an Eagle in flight, ..only disappointing thing here is no power windows !?, too bad.
    As ive ranted in the past, the de-tuned motor for some is a moan and groan, for those that know, its a weekend project to get a 455 to churn out plenty of power.
    While im at it, this power trip most are on, the reality is, theres not many instances the 0-60 is so ‘necessary’ ; and again, for those in the know, just down shift. Its the handling and comfort that make the ride.
    This car is a specimen of the end of an era when cars were built well, vested in, adorned..
    Then came the 80s..
    In short, i love it :)

    Like 2
  14. Shuttle Guy Shuttle GuyMember

    Sold $4500

    Like 1
  15. Maggy

    4500 for this? 450 I could see imo.

    Like 1
    • John M.Stecz

      Thinking about selling my 76Buick S/R but I would have to get a descent price for it.

      Like 0
      • Jesse Jesse MortensenStaff

        @John M.Stecz – Why don’t you auction it off right here on the site? I’m sure it would do great.

        Like 3
    • $ where mouth is

      $450 ??
      why are you even on this sight, why even comment as though you know, you clearly dont.
      Likely another walmart shopper buying chinese everything and driving an import.
      This car is over your head and out of your league ; respectfully ;)

      Like 0
      • $ where mouth is

        Ya ! John MS, post it here , ill be looking out for it. Dont let the negative nancies discourage you, some of us know thats an American legend.

        Like 0
      • maggy

        You’re a funny guy. You made me laugh. Little people judge people they never met by a harmless opinion they may disagree with I’ve found out thru my life experiences. If you think it’s worth more ..hey no problem. If I was the owner I’d try and get as much as I could too.I just said what I thought it was worth in the condition it’s in and for what it is. Then you talk smack about me? ….Just rolls right off dude. Have a great rest of your day! Respectfully.,,,,,ohhh and I don’t do that little smiley face bs at the end of a sentence . That’s for teen age girls.

        Like 0
  16. John M.Stecz

    I would like to but do not know how to go about it

    Like 0

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