Saffron Survivor: 1978 Buick Electra Limited

The Electra enjoyed a production run spanning four decades, over nine generations. This fifth-generation 1978 model comes at the height of the American “malaise” era of cars; a genre of now-classics spanning the 1970s, ’80s, and even creeping into the early ’90s; defined by increasing emissions standards, boxy styling, exceptionally smooth suspension, acres of wood paneling, and heavily boosted power steering. As a malaise fan myself, I feel that cars like this are criminally underrated, and this is a fine example in showroom condition. You can find this one here on eBay, with no reserve, where the seller has supplied dozens of pictures from every angle, and the current bid at time of writing is $15,300. Thanks to Larry D for this find.

The exterior of the two-door hardtop is finished in Saffron Metallic, with a white landau top and matching white and saffron interior. It was reportedly special ordered by a Buick plant manager, and it was never used as a daily driver. It shows, as a lot of these malaise era land yachts are starting to be eaten away by rust, and, again, I really cannot stress how factory fresh this thing is. 43,000 miles since new. There’s a joke among GM fans: an old GM car will run poorly longer than most cars will run at all. I’m of the opinion that mileage is just a number, and a car isn’t really broken in yet until it hits 150,000 miles. This thing hasn’t even reached 1/3rd of its break-in period, as far as I’m concerned. 

It was reportedly ordered from the factory with the Oldsmobile-supplied 403 V-8 engine and runs smooth as silk, as all Buicks should. The 403 was the replacement for the Olds 455, and was the largest bore small block V-8. So large, in fact, that the cylinders were touching each other with no room for coolant to flow between them. This car’s lived a pampered life, though, so the likelihood that it’s ever overheated is slim to nil. The engine bay looks as clean as the rest of the car, though the supplied pictures are admittedly a little underexposed. 

Inside, it gets even better, because that’s where you’re gonna be spending all of your time, anyway. Not only are all the trim pieces there, but so is the original radio, and there is no wear on any visible surface. On the classic Buicks that I’ve owned, the difficulties are in finding replacement trim pieces, and finding a car with a clean frame untouched by rust. Neither of those are problems here. This Electra is ready to take you to car shows in air-conditioned comfort as it is. $15,300 is a lot of money for an old Buick, but this is no ordinary Buick; this is an exceptional example of cars that drive like living rooms, and as anyone who has driven one knows, comfort is just no longer done like it used to be.

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Comments

  1. Rustytech Member

    I had this exact car in triple black in the early to mid 80’s. It was a daily driver and also was used to tow our 26’ camper trailer all up and down the east coast. Never had any issues with overheating, in fact to this day I feel it was probably the best car I have ever owned. I’d love to have this one, but space ( or lack there of ) prevents me from looking further. Somebody’s going to get a nice cruiser.

    Like 11
  2. angliagt angliagt Member

    That’s a lot of white!

    Like 3
  3. Dave

    Beautiful example of a forgettable car.

    Like 3
    • Skorzeny

      Forgettable to you maybe. I have always loved this era of Buick. Extremely well made. Lose the whitewalls though.

      Like 9
      • Sam Shive

        You sure don’t want RWL and Blackwall’s would look like TRASH. WW are the way to go on these cars.

        Like 6
  4. Sherminator

    So close to my red ’77 LeSabre with white top. If the interior were red velour, I’d be all over this one!

    Like 1
  5. Joseph

    Just beautiful. Looks like modern sculpture. Bid at 19K and worth it.

    Like 3
  6. S

    This is absolutely gorgeous! I loved it when they put white seats in a dark colored interior for contrast. The burgundy with white top looks fabulous! The Buick chrome wheels are beautiful. The 403 is a major plus! There’s nothing not to like here. When people in he 80s said American cars were awful, I thought of cars like this and could not understand at all. The same guy was selling the gold and white 78 Buick Electra sedan a few weeks ago. He has some really nice cars.

    Like 6
  7. S

    The best word to describe this car is “classy”.
    People can go drive BMWs and Mercedes if they want to – I’d much rather have this!

    Like 10
  8. t-bone BOB

    Item location:
    Rancho Mirage, California

    Like 1
  9. Steve Clinton

    $19,000 with 7 days left…this Caddy wannabe is gonna go for big bucks!

  10. Sam Shive

    These had a GREAT Back Seat….

    • Paul

      @Sam That’s what she said

      Like 1
  11. Bob Roller

    We have owned 2 Buick Electra’s and both were 1975’s.The first one was loaded and the second one was not.The first one was totaled when a young woman ran a stop light and T boned it.Nobody badly hurt.The second one was an emergency purchase and both our sons learned to drive in it.I wish someone would again make a nice big sedan like this.

    Like 3
  12. Jcs

    These are actually fantastic cars. Smooth, economical for the times and size, reliable, and comfortable as all get out. I am biased I suppose, having owned a LeSabre, Delta 88, and Cadillac Coupe Deville, all 2 doors of this generation.

    One thing for sure, the passenger will never forget what time it is. Was there ever a larger clock than the one in this generation’s Buick? Iconic.

    It would be hard to find a cleaner deuce and a quarter in my book.

    Like 4
  13. Howard Kerr

    I don’t often say this: it’s a gorgeous car, but I would prefer 2 MORE doors.
    My 1 uncle had a family with 5 growing kids and his one personal luxury while they were growing up was a new car every other year. I think he could easily have spaced out his car purchases, but being his only gift to himself, he bought a new CHEVY WAGON every other year. Never the flashier models, always the bottom of the model line.
    Then, not long after his last kid graduated and left home, he started to really splurge and bought Buicks. He would buy a new Buick every other year until he died and all were very classy 2 door models.

    Like 1
  14. Bob Roller

    Howard Kerr’s story reminds me of a local man who always drove the best Buicks available. He was a short man and had to sit on a cushion.In 1954 he tried out a new top of the line Packard and later told me he didn’t like because of the chair height seats and he could see over the steering wheel.

  15. Ian C

    Just zoomed in on the pics, and these tires are still available. So they may be fairly new.

    Suretrac
    Power Touring

    They show 3 sizes available.

  16. Jay McCarthy

    It’s surprising GM even survived the 80s and early 90s with the garbage they shoved out the door

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