1973 Buick Centurion

The short-lived 1973 Buick Centurion fought a brave battle in the early '70s to keep the convertible alive . That it did, but not for long.

1973 Buick Centurion
Sales of the 1973 Buick Centurion and other Centurion convertibles
were higher than those of any single Buick ragtop model since 1970.
See more pictures of classic convertibles.

As the '70s dawned, convertible sales had already fallen sharply from their peak in 1965. That must surely have been on the minds of Buick execs as they approved plans for the redesigned full-size cars that appeared in 1971.

But that wasn't the only reason to balk. Though ever glamorous, convertibles would be costly to produce for the small anticipated volumes, and there were rumors that Washington might enact accident rollover standards that would effectively outlaw ragtops.

Nevertheless, Buick continued full-size convertibles in the new generation, though the best-seller of the bunch, the big Electra, didn't renew its offering. Slotted in as the top droptop was the new Centurion, replacing the venerable performance-oriented Wildcat nameplate that was evidently deemed a liability in an era when "performance" was becoming a dirty word. Continuing as the "entry-level" full-size Buick was the LeSabre, which also offered a convertible at about $350 less than the similar Centurion.

1973 Buick Centurion
The 1973 Buick Centurion featured a standard 175-horsepower 350 V-8.

Centurion's campaign proved brief. Available in upscale convertible, hardtop coupe, and hardtop sedan body styles, the name lasted only through 1973. By then it contained Buick's only ragtop offering, a $4534 luxo-cruiser with standard 175-horsepower 350 V-8. Optional was a massive 455 with 225 bhp. In both cases, clean air dictated mild tuning, though the horsepower figures reflected the new net measure, not the inflated gross quote of old.

Sales of 5739 Centurion convertibles in 1973 were higher than those of any single Buick ragtop model since 1970 -- and higher than they would ever be again. With the death of the Centurion name, the convertible was adopted by the LeSabre line through '75. After that, Buick abandoned convertibles until 1982, when the first-ever ragtop Riviera sought to regain the company's past glories.

For more classic convertibles of the 1960s and 1970s, see:

1960 Dodge Polara
1960 Edsel Ranger
1961 Ford Galaxie Sunliner
1962 Dodge Polara 500
1963 Chevrolet Impala SS
1963 Ford Falcon Futura
1963 Plymouth Sport Fury
1963 Studebaker Lark Daytona
1965 Chrysler 300L
1965 Rambler American 440
1966 Chevrolet Corvair Monza
1968 Mercury Park Lane
1969 Plymouth Road Runner
1969 Shelby GT-500
1973 Mercury Cougar XR-7
1975 Chevrolet Caprice Classic
1975 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale
1975 Pontiac Grand Ville
1976 Cadillac Eldorado

For more information on all kinds of cars, try these:

  • Classic Convertible Cars: See profiles on more than 70 classic convertibles.
  • Muscle Cars: Get information on more than 100 tough-guy rides.
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