1965-1966 Buick LeSabre

The "small car" in the lineup was the 1955-1966 Buick LeSabre. It was three inches shorter than the Wildcat and 7.3 inches shorter than the Electra 225. (Still, it was almost a foot longer than most of the mid-size Specials and Skylarks.) The name had been in the lineup since 1959, when Buick replaced all the series titles that had served it since the 1930s.

The $3,325 1965 Buick LeSabre Custom convertible enticed 6,543 customers.
The $3,325 1965 Buick LeSabre Custom
convertible enticed 6,543 customers.

The 1965 version wore completely new styling that gave a wider appearance and included softer lines. General Motors styling chief William Mitchell pushed through the new theme for the LeSabre and other GM cars with which it shared bodies.

Essential features of the general design (which some have said were the best of the Mitchell era) were a "kick-up" beltline and rounded contours deftly punctuated by sharp bodyside creases that kept the look from going too soft. On two-door hardtops, roofs arced gently toward flat rear decks.

Each full-sized Buick series had its own grille design in 1965. The LeSabre's extruded aluminum grille consisted of horizontal slats backing a bright "cross." LeSabres carried three simulated "portholes," a longtime Buick styling trademark, on each front fender.

Three LeSabre models were available: two- and four-door hardtops, and a four-door sedan. The LeSabre Custom version had those three styles, plus a convertible. Buick advertised the 1965 LeSabre as its lowest-priced full-size car, but like its larger brothers, it was still a Buick in luxury and ride.

Seats in base models featured a combination of Bartine cloth and leather-grained vinyl. Custom four-doors used a plusher Bimini cloth-and-vinyl upholstery.

The standard powertrain for the LeSabre was a 210-bhp, 300-cid V-8 engine and three-speed synchromesh transmission. This engine used a single two-barrel carburetor and had a 9.0:1 compression ratio. A higher-compression four-barrel "Wildcat 335" version of this engine -- with 250 bhp and 335 pound-feet of torque -- was optionally available. So was Buick's Super Turbine variable-pitch torque converter automatic transmission.

Underneath each full-size Buick was a new perimeter frame that replaced the X-type design of the 1961-1964 models. A ball-joint independent suspension with a link-type stabilizer bar served up front. At the rear was a four-link setup. Coil springs were used at all four corners.

LeSabre's standard wheels were 15×5.50 steel discs, with oversize tires optional. Like the Wildcat and Electra 225, LeSabre had a 25-gallon fuel tank. A cross-flow radiator and longer-life exhaust systems were new features on all big Buicks.

Other standard equipment in 1965 included self-adjusting brakes with finned drums, an instrument-panel safety pad, armrests front and rear, and dual horns. Extra-cost items included, among other things, power assists for steering, brakes, windows, and seats; air conditioning; a choice of three radios; and a no-slip rear axle. Buick referred to each of its 1966 offerings as "the tuned car." That year's LeSabre featured only minor styling changes. The grille now consisted of a fine mesh over which ran a pair of thin horizontal bars. In back, larger taillights cut into the decklid and bumper for a "barbell" look. The big news for LeSabre in 1966 was more power. The 300-cube V-8 was replaced by a 340-cid engine that produced 220 bhp in standard tune or, for an extra $26, 260 bhp with a four-barrel carb. Numerically lower final-drive ratios were instituted as well.

LeSabre model offerings remained unchanged. New standard-equipment features included back-up lights and an outside rearview mirror.

The middle size of this Buick lineup was the Wildcat. Continue on to the next page to learn more about the 1965-1966 Buick Wildcat.

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