Another Astroroof? 1979 Buick Regal

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A few days ago, we happened upon a Buick Skyhawk fitted with the rare Astroroof option. I had never heard of it before and certainly didn’t expect to see another one anytime soon. However, I believe a rough-looking 1979 Buick Regal up for grabs may have this same unusual option, as it sports an extra large glass cutout. The Astroroof – though relatively unpopular – was an option for buyers of these early G-bodies from GM. This example here on eBay has plenty of issues but also looks like it was quite the cruiser at one time. 

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There it is, the oversized moonroof that many buyers chose not to buy. It’s somewhat ironic because panoramic sunroofs are all the rage today, especially in the very popular crossover segment. However, the cars that were fitted with Astroroofs had a tendency to suffer from rust issues like this one does at the base of the C-pillar. Apparently the moonroof weatherstripping wasn’t as critical to engineers as cutting a huge hole on the roof was, so perhaps it’s a good thing the Astroroof remains a rarely seen feature today.

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Inside, the interior sports lots of custom touches. The aftermarket steering wheel (nothing special), the leather seats and wrapped dash, and “fancy” wood trim all tell a story of a car that was, at one time, loved. Now, it just looks like it’s been lived in, and the sagging headliner makes you wonder how long water has been escaping the roof channels and into crevices in the body. On the outside, a custom grill and color-matched wheels give this Regal a street-tough appearance, but I suspect it’s been on the slippery slope of cheap owners for quite some time.

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Here you can see the numerous issues with the body, the worst being the rust that sits just beneath where the vinyl roof intersects with the body below the C-pillar. That just looks bad. So while the Astroroof may have been ahead of its time and provided buyers with a new level of daylight inside the cabin, it’s more useful as a template for panoramic sunroof design than a feature you necessarily want to find on your next GM project. The seller is asking $2,700, but that feels like a lot for this used-up Regal. What do you think?

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Comments

  1. Anastos

    This option, I believe, was first available on late ’74 Cadillacs. It was at least an option in 1975 as my Eldorado has one…

  2. DrinkinGasoline

    The roof is certainly not worth $2700 nor is the car as a whole for that matter. I’ve scraped many a better looking vehicle than this…
    $200 bucks and call it gone to the local JY.

    • DrinkinGasoline

      I owned that exact 80 PA in white with a white vinyl over a blue interior. It was traded into the Buick dealer that I worked for by a U.S.Marine Colonel who bought it at the same dealer in 1980. The dealer owner sold it to me for what he gave on the trade….$800

  3. Bingo

    Don’t forget about the very rare log chain trunk strap option (RPO ZL-13).

    Rare doesn’t equate to desirable.

    • DrinkinGasoline

      RPO ZL-13….too funny !!

  4. Bill

    Cordoba grill on an otherwise one time decent-looking car.

  5. edh

    There’s the money shot!
    The old crappy 3.8L V6, what a pile.
    At least my 1981 Regal looked good, the 1978 – 80 were fugly.

  6. nessy

    Ahh, guys, you do all know what we are looking at is an aftermarket sunroof job. I am 1000% sure, I can tell by the roof switch and the metal frame around the glass roof. Most likely an ASC conversion.

  7. Ol' Bugger Member

    I was just about to say the same – that’s not a factory roof. I be lovin’ da custom cover too!

  8. Ron G

    I love the 78-88 G bodies, especially Regals, but this thing is ROUGH! I can only imagine the rust underneath that vinyl top and underneath the carpet. $2700 is way too much for something that to me, looks like a parts car at best.

  9. Poppy

    Who puts a car cover on a car that looks like this (see last eBay photo)? Maybe the neighbors pitched in and bought it for him so they wouldn’t have to look at it.

  10. Mr. TKD

    I like cars with a hole in the roof, but this is rougher than three nights in jail. Pass.

  11. ACZ

    Some good and some less so comments above. It is an aftermarket piece. That’s not to say aftermarket is no good. It’s only as good as the people that did the installation. The rust at the bottom of the C pillars is from the vinyl top installation. Sunroof drain tubes go all the way down to the rocker panels. The vinyl tops were supposed to be trimmed with a pair of ball tipped scissors so the paint wasn’t scratched. The guys on the assembly line got creative and used razor knives to trim the tops. Consequently, they cut the paint to metal and corrosion started. More so in the Northern States. Took a long time to identify that. I should know. I was a Buick Service Rep in those days.

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  12. Bryan

    I believe GM used the name “Astroroof” for all glass moonroofs marketed from the mid-seventies into the eighties. My best friend’s parents bought a new 81 Toronado with this option.

    They don’t seem appreciably larger than any other moonroofs that I’ve seen. Definitely not as large as the moonroof in my 79 Lincoln Mark V…it’s the largest I’ve seen of any era except the current panaramic roofs.

    By the way, Gm, Ford, and Chrysler used ASC (American Sunroof Corp) for all sun/moonroof and T-top installations. My cars have ASC stickers in the door jambs.

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  13. ACZ

    The GM sunroofs were done by Fisher Body back then. Size was commensurate body style.

  14. Bryan

    ASC invented the glass moonroof; it made its first appearance on the 73 or 74 Mark IV.

    ASC’s relationship with Detroit’s auto manufacturers (Including GM) is well documented; here’s a link to one site.

    http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/history2/9/ASC-Inc.html

    • nessy

      Bryan, although Heinz Prechter, founder of American Sunroof Company, ASC did come up with the glass design moonroof, when you ordered a factory moonroof or sunroof on a GM car, it was done by Fisher as ACZ just said. The first factory Fisher GM moonroof option was for the 75 Cadillac, Oldsmobile 98/Toronado and Buick Electra/Riviera. Lincoln offered it late on the 74 models but they were done by ASC. When you ordered a Ford product with a sliding roof, it was done by ASC as they had a contract to do the Ford cars but not the GMs. ASC first started installing sliding metal sunroofs on cars during the mid 1960s, they were called Goldie Sunroofs. I think the greatest invention ASC ever came up with was the Power T Tops, a feature that was going to be offered on the new 77 Toronado XSR. The idea was canceled after building only two prototypes for Oldsmobile. The tops lacked a drain so they leaked, the glass panels were very small and dropped too low when opened, so you hit your head everytime you climbed into the XSR. They also never sealed right. Plus, the cost was going to push the price of the Toronado higher than the Eldorado or the Lincolns so Olds dropped the idea. The XSR was even featured in the dealer booklets and Oldsmobile had to cancel many orders that had already been placed. The Toronado XS with an ASC moonroof is was went into production. Here is a photo of the only two prototype Toronado XSRs to exist. It would have been a neat feature if they could solve all the problems.

  15. Lewis Jones

    no mention of the steering wheel bar/lock? who’d want to steal this? kinda hard to sneak up with a flatbed at night….

  16. Bryan

    I really like those Toronado XS models; recently saw one for sale (minus t-tops).

    I can personally attest that every Ford and Chrysler product of the seventies & eighties that i have owned (sunroof and t-tops models specifically) have ASC stickers in the door jams. Curious why GM would choose not to when ASC was contracted to chop the tops and create GM’s eighties Riviera, Eldorado, Cavalier, Sunbird, and Corvettes convertibles.

    I will research further….it’s an interesting topic (to me anyway).

    Note: the Astroroof switch on this Regal looks just like the one on my 1979 Chrysler 300 (Cordoba); I think it’s a Ford switch that ASC used across the board at that time. Still, it could be entirely possible that this Regal’s moonroof was aftermarket….ASC sold those units as well!

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