1960 Buick Invicta

Even GM stylists seemed to know that they'd gone as far out as they dared with the fin-heavy 1959 models of the Buick Invicta, so 1960 was a year for toning down their designs -- the 1960 Buick Invicta was no exception.

At Buick, hoods were lowered to give a better view of the road; headlights now sat side-by-side, eliminating the dramatic slanted look of '59; and the grille of rectangular blocks was replaced by concave vertical slats with the tri-shield Buick logo floating in a chrome ring at the center.

1960 Buick Invicta
Bodysides on the 1960 Invicta, as on all Buicks,
were more sculpted than previous models.

The tips of the tailfins were softly rounded off, and the fin-edge trim no longer continued all the way across the decklid. Bodysides did show more sculpturing, though. An undercut area that ran from the headlamp brows down to the rear bumper gave the impression of "hollowing out" the sides. Meanwhile, tubular forms that encompassed the outboard headlights faded back to a point at about the middle of the car.

All series still had a bright trim strip in common, but now it was strictly horizontal, running from the rear bumper to the front wheel opening -- very handy for setting patterns for optional two-tone paint treatments. To this, '60 Invic­tas added bright moldings around all four wheel openings.

Then, too, Buick revived its famous front-fender "porthole" ornaments, which had been a divisional styling cue from 1949 to 1957. They came three to a side on the "jun­ior" LeSabre and Invicta series, and four per fender on the "senior" Elec­tra and Elec­tra 225 lines.

Drivers were confronted by a completely new dash and instrument panel, featuring an even longer linear speedo­m­eter and "idiot lights" to indicate coolant temperature, generator function, and oil pressure.

All warning lights and dials (save for the clock) were seen through a new "Mir­ro­magic" instrument panel. They were actually mounted facing up, but reflected on a mirror that could be adjusted via thumbwheels so that drivers could tailor the angle of the display to their individual driving position.

Radio controls shifted from the center of the dash to just right of the steering column. Invictas continued to come with standard features that included Foamtex cushions, an electric clock, automatic trunk light, deluxe steering wheel, license plate frame, and full wheel covers. A new Custom interior option added bucket seat sportiness.

The arrival of three-seat Estate Wagons added a model to the Invicta line. All cargo dimensions were the same as in the two-seater, but a rear-facing bench-style third seat raised seating capacity to as many as nine passengers.

Buick took a modified Invicta to Day­tona International Speedway in January 1960 for a high-speed endurance run. The two-door hardtop was essentially stock, except for a 200-gallon pressure fuel tank in place of the rear seat.

How­ever, turning laps in the neighborhood of 130 mph made fuel consumption a problem with the big tank. The solution was to set up another Invicta as a mobile gas station to feed the test car on the run through a boom inspired by the method used to refuel military jets on long missions.

Seven drivers, led by NASCAR great Glenn "Fireball" Roberts, drove 10,000 miles in less than 5,000 minutes, aver­aging 120.186 mph for the run. Unfor­tunately, the 1957 Automobile Man­u­­facturers' Association agreement to not publicize performance denied Buick the opportunity to brag. The only publicity the run received came from Tom McCahill in Mechanix Illustrated.

When he got to slip behind the wheel of an Invicta himself, McCahill attained a 0-60 time of 8.9 seconds, about a half-second quicker than in 1959. On the other side of the performance curve, he was particularly impressed by the car's automatic transmission (now dubbed Turbine Drive).

During his test, he found himself stuck in mud up to the wheel hubs. With about 25 feet to go to solid ground, he shifted the transmission into first (low) and gently applied the throttle. After a couple of thumps, the Invicta started to ease through the muck and even­tually got "Unk" to high ground.

Capable performer or not, Invicta orders declined by more than 7,400 cars for 1960. That was in keeping with overall Buick production, which continued to fall, this time to 253,999 units for the model year. Buick's position in the industry slipped to ninth place, its lowest finish since 1905.

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