B Jake Moran

Making The Case to Collect a Last Generation Park Ave

Recommended Posts

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. 

 

00l0l_dqnWmvye49t_1200x900.jpg

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.

00202_3HXKAEjkypK_1200x900.jpg

 

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

1

One of several optional wheel sets available -

00u0u_1D05aIdJJBP_600x450.jpg

Comfortable interiors made for touring -

00808_fvfrOFGp9Qb_600x450.jpg

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

00u0u_3XDnY8Ut1DN_1200x900.jpg

 

01010_J7F4gT2C6G_1200x900.jpg

 

An Ultra in a bit more sporty shade:

 

00I0I_6zdPbNouOec_1200x900.jpg

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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! 

1830658998_DSC00023(1).thumb.JPG.b145d8aae94cfbe393ead8ab4b8e4062.JPG1344100022_DSC00028(1).thumb.JPG.8e8f10d3a210ddcc362ef64f677e9df3.JPG

Edited by JohnD1956 (see edit history)
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.😃

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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
pic placement (see edit history)
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember admiring the last generation of Park Avenue

before they limited the interiors to generic tan or gray.

There was a nice one in maroon paint with a sumptuous

maroon cloth interior on the used Buick lot that looked nice!

 

Ah, to nestle down in soft seats and be comfortable!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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! 😃

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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)
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

1621272312_(KGrHqVHJDMEU2M9CpCBQT1ZZjJnQ60_12.JPG.ec5bfbb87dda409b6e3e97a9c15b086e.JPG

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

003.thumb.JPG.c12c3f7c3f8c1193a0be41d8e782701a.JPG

 

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.

0922111915.thumb.jpg.2c608d04d6493c6acdbaffee547aec11.jpg

 

It did get some Imron detailing.

092211915a.thumb.jpg.762f9bc5fe2e327ad09a984f84774202.jpg

 

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

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice to see a special version being so well cared for

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, Marty. Didn't I meet you at the Buick/Cadillac joint event at Rosenblum's in Utica a few years ago? I drove my '60 Electra up there.

Bernie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No sorry not me. my wife and i were at the BCA Northeast regional in Clifton Park in 17 we had the pace car.

being a long time 60 fan i would have been all over your car.😊

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

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)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How do I go about putting ultra ventiports on an 01 PA? 

Also the door check on the driver front door is missing. I can't find any nfo on on the parts or how that procedure is done. Just a bad sketch. 

Edited by rjfranken
Added Q (see edit history)

Share this post


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