Back in 1976, it was the second year in a row a Buick Century had the honor of pacing the Indianapolis 500. As such, Buick built Century Pace Car replicas for sale to the public. Claimed to be one of 1,241 Indy Pace Car replicas built, this 1976 Buick Century has covered just under 30,000 miles from new. Unlike the actual Buick Century Indy Pace Cars that were powered by six-cylinder engines, this example boasts a 350 cubic-inch V8 under the hood.
The Buick Century received a facelift for the 1976 model year. The single round headlights on each side were replaced with rectangular dual side-by-side headlights with park lights beneath. All the Pace Car replicas were painted silver with an extensive decal package. A red eagle silhouette was applied to the doors with a broad stripe down the sides. Red and black stripes ran up the hood, black stripes traced the wheel wells, and an Indy winged tire decal adorned the C-pillar. A brushed aluminum strip was mounted just in front of the Indy logo on the C-pillars and wraps over the roof.
Our feature Buick Century Indy Pace Car replica looks good from far, but is far from good. Yes, the miles are quite low for any vehicle of this vintage, and it is one of a very low-number production run. However, the rust bubbles on this example look as though it has spent significant time on winter roads in the Upper Midwest. Whereas the upper portions of the body look to be in decent condition, all of the lower rockers and fenders have rust either showing through the paint or signs of the tin worm/automotive herpes/steel acne/car cancer/choose your euphemism. The undercarriage is similarly covered in what is at a minimum surface rust, but in some case appears to be more advanced. The frame, floorboards, and gas tank are all coated to some degree. Some effort looks to have been put into preserving the poor car, but it looks to be too little, too late. At least the fifteen-inch Buick rally wheels wrapped in raised-white-letter Goodyear Eagle GT2s look to be in good nick.
The interior of the Buick Century is in better shape, but there are some areas that look less than perfect. The black vinyl seats sport black cloth inserts with white pinstripes. The black carpet shows some light fading and is somewhat pilled. Weatherstrip at the driver side C-pillar shows a fair-sized tear, and the plastic moldings have seen some sun. The woodgrain dash and three-spoke steering wheel present as nearly new, but the woodgrain applique on the console is beginning to lift and bubble. The cloth inserts in the rear seat uppers have faded to a brown shade.
Under the hood is clean-ish. There is some dust and dirt, but nothing an afternoon of detailing couldn’t remedy. The 350ci V8 is strangled by the two-barrel carb that feeds it, resulting in a disappointing 140 horsepower fed through a three-speed automatic, but that was par for the course with Malaise Era domestic offerings. What wasn’t standard issue during the Disco depression was the corrosion which calls the valve covers home. The listing states that the corroded thermostat housing will need to be replaced, and the transmission slips in all forward gears.
Classic Auto Mall is asking $28,900 for this rare, but rusty Malaise Era Buick.