Fire Chief’s Wagon: 1961 Buick LeSabre Estate

UPDATE – This one sold for $3,050 back in September. The new owner has since cleaned it up and installed new rims. It looks better, but still isn’t running. Hopefully the next owner can get it back on the road. Find it here on eBay where bidding is currently over $8,100… That’s a nice little return on investment!

FROM 9/6/18 – Normally when I hear of a 1960’s vehicle with 17,340 low miles I think of a beautiful pristine classic. This one may have been used sparingly, but unfortunately, it was not stored properly and is not in pristine condition. It has apparently been stored inside for part of its life, but rodents and possibly other creatures have apparently made it their home. Yet it is a pretty solid vehicle. Find this Estate wagon here on eBay in Lake Village, Indiana.

This station wagon saw special duty for the Valparaiso, Indiana fire department. It is described as being in a barn for 25 plus years, yet this car is 57 years old. I can understand service vehicles like this not building up the miles too much, but it’s odd that only 17,340 miles were used and then put away. The seller says he can document that mileage but does not provide any pictures of the documentation.

There will need to be an extensive amount of work to get this station wagon to look presentable. There is no picture of the engine and the seller says it is stuck. The frame is solid with minor rust in the floorboards, and the glass is all good.

A unique feature is dual spotlights to double as rear view mirrors. I’m sure they were useful in helping find addresses at night. The radio is missing, but due to the rectangular shape above where the radio resides, this car may have been originally equipped with air conditioning.

There is a wealth of things this car may need, and being a station wagon, the parts may be hard to find. For anyone with the time, patience and money though, this could be one sweet wagon!

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  1. Kevin Harper

    Neat vehicle but delisted already

  2. Steve

    Dang it! It looks like someone left the key “on”! The battery is dead for sure! LOL

  3. CCFisher

    No factory A/C. It would have a circular vent to the left of the headlight switch. For non-A/C cars, the hole above the radio was covered by the radio faceplate.

  4. Steve R

    It had a high bid of $3,050, which didn’t meet reserve. Last time the seller listed it for auction the opening bid was $6,000.

    Even if the seller provides documentation to back up his claim of low mileage, does it really matter. It’s rusty, the engine is frozen, it needs a new interior and who knows what else. He probably would have been wise to take the money.

    Steve R

  5. ben

    Looking for a mess?. You found it.


    No way in hell does this POS have 17,000 documented miles.

    • Chris Dunne

      It might. Happens all the time. A Fire Chiefs car in a small town authorized for official use only maybe. Or airport vehicles. Not that unusual.

      • Oingo

        Exactly and they are sold when they age out not wear out/

    • Duane Hoeschen

      As a retired firefighter and classic car buff I have learned that low milage (driven roughly) is only one indication of it’s life. Most spend countless hours idling at fire scenes.


    I have some land for sale in Florida……

  8. cameronK

    The odometer rolled over.Did everyone forget that old American auto odometers only had 5 digits?

    • Joe Machado

      6 digits. One is tenths. Today, 7 digits, one is tenths. But with texting crashes today, most 7 digit cars will not turn over the last left zero.

      • Miguel

        Don’t most new cars have digital odometers? Most that I have seen have only 6 digits for the odometer and they have the tenths on the trip odometer.

  9. Mitch Ross

    That is not your garden variety LeSabre wagon. That has an extended wheelbase and the rear door is much longer than stock. I’m guessing one of the Ambulance/Hearse manufacturers built this.

    • Will Fox

      Mitch, I think you’re seeing an optical illusion. The wheelbase on this is not extended; these did have larger doors as did it’s companion Olds Super 88 Fiestas. The rear doors were long enough that they didn’t need the cut-out in them against the rear wheel opening in the fender.

  10. PaulG

    Truly a barn find…the floor is made up of what appears to be horse S#*t!

    • Chris

      I never understood that consept of building a barn & not pouring a concrete floor & leaving it dirt. I think it kinda defeats the purpose of having such a building. Certainly not exactly ideal for long term storage for any kind of vehicle.

  11. Hans Grafftenberg

    Hate on this gem all you like but i want it! Would look great between my ’61 LeSabre convertible and my ’61 Invicta hardtop

    • Mountainwoodie

      I love the ’61’s….if only you had known me back in the day!

      • Bill Woodman

        My old man had a ’61 La Sabre. It look like the picture you have only it was a two door sedan. Nice car. Ours was red with a white top.

  12. Alexander

    I want it too. Not only is it a Buick, from the years I most covet, but I believe the story behind it. It is worth saving. Imagine that red paint (if not laid on by the municipality “on the cheap”) would gleam with a little elbow grease and clay bar. Looks like all the odd trim is there, spotlights, taillights as is the roof rack. Shame it got stuck in the middle of a mud-wrestle with the Fox body Mustang and Monte Carlo. Betcha they have more trashed on them than this gem of a shooting brake!

  13. Alexander

    Have to sort of back out of my statement about the paint. It DOES look like it was applied “on the cheap” — most likely by the fire department after taking delivery. I see red overspray on the transmission lever and pedals. It looks pretty thin on the horizontal surfaces as well. Shame the reserve was not met, either at $3500 or at $6000. I would’ve been an active bidder.

  14. Will Fox

    `61 Buick wagons are fairly rare these days. I’ve probably seen more `62 models, if anything. Being a true station wagon nut that I am, this one is definitely worth saving. If the 401 V8 is locked up, finding another is not impossible since it was used in Buicks from `59 to `63. And it even has the factory luggage rack! You’re not going to find another `61 as complete.

    • Bruce Fiacher

      Will, my 64 Buick station wagon came with the 401 motor. Bruce.

      • local_sheriff

        Bruce; that wagon of yours is a truly nice example. As for the 401 Nailhead it was actually in production up to 66.It was featured as the standard engine in the Wildcat and Skylark GS. According to wiki they were also utilized as starter motors for the SR-71 Blackbird(I didn’t know either…!)

  15. Bill McCoskey

    I looked closely at the photos in the eBay listing, the wear on that front seat is excessive, even for 100,000 + miles. Looking at the photos, the rear seat armrest on the left door is worn, as it the steering wheel. 117,000 miles. No doubt about it.

    Fire Chief’s cars were often taken home at night and used as a regular family transportation, as the chief had to be ready to respond in the car, 24/7.

    Stuck engine = Parts car.

    • Steve in Charlotte

      “Fire Chief’s cars were often taken home at night and used as a regular family transportation, as the chief had to be ready to respond in the car, 24/7.”

      For sure. Sheriff Andy Taylor did it as well. ;)

  16. Stilbo

    I’ve heard banjos in Lake Village.
    The condition of this Buick is proof.

  17. Little Cars

    Wonder why vandals broke out the glass on the Fox mustang and not on this GM aquarium?

  18. Miguel

    Here are a few pictures of a 1961 Buick Ambulance that was sent to Mexico when new. The car is beyond help now, but it is a cool thing to look at.

  19. Miguel

    Here is another.

    • Mountainwoodie


      grab ’em…..get ’em out of there!

  20. Alexander

    Funny. 59 Chevy taillights or Corvair 95 truck lamps on the back of this one. Cool tailgate and upgraded rear fender mods. Thanks for sharing, Miquel.

    • Boothguy

      The tail lights are 61 Buick Special 4dr

  21. Steve


    That sure doesn’t look beyond help from the photo’s. At least to this rust belter…


    • Miguel

      Unfortunately the interior was been removed.

      I wouldn’t want to tackle this project if for nothing else but the windshield.

      • local_sheriff

        This one definately has potential.If it’s still there I’d advice you to chat with the owner before it gets trashed. I think you’d be surprised how many out there that would take upon such a project.It probably has much more potential value than you think…!

        As for the windshield it might be different than regular Buick glass. This most probably is a Flxible, and the amount of differences between production cars and coachbuilt ones is EXTENSIVE.Unless a professional car is all rotted out they are well worth saving as they indeed were RARE already when new.

      • Bill McCoskey

        If I remember correctly, the windshields on all GM sedans in that year were the same, Chevy to Caddy. It appears to be the standard windshield height, but if it’s a special one for Flxible cars, it should be the same as all the Flxible built cars.

      • local_sheriff

        Miguel;that’s indeed a 61 Flxible combination car you’ve found there.It’s a streched wheelbase version as opposed to the cheaper Flxette standard wheelbase version.I will once again motivate you to locate the owner and somehow get it into the hands of the professional car society instead of seeing it trashed some day.I suppose the Mex climate would’ve treated its steel friendly.
        Many BF readers might find this combo car a MORE interesting find than the 61 fire chief wagon in this post!

      • Bill McCoskey

        I have confirmed that the windshield is the same as the production GM sedans. So it won’t be a problem.

        And Local_sheriff,
        I agree, this is something that would benefit from a mention in the PCS club, and is in need of saving. And because it’s a returning US manufactured product, there is no importation tax to handle.

      • local_sheriff

        Bill; thanks for finding out about those windshields. I know that there at times were different practices among the coachbuilders as some would raise not only the roof but also the pillars, hence finding a replacement windshield close to impossible.
        I have no info on how many pro cars Flxible yanked out in 61, but as there were several coachbuilders in the market at the time, many of them may not have built more than 20-30 examples each year, making each vehicle extremely rare OOTB.
        Seems you’ve by accident found a possible gem here Miguel! I’m not claiming anyone will make a fortune here, but I suspect you’ll be surprised what it can sell for…!

      • Miguel

        Bill, I posted that car here on the PCS website and got no response at all.

      • local_sheriff

        Miguel – where in Mexico would it be located? Have any idea whether owner have title or any other documentation on the vehicle? Putting up further (close up)pics of the vehicle focusing on the floor, rocker and quarter areas.A streched ambulance like this is a factory custom, most builders would fear extensive bodywork as panels are …non-excistent

  22. Chebby Member

    Why would you show those pictures, I got hantavirus just looking at them. Pull the car put and wash it for JFC’s sake.

    • Miguel

      Chebby, if you are talking tome, it is not my car so I don’t have the option to wash it or not.

  23. shovelluv

    I purchased the Q4, 1969 new yorker 2 door next to it with very low miles also.
    I tried to get them both but he wanted too much for the Buick. I opened the glove box to the Buick and there was some fireman’s log along with a maintenance log for the Buick. There was also a receipt from the auction service that sold the cars to the man that purchased them documenting the miles in 1991.If you think the barn is bad, you should have seen the house!!! Needless to say, the new yorker is being restored now.

  24. Wayne

    A high school mate of mine occasionally drove his mom’s dual quad Buick wagon to school. He got out at 1:30 to work at his dad’s gas station. So it was always entertaining to watch the tires get fried from English class when he left.
    Miguel, the windshield is the same as a 1959 Chev. Unless the roof has been raised. Which I don’t believe it has on the car pictured.
    Old cars are just fun!

  25. David Zornig

    No interior shots in the current eBay listing….

    • Mountainwoodie

      He’s posted a ton of them…just have to scroll down….takes a while to load.maybe go to the family dealer’s website…..arguendo…. there is one. Engine is mighty crusty.

  26. Bill Owens Bill Owens Staff

    It cleaned up pretty well. It’s definitely going to get a quick return on his investment with the current bidding trend.

  27. Ron

    I like the way the speedometer that you see is actually a mirror and pivots to make it easier to see.

  28. Fred W

    Does look impressive with new rims and wet down with a hose…

    • Tyler

      Especially the interior! 😳

  29. Fred W

    …So what is this electrical gadget directly above the water pump?

    • Robert White

      It’s a Heat Sink for something that is NOT stock equipment on a GM or Buick Lesabre. GM would never place a Heat Sink in that location but the Fire Department technician/mechanic likely would put a Heat Sink there if he was ordered to by the chief that wanted a doohickey modification like a CB Radio Base Station.


    • Shoeless Trucker

      It’s the first edition flux capacitor. Not as nice as the “new for 1984” version. Lol

  30. Bill McCoskey

    Fred W,
    That’s a Rectifier Diode plate assembly, for powering the siren. Vintage sirens sucked a lot of power and they were often set up to run on 12v AC power. The rectifier changed the 12v DC to AC, because an AC motor gave better high speed power output.

  31. Chris Morris

    Seen this car in person verified everything is correct as a “special order” see the pictures as posted. The mileage is documented at 17,000 in 1980’s it has 17,343 now, for the “know it all’s” and the engine is free, not stuck. It’s rare, it’s a ’61 wagon, so dream on all the matchbox buyers wanting their first real car.

  32. Bill McCoskey

    Whoops, I erred in the above statement. On further thought, and noting the car’s alternator, the rectifier converts AC power to DC power to run the 12v 30 amp siren.

    • Chris Morris

      They had a siren and light on top and the cb radio with Motorola speaker it had a radio delete plate not a AC car ever.

  33. Mike

    Don’t you just love an auction description with all capital letters and no paragraphs? My head hurts…

  34. Porkchop

    So he took a hose to the inside.. then took pics before it dried? And looks like it was rattle can painted in sections.

    And bragging about the $2000 wheels… that look terrible.

    Just someone hoping to strike it rich.

  35. Craig M Bryda Member

    Who is the “Ionia Body Company” ?, their tag is on the sill plate where you’d normally find the “Body By Fisher” tag. This rig need a refurbishment to include a crate 502 BBC & a automatic O/D trans with updated chassis & all the usual creature comforts inside.

  36. Bill Woodman

    My old man had a ’61 La Sabre. It look like the picture you have only it was a two door sedan. Nice car. Ours was red with a white top.

  37. Pete Phillips

    Ionia built station wagon bodies for Buick, from the wood bodies of 1949 on up into the 1960s.

  38. Patrick Shanahan

    Fire service? It probably has 75k miles idling.

  39. Chris Morris

    This site is so full of people like you. So nice to read your wonderful grown up jealous comments. By the way, he made $4,500 in three weeks just washing the car with that wet look and nicer wheels…does that hurt?

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