Jump to content

Buick Century 1982-1996

Recommended Posts

Guest my3buicks

While I am sure the chassis didn't change much, you line these cars up and there are a lot of subtle changes over the years. Buick didn't want to upset the apple cart and send the faithful buyers running.

I had an 82 Century Limited Brougham Coupe and it was one of the best cars I have ever owned. I ran that one to 120K miles, sold it to a friend who made payments on it, she kept it a year and gave it back as she bought a new car, and I put another 70K on it. I then sold it at 203K miles and it was still on the road a few years later.

Edited by my3buicks (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

While I agree that these cars were reliable and continued to sell well, GM's decision to incorporate few changes and improvements along the way was symptomatic of the corporation's problems during the 1980's and 1990's.

The fact is that the similar Olds and Buick variants were situated in the most competitive portion of the passenger car marketplace during those years, but GM's product focus was shifting increasingly toward trucks and SUV's. These cars were largely neglected.

Meanwhile, Toyota and Honda continued to re-design and improve their Camry and Accord models during this same time period, with the result that GM's share of the all-important mid-size passenger car market continued to decline.

It's true that the front-drive 1988 and newer Regals and Cutlass Supremes were competing in this market segment as well, but I suspect that GM would have been more effective in concentrating its engineering and production resources on fewer mid-size nameplates, building strong and respected brand identity.

Regardless of how reliable the Century and Cutlass Ciera were by 1996, the styling and interior design had become dowdy, contributing, perhaps, to the image problems that both Buick and Olds faced during the years that followed.

Edited by Centurion (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

my 2 cents worth. Like Keith I owned one. It was a "rare" 1982 2 door with the iron 2.5L 4 cylinder. What was neat was it was a bucket seat console car although I believe the shifter was still column.

I loved it too and stupidly traded it off. Look, it was a "smart" designed car for 1982. Proportions were nice, gas mileage was incredible at 32 mpg and I don't recall have issues with acceleration. It had Buick level trim and power accessories but wasn't overdone.

But As Centurion pointed out, they built this nice car then moved on to other vehicle lines, virtually unchanged for years except some detail styling (which I do not believe improved it)

My dad bought one based solely on his admiration for my car - a dark cherry color 2 door Century circa 1994 or so and it puked a tranny. He HATES to replace expensive parts on cars especially when he treated it well.

Then I got it. It was OK but was a bit fussy stylingwise by the mid 90's. They had done all they could do with the architecture.

So I owned 2 of these cars. Too bad there are virtually NO 1982-84 2 doors left as they would make a nice cheap collectible. When was the last time you saw one - I honestly suspect there are less then 1% of total production 2 and 4 door early FWD Centurys left.

Link to post
Share on other sites
my 2 cents worth. Like Keith I owned one. It was a "rare" 1982 2 door with the iron 2.5L 4 cylinder.

Interesting tidbit:

When I was an environmental inspector in Pittsburgh, one of the facilities I was responsible for was the Fisher Body Plant in West Mifflin, PA. By the time I inspected it, this antiquated (and now closed) plant was being used strictly for older model replacement panel manufacturing in relatively small batches. The Plant Engineer assigned to be my contact there told me that it had been gradually transitioned to that duty, and initially had made panels for new cars.

It was a small plant, which consisted entirely of hand-fed presses. There were no modern continuous run/computerized presses.

He told me that the last hand-pressed body panels made by GM for new cars were made at that plant, and had just been discontinued (in the late 1980s when I was there). They were the 2-door door skins for the Century/Ciera/6000/Celebrity. Their production was so low that they never needed to have their door panel manufacturing automated. When the 2-door models were canceled, the last "hand-made" GM body panels went with them.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The Century of that vintage was continually refined, to the point that by the time the design ended in 1996, it was winning awards for quality. I don't remember which publication gave it an award for its' inital build quality, but suffice it to say that GM had worked out all the bugs in that car by '96. The assembly line workers could probably put that car together in their sleep by the time that model ended in '96! (I can hear the comebacks now about workers sleeping on the line......)

Unfortunately, it seemed to become a price-target car for fleet buyers and rental car fleets. As a result, the higher trim lines (limited) had been dropped before '96, to the point that they were all pretty much exactly the same car.

They were good cars, and if you find a rust-free well-cared for example, it would make a good daily driver. However, the 3.1 and 3.3 V-6 engines have been documented for their intake manifold gasket problems, so buyer beware.

I've seen good examples at wholesale auctions in the last year or so that are still bringing suprisingly good bids. (Thanks to Cash 4 Clunkers for driving ALL used car prices up!)


Edited by Reatta Man (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...