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JUNKYARD THERAPY: Those Jaunty Buick Regals

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Personal-luxury coupes were as popular in the late-’70s and early-’80s as crossovers are today, despite the fact that their two-door bodies were so much less practical than the stylish wagons of today.

But back in the ’70s, the personal luxury coupe had a lock on aspirational buyers, and a big contender was the Buick Regal. A few we found in the junkyard remind us why.

The Buick Regal was one of four mid-sized personal-luxury coupes offered by GM, and they were built the way GM had built big cars for decades. They had a separate body and frame, which you can see here in this white Regal’s rear wheel well –  the frame snakes up over the axle.

Find a vintage Buick Regal near you with BestRide’s local search.

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That separate frame did a lot to smooth out the ride on these cars when compared to Ford’s downsized Thunderbird/Cougar or Chrysler’s Cordoba/Mirada, all of which had unibodies with no separate frame.

Find a Ford Thunderbird near you with BestRide’s local search.

Back then, it was much more of a challenge to keep out the bumps when there wasn’t an rubber-mounted frame soaking them up. The isolated frame was an important difference between GMs and its competitors.

Find a Chrysler Cordoba near you with BestRide’s local search.

Take 1979 as an example: GM sold about 1.3 million of these coupes in their various divisional guises. The Oldsmobile Cutlass was the sales champ in its three variations – Supreme, Supreme Brougham and Calais – with 37% of that total.

Here’s an example of the Cutlass coupe’s shovel nose, made more shovel-y by a pulled-out bumper.

Find an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme near you with BestRide’s local search.

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The Regal came in third with 22% of the total, behind the Monte Carlo which claimed 25%. (The Pontiac Grand Prix took the remaining 16%.)

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Those upright “formal” roofs came to define GM style through the 1980s.

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The dual-light 1979 beside the 1980 highlights the Regal’s jauntiness – the thick side lenses and densely tined grille all aiming to produce a feeling of elegance around those blocky headlights. The grille’s waterfall effect was a tasteful touch.

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This well-worn example’s pillowed velour upholstery makes it a Regal Limited.

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The ’79’s plainer seats makes it a Regal Custom. Note that the red B-pillar plastic has turned purple.

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The giant Buick steering wheel planted in the mid-sized Regal underlines the full-sized experience the mid-sized Regal emulated. Looking past the wheel, we see an interesting feature set – it appears that this Regal was ordered with the gauge package, but its sound system is limited to an AM radio.

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These Regal coupes were the opposite of being ahead of their time; instead, they were one of the last of a separate-frame and upright-glitz kind. It’s a shame to see these two Regals at their ends, but they both clearly lived a long and serviceable life.

Find a vintage Buick Regal near you with BestRide’s local search.

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