No Reserve Barn Find! 1978 Buick Regal Turbo Coupe

The year 1978 was a big one for Buick and its GM siblings.  Their full-size cars had undergone a very successful downsizing the previous year and now it was time for the “A” body intermediates. The previous A intermediate, what was known as the Colonnade body style, was in the history books and its replacement was a return to the ’60s with a smaller, boxier, and some would say a cleaner, design. And ’78 signaled the start of Buick’s involvement with a turbo-charged midsize that would ultimately lead to the great Grand National. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, here is a first-year, 1978 turbo-charged Buick Sport Coupe for review. It is located in Port Angeles, Washington, and is available here on eBay for a starting bid of $2,650. Many thanks to Russ D. for this tip!

Buick offered three different Regal models in ’78 the Regal, the Regal Limited Coupe, and the Regal Sport Coupe such as this subject car. Non-coupe versions were designated as Century models, a nameplate that covered sedans and station wagons. And ’78 was a huge year for Regal sales with about 236K finding new homes. According to Beforeblack.net, about 30K of that total were turbocharged variants.

What sets this Regal apart from more pedestrian versions is the 150 net horsepower, 3.8 liter, turbocharged V6. The seller claims that this was a two-barrel carburetor equipped version as the four-barrel version wasn’t available in ’78. But Buick disagrees as their marketing material claims that a four-barrel version would be available in January of ’78. Whatever the case, it doesn’t matter as this example is a non-runner, and the seller states, “Engine top end was partially disassembled years ago. Turbo and miscellaneous piping etc are off and in the trunk. (The) new (remanufactured) turbo is in the trunk and ready to go. Distributor and Carb are gone (which isn’t necessarily bad as the 1978 model was the only year to come with a 2bbl carb.)”  That’s a bit of a surprise, this is an assemble-it-yourself project, hopefully, all of the turbo parts are included. This 93K mile example is equipped with the standard three-speed, automatic transmission.

The seller is pretty forthcoming regarding this Regal’s exterior as he details the dents and contusions. The worst part is the rear left which has a passing sort of gash. There are some surface rust spots in places but they don’t appear to be too serious. And as is frequently the case with GM cars of this vintage, the rear bumper filler has disintegrated. While the vinyl top has held up well, the number 63, Dark Gold finish is pretty faded, and scratched in places – it’s not terrible but a repaint should be considered. The Buick road wheels are always a nice inclusion!

The interior is late ’70s GM all the way, it is typical velour and in surprisingly clean shape. Light beige, in particular, is pretty unforgiving at hiding dirt and discoloration. The seller states that the headliner is starting to sag but that’s typical on a car of this age and generation. That said, the crack-on-command dash pad appears to be fine; that item along with the aforementioned condition of the vinyl top indicates good, enclosed storage for a good part of this Regal’s 42-year life. My continuing search for old cars with original radios gives this Regal two thumbs up.

Of note, the seller advises, “Title is missing (eBay wouldn’t give me that option). I have a bill of sale from the guy before. I talked to the Washington State DOL. They ran the VIN and it’s clear of the system. All that needs to be done is for the State Patrol to inspect the VIN and vehicle. Then Washington State DOL issues a “Title In Doubt”. That’s good for 3 years, then a permanent title is issued. The car can then be registered and bought/sold during the 3 yr period just like a normal titled car. (Please note: Other states may vary in policy and procedure concerning a missing title).” Title in doubt is a new one on me but I’m hardly an expert on automobile titling and of course, it varies from state to state. The out of state issue referenced, however, is cause for concern and that matter should be reviewed by a potential buyer’s home state DMV. This is a seven-day auction and so far, no action – hard to say why it could the engine’s condition, or maybe buyers don’t equate this Regal Sport Coupe as enough of a forerunner to the Grand National to consider it an attractive buy. Whatever the case, I see upside here, especially if the bidding action stays light, how about you?

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Comments

  1. Big_Fun Member

    Ah, my first ride was a ’78 Regal Limited. 305 2bbl with A/C, tilt & cruise. And…an Alpine cassette, with non electronic tuning. Bought it for $2500.00 in ’88. It was be between the Regal and an ’80 Monte Carlo with a V6, rallys , and painted a great looking color called Cinnabar against a black landau top and interior. The V8 won out…
    I saw this and thought about how I used to see this color combo on the Cutlass the most, followed by Grand Prix. And then the Regal. I don’t belive the 78 Monte had this color available.
    This is a Sport Coupe with the optional Limited interior. It also has the optional wide rocker mouldings – so it looks like a Limited inside and out. From my research, the 2bbl was a credit option (-$50.00) over the standard 4bbl (turbo). I don’t know if this was a forced credit or a dealer choice. It was their first production year, so who knows.
    Sorry for this long post! I just love these 78-80 Regals, and have for 30 years!

    Like 15
    • Eddie

      I had a 1978 factory turbo Buick , Not only was it the factory four barrel but it was also a California car with a pizza box size catalytic converter. Whoever gets tgis and puts the motor back together best get a 1980s Monte Carlo as radiated and 165 degree thermostat. Car loved to predetonate

      Like 1
  2. David G

    My Stepmother had a ’78 Turbo Regal in the mid ’80s. Her car did have a 4 barrel Quadrajet carburetor, so they were definitely available on the ’78s. Great car, and got decent fuel mileage too.

    Like 3
  3. rustylink

    (Please note: Other states may vary in policy and procedure concerning a missing title). – ha! Vary so drastically where you might want to think twice on ponying up on this one because of the headaches.

    Like 4
  4. John Oliveri

    My first new car was it’s brother, a 79 Grand Prix, 2 tone blue loaded w options and a non fire breathing Pontiac 301, great cruiser

    Like 1
  5. CCFisher

    There was a Century coupe available, in addition to the sedan and wagon.

    Like 1
  6. DON

    I remember when these downsized Gm cars came out and thinking how awful looking they were , plus few had anything more than 305 . Now I see them and the style has grown on me . Not too many of these left around, at least on the East Coast – these “Metric Chassis” mid size cars had a terrible problem with rear frame rot ; they would completely rust away from the rear wheel arches back .

  7. S

    It’s amazing how popular these Buick Regals were – during the 80s you saw them everywhere! However not many were turbocharged. I think it’s cool how Buick did this at the time. This color combination was also very popular! I like that it has the Limited style interior. Every GM division did something a little different to save gas (Pontiac came out with a 4 cylinder engine, Oldsmobile with diesels, Buick with V6s, Cadillac with the V8-6-4 (wound up not being a good engine), but not many divisions did something about reduced power during this period. Buick and the turbochargers were about all I can think of. By the way, a comment was made above about returning to smaller sizes… I think this 78 Regal is quite a bit smaller than say the 64-67 Skylarks and its stablemates, as well as the 68-72 Skylarks/Chevelles/etc – am I right on this?

    Like 1
  8. Jim

    Hmmmm…looks like a great candidate for an LC2 swap!

  9. Keith

    What a difference a few years make.

    In 2017, I found a car that could pass for this one’s twin… ’78, 2bbl turbo, two-tone maroon/brown with red interior (and no vinyl top!), minor body damage, parked since ’91. Got it to the point of cough-starting when primed, but didn’t bother going any further (as I’d found an ’83 shortly thereafter, which was more what I was looking for in the first place).

    I bought it for $500, and ended up selling it to the only interested party – for $1000 delivered.

  10. Arthur

    I wonder if someone could turn this into their own T-Type with a Corvette engine and custom chassis. That would be interesting to see.

    Like 1

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