GN Turbo Powered! 1962 Buick LeSabre

Sporting stylized ventiports like Buicks of the past, this classic “runs and drives great” according to the seller. Most interestingly, this 1961 Buick LeSabre in Cumming, Georgia hides a big high-tech surprise under its weathered hood. A turbocharged late ’80s Buick Grand National power train promises more space-age thrust than the average Kennedy era LeSabre, while the subdued styling and mostly original-looking exterior combine for maximum sleeper potential. Seeking a new owner on Facebook Marketplace, the boosted classic can be yours for $1234, which is probably the seller’s way of wanting buyers to price the car, but I certainly wouldn’t offer more than $1234 out of the gate.

Speaking of gates, the stock wastegate limits boost to 12 lb, slightly below 1 bar or one atmosphere which is 14.7 lb, according to TurboBuick, and that’s fairly aggressive for a world when factory power-adders rarely eclipsed 7 lb. Buyers may well forget broken knobs, torn upholstery, and their children’s names while taking in the loveliness of this power-packed technology smorgasbord. The tidy but not overdone engine compartment speaks to a builder who’s more interested in impressing people with their right foot than popping the hood at a car show to attract the opposite sex (“Ain’t he neat?“). Rated at 245 HP on paper, (5 more than the contemporary Corvette) it’s more likely to have made about 290, with far more available via aftermarket parts. I rode along when a friend test-drove a GN decades ago, and while he was oh-so-kind to the car and the anxious salesman, Brian said it was “easily the fastest car I’ve driven at half throttle.”

Some might prefer the 1961 “bubble top” roof line, but the more formal lines and post roof on this LeSabre fully support its sleeper effect. This body style would have been popular with salesmen and older folks who rarely transported more than another person or two.

A lifetime’s spills and makeout sessions politely and thankfully hide beneath the shroud of a dollar store blanket. Some questions are better left unanswered. Joking aside, the interior appears to match the car’s original paint color, one that I would respray in a heartbeat as it’s even more invisible than the current off-white. Today, folks might suspect any ’60s coupe of possibly having a powerful engine, but the new-meets-old idea brings fresh appeal to an otherwise ho-hum post car. I love it! Do you like this blend of Clark Kent looks and Superman turbo power?


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  1. alphasud Member

    I would love to see pictures with this on a drag strip and a e.t. slip! Cool idea to an otherwise unassuming car.

    Like 10
  2. Will Fox

    Correction: The car in question is a `62 LeSabre. Not a `61.

    Like 7
  3. MLM

    I bet this old ’62 would surprise a lot of folks at the stoplight not to mention other places. I know it would be a jaw dropping sight to me.

    Like 11
  4. Grand Approach

    Interesting concept car.
    The Ponies to weight ratio is not effective to the work applied in my book.
    This led sled needed 400 + ponies to move the way i would wanted.

    I see this like the flat head V8 build on old rods with dollars to power vs. a crate motor V8 souped up 👀

    Like 8
  5. Kenneth Carney

    Had a ’62 LeSabre ragtop and loved it.
    My car was a slug even with it’s big 401
    nailhead V-8. It was that twin turbine
    DynaFlush drive that held it back. Sure
    wished I had this guy’s setup under my hood!

    Like 4
  6. Bill Member

    This was my first car. Bought in 1970 for $500. Had an Earl Schieb pant job in OD Green and a new black vinyl tuck and roll interior. It was fast. Not sure what motor was in it but it had a hydromatic? Transmission and low was truly a lower gear. Floor it and the tires would smoke. Of course, as a 17 year old I never did that. Got maybe 9mpg the way I drove. Would always overheat when it got warm, which happens quite often here in the Arizona desert. Traded it in after about a year for a brand new VW Super Beetle. No more drag races but 27mpg sure helped a starving college student
    Good memories.

    Like 14
  7. local_sheriff

    Cool idea and smart use of parts that the builder probably had sitting around already. Still I wonder – would it be so wrong really with a hopped up Nailhead…?

    Like 11
  8. Charles

    Older folks preferred the 4-door for its greater utility. The 2-door sedan was marketed toward young couples with young children. The children couldn’t open a door. Also marketed to businesses and travelling salesmen.

    Like 8
  9. A.G.

    The OE 401 would be my preference over the turbo V6. It’s not like stop light drag racing is still cool; is it? Dropping a more powerful engine and transmission in an old car without other upgrades is a bad idea. The diamond-plate trunk floor and moving blanket interior do not inspire me to look further.

    Do what you want but I’d still take the ’63 Jetfire with a modern turbo over this being what it was and what it is today.

    Like 6
    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      A properly built Jetfire with a modern water-cooled turbo and electronic engine management system… That’d be GREAT!

  10. Howard A Member

    Oh, for cryin’,,,does everything have to be turbo this and non-original that? See, what happens here, is the ’62 Buick LeSabre was a lackluster car for elderly folks, whose absolute least interest was it’s performance. It was a logical step up from a Chevy, but not quite a Caddy. They were great cars, but t’was no performer. Not much has changed if it was original, and the only way to make it attractive for today, is to jazz it up with some silly turbo-charged motor.The nailhead V8’s were just the best motors, and certainly no need to be ditched for this baloney. Sorry, I guess with every rendition of these “modernized” cars, trying to make Uncle Phil’s car something it was never intended for, makes me feel farther and farther disconnected to what is called the classic car hobby today. A stock ’62 LeSabre just doesn’t garner the glitz like it did.

    Like 5
    • The_Corvair_Guy

      “Some silly turbocharged motor” is an odd way of describing what the Grand National was (and is.)

      If this were an LS swap, I could probably bet behind your distaste for it, but this is a Buick in a Buick. Also, putting a basically stock engine from the ’80s in a ’60s car in 2021 is akin to doing a small-block swap into a ’40s car in the 1980s. Did anyone look at that with disdain at the time?

      Like 6
      • chuck

        Howard probably did.

        Like 6
    • onree Member

      What makes me feel “farther and farther disconnected to what is called the classic car hobby today” is the inexorable slide away from cars and deeper and deeper into “truckville.”

      Like 1
    • local_sheriff

      Howard; it’s somehow funny you diss the forced induction concept – ‘cuz actually Buick in the time of this LeSabre was already experimenting with forced induction on its Nailhead!

      I stumbled upon this interesting article this summer describing both the ’51 LeSabre Motorama dream car propelled by an all-aluminum supercharged Nailhead concept, + another TRW turbocharged Nailhead producing a massive 620lb ft torque. It’s claimed the latter was abandoned simply because no available production drivetrain could handle its output! Note the similarity between its air scoop and the later ‘Star Wars’ air cleaner.

      IMHO a Nailhead equipped to replicate one of those concepts would be the ULTIMATE engine for this ’62, with such a mill this LeSabre could easily end up as a period-looking experimental race car! I find the GN engine somehow picks up the thread from Buick’s own experiments

  11. Lowell Peterson

    Grudgingly agree with Howard! On this one performance upgrade just ain’t ‘enuf for the rest of it. Now nailhead with a couple 4 barrels. Hmmmm, love that!

    Like 4
  12. Psychofish2

    Love it. And viable gas mileage as a daily driver.

    Stock 62 LeSabre two door sedans have never garnered “the glitz”.

    Interesting take on what might have just been rotting in a junk yard somewhere.

    Engaged. Not disconnected.

    Wouldn’t have clicked on the story otherwise.

    Like 5
  13. Morley Member

    this is mine and I wish it was a 2 door sedan

    Like 10
    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      Vintage Drags?
      Cool ride!

    • local_sheriff

      Hey Morley; that’s a VERY cool ’63 you have there! 👍 Any chance you could post additional pics of it or do you happen to have a ‘Nailhead Racing’ site…?

  14. Bringbackbenchseats

    For $1234 and a bench seat to pull my best girl over close, I’d take it. Probably wouldn’t even paint it. Looks cooler like it is IMHO

    Like 1
  15. CCFisher

    This is my kind of build. Modernized, but still well off the beaten path. A 455 or an LS would have been an easier choice, but this is far more interesting. If it were mine, I’d restore the body and interior, apply the necessary mods to get the turbo V6 into the 400 HP range, and add an air suspension so I could lower it to street machine levels for cruise night or raise it up to “grandma’s on her way to the market” levels and bruise some egos at the stoplight grand prix. Keep your 401s. This is way more fun.

    Like 4
  16. GIRTH

    Good grief, I bet some of you are against disc breaks and radials on an old car too. That ugly old Buick is far more interesting this way than if it were LS swapped. Atleast this way it can take a corner without sparking the door handles . Most people don’t even know what it is anymore.

    Like 9
    • CCFisher

      Right? I swear I can hear some of these guys yelling “get off my lawn” to the kids in the neighborhood.

      Like 2
  17. Gary Rhodes

    Badass sleeper! I’d love to own it

    Like 1
  18. Claudio

    A great way to save an otherwise junk yard vehicle

    Like 1

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