1959 Buick Invicta
For all intents and purposes, the Invicta was the Century, but in a Buick so different from those that came before it that even the familiar series names were changed for 1959. Thus, the 1959 Buick Invicta was born.
The 1959 Invicta picked up the baton
for a long line of performance-minded Buicks.
According to historians Terry Dunham and Larry Gustin in their book, The Buick: A Complete History, division general manager Edward T. Ragsdale said of that year's cars, "It is given to a man once in a lifetime to introduce a completely new line of cars. These things happen only once every two or three decades. We at Buick feel we are on the threshold of an event that most of us will not witness again."
All of General Motors' mainline family cars went off in a startlingly different styling direction in 1959, a turn taken in response to Chrysler Corporation's lean and finny designs of 1957. Low, tight cross sections and thin roof panels with lots of glass area replaced puffy bodies and enveloping tops. Then, too, fins sprouted in every direction.
While Buicks didn't have the excessive vertical tailfins of Cadillacs, their slanting fins were distinctive. Buick's "Delta Wing" styling may have made for a closer representation of a true airplane wing than any of the other GM nameplates that year. Below the fins were single round taillamps above a blade bumper.
The cant of the tailfins was mimicked up front by flaring brows that arched over diagonally aligned quad headlamps. The grille was made up of a series of linked rectangles with chamfered surfaces, a toned-down evolution of the busy "Fashion-Aire Dynastar Grille" that fronted 1958 Buicks. A chrome "V" in a ring, another motif borrowed from the '58s, overlaid the center of the grille.
On the sides of all 1959 Buicks, the sweepspears of the previous decade were replaced by a single chrome strip that ran downhill from the tips of the headlamp brows to a point just ahead of the center of the taillamp bezels. A chrome edging that began at the base of each front ventpane traced back over the fins and around to the trailing edge of the sloping trunklid.
Beyond that, each series made do with varying combinations of rocker-panel and wheel-lip decoration. Invictas featured a bright strip on the rockers and edging on the front wheel openings. (The Invicta station wagon also had an additional heavy molding on the roof above the side windows.)
In any case, the cars certainly didn't look like any recent Buick and created a small sensation. Said Devon Francis in Popular Science, "Probably not in all the latter-day history of the automobile has a car changed so radically in styling from one year to the next."
Motor Trend named the Invicta four-door hardtop the "Best Looking Car Overall" for 1959, and named the Invicta Estate Wagon "Best Looking Wagon." MT complimented the four-door hardtop's flat roofline over its "control tower" rear window that "introduced another horizontal element into the fleetness in that plane." Car Life's Jim Whipple wrote, "The '59 Buicks are beautifully styled and finished cars, well-built and powerful."
Buick sales literature called the Invicta "The Most Spirited Buick." That was due in large part to what was underhood: an all-new "Wildcat 445" 401-cubic-inch V-8 -- also standard in costlier Electras -- that delivered 325 horsepower at 4,400 rpm and 445 pound-feet of torque at 2,800 rpm.
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