The 1978-80 Buick Century “slantback” is one Malaise Era car that receives no love. Available with two or four doors and in several trim levels, the Century is rarely seen anymore and has little to no collectible value other than for the Sport Coupe and those with the turbo V6. In the case of this particular 1979 Buick Century Turbo Coupe for sale on ClassicCars.com, it is both, which is why it’s our Pick of the Day. (Click the link to view the listing)
Buick made headlines in 1976 when the Indianapolis 500 pace car, a Century, lead the pack packing a turbocharged V6. Though that engine never made it to the pace car replicas, it did reach production in 1978, being offered for the Regal and LeSabre. For 1979, availability was expanded to the Century and all-new Riviera.
The 1978 Century Sport Coupe in particular was the sportiest of the bunch, equipped with Rallye ride and handling suspension package, special paint treatment, Designers’ road wheels and P205/70R-14 radials. However, things really got interesting in 1979 with the addition of a standard rear spoiler, special black accents and sport mirrors. Also on the option list was the Turbo Coupe package, which turned the Sport Coupe into the Turbo Coupe via 175-horsepower turbo V6, dual exhausts, automatic transmission, power brakes, Turbine wheels and Turbo Coupe identification. It is not known how many were built like this, though this website claims 1,653 Sport Coupes were built in 1979, with no indication how many were turbo-powered.
So, it’s with some irony that this white Turbo Coupe has received a big-block transplant considering the turbocharged 3.8 V6 was supposed to be a new-age solution to old-style performance. “The paint is definitely showing its age, but the body is in very good condition,” says the Staunton, Illinois-based dealer. “The interior is in fantastic original condition outfitted in all red with some aftermarket gauges installed.” No word in what state of tune the mighty 455 is, but it does feature an aluminum intake manifold, Holley Carburetor and HEI ignition. For trivia buffs, the Turbine wheels are polycast.
The Buick folks sometimes refer to the early turbos as “Before Black,” a nod to the Grand National that appeared in 1984. It would be great to see someone restore this Century Turbo Coupe to be the car that Buick had intended, along with a turbo-six built to Grand National specifications. At $12,950, the cost of entry to fulfill this Century’s potential is not huge.