1961 Buick LeSabre Review

1961 Buick LeSabre 2-door Hardtop 364 C.I. V8 from North America

Year of manufacture1961
First year of ownership1997
Most recent year of ownership2004
Engine and transmission 364 C.I. V8 Automatic
Performance marks 6 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 9 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 7 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.0 / 10
Distance when acquired56990 miles
Most recent distance64500 miles

Summary:

Smooth, Attractive, and Reliable. When Buick knew how to make a car

Faults:

Heater leaked fluid into the car and needed to be rebuilt.

The car chronically overheated and had to have the radiator rebuilt.

General Comments:

This car is ultra smooth. The shiftless Dynaflow transmission and ultra compliant coil springs on all corners makes for a serene and comfortable cruise.

The large engine's output is somewhat hampered by the transmission, but it still gets moving.

The brakes are surprisingly strong, especially for the era.

The interior has held up very well to 43 years of use--no rips and minimal fading.

The non-power steering takes almost 6 complete turns to go from lock to lock, so racecourse driving and quick emergency maneuvers are precluded.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 27th April, 2004

28th Apr 2004, 09:45

Liked your review. The '61 is imho the best looking year for the full size Buicks of that era. A lot of people seem to favor the '59-'60 with the big tail fins, but the '61 is much more elegant and less dated looking.

20th May 2005, 23:28

Your comment about the '59 & '60 Buicks with the big tail fins brought back memories of a friend of mine's Buick. It was a '59 model that he acquired during his employment as a live-in night watchman at a wrecking yard.

This friend was a brilliant fellow who had some background in transmissions. He came up with an idea to make the "shiftless" Dynaflow into a muscle-car performance tranny. From what I recall, he modified the valve body, and then boosted the internal operating pressure by adding several power steering pumps (I've forgotten exactly how many), plus brackets, pulleys and belts, etc. to the front of the engine.

Finally came the big day to try her out. Now, this was a huge car that had a big engine (401, I believe) with a body that sort of resembled a submarine out of a sci-fi movie. The lifters were a little noisy, and the car's body had some rust holes in it, but it was basically pretty sound (and it had a posi-rear end).

He came up to a stoplight and a muscle car ('67 Pontiac GTO) came up beside him. The driver made a remark about the old Buick and said, laughingly, "Wanna race?"

My friend put the Buick's tranny in neutral and pressed all the way down on the gas until the old 401 was screaming. The light changed to green, and he dumped it into Low. The GTO (predictably) took off like a rocket. The Buick, incredibly, was burning crators into the pavement as it's front end reportedly came up off the ground. It took a while to get the old beast moving, but when it did, in all its blazing smoke and glory, caught up to the Goat and nearly blew it off the road like a 747 jet.

The guy in the GTO was, needless to say, speechless.

My friend had to go back and put some better tires on the back of the experimental Buick, and then he decided to take it out for another test spin. Only this time, something went terribly wrong.

About a city block into the "launch", something came unglued in the converter and the transmission literally exploded like a 747 jet turbine, screaming in terror. In his words, there were transmission fluid and parts all over that highway in the aftermath. Fortunately, he'd had the foresight to install a heavy iron plate between him and the transmission hump.

It was quite a story to hear him tell, but I'd love to have been there.

6th May 2006, 04:22

My Dad had a 1961 LeSabre 4-door sedan in Sea-mist Green. Fantastic car. Smooth, powerful (even with the 364 nail-head engine, 10.25 hi-comp head), ate spark plugs every 6,000 miles and was a joy to own. A Buick when the name really meant something. "Chrome" grill, rear-view mirros etc... not just cheap plastic (get it Detroit). The car eventually rusted out on our New England winters, but kept going strong otherwise. One of Buick's best.

Average review marks: 8.0 / 10, based on 1 review