Park Avenue Jr.

Design Notes Lite: 1992 Buick LeSabreFor 1992, General Motors introduced three all-new and substantially differentiated H-bodies through Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Buick.

This time, none would offer a coupe version but all would be infused with a shot of concentrated personality.

What’s your association?
The first-generation front-wheel-drive H-bodies (the 1986 Buick LeSabre and Oldsmobile Delta 88, and 1987 Pontiac Bonneville) were going to be a tough act to follow. At least that’s how I saw it at the time, at a young age.

1986 Buick LeSabre (keft) and Oldsmobile Delta 88 (right)

I really, really liked the formal, creased edges of the Buick and Olds versions (above left and right, respectively). I still like those designs today and the coupes were off the charts sporty-looking.

1990 Pontiac Bonneville SSEPontiac’s first go at the H-body Bonneville certainly set it apart from its cousins and looked handsome doing so, despite not having a coupe version. But, it was the SSE iteration that blew my mind. Incredible. (1990 SSE model shown left.)

In any event, some derided the cars for falling prey to the look-alike syndrome. (When they are that good looking, I say who cares.) Beyond that, the times were changing and square was becoming sort of… square. The three-box approach was packaged and shipped. The age of amorphous blobs was upon us. But GM’s three brands participating in the H-body program had very different, very distinct ideas in mind.

The Bonneville was the top of Pontiac’s food chain. It had no C-body sibling above it on the totem pole and, in my opinion, it showed. Pontiac managed an international-looking design that remains remarkably modern today. (I’m not including pictures here since I hope to eventually cover Bonneville on its own.)

Oldsmobile’s Eighty-Eight had a big brother that was ten numbers higher, the Ninety-Eight. I’ve read that Oldsmobile made a concerted effort to visually distinguish the two models. If so: mission accomplished. To that end, I think the Eighty-Eight’s C-pillar and rear window-to-trunk angles and proportions are masterful and certainly distinguish it from the Ninety-Eight’s formal figure. (Ditto waiting on the pictures.)

It seems, on the other hand, Buick sought association for its LeSabre with its existing models. The clays subsequently pictured make that point.

1992 Buick LeSabre design model front left

The front end on this model shows a resemblance to the 1991 Roadmaster, Buick’s biggest, baddest model. From what I’ve read, Buick had two teams working simultaneously on competing LeSabre designs; one was headed by Wayne Kady (responsible for the revived Roadmaster, hence the similarities), and the other by Bill Porter.

1992 Buick LeSabre design model rear left

Both pictures above are of the same model by Mr. Kady. I must say, I like it. A lot.

The only problem I see is the Bonneville connection in the C-pillar base and kinked rear door glass. Not that it looks bad, quite the opposite, but the finished product did pull off a shoulder design that was more distinctive from the Pontiac’s than this.

I really like those tail lights though, much more than the production design.

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