1961 Buick LeSabre Bubbletop

Guide Price: £12,000 - £15,000

**Pictures provided by seller**


・Imported from the US - one UK keeper
・Split-window, pillar-less coupe
・Infamous ‘bulletproof’ Nailhead 6.0-litre V8 engine
・Only around 7,000 produced

The Background

Often seen as one of the last ‘true’ jet-age designs in the American car industry, the Buick LeSabre ‘Bubbletop’ was conceived by Harley Earl, who oversaw the design process despite having technically reached retirement age in 1958, ensuring that his love for ‘bubble’ canopies made it on to one final Buick product, before making way for his successor, Bill Mitchell.

Compared to the first-generation cars, the second-generation LeSabre - introduced in 1961 - was somewhat restrained in its styling, though certainly still qualifies for ‘land yacht’ status by British car enthusiasts.

The iconic fins were removed from the rear ends, and more angular styling cues were incorporated into the increasingly ‘paired-back’ Buick range, including the LeSabre as seen here. 

A new X-Frame chassis was incorporated into the vehicle’s construction, and the vehicle body was downsized in both length and width, though the wheelbase remained at 123” (3,100mm) long.

Three engines were available, with two of the infamous ‘nailhead’ V8s in both 6.0 and 6.6-litre guise being offered, which are known for their reliability and apparently ‘un-killable’ nature. The two-speed ‘Turbine Drive Dynaflow’ transmission was standard equipment, though a manual transmission was also available, should the buyer wish for three pedals within their land-based supertanker.

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The History

This particular LeSabre spent the majority of its life in America, before being imported into the UK by the one and only UK-registered keeper during early 2020.

During their ownership, the vendor has enjoyed driving this V8-powered cruiser on local journeys around Leicester, taking the children to school, occasional car shows and other short outings, ensuring it is used at least once per week in order to keep everything mechanically sound.

Outside of using the car, very little has been done in the way of restoration or fettling, meaning this is a rare opportunity for one lucky bidder to pick up an iconic piece of Americana with room to improve and restore as they see fit, or customise the car to their own liking.

The Paperwork

Included with the car is a selection of paperwork including the car’s log book/service record, shipping documentation and import paperwork, and numerous invoices for electrical attention, servicing and a general engine/brake check over, along with the V5 registered keeper document showing 0 former UK keepers.

In addition to the paperwork, there are also numerous spares included, which can be seen shown in the boot below.

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The Interior

Inside, the grey-and-black vinyl and cloth upholstery has held up fairly well throughout the years, with both the rear bench and front bench seats being in decent condition, though there is significant staining/damage to the edge of the driver’s seat, along with some minor rips in the material to be noted.

Elsewhere, the cabin is in good shape, displaying commensurate wear-and-tear to the carpets, door cards and high-traffic areas, whilst the dashboard displays a wonderful age-related patina on the trim, edging and linear speedometer - how wonderfully retro!

The headliner is intact throughout, though there is a fixture missing above the passenger side front seat which is causing the material to sag slightly. 

The vendor notes that there is a minor crack in the passenger side window, which can be seen in the gallery below. 

The Exterior

We hope you have a big driveway or garage, because you’re going to need it - even with GM stating that the proportions of the car have been ‘downsized’ this is still one heck of a car by British standards, but that just makes it so much cooler in our opinion.

According to the vendor, it is evident that this LeSabre has had a respray at some point in its history, though the paintwork still comes up very well with a little TLC. There are a few minor flat spots and faded paint in places, though this is commensurate with the age of the vehicle.

The bodywork is all lovely and straight with no sign of any impact damage, save for a minor dent in the boot, along with a slight scuff to the offside front arch and offside rear arch, though this is all showcased in the gallery below for you to make your own assessments.

The whitewall tyres are wonderfully period in their appearance, although this - along with the red stripe around the wheel - is a somewhat low-quality DIY job, and would need rectifying along with a full wheel refurbishment to bring the wheels in-line with the rest of the car.

As with all American cars of the era, there is plenty of chrome detailing and brightwork around the car, and it looks as though all of this is present and correct, with no particularly noted issues, though some minor pitting is to be expected.

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The Mechanicals

Mechanically, the vendor has not had to do much work, other than iron out a few electrical gremlins and commission a service on the vehicle after importing it, paperwork for which is included in the car’s history folder. This was a major service, including new oil and filters, spark plugs, ignition coils and a new battery.

Evidently, the vendor has plenty of faith in the reliability of the car, seeing as they use it to transport their children to-and-from school, along with other regular use - testament to the quality of the Nailhead V8 engine. 

The only noted mechanical issue is that occasionally the gear selector can be reluctant to go into ‘park’ though simply re-engaging the drive and then shifting back to park appears to rectify this issue, according to the vendor. 

Elsewhere, the vendor states that the underside, floors, sills and engine bay are all “free from rot” and that this is a genuinely “rot-free, rare and usable classic” and from what we see, we’re certainly not going to argue.

The Appeal

Offering classic American ‘jet age’ styling that is certain to turn heads wherever you take it, this 1961 Buick LeSabre ‘Bubbletop’ 6.0 V8 is a wonderfully rare example of the breed, and in fantastically solid condition according to the vendor, and from what we’ve seen.

MOT and road tax exempt on account of its age, this LeSabre is ready to use and enjoy as it sits, but also allows plenty of scope for a long-term, light restoration project for those who enjoy using their cars as well as slowly chipping away at their ‘to-do’ list, improving the quality of the car as they go. 

If you’re looking for a big, reliable V8 barge, then this may just be the ticket - happy bidding!

Notice to bidders

Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description and all information provided before placing a bid.

As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the seller's discretion.

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1961
  • Make Buick
  • Model LeSabre
  • Colour Red
  • Odometer 94,500 Miles
  • Engine size 6570
  • Location Leicestershire
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
16 bids
  • troysuv•••• £7,000 28/07/21
  • nigel-p•••• £6,500 28/07/21
  • troysuv•••• £6,000 28/07/21
  • nigel-p•••• £5,500 27/07/21
  • troysuv•••• £5,000 27/07/21
  • ruth@pr•••• £3,800 27/07/21
  • Brooksj•••• £3,700 27/07/21
  • starfis•••• £3,600 27/07/21
  • troysuv•••• £3,250 26/07/21
  • Jmckhom•••• £3,100 25/07/21

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