The 1961-1962 Buick Electra did not have the tall tailfins and dazzling brightwork that characterized the American dreamboats of the early 1960s. In fact, on the surface, it appeared to share nothing with its most recent ancestors.
That wasn't true, of course. Beneath that exterior lurked a chassis and powertrain that had changed little. Up top, though, was a clean and modern body that appeared to have tossed aside nearly all traces of ostentation and excess.
Not only were the fins gone, replaced by squared-off rear quarters with ordinary horizontal taillights, but the entire car had a square, down-to-business look. Buick named this new style "the clean look of action."
Sure, "portholes" rode the front fenders again, having experienced a rebirth in the previous year: three of the reshaped oval accents in a row for the LeSabre and Invicta; four for the luxury Electra and Electra 225 lines.
Front fenders ended in pointy contours that matched the projectile shape of the bumper tips below. Bodyside sculpturing wasn't so deep anymore, but still served as an integral part of the design, via a trio of parallel horizontal creases.
This year's quad headlights, however, sat at the edges of a grille that barely compared with the flamboyance that had come to symbolize Buick front ends: just a vertically positioned set of simple horizontal bars with center insignia. Compared to the recent past, here was a Buick that ranked as downright plain.
Gone too was the severely wrapped windshield, replaced by a milder shape that matched the rounded triangular vent wings. Elimination of the "dogleg" added almost five inches of space for entry and exit, across narrower door sills.
A new Hide-Away Drive Shaft lowered the tunnel height, giving center passengers extra space. As before, two roofline treatments were available for the hardtop sedan: Riviera-style with triangular rear panes; and the flat-roofed version with wraparound back window.
Wheelbases shrunk only a fraction of an inch, but each Electra model lost a couple of hundred pounds.
To learn about 1961-1962 Buick Electra mechanicals and production, go on to the next page.
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Mechanical changes to the 1961-1962 Buick Electra were minimal. Power surged again from a 401-cid "Wildcat 445" V-8 that whipped up a rollicking 325 horsepower.
Also carried over was Buick's Turbine Drive automatic transmission with its reputation for smoothness without sluggishness. Invictas carried the Electra engine, while LeSabres again came with a 364-cid V-8. Manual transmissions no longer existed for any full-size models, having been installed in only a tiny fraction of recent LeSabres.
Shoppers who craved some sport along with their comforts now had the option of obtaining an Electra engine in a new Wildcat body. Traditionalists, on the other hand, could feel secure in the knowledge that "their" kind of Buick would continue to be available, without drastic changes, for many years to come.
Even the pointy front-end elements were gone when the restyled 1962 Buick arrived with its revised roofline. VentiPorts were elongated, while back ends adopted simple cut-off quarter panels.
Rear pillars were wide and sloping, and grilles grew plainer than ever. The "Advanced Thrust" redesign also moved the engine forward, reducing the transmission hump and creating a floor with a "mere ripple" obstructing the center passenger's feet. Base Electras were gone, as each of the top models took the name "Electra 225."
Perhaps the public wasn't quite as impressed initially by the toned-down Electras as Buick hoped, since production declined by 8,391 units in 1961 -- though dropping one Electra 225 model may have contributed to the loss. After everyone accepted the new thinking, 1962 brought a jump to 62,468 Electra 225s, up from 47,923 in 1961 and well above the 1960 mark.
Pleasant cars these still-big Buicks may have been when new, but their relatively prosaic profiles just can't attract the kind of avid attention lavished today on the gaudy extravagances that preceded them.
What this intermediate generation of Electras did was set the stage for a new breed of formalized Buicks later in the decade.
For 1961-1962 Buick Electra specifications, go on to the next page.
For more information on cars, see:
1961-1962 Buick Electra Specifications
On the surface, the 1961-1962 Buick Electra didn't seem to share much with its predecessors. Though the tailfins and brightwork disappeared, under the hood, the robust powertrain and chassis remained.
Engines: ohv V-8,401 cid (4.19 × 3.64), 325 bhp
Transmission: Turbine Drive (twin turbine) automatic
Suspension front: upper and lower A-arms, coil springs, link-type stabilizer
Suspension rear: 3-link live axle, coil springs, track bar
Brakes: front/rear drums
Wheelbase (in.): 126.0
Weight (lbs): 4,235-4,441
Top speed (mph): 115
0-60 mph (sec): 10.0-11.0 (est.)