|Advertising asked, “Wouldn’t you really rather have a 1968 Buick?”|
Hard on the heels of this country’s Centennial celebrations came the 60th anniversary of automotive giant General Motors of Canada, Limited and its Buick Division. From St. John’s to Victoria, Pontiac-Buick dealers had some very attractive tri-shields to display on their showroom floors when the 1968 models made their debut.
|Small but posh, Special was the baby in the Buick family lineup.|
The lineup was wide-ranging and impressive. Special, Skylark, LeSabre, Wildcat, Electra and Riviera were all magical names in the 1960s, evoking strong images of power and prestige; each representing a rung on the Buick ladder of success. Benefiting from a lovely restyle in 1967, the cars held onto their basic design for 1968. Even the advertising campaign was similar to last year’s, carefully rephrasing the now classic question, “Wouldn’t you really rather own a 1968 Buick?”
|The 1968 Buick Electra four-door hardtop.|
The regal and stately Electra clan consisted of a two-door hardtop Sport Coupe, a four-door hardtop and a four-door sedan. Those three family members could all be ordered in fancier dress as Custom models. Additionally, there was an elegant Custom convertible. For the most discerning of Buick buyers, a Limited dress-up package blessed the two hardtop models with an even richer grade of upholstery, vinyl roofs and tasteful “Limited” badges.
Electra quietly flaunted its very own egg-crate grille. Split down the centre by a body-coloured panel, the grille crowned a gracefully flowing royal envelope. A pronounced languid Coke-bottle crease underscored Buick’s elegance as it wended its way majestically from the leading edge of the front fender to the trailing edge of the rear bumper. Wipers were hidden away from view. Four of Buick’s fabled ventiports adorned the glory of the vast front fender. Long, rectangular taillights were housed in the massive bumper. The rear deck fast-sloped into the bumper, giving the brightwork capped, upright fenders a highly refined, near-fin look.
The biggest Buick was not merely an automobile; its anticipated arrival created a presence. The huge Electra loomed longer than a late afternoon spring shadow, measuring an astonishing 5689.6 millimetres (224 inches) or 5.68 metres (19-and-a-half feet) long, from stem to stern.
|Imported from the UK, the Envoy Epic was the tiniest GM product on the showroom floor at the neighbourhood Pontiac-Buick dealer.|
One could park a pair of pint-sized Envoy Epics along side and scarcely notice GM’s captive imports! Advertising warned tongue-in-cheek, “If people stare, it’s because you’re driving what could be the most attractive car on the road.”
|Even with a gas tank capacity of 91.3 litres (20.5 Imperial gallons), the Electra would be a frequent visitor at Irving, PetroFina, B/A and Pacific 66 stations, always guzzling Super.|
The only engine offered in the Electra was the 7-litre (430 cubic-inch), four-barrel, eight-cylinder, V-8 mill with a rating of 350 horses. Introduced in 1967, the saucer-shaped combustion chamber reduced hydrocarbons emissions as well as burned fuel more efficiently. Mated to Automatic Super Turbine transmission, it made for a potent drivetrain combo that encouraged Electra glide effortlessly no matter what speed.
“Regular” equipment included power steering, power brakes heater and defroster, an electric clock, floor and lower door carpeting, a trunk light, a “smoking set” (ash trays and cigar lighters), dual horns and dual-speed electric windshield wipers. Interiors were finished in cloth and vinyl combinations with colour choices limited to blue, black or champagne.
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Extra cost items included Climate Control air conditioning, power windows, six-way power seats, an AM/FM stereo radio and a stereo tape player. Custom or Limited interiors permitted Notch-Back seats in a wider variety of colours and a choice of cloth-and-vinyl or all vinyl upholstery. Bucket seats added a little sass and sizzle to the convertible.
This year, illuminated side markers bowed as all the automakers complied with the federal Ministry of Transport’s newest safety code. Engineers at Buick strengthened door latches, added safety armrests and reskinned the outside rearview mirrors to make them larger.
|The 1968 Buick Electra 225 Sport Coupe.|
The Electra was an ultra-comfortable automobile tailor-made choice for the well to do who lived in the snug world of 1968. Pierre Elliot Trudeau succeeded Lester Pearson as Prime Minister. His Grits swept the federal election handily as the nation got caught up in the excitement of fresh ideas and Trudeaumania. The 190-metre Husky Tower opened in Calgary that year.
Chargex was introduced in 1968; the credit card was a joint collaboration of the Royal, the CIBC, the Banque Nationale and the Toronto-Dominion banks. Nancy Green skied her way to Olympic gold at the Winter Games in Grenoble, France. Parliament established the CRTC to regulate broadcasting and named Pierre Juneau as its first Commissioner. Baseball fever hit a high pitch when it was announced that the National League was establishing a team in Montreal. They would be called the Expos and the first home game was less than a year away.
Fans of the tri-shield can join the Buick Club of America by writing to Box 360775 Columbus, Ohio USA 43236 or visiting their website at www.buickclub.org. For those who love those uniquely wonderful Canadian Buicks built from 1908 to 1942, contact the McLaughlin-Buick Club of Canada.
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