Free Spirit: 1975 Buick Century

Like so many other pace car replicas, the Buick Century seen here may appear resplendent with its patriotic color scheme but its relation to the actual pace car stops at the cosmetic similarities. On the upside, we don’t see Centurys sporting “Spirit of America” badging all that often, so this one is at least a touch more unique than the typical Corvette. Find it here on craigslist in Michigan for $4,500.

Thanks to Barn Finds reader Peter B. for the find. On the surface, it’s rather difficult to give the stodgy Century anything approaching a fun, youthful image. It’s a big, heavy car, from the era when such vehicles made do with increasingly restrained engines that delivered power levels far below what the engine size would suggest.

While the actual Pace Car benefitted from a powerful 455, the replicas got 350s with a few other extras like heavy-duty suspension and a T-top roof. Obviously, the graphics kit was perhaps the most recognizable feature, and those stickers are now faded and cracked after years of exposure.

The interior had a few sporting touches, like bucket seats, Rallye steering wheel, and the 747-inspired shifter. Personally, if I had to own a Buick pace car, I’d take the 1976 model. Not only were the looks better, but I’d be sorely tempted to swap in a turbocharged V6 in tribute to the actual car that paced the field. Which would you choose?


  1. Capriest

    Tough call. I like the graphics better on the 76, but the nose on the 76 reminds me of the family truckster. I don’t really care for pace car graphics in general. Some are really nice if you leave off the door decals like the 78 vette and 79 mustang. I guess I would have to go with the 76 as this is just too ‘Murica’ for me. I prefer the 75 century in every other way though. Especially if those are swivel buckets.

    What doesn’t make sense to me is why the ‘Murica’ treatment on the 75 when 76 was the bicentennial? Would’ve made for just one ugly pace car instead of 2 if they swapped paint jobs.

    • Suttree

      The Bicentennial had a couple of years of build up on a lot of products.
      Chevy had the Spirit of America Vega, Nova & Impalas in the 1974 year model.

      Like 1
    • Paul

      We had one new back in 76 but the T-Tops leaked as they were some of the first installed. Ours never had the stripe/decal pack installed. The cars came with them in the trunk and it was up to the dealer to install if the customer wanted them. It was a nice car and a great trip vehicle but even with the HD suspension it wallowed in the curves. We just put the bird on the hood and left the decals off.

      Like 4
    • Bill Nagorka

      Bought a 76 Century last year-out of a barn in Michigan-350/4. Red on Red. Leather is real-smells like the V-6 I had in 76. Looked for 18 months before I bought – funny that 2 more showed up in NY also.
      Wife would have left me if I did it again….

  2. Moparman Member

    Apparently, the seller’s concept of “rust free” differs mightily from my own! :-)

    Like 7
    • Mark Roberts

      He meant…. Free Rust!

      Like 1
    • Mike

      “Rust free” doesn’t mean that it is free of rust. It means he’s not charging you for it.

      Like 10
      • TimS Member

        Yup. Plain old rust is free. Now, neglect represented as “patina,” that’s when the number climbs.

        Like 4
    • DON

      It doesn’t look like its rusted out anywhere, just has surface rust and staining .Here in CT. that means its in good shape . Rust up here is a verb, not a color !l LOL .

      Like 4
  3. Mike

    Junk, crush it…

    Like 1
    • slickb

      Well aren’t you just a little ray of sunshine…..

      Like 14
    • triumph1954

      Mike, real smart! This car doesn’t deserve that. I have an old private road on my property. Rather then crush or junk . I put vehicles like this there.
      My property , my woods and out of sight. Prefer Mopars, but this would be nice there with 9 Mopars,1Ford and 2 Chevrolets!

      Like 1
  4. edh

    “While the actual Pace Car benefitted from a powerful 455”, “I’d be sorely tempted to swap in a turbocharged V6 in tribute to the actual car that paced the field”

    That turbo 455 V6 was a real rare engine. Who researches these stories?

    Like 3
    • Bama

      The 1975 pace car had a 455. The 1976 pace car had a turbo charged V6. If you take your time and read the post, he is correct.

      Like 8
      • Paul

        Where did they get that turbo V6 must have been a prototype engine as the 3.8 Turbo didn’t come out till 1978 and was a dog I know I bought one and drove it for 120K miles till the car rusted out.

  5. Eugene

    Stodgy? Who thinks this Buick or any Buick Regal from this time period is “Stodgy”…..

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