The 1965-1966 Buick Electra 225 was the ultimate in Buick models. Introduced to the Buick lineup in 1959 as the successor to the Roadmaster, its numerical suffix referred to the overall length in inches of the body.
At $4,206, the plush 1965 Buick Electra 225 featured
its own grille texture and wheel-cover style.
While not quite 225 inches long in 1965 (though darned close), the "deuce and a quarter" was still definitely Buick's top of the line in size, luxury, and cost. The Buick catalog put it this way: "When you've arrived, there's no harm in letting other people know it ... [Electra 225] is a true luxury car, inside and out. It's big, it's sleek, and it rides like a dream."
Apart from greater length, rooflines and rear-quarter panels really made Electras stand out from other standard Buicks. The razor-edged roofs seen on 1962-1964 Electras were softened a bit, and rear roof pillars wrapped around slightly at the back to impart a hint of limousine-style privacy.
The look was still much more formal than that of LeSabre and Wildcat closed cars. The bodyside kick-up was the start of a long, straight line that terminated in bladelike extensions at the rear of the car. For emphasis, a thin band of brightwork topped the quarter panels.
Dave Holls was head of Buick design as the 1965s were coming together. Glenn Winterscheidt was in charge of the exterior studio. "I got into the Buick studio at the tail end of 1964, and I was doing porthole designs for the Wildcat," Winterscheidt remembered.
He has fond memories of the design process for these Buicks, especially the Electra.
"At that time, we tried to make it look as long and wide as you possibly could," he remembered. "We pulled the sheetmetal out to the corners. Dave Holls called it the 'W-plan front end.' [From above, the angles of the hood and fender ends form a "W".] We didn't have to make many compromises at that time. There was a maximum width before you had to put side markers on it, like a truck, and we pulled it out to that point. But the 1965 Electra profile in the rear was real crisp, and I liked that.
"I'm amazed when I see today how huge these cars were," he continued. "In Southern California, where I live, there's a foreign-car dealer across the street, and some of those cars are five feet shorter than the Electra."
Bright ribbed moldings ran from the front-wheel openings to the back bumper along the lower section of the sides. Rear fender skirts also helped emphasize the Electra's length. The die-cast grille looked much like that of the LeSabre, but a check pattern replaced the lesser car's horizontal bars. Taillights ran completely across the rear beneath the decklid. Electra 225s were further distinguished from other Buicks by their four VentiPorts and unique wheel-cover style.
Electra 225s were offered as a base four-door hardtop, four-door sedan, and two-door hardtop. As in the other lines, a Custom subseries was also offered; it included the three closed models and added a convertible. For several years prior to 1965, the four-door sedan had been a six-window design. The new body was a four-window style with frameless door glass and a narrow B-pillar that gave it a near-hardtop appearance.
As on the LeSabre and Wildcat, the instrument panel was dominated by two large dials that flanked the steering column. The speedometer was in the dial on the left; indicator lights for oil-pressure, ammeter, and coolant functions were housed in the dial at the right. To the latter, Electras added a standard-equipment analog clock. Above them, a wood-grain appliqué ran the width of the dash in place of the brightwork applied to this area on LeSabres and Wildcats.
Upholstery in Customs was what Buick termed "a vinyl so soft you'll find it hard to distinguish from real leather." Base cars used Beaucrest cloth with leather-grained vinyl trim.
Standard conveniences included power-assisted brakes and steering. Convertibles added power windows and two-way power front seats.
For 1966, Electra 225 offered the same seven models. General styling remained similar to that of 1965, but details were altered. While LeSabres and Wildcats gained .1 inch from end to end, the Electra actually shed .7 inch, falling to 223.4 inches overall.
Its grille was now a virtual copy of the LeSabre grille but for a red "Electra 225" badge on the driver's side. There was a new standard wheel-cover design. Inside, the dash took on more horizontal flavor with a strip-type speedometer. Climate controls were shifted to the lower right of the speedometer.
Among the extra-cost options were cornering lights, an AM/FM stereo radio, air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, and a reclining front-passenger seat in cars ordered with bucket seats. All front seats were available with headrests. Vinyl roof coverings (in black or white) were also available.
Electra 225 engine choices in 1965 and 1966 matched those in Wildcats -- even the dual-quad mill could be ordered in 1965. Only the Super Turbine automatic transmission was offered in Electras, though.
Buick production surged to 600,000 cars for model year 1965. It had to in order for the division to hang on to fifth place in the industry because 1965 was another record year. The family of full-size Buicks accounted for 55 percent of that total.
Almost 100,000 Wildcats were made in what would be the best year the series would ever see. The sales boom also served as an upbeat cap to Rollert's management tenure. In June, he moved up to a corporate vice presidency. His successor in Flint was Bob Kessler, who had been general manufacturing manager.
Divisional output fell off by 41,278 units in 1966, enough to cost Buick a couple of spots in the sales standings. Approximately 31,000 of those losses were in the full-size field -- nearly all from a decline in Wildcat orders.
Still, the LeSabre, Wildcat, and Electra 225 combined for more than half of the year's Buicks. The loss proved a temporary setback. Demand (and market share) started turning up the next year, and, by 1969, Kessler and company were overseeing the production of 668,000 cars.
Like the Buicks of today, the styling of the 1965-1966 LeSabre, Wildcat, and Electra 225 was conservative, but it was definitely Buick. There was no mistaking what was coming at you down the road, or what you were trying to catch up to on the highway. To get a closer look at the 1965-1966 Buick, see the next page for specifications.
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