1981 Buick Century Limited 3.8 V6 from North America


Great old car


My grandfather bought the car new back in 1982, passed away in 1985, and sat in my grandmother's garage until 2000 when she bought a smaller car which she isn't afraid to drive.

When my grandfather got the car, the transmission died when it was still under warranty.

Before I had put the car on the road, the muffler had rotted out on my driveway. New muffler cat back in 2000.

Had a tune up done at the same time.

Hydroplaned and spun the car around a few times, hit the curb and needed an alignment in 2000.

It has always had a stalling problem, and mechanics told both of my grandparents that it was the electronics system in the car; there's nothing they can do about it. The day I got the car, I found what the real problem was. The metal bar piece in the carburetor that turns the choke on and off was stuck halfway closed. After the state of Massachusetts changed the filler in the gas, the car started stalling so badly that it would flood and I was forced to get the carburetor rebuilt.

A few months later, the water pump died.

One of my few gripes is that the wheels are not large enough for the car or the suspension is too low, so I have to worry about bottoming out and tearing off the muffler. Shortly after I replaced the water pump, I hit a pothole and tore off the muffler and needed another cat-back.

A year later I needed front brakes, getting (65,000 miles on my original ones).

In May, 2003 I hit yet another pothole and needed a catalytic convertor and a cat back.

Also, it burns a bit of oil, so I usually get my oil changed every 2,500, or sometimes add a quart before it hits 3,000.

The original lacquer paint has started to chip badly, and vandalists have ripped off the piece glued onto the back right door (decoration purposes only), and knifed my trunk, so it's looking pretty beat up, but it still has it where it counts. Original back brakes still going on 77,000 miles and still most of the pads are there, even the battery is original and it starts up without a problem, even in the winter!

General Comments:

Sucks down gas (6.5 MPG in a large city, 15 in suburbs, 20-22 highway, although did get just under 30 on a trip before), but it has been very reliable.

Also, GM claims this car only has 100 hp, but that must be running on cold in the middle of the winter. When the engine gets warm, I would guess it has more like 170 hp. Will accelerate up those really large hills that few cars will accelerate up, will leave any 4 banger in its dust, and it's a heavy car!

Very roomy and comfortable car as well. This is important since I am 6'3" and I cannot fit in most cars, and quite often ones that I can get inside are extremely uncomfortable.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th November, 2003

1981 Buick Century Limited 4.4 litre, 267 cubic inch from North America


Totally solid and comfortable


Radiator has bee leaky since August 2001.

No heat for two winters.

Blown wheel cylinder, Sept. 2002.

One bad cylinder, fouling the plug badly (It's probably a valve seal)

I just discovered that my oil level is increasing, thus coolant must be leaking into the oil somehow.

The glue holding the cloth interior on the ceiling has completely let go, creating a canopy effect inside the car.

There's a lot of rust developing at the bottom of all four doors, where the previous owner obviously had several accidents.

General Comments:

I bought this car in January, 2001, for $500 Cdn. and have had two-plus years of reasonaby hassle-free transportation. And it always starts!

I had a friend replace the wheel cylinder, so that only cost $15, and because this car was a beater from day one, I haven't bothered to fix the heat, rad, air-con or the bad cylinder.

I had a tune-up and rear brakes done a year and a half ago, and this winter put a couple of new tires and a battery into it.

Had the transmission kit done last august, but the car still goes through a prohibitive amount of transmission fluid.

Although my car, "Sluggo", is very bad on gas and getting worse every week, it is a joy to drive for the comfort factor, the safety factor, and the intimidation factor. And because it's only a mid-size, I can park it almost anywhere.

Unfortunately, there are too many thing wrong with it now to put the cash into it, so the end is near. If I could get another one just like it with an engine that's still good, I would.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 23rd March, 2003

10th Jan 2008, 08:26

I had a 1981 Chevy Citation V6. Mine started misfiring for no apparent reason. It turned out to be a bad distributor cap. The bad cap looked fine inside and out.

I used to average 13 mpg. The only cause I could think of was they had a very crude ignition timing design. It was either 10 degrees at idle, or 20 degrees at higher rpms.