1976 Buick Century Indy Pace Car
The mid 1970's is widely regarded as a low point for American
performance cars. Power had been slipping away as new regulations
were squeezing the life out of the muscle car movement. Few true
performance cars were left by the mid 70's as decals replaced
power. The Corvette, Mustang and Camaro all took power hits, while
the Pontiac Trans-Am somehow held on defiantly. Detroit scrambled
to keep up, (EPA requirements), with what was going down, (weight
and horsepower). Buicks answer to this dilemma was to dust off V6
engine designs that could trace their beginnings to early 60's AMC.
New technology would enhance output thanks to a boost from
turbocharging. This approach had benefits that were twofold: more
power for bragging rights and better fuel economy for the growing
legions of tree huggers. Eventually the top sporty Buick coupes
would move from the Century to the more upscale Regal, but as the
base intermediate in Buick's line, the Century was a great place to
For consignment, a 1976 replica of the pace car used for the Indy
500 for the second year in a row the Buick Century. Interestingly
enough the car used to pace the race was a 6-cylinder engine, and
this replica comes with a 350ci 8-cylinder. The track version was
extensively engineered to do speeds of over 100mph, modified to
stay cool and keep up the pace with nearly half of the CID of the
V8's. Our consigner was the second and 4th owners of this car as it
took a leave of "absence" of you will during a marriage squabble.
He states that this car is 1 of 1,241 built that year.
This 1976 A-body car got a facelift with a more modern quad
headlamp design and a more angular look as opposed to the 73-75'
models. Sleeker lines abound, where the 75 pace car replica design
was all about the patriotic colors of red white and blue, the 76'
model oddly enough used a different color scheme. The actual cars
pacing the race featured a slightly different design from the
replicas. The replicas have red silhouettes of eagles on the doors
with graphic bar trailing them, while the actual pace car featured
a full side graphic bar starting from the front of the car. All
replicas came in silver only with bold contrasting red and black
graphics using Buick's "Free Spirit" theme. The theme featuring the
eagle would become a standard graphic motif on sportier Buicks for
much of the 70's and early 80's. All straight steel for this
example gracing our hallways here at Classic Auto Mall. A black
stripe adorns each wheel well which appears to have a stronger
flare out than standard models. Also, this pace model uses a
brushed aluminum "basket handle" if you will, in lieu of the opera
window at the B pillar. This wraps around the roof of the car and
angles down and rearward. There is the Indy winged tire badge just
behind this panel on either side. A small spoiler is atop the trunk
lid and the rear panel is blackened with the Free Spirit BUICK
badge on the passenger corner. Large dual exhaust pipes peek out
from underneath the clean bumper on back. 15-inch Buick rally
wheels are on all 4 corners with raised white lettering BFG Eagle
GT2's wrapping them.
The interior did not deviate much from the standard Century, down
to the simple gauge cluster. The replica does have a neat center
console based shifter that resembles aircraft throttle levers and
utilizes some wood applique to cover surfaces throughout. Black
shiny bolstered buckets with black stitched broadcloth inserts
adorn the high back buckets in front, and a rear bench. Black
carpeting floods the floors, and nicely sculpted door panels in
smooth shiny black tuck and roll vinyl and wood applique strips
flank the interior chairs on either side. A tight vented vinyl
headliner is mounted tightly above all this menagerie.
Under the hood in a very clean environment which is unrestored we
note the 350ci V8 which produced 140hp. This version has a single
2-barrel carburetor atop, and a TH350 3-speed automatic
transmission on back.
Underneath some slight surface rust is noted throughout. The gas
tank, frame and floorboards are coated with some of this surface
rust; however, all remains structurally sound. Independent coil
spring suspension is on front and a 4 link with coil springs for
the rear. Power front disc brakes and power drum brakes are on
back. Lastly, a fairly rust-free glass pack style exhaust gives
this sporty luxury sedan a throaty sound when pressing the
She fired right up and off to the test track where oddly it wanted
to stay in front of all other cars we have! (Tongue firmly in
cheek!). Actually, it accelerated nicely, however I did notice the
transmission slips in all forward gears. Also, upon closer
inspection the thermostat housing is also corroded and will need
Plenty of receipts, the original order form and window sticker are
with this high optioned car with snappy Indianapolis 500 graphics
reserved for the original pace car. This example is clean and shows
a bit of rust spots near the wheel wells and rear fenders around
the bumpers. Overall good condition and definitely not often seen
with a mere 1,241 built and an unknown number of survivors. Be
assured you will be the only one on your block with one!
57-2 Door Coupe
H-350ci V8 2bbl 140hp
H-Flint, MI Assy Plant
211412-Sequential Unit Number
Classic Auto Mall is a 336,000-square foot classic and special
interest automobile showroom, featuring over 600 vehicles for sale
with showroom space for up to 1,000 vehicles. Also, a 400 vehicle
barn find collection is on display.
This vehicle is located in our showroom in Morgantown,
Pennsylvania, conveniently located just 1-hour west of Philadelphia
on the I-76 Pennsylvania Turnpike. The website is
www.classicautomall.com and our phone number is (888) 227-0914.
Please contact us anytime for more information or to come see the
vehicle in person.