A Photo for Sunday: 1972 or 1973 Buick Centurion Convertible

British cars have more dignity when parked in a mittel European setting. American cars don’t fit into the landcape of the British Isles at all. How do these cars look in Scandinavia?

1972 or 1973 Buick Centurion 445 V8
1972 or 1973 Buick Centurion 445 V8

Here’s a 1972 or 1973 Buick Centurion, famous as Buick’s shortest-lived model. Behind it, some Denmark.


A learned reader will be able to precisely identify the year; my guesstimate is based on the grille design. It extends under the lamps (not for 1971) and explains why my ’84 Century did the same kind of thing (it didn’t work on the Century).

My considered opinion is that a US car fits right in to Scandinavia, especially the townscapes of Mid-Century Modern which this photo nearly is. The 1973 car would have been designed at the time when the International Style had reached its zenith. Isn’t it a peculiar irony that American cars at this time emerged from an utterly different set of references?

Modernism didn’t touch Detroit. The Buick is not very elaborate: one dramatic falling swage and a busy front end. In 1973 the Italians headed into sharp boxiness and the French followed. Mercedes toned down their Baroque and BMW kept it simple. However, as the Euros embraced less is more, the stylists in Detroit dived headlong into Victorian curlicues, especially on the interiors.

1972-1973 Buick Centurion convertible.
1972-1973 Buick Centurion convertible.

Wikipedia says the Centurion was promoted as a mid-level luxury car while the Wildcat it replaced offered a luxury/sporty character. Did customers really have such a finely calibrated sense of Buick’s line-up? The Centurion sat between the LeSabre and Electra. Most of the exterior is the same as on the LeSabre: so the Centurion can be seen as really an engine/trim package with a model name of its own.


Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

7 thoughts on “A Photo for Sunday: 1972 or 1973 Buick Centurion Convertible”

  1. Is this the convertible version of Kojak’s car which I believe was a Buick Century Regal?

    1. That observation has reminded me that I once had Kojak´s car as a Corgi model. Where did it go to? I never noticed it slip away unlike the Aston Martin that fell down between two walls in my back garden. The Kojak car is supposed to be a 1974 Buick Century Regal. Typical GM. At various points the Century and Regal were two different cars. I find keeping track of the bifurcations and splicings of GM model and trim names hard to deal with. I think, hesitantly, the Century Regal is pretty much the same car as the Centurion but of course Buick purists will be able to clarify this.

    2. Correction: the Centurion and Century Regal are not the same car. The latter was a car for 1974 while the Centurion died out in 1973. The Century Regal was a fancier version of the Malibu, Cutlass and Grand-Am. The Centurion was related to the Olds Delta and LeSabre. This is a discussion point for Curbside Classics, I would say.

  2. That’s a terrific looking car. There is a building in Leicester called the Cardinal Telephone Exchange that it would look just right parked outside. A disproportionately tall 1970s international style sky scraper, sadly the building is poorly regarded locally and is in a mild state of neglect.

  3. Whereas US Fords had entered a particularly dire patch, I rather like the swooping GM style of this time, especially the glorious boat-tail Buick Riviera. This is rather satisfying too, even down to the completely inappropriate name and badge.

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