MotorCities National Heritage Area
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By Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images courtesy of General Motors and Barrett Jackson
Published 4.3.2019

1959 Buick Electra 225 4 door hardtop General Motors RESIZED 11959 Buick Electra 225 four-door hardtop (General Motors Archives)

In 1959, General Motors design staff had undertaken a major update of the Buick line, which most consumers really liked and admired. The 1959 Buicks were introduced to the public on September 16, 1958, and model year production was 285,089 units, or 5.1 percent of the total vehicle market.

1959 Buicks General Motors RESIZED 2A collection of 1959 Buicks (General Motors Archives)

Buick offered 17 models for 1959, including the LeSabre, the lowest priced series that replaced the Special series. The Century nameplate had disappeared again, and the Electra was part of the luxury series.

1959 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon General Motors RESIZED 31959 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon (General Motors Archives)

The 1959 lineup offered impeccable styling. I always thought the 1959 Buick models were great looking designs. The Electra 225 was a very popular model; its name came from the overall length of the car in inches. George H. Dammann, in his book “Seventy Years of Buick, said, “The new Buicks were completely new cars, resembling nothing that ever rolled out of Flint before, and having no common ties with other General Motors styles.”

1959 Buick Interior RESIZED 5 1959 Buick Interior (Barrett Jackson)

Both power brakes and power steering were standard on the Electra Series, but cost a total of $150 extra on other Buick models. The 1959 Buicks also offered the popular panorama windshield and vent windows in the front doors. The four-door hardtop design models offered a one-piece rear door glass and a rear window design that wrapped around to meet the door glass. The tailfin design was very unique compared to other vehicles on the road during the 1950s.

1959 Buick advertising image General Motors RESIZED 41959 Buick advertising image (General Motors Archives)

The 1959 Buick convertible served as the pace car for the Indy 500 race. The Electra 225 convertible was priced at $4,192. The most popular 1959 Buick model was the Electra 225 series; GM offered a four-door hardtop which sold for $ 4,300 and had a total production run of 10,491 units. The LeSabre models were also very popular. Two Buick models were available as station wagons: the Invicta series priced at $3,841 or the LeSabre series at $3,320.

The press reports on the 1959 Buicks were very favorable, and Motor Trend magazine named the 1959 Buick Invicta four-door hardtop the “best looking car overall,” a huge honor for GM.

1959 Buick ad General Motors 61959 Buick ad (General Motors Archives)

In 1958, Kudner Advertising was dropped from handling the Buick account and replaced by the McCann-Erickson Company, which took over advertising for the 1959 models with the new slogan: “Whatever car you have in mind you’re better off with a Buick!”

In conclusion, the 1959 Buick models were quite different from the previous model year and offered the most revolutionary changes in GM’s lineup for the 1959 model year. Some of the traditional model names like Special and Roadmaster were gone, but Buick’s great styling will always be a part of GM’s legacy for many generations to come. For more information on 1959 Buick images, check out the GM Photo Store at https://gmphotostore.com/

 

Bibliography

Dammann, George H. “Seventy Years of Buick.” Crestline Publishing, 1973. 

Dunne, Jim & Norbye, Jan P. “Buick The Postwar Years.”

Dunham, Terry B. & Gustin, Lawrence R. “The Buick A Complete History.” Automobile Quarterly Magazine.