The Buick LeSabre
was a full-size car made by the Buick
division of General Motors. For many years, the LeSabre was considered the entry level full-sized Buick, carrying the lowest base price in the Buick lineup. Prior to 1959, that position had been held by the full-size Buick Special
model; in 1959 the LeSabre replaced the Special, a nameplate that was reintroduced in 1961 for Buick's line of compact cars
The LeSabre nameplate made its first appearance on a Motorama show car in 1951 and on a production car in 1959 as the new moniker for what had previously been known as the Buick Special
. The Buick LeSabre
was offered in a full line of body styles except between 1965-1969 when its station wagon
variant was dropped from Buick's full-size offerings. In 1977, the LeSabre was downsized along with other GM full-size models, and was available only in pillared coupe, sedan and wagon body styles.
In addition to being Buick's entry level vehicle, the LeSabre was consistently ranked as Buick's best selling full-size car. Of the four nameplates introduced in 1959 (LeSabre, Invicta, Electra, Electra 225), the LeSabre nameplate lasted the longest.
From 1959 to 1961, the LeSabre was powered by a 364 cubic-inch V8, which was smaller than the 401 cubic-inch V8 used in the more expensive Invicta and Electra models. The 364, which was previously used in all Buicks in 1957 and 1958, was rated at 250 horsepower in standard form with an "economy" 235 horsepower version offered as a "no cost" option in 1960-61 and an optional power-pack version with four-barrel carburetor and dual exhausts that was rated at 300 horsepower. For 1962-63, the LeSabre came standard with a two-barrel carbureted version of the 401 V8 rated at 280 horsepower, or a no-cost "economy" low-compression version rated at 260 horsepower. Starting in 1964, all LeSabre models except the Estate Wagon shared their drivetrains with the mid size Buick models by switching to those models' smaller-displacement V8s.
Starting in 1965, the LeSabre was available in two trim levels, the base model and the LeSabre Custom, which featured a more luxurious interior trim. The Estate Wagon model was dropped from the full-sized Buick line for a few years in favor of the stretched intermediate Special-based Buick Sport Wagon
which featured a raised rear roof and glass skylight over the back seat similar to the Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser.Offered from 1965 to 1969 was the LeSabre "400" package which included the Super Turbine "400" 3 speed automatic transmission teamed with a four-barrel high-compression version of the LeSabre's smaller V8 engine which displaced 300 cubic inches for 1964-65, 340 cubic inches for 1966-67 and 350 cubic inches from 1968 onward. During each of those years, the standard two-barrel low compression LeSabre V8 was only available with the Super Turbine 300 two-speed automatic transmission, requiring the Buick buyer preferring the three-speed automatic to order the LeSabre "400" package or the higher-priced Buick Wildcat
(which replaced the Invicta in 1963) or Buick Electra
models, which were powered by larger-displacement V8 engines.
Buick's practice was similar to that of Chevrolet, which at that time only offered the two-speed Powerglide automatic with most of its engine offerings in full-sized cars, while requiring buyers who preferred the similar three-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic (basically the same transmission under a different name) to order one of the larger V8 engines. Both Pontiac and Oldsmobile offered the Turbo Hydra-Matic on all of their full-sized cars with any engine offering, as did the big cars of GM's medium-priced competitors such as Chrysler
In 1970, the "LeSabre 400" package was dropped as the 3 speed Turbo Hydra-Matic 350 transmission was now standard on all models. The new LeSabre Custom 455 replaced the base Wildcat model from the previous year and it shared its model number with the Wildcat.
In 1973, the LeSabre convertible model was dropped leaving the short-lived Centurion as Buick's only ragtop that year.
In 1974, the LeSabre Luxus replaced the Centurion model and it was more luxurious than the previous LeSabre Custom. It was also available with a new "performance package" which included a 455 cubic inch engine, suspension upgrades and other equipment. The Stage1 performance package also became available on the LeSabre in 1974 and that year and the convertible coupe model returned to the LeSabre lineup after a one year absence.
The 1976 Buick LeSabre was the first American full size car with a standard V6 engine and it was also one of the largest cars to be powered by a V6 engine. In that year, the last for the 1971-vintage bodyshell that was succeeded by the downsized 1977 model, the V6 was only offered on the base-level LeSabre and not mentioned in initial 1976 Buick literature issued in September, 1975 due to the fact the V6 engine was a last-minute addition to the line. The 350 cubic-inch V8 was the base engine on the LeSabre Custom and the 455 cubic-inch V8 was optional. Both V8s were optional on the base LeSabre.
From 1978 to 1980, the LeSabre Sport Coupe had a turbocharged V6 with a 4 barrel carburetor in standard equipment.
In 1979, the LeSabre Custom model was replaced by the LeSabre Limited and optional Strato bucket seats with a center console became available on the turbocharged Sport Coupe model.
Buick's "portholes" which had been featured on all LeSabres since 1960 were gone in 1980. That year was also the last for Buick-built V8s as a result of GM's emerging corporate engine policy dictating types of engines built by various divisions for use throughout the corporate lineup. According to the plan, Buick would build V6 engines, Pontiac would manufacture four-cylinder powerplants, Chevrolet would build both V6 and V8 engines, and V8s for larger and higher-priced cars would be sourced from Oldsmobile and Cadillac along with Diesel V8s. This meant that from 1981 onward, V8-powered Buicks would feature Olds engines, both gasoline and diesel.
The 1986 LeSabre was introduced on the new front wheel drive H platform, after departing from rear wheel drive on the GM B platform. Joining the LeSabre on the H-body included the Oldsmobile Delta 88 and the 1987 Pontiac Bonneville, which returned to full-size after a short-lived run as a mid-size on the G platform. The LeSabre station wagon however, continued to be based on the B platform with minor updates, through 1990 (later called the Estate wagon) when it was discontinued.
In 1986, there was a LeSabre Gran National model that was followed by the LeSabre T/Type in 1987-89.
1992, the LeSabre was freshened to bring it more in line with the new Regal
, and Park Avenue
sedans in the Buick lineup. The LeSabre was available only as a four-door sedan from this point forward until the car was discontinued in 2005. The headlights were streamlined with a separated amber turn signal strip wrapping around the lower front fascia. The rear fascia featured a wider trunk mouth and lower liftover height to ease loading baggage while the front was smoothed with simplified chrome molding and absent bumperettes. The LeSabre also featured GM's plastic body technologies, with high-stress plastic replacing the front fenders.
The LeSabre's only engine was the 3800 V6, which produced 170 hp (127 kW) in 1992. The 3513 lb (1593 kg) car got 18 mpg (13.1 L/100 km) in the city and 28 mpg (8.4 L/100 km) on the highway, which was slightly better than the 1991 car. The car accelerated to 60 mph (97 km/h) in a respectable 8.9 seconds and could cover the quarter mile in 16.9 seconds at 80 mph (129 km/h). Top speed was 107 mph (172 km/h).
The LeSabre was offered in two trim levels. The Custom trim level was the base level. The Limited was the premium trim level featuring allow wheels, from hood ornament, and fold down access panels in the rear seat to access the trunk. The car had a 18 gallon fuel tank, Anti-lock brakes, and a power radio antenna located in the rear passenter side quarter panel. Instrumentation included gas gauge, speedometer, and gear indicator. Temperature, oil pressure, and battery voltage were indicated with idiot lights.
In 1995, the LeSabre standard 3800 series V6 OHV powerplant received and extra 35 hp due to a re-engineer throttle body and intake manifold. The engine got even better fuel economy receiving 19mpg rating in the city and 29 mpg rating on the highway.
The 2000 LeSabre was introduced in 1999 as the Buick LeSabre 2000
on the G-body. Following the end of the 2000 model year, the automobile reverted to the Buick LeSabre nameplate.
The LeSabre was manufactured at GM's Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly factory in Hamtramck, Michigan on an updated revision of the G platform also shared with the Pontiac Bonneville and the 2001 Oldsmobile Aurora. Among the significant changes made to the LeSabre over the previous generation was a grille that did not open with the hood, an overall stiffer structure thanks to the new chassis, and smaller overall dimensions with slightly large interior room.
2000 LeSabres carried over the previous Custom and Limited trim levels and in 2003 added a new Celebration Edition package in recognition of Buick's Centennial. The Celebration Edition featured all the standard equipment of the Limited with a choice pearlescent White Diamond or Crimson Pearl tricoat paint schemes, a blacked-out grille, 16" chrome wheels, and special badging. Other features optional or standard on the LeSabre included Stabilitrak, OnStar, EyeCue heads-up display, all-whether traction control, automatic load-leveling, side airbags, tire pressure monitoring system, heated seats, dual-zone climate control, and RainSense automatic windshield wipers.
LeSabre carried the title of America's Best-Selling Full-size Car until its demise at the end of the 2005 model year. The car was replaced with the 2006 Buick Lucerne
The last LeSabre rolled off the Lake Orion, Michigan assembly line on June 18, 2004 (retooling the plant to build the Pontiac G6) and the last Hamtramck, Michigan LeSabre rolled off the assembly line on July 22, 2005.
Power 205 hpTorque 230 lbs./ft.