Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

1959-1963 Buick Invicta

1961 Buick Invicta

A whole new generation of Buicks swept in for 1961. Gone from the 1961 Buick Invicta and other models were flaring fins, scowling brows over headlamps, and the impression of great size. In their place was a more-sculptured, more-conservative design. The "Clean Look of Action" is how Buick described the new styling concept.

1961 Buick Invict
The Invicta was the only Buick model to offer
contrast coloring on the bodysides for 1961.

Up front, a gently vee'd diecast grille of hori­zontal chrome-plated bars sat beneath a low, flat hood topped by a central chrome windsplit. In profile, the new Buicks had bulletlike bodies, with pointed fenders in front and notched rear quarters (the product of a beveled rear fascia) that furthered the appearance of for­ward motion.

The upper portion of the bodysides were sculpted in this same pro­jectile form and highlighted by a chrome molding. Sharply elliptical portholes, which looked like dummy exhaust ports, reinforced the theme.

In the rear, oval taillights were hooded by chrome housings and protected by a deep-set bumper. New roof designs were granted to each body style, but all traded in the once-chic "dogleg" A-pillar for a post that slanted forward from the top, then curved back just before reaching the body beltline, creating almost teardrop-shaped ventpanes.

The interior featured a new symmetrical dash design that dipped in the center above a brightly trimmed stack that held the radio when ordered. Mirro­magic was continued.

Underneath was a brand-new X-type frame. A new rear suspension consisted of a three-link design that had the rear axle located to the frame by two outboard lower links and one upper stabilizer bar.

Buick also eschewed its long-serving torque-tube drive for a two-piece driveshaft. Wheelbases were essentially unchanged, but, in the case of the Invicta and LeSabre, the redesigned cars were more than four inches shorter overall, one inch lower, and two inches narrower than in 1960. They were lighter, too.

The Invicta model line was cut in half for 1961, the four-door sedan and the two station wagons having been dropped. It was the only Buick series that continued the bodyside molding all the way around the sculpted area -- which, on Invictas alone, could be painted in a contrast color as an option. Like the costlier Electras, Invictas had bright accents on the taillamp lenses and a thin chrome strip that edged the top of the rear fascia.

Upholstery sported new fabric patterns and "Jewel-Tone" vinyl in two- and four-door hardtops, or all-vinyl in convertibles. Extra-cost Custom interiors were again available on Invictas. On four-door hardtops, that amounted to leather seats with pull-down armrests front and rear. Custom two-door hardtops featured vinyl front buckets (with two-way power adjustment for the driver) and a vinyl-covered storage console.

Buick dubbed the 1961 Invicta "an automobile man's kind of automobile." Apparently, the kind of person the division had in mind was Mechanix Illus­trated writer Tom McCahill. He described the '61 Invicta he tested as "a gentleman with dynamite in both fists" that was "as silent as Christmas Eve in the morgue and the ride was as lush as a swim in egg drop soup."

Of the carryover powertrain, he said, "It seemed to go like a muscle-sore bat out of a liniment factory but it didn't give out with any of the accompanying noises one usually associates with a car that's unwinding." McCahill called it the best car Buick had ever built.

Aided by the arrival of the new "senior compact" Special, Buick production improved to 277,426 in '61. The Invicta, sadly, wasn't a major contributor to that. It hurt to lose the sedan, which had averaged 10,700 sales a year in 1959-60, and the wagons, good for another 5,000-plus units. However, combined output of the three remaining Invicta models dropped from 29,496 in 1960 to 28,733 for '61.

For more picture-packed articles about great cars, see: