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Making The Case to Collect a Last Generation Park Ave


B Jake Moran

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There are few modern collectible Buicks in the sense of special halo models such as the Riviera (1995 to 1999), Reatta (1988 to 1991) and even fewer after that.  There was a collector's edition of the last LeSabre in 2005, but generally LeSabres are considered 'jelly bean' cars without much style or reason to collect.

 

I have often wondered about the last generation Park Avenues as a potential collector car, seriously.  They were high content cars, and by now, you can pick and choose if you can find a nice one - and get the Ultra, which was supercharged.   As with most of us, I have checked out Park Avenues in traffic and noticed a wide variety of chrome wheel sets, colors and conditions.   They probably take an interest hit from being 4 door models only.

 

It is not just that they are cheap now.  I am just curious if others consider them one to add to the stable.  To bring to BCA events including the occasional national meet.  Would one in pristine low mileage condition, highly optioned be admired - honestly - at a club event?  Or neglected for a few more years as just a newer used Buick brought out in less favorable weather while the "classic" was laid up. 

 

What I found interesting in reading the Wikipedia essay on these is that they made a last of collector run of them -

 

The last 3,000 of 7,000 Park Avenues carried Special Edition badging that featured the namesake script underneath a silhouette of the New York City skyline. 300 of these were painted with a special two-tone black-on-platinum finish. Production ended on June 18, 2004.[17] The Park Avenue was discontinued after 2005 in the North American market and was replaced in 2006.

 

I would be interested to find one of those last 300 in low mileage condition.  With the push away from passenger cars altogether, and the now dated but authentic and attractive styling of the Park Avenues, here is hoping a few get saved for posterity. 

 

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The rear quarter shot DOES SHOW styling consideration in the jelly bean era -  note the styling of the rear taillight section where designers gave some thought to the housing.

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Here is one in a darker shade, not an Ultra -

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One of several optional wheel sets available -

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Comfortable interiors made for touring -

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Another nice Ultra - also note the additional details in an Ultra Interior:

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An Ultra in a bit more sporty shade:

 

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Those last gen  PA's are pretty nice.  The previous generation, '93-'96 are just as nice,  with a slimmer profile, and with full analog instrumentation for the Ultra's and some others. Finding a low mileage one seems to be the challenge.  

 

As for it finding acceptance at a BCA event, that is subject to the people who show up.  There are many in the Club who bring the later generation models, and will appreciate these great cars.  There are also many who won't give a hoot.  To each his own.  As for me, I like all the Buicks.  Show me the exotic concept cars and I say -WOW -!  Also show me the early cars and I say -WOW!  but beyond, I also love to see the exceptionally clean everyday Buick,  that made a good name for the brand, and I say -WOW-!   If I had the space I'd jump on a nice '93-96 PA regardless of what anyone else would think of it.  I am even thinking of having my '92  Wagon fixed up and taking that to National Meets.  It is a nice ride, with great MPG, and is very reliable!  Just put another 700 miles on it going to Hershey!  And got quite a few compliments on it enroute too! 

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Edited by JohnD1956 (see edit history)
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The PA ultra would be my next choice for a tour car/BDE/BCA National, a former employee of mine and friend/roommate of my brother, has or had one of the 'new york' version PA, he was a GM employee who worked at the Linden Assembly Plant and never had a Buick as a company car, had Cadillac's and others so was very cool when he brought his family to Michigan from NH and stopped by to see me. I had never heard or seen one of these cars. Another friend who does appraisals happened upon one last year out east too. And I saw one earlier this year and it wasn't black and gray at the big box on the corner. So you could be right, collectors item, I really want another 1999 Riviera Silver Arrow or just 1999 Riv! 1995 is good for a daily but I want a tour/cruise car.

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I have to agree. I guess because I have had a '95 PA Ultra since 2003. Only two options missing are the CD player and the Sunroof. Bought it with 38 K miles on it with a General Motors as owner Michigan title, that was new (37 K miles). Must have been a never titled demonstrator or such. Just around 100 K now. Used it as the "good car" for special occasions. 

 

Was given a '98 PA with 165 K on it. Use it as a daily driver, now with just over 1/4 of a million miles. Paint is mostly fallen off, don't care...... No rust out at all, very clean underneath, all rust is on top where you can see it!😁

 

Two years ago I bought a 2005 Ultra to become the new "good car". Maroon with the New York skyline Special Edition badge. Too bad it is out of Connecticut, the elderly owners did drive it in salt.  I looked at several black with silver roof PAs, just didn't like the color.

 

The '95 will squeal the tires from a stop light easy. Funny, as you can see people look and wonder what car made that noise, couldn't be that metallic beige large Buick.😃

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8 hours ago, Frank DuVal said:

Two years ago I bought a 2005 Ultra to become the new "good car". Maroon with the New York skyline Special Edition badge. 

 

This car would look good in Maroon.  Thanks for the comments all.  I am going to casually look for one BUT in my Auto Tempest search tool I used I found very few with "low miles" because these cars are reliable and have been handed down and driven hard.  It's 14-15 years since the last one.  All I can hope is that a few of these are tucked away with elderly drivers.  I just hope a few are preserved and shown at BCA meets in the next 20-30 years. 

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Don't push aside the Lesabre's so quickly. i get the jellybean styling but we had a 2004 Lesabre Limited Celebration Edition

most of these cars are loaded, ours had leather, cd, memory seats, turn signals in mirrors, chrome wheels, and heads up display.

we put 150k on it nice riding, comfortable and seats 6 if needed. my wife and i loved it

in 03 Buick brought out the Celebration Edition to commemorate the 100 years and kept the model

there was minor changes in badging and trim but really just a nicely dressed Lesabre

what they should have done was made it with a supercharger, but again why they didn't we will never know

ours was the red tricoat looked great and paint stayed real nice, but with any of this body Lesabre watch around the gas filler door it rusts from the inside

cant stop it if its in the salt belt ours started saw some in boneyards rusted through

my choice for a future collectible big pleasant looking luxury, sounds like a Buick

 if i found a low mileage in red i might have to add it to the stable for future use lol

 

factory pics 

 

buick_lesabre_celebration_edition.jpeg

celebration brochure.jpg

celebration int.jpg

Edited by MRJBUICK
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There's an '04 PAU on Facebook Marketplace at FAW dealership in Cambridge, NE that has only 59,000 miles on it. It's not the Skyline edition. Its priced at $13,900 which seems to be about 4 - 5 times higher than the average PAU for that time period. I've never been able to figure out how to link FB ads to a post or I would have done it.

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I love these cars -- both the final generation (1997 - 2005) and the prior generation (1991 - 1996).  I believe that demand for these cars will grow over time.

 

Even as "cheap wheels" used cars, though, they developed a strong following.  The local Buick dealer told me in about 2013 that he could sell older Park Avenues and LeSabres all day long.  (This is on the West Coast where the Asian brands dominate.)  As such, many of them have been used up.

 

I drive a beautiful '96 Riviera (Light Jadestone) every day, and passed 161,000-miles yesterday.  Fabulous car.  And my wife loves her beautiful 2005 LeSabre, so I'm a great proponent of the 3800-powered Buicks built from 1988 - 2005.  

 

I have been monitoring an elderly couple with a gorgeous 2005 Park Avenue Ultra, and need to let them know to call me if they ever wish to sell.

 

I also think that the 1997 - 2004 Regals are wonderful cars, especially in GS or Joseph Abboud trim versions.  These cars were very well styled compared to competing models from the other GM divisions.

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It was interesting to watch the many people drive hundreds of miles to purchase a NEW 2005 PA when word finally got out that the PA and LeSabre would be replaced by the Lucerne.  ALL of them had PAs to trade-in and were apparently confirmed PA customers, by observation.

 

JohnD's above images appear to be the A-body Century rather than a PA.  Oopps?

 

I suspect that the PA and related LeSabre might not receive "collector status" outside of the BCA environment.  They were "cars" and little more to most people.  I suspect that the BCA members could be the only "people that really care"?  BUT those that do have definite reasons to do so, by observation.

 

I never heard of the "final group" of PAs being made, but then I didn't see all of the dealer letters which could have detailed such, back then.  BUT those "final ones" were not the ONLY Buicks of special note, back then.  When the SC3800 was introduced into the C/H bodies, there were about 500 each of Olds, Buick, and Pontiac full-size models built with that engine, in the year prior to it being a regular production model.  I saw the letter on those, but almost nobody noticed, back then.  Just as the first model year of Ultra did not have the SC3800 as standard equipment.  Or that the later Ultras still had normal whitewalls and wire wheel covers as standard equipment with the "hot" SC3800 engine.

 

While BJM's focus is on the PA specifically, don't rule out the similar LeSabres!  There are still some nice ones out there, which appear every so often.  When they do, be reach to POUNCE!  Unfortunately, many might not have been pampered as much as the PAs were in their earlier life, BUT they do exist.  Fortunately, the quality of interior materials was very good so durability is pretty good, all things considered.

 

As for the later Lucernes, there are some interesting options on them, too!   NorthStar 4.6L V-8 models, for one. Plus the V-8 Regals (which were basically V-8 Impalas under the skin, which could be upgraded with the production Pontiac GTP suspension/brake items?).  Unfortunately, most of these cars appeared at a time when fuel prices were high ad "hot rods" weren't selling.  Especially the V-8 Colorado/Canyon small pickups (a service nightmare under the hood!).  Many of the dealers that had them dealer-traded them to get them out of their inventory, by observation.

 

NTX5467

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Willis

JohnD was pointing out another later collectible Buick, an alternative to the usual collected cars.  

 

I would not argue that a last gen LeSabre is also collectible but it is less of a styled car, whereas the PA had so many styling touches and special attention.  The hood being multi contoured. 

 

Bill's post shows a nice car and what is typically seen as low mileage at 75,000.   These are getting harder to find.  It appears we all agree they are admired and welcome. 

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I owned a 1993 PA Ultra at the turn of the century. It was my daily driver from 35,000 to about 95,000 miles. It was a nice car but I was happy to see it go at that point. If I bought one as a collector car I would make every effort to use only GM replacement parts, especially wheel bearings and brake parts. Those jobs done with aftermarket parts never achieved the smoothness of the original for me. It was also very noticeable that the car was a unibody.there were flex points I could feel while driving. They are also prone to rocker panel rust due to water draining from the cowl and building up inside the rockers. I removed the cowl intake covers and poured half a quart of ATF down each side until it dripped out the drain holes.

After owning that car I went back to vehicles with separate body and frame construction, longitudinal mounted engines, and rear wheel drive, The B-body Roadmaster and Silverado trucks are my cars of preference today. I have a '94 Impala SS (Caprice) today, buying that configuration was mainly based on my PA experience. That's personal taste and I do own a 1986 PA, but they are not Buicks of the traditional type I grew up with.

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1 hour ago, NTX5467 said:

I suspect that the PA and related LeSabre might not receive "collector status" outside of the BCA environment. 

 

I'm sure the same comment was made by people about mid 50's Roadmasters and Supers in the early 60s!😁

 

Heck, I heard the comment about every late 70's  early 80's car out of Detroit by the late 80's! 😃

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I will concur that many in the later '70s and into the middle '80s, felt there would be no more "collectible" vehicles.  Although "Collectible Automobile" magazine always had a section on "Future Collectibles".  Still, Buick built many distinctive and neat cars, when optioned correctly.  One of our late members happened upon a '78 Centuryrwd wagon.  White, 14" Magnum 500 style factory wheels, V-6, automatic, no woodgrain on the sides.  When he bought it, it had a bad motor, so he arranged/traded to get a reman short block installed.  That was a very neat looking car!  A very nice survivor, back in the 1990s . . . AND very possibly an otherwise-overlooked car by many.

 

And we can also go back to the "flip front" fwd Buicks of the later '80s.  The PA interiors on those cars were fantastically Buick LUXURY in design and execution.  Especially in red leather.  VERY well done, inside and out.

 

The last-gen B-body rwd LeSabres were dubbed "Collector Edition" for the entire model year, with badging AND a very special leather-bound owner's manual portfolio.  We all knew they would be "Last of the Breed", so the special touches were warranted.

 

Although there might be a definition of "collectible vehicle" somewhere, it's really "In the eyes of the beholder".  The "big money" might be oriented toward 2-dr vchicles, BUT a similar 4-dr can offer more fun for less money.  In another forum, a new member had recently purchased a '66 Chrysler 300 4-dr hardtop.  He wanted a vintage vehicle that "the family could enjoy".  He posted a picture of him in the front seat, his young daughter in the child safety seat (behind him), and another family member, ALL SMILING.  SO, 4-dr vehicles have their own special place in the "collectible vehicle" realm of things.  I'm sure that there are Buick owners that would/could do the same thing, the smiling family picture in their 4-dr Buick, too.

c

In that same "enjoyment" orientation, I recall one regional show we did.  Old-Tank's wife chauffeured a car load of ladies into the city, in their '55 Century 4-dr hardtop.  Everybody got in the car easily and comfortable, which a similar 2-dr hardtop might have somewhat compromised (the getting in and out functions).

 

Enjoy!

NTX5467

Edited by NTX5467 (see edit history)
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On 10/20/2019 at 2:04 PM, NTX5467 said:

And we can also go back to the "flip front" fwd Buicks of the later '80s. 

 

I always looked at the flip front as a body fit ploy. Only one hood seam could be seen at a time. You can't detect a misalignment.

car25.jpg.3f71665ee85a47a2a7b09ed92e3712b8.jpg

 

Mine is a two door and they were fairly low production, commonly seen in the Electra 380 and T-Type models. My car left the factory as a coupe with a cloth interior and delivered in convertible form from the dealer. Research seems to tell that a Chicago dealer pulled it from their stock and had the conversion done for a show or promotion. A customer order would usually be bumped to leather and more options. I bought the car in Racine, Wisconsin in 2011 with a bad engine. It appears to have spent it's life in Round Lake, Il. If anyone remembers the car PM me.

I figured a Buick convertible that got 25 MPG would be just the thing for the future, I completed rebuilding everything mechanical and sorting it out in 2013. I have been putting the top down in April and leaving it ready for sunny days until November (that means if it wasn't raining I could go top down today.

It is a nice driver, but I wouldn't have done the work if it was a coupe or sedan.

 

Oh! I even found a set of four NOS wheels. I guess there was a little writing on the wall....err....um...label.

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The "flip-front", aka "BMW Style" hood was on ALL of that body series, not just particular models.  When I first saw that, I was impressed at how different and distinctive it was.  AND, they all seemed to operate and fit just fine, which surprised me a bit.  But it also made me smile that it got to production to start with and worked well.  Similar "ease of access" to under hood items as the '57-'59 Ford cars and the later Corvettes.

 

Nice convertible!

 

NTX5467

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over the years i had a few of the flip-front cars an 85 Lesabre coupe and a 87 Lesabre coupe both purchased with over 70k 

and both lost the trans the same way. pulled up to a light the car dropped out of gear never to move again until the trans was rebuilt.

also bought an 88 PA with about 40k put 100k+ on it with no major problems, gave it to a friend in the club and at last i heard the brake lines went at about 175k

all were great to drive, great visibility, the PA was comfortable and i mean really comfy, decent gas mileage really liked the PA. the only real problem was it had the smaller tires and wire hubcaps, and i always felt the car was under tired, rode fine but if you pushed it you could hear it, i think the optional larger wheels and tires probably make it handle much better. accessibility under the hood is great EXCEPT doing a radiator (i did one) have fun with that. the 87 destroyed the plastic off the upper timing gear so much so that any carb car would not have run but the computer compensated so much for it it was just intermittent hard starting, surprised me when i took it apart.

would consider buying one again but it would have to be a nice car, was chasing after one an old lady owned until she gave it to her adult son now its ruined, just transportation to him. oh well

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I was working this afternoon and verified the mileage on the 1986.

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Even though it is low miles I don't think it ever had an oil change. It barely ran and would not shift into gear when it got here.

The hood style was great because the engine has been out twice as well as the transmission three times.

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It did get some Imron detailing.

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The aftermarket engine gasket kit was interesting. We had no oil pressure upon installing a new long block. The timing chain cover gasket had no hole for the oil passage. I was going to rebuild the transmission myself, but figured a modern shop would be more familiar than I. Should have done it myself. The car is sorted out now and as mentioned, all mechanical parts are new, even NOS fuel lines at the tank. I have about $10,000 in the car. I have some minor cosmetic work that would run around $3,000 in a shop. I hope to do that next year.

This is a Car Craft conversion. They took over the Hess & Eisenhardt operation in Lima, Ohio and are now in the armored car business. My conversion is #001, I know of two others that are hurting in condition.

My H&E '82 Eldorado used many of the same parts, but Car Craft has some nicer details.

If I had to thin the herd a couple others would go up for sale before this one.

Bernie

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  • 2 weeks later...

 

I've had a few Reattas now a Lucerne. Been trying to get my wife in to a Buick for a while. Never liked the blind spots anything I showed her (that is a problem these past years). I've been eyeballing a beautiful PA being worked on at a local shop and then her Lexus died and I put myself in the spare corolla. Then the 01 PA showed up parked in the front of the garage with a price on it!

This is the kind of car you can only inherit.

One owner 90 year old had only 72K on it. Jumped in on it got to haggling and the wife loved the view from inside. I've been wanting one since they day I saw one. All it needed is the front mount and rear struts, and of course a handful of rear bulbs. 

Edited by rjfranken (see edit history)
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On ‎10‎/‎20‎/‎2019 at 9:09 AM, 60FlatTop said:

That's personal taste and I do own a 1986 PA, but they are not Buicks of the traditional type I grew up with.

Agree on that!

 

GM could have learned from BMC/British Leyland's mistakes a generation earlier; especially 'brand dilution'.  Very few consider the Farina-body 1959 Mk. IV & later MG Magnette four door sedan to be a true MG.

 

Craig

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If you are old enough to want a Buick you should be at a point where you can tell the difference between engineering and gadgetry. The topic Park Avenues are loaded with gadgets.

 

My son had a 2000 and the door handles had something in them that caused them to fail, locked. It's a known problem. He bought it with the rear doors closed. They never opened.

 

Then the driver door handle failed and he was sliding across the seat to got out the passenger door. Foolish me, figured if three of the four failed he had better maintain two operating doors. What do I know, I only spawned him. Lucky he was on the outside the day the last one failed 'cause when they fail the door will not open from the inside or outside.

 

Be prepared, there are a lot of door handles on Ebay, I mean a loooong list of them.

Bernie

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I found a 1991 Buick Park Avenue (not an Ultra, which I didn't want) last November from a dealer in Michigan. He claimed it had only 3,016 miles on it.  I had a childhood friend who lived nearby go over and look at it and drive it.  When I talked to my  friend he said, "what can I say, it's a new car, even smells new".  So I bought it for 13K and had it shipped to Florida.  My parents' last car was a 1991 PA, which I inherited, and then passed it to my daughter in Baltimore.  She drove the wheels off of it and at 200K miles drove it from Baltimore to central Florida without using a drop of oil, and I gave her my 100K 2001 PA that I bought new.  She is still driving that one with over 200K on it now.When I received '91 PA I found my childhood friend was right.  It still had the original U.S. Royal tires and oil filter on it.  I was the first one to change the oil!  I also bought some new Cooper white walls for it.  I sure did hate taking off those U.S. Royals, but they bumped on the road and I was afraid of them.  I had to replace  switch in the A/C and the fluid to get the A/C going.

 

In February I drove the car to the AACA National in Ocala, FL and got a First Junior.  All I'd done was wipe it off a little.  Then I spent the next nine months or so with both myself and my wife having to go through major surgeries.  So then at the end of October the AACA National Meet was held in Mobile, AL.  I drove the car to Mobile and got my AACA Senior.  It now has 5,300+ miles on it.  Before going I replaced an automatic A/C fan module.  When I returned after another 1135 mile round trip it wanted new rear brake cylinders.  This is all stuff that the 28  years of sitting had weakened.  Now I plan to tour the car; although I may drive it to the AACA Grand National in Allentown, PA next summer and try for a Grand National Badge.

 

Why did I want an old Park Avenue?  It doesn't look like an antique car, but it is 28 years old so it meets the 25 year standard.  I bought a 1995 LeSabre Limited in 1995 brand new, then bought a new 2001 Park Avenue.  I added a 1997 LeSabre Limited for a second car, then traded it in on a 2005 Park Avenue at a local Cadillac dealer in 2007.  That car had 7,000 miles on it at two years old.  I gave the 2001 Park Avenue to my daughter in Baltimore and then missed it, so I bought a  used 2001 PA for a second car.  When I traded the '05 in on a 2013 Dodge Charger I actually drove the second 2001 as my first car.  So, there is the answer to why I wanted a Park Avenue collector car.  Those LeSabre Limiteds and Park Avenue's were the very best cars I ever owned out of over 80 cars in my life. 

 

I can drive this car anywhere.  If you live in central Florida you better plan on long-haul driving to get out of the state and enjoy serious antique car activity.  I still have a 1941 Roadmster and my original first collector car 1939 Buick sidemounter, but with the traffic like it is, and parts or mechanics along the interstates what they are, you'd better plan on a trailer, and I'm getting a little old for a trailer.  The AACA Sentimental Tour next June in W.Virginia is probably my last trip with the 24-foot Haulmark closed trailer.

 

 

1991 Buick Park Avenue Princess.jpg

Edited by Dynaflash8 (see edit history)
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What is the down side to the Lucerne?

It was made after the PA and should be easier to find,   2006-2008 the 3800 V6 was the standard engine,  2009 the 3.9 V6 was standard (I don't know anything about the 3.9...was it similar to the 3.6V6?)

The Northstar V8 was an option from the beginning until the end in 2011......... I purchased a 2007 one owner with Northstar just to test the performance of the V8, had it over a year,  on one trip I was getting 24 mpg out of the V8.

The main reason for selling was the car had the magnaride suspension and the front struts were not working.....replacement was expensive and the car was approaching 100k so I sold it to a fellow in Michigan that was looking for a rust free replacement for his wrecked Cadillac. 

I would buy another but would try to find one with less miles.

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19 hours ago, Dynaflash8 said:

1991 Buick Park Avenue Princess.jpg

This is probably the best looking Buick sedan from the 1990's, though I would take a Roadmaster Estate wagon as first choice.

 

There's a rather nice 1996 Roadmaster wagon which recently sold here:  http://www.centralfloridaautomotive.com/web/vehicle/2057658

 

Craig

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14 minutes ago, 8E45E said:

This is probably the best looking Buick sedan from the 1990's

 

I agree - I had a '91 LeSabre and probably would still have it if the body hadn't succumbed to CNY road salt...

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The 3.8 engine was the best engine GM ever made, in my opinion.  And, I think the only reason they stopped making these cars was because they lasted too long.  You almost couldn't wear out the engine.  Electronics was another story, but that has been the case with GM clear back into the sixties.

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2 hours ago, 8E45E said:

This is probably the best looking Buick sedan from the 1990's,

 

Take a close look at the early 1990's Buick sedans and you see a lot of Jaguar XJ6 in the body shape and proportions. The is a curvature call ogee in design. Coming toward you the Jaguar and Buick have the same ogee. That's a lot of it.

 

Bernie

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3 hours ago, 60FlatTop said:

 

Take a close look at the early 1990's Buick sedans and you see a lot of Jaguar XJ6 in the body shape and proportions.

Its also the fit & finish.  There appeared to be much better quality control in the body construction, and the panel gaps were much better than most other GM products at the time, and even today.

 

Craig

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On 11/7/2019 at 6:13 PM, Barney Eaton said:

What is the down side to the Lucerne?

 

Too small in the interior for my comfort!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

I drove my friend's Lucerne on many occasions. Couldn't wait to get back in my Park Avenues.

 

On 11/6/2019 at 5:34 PM, 60FlatTop said:

The topic Park Avenues are loaded with gadgets.

 

What gadgets? Radio? Heat? Air conditioning? I like those in a car. 😁  

 

And I LOVE the supercharger!

 

Neither of my three Park Avenues have had door handle trouble. And one just turned 252,500 miles. Its a 1998, same door handle as your son's 2000 and my 2005. The 1995 has actual push buttons on the exterior handle to open the door! Just like a REAL car.😉 Right Earl?

 

According to the dash display, my 98 non-Ultra is averaging 26 mpg in my to and from work driving everyday. Luckily my going to and from work involves rural roads near where Earl used to live in Northern Neck VA.

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Right, wouldn't the 1997 to 2005 be the last generation?

Unless you count the Chinese version that came later.

 

As an aside, my 1995 has more options than either the 98 or 2005 model. I guess the light minder might be a "gadget", but it works well. And the sun visors for the rear seat passengers have been used too.

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