1959-1963 Buick Invicta

The 1959-1963 Buick Invicta came about during some big changes at Buick. By the end of the 1950s, Buick already had shown a long-standing devotion to the practice of putting its biggest available engine in one of its smaller cars to deliver lively performance.

A switch to a dramatic new design changed a lot of things at Buick, but the interest in offering a "banker's hot rod" wasn't one of them. In fact, the beginnings of the Buick Invicta were as a bridge during the design change from one such car to another.

1963 Buick Invicta
The 1963 Buick Invicta became an afterthought by only its fifth year,
but its short run was a good one. See more pictures of Buick cars.

The idea of taking a powerful engine and placing it in a car smaller and lighter than originally intended has tempted engineers and hot-rodders (sometimes one in the same) for decades. It's a concept that seems to know no bounds of time or place, and it's been tried in everything from sports cars to grand touring sedans.

Over time, no American manufacturer has pursued the idea as persistently as Buick. Though it certainly wasn't the first to take a big engine from column A and mount it in a lighter chassis from column B, the General Motors division did a good job of it when, in 1936, it introduced the Century.

Riding a chas­sis shorter than that of the senior Roadmaster (but a bit longer than the entry-level Special) and powered by the 320-cubic-inch overhead-valve straight eight found in the Road­master and even-larger Limited, the Cent­ury was soon a legitimate 100-mph car. It stayed in the line until 1942, then was revived for '54 as a V-8-driven horse­power race was speeding up in the United States.

In the early 1960s, just before the muscle car era swept in on a tide of the new class of midsized cars packed with big-car powerplants, Buick joined the fad for sporty full-size automobiles with the Wildcat. It lasted until 1970. Even when Buick completely changed its "standard" car lines in 1977 to make them smaller and more fuel efficient, it couldn't resist offering a LeSabre Sport Coupe with chrome wheels, blackout trim, and, from 1978 to 1980, a turbocharged V-6.

In the years between the final Century in 1958 and the rise of the Wildcat, the bigger-engine/smaller-chassis formula was embodied in the Invicta, a name from the Latin for "un­conquerable." It lasted only five model years as a separate nameplate before giving way to its feline follower, which actually got its start as a member of the Invicta family in 1962.

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