1960 Buick: Visions of America’s jet age

Greg Cockerill didn’t buy just any Buick — he purchased a pristine 1960 Buick LeSabre convertible. He learned that when the Buick’s original owner purchased this convertible as a replacement for his wife’s aging 1947 Mercury convertible, it had a base price of $3,145.

“She cherished her flamboyant car,” Cockerill was told, though serious health problems limited her ability to enjoy it. When she died, her widower kept the 4,233-pound Buick for sentimental reasons. He drove it even more sparingly than his wife had, yet refused to part with the car, one of 13,588 manufactured that model year.

At the time of his death, a nephew received the LeSabre convertible and eventually sold it to a Michigan car collector before Cockerill acquired it.

“It remained completely original and unrestored, including paint, chrome, upholstery, and convertible top,” Cockerill says.

Beneath the expansive hood is a standard LeSabre 364-cubic-inch, 250-horsepower V-8 engine paired with the optional Dynaflow Turbine Drive automatic. The fact that this car is equipped with the extra-cost power steering and power brakes is proclaimed by bold lettering on the steering wheel and brake pedal.

“Amazingly,” Cockerill says, “the Firestone ‘gum-dipped’ 7.60×15-inch tires are still the same ones installed at the Flint factory.

The only other extra-cost accessories on this big, but sporty convertible include a heater, full wheel covers, and white sidewall tires. The 1960 model year was a transitional one for Buick. This was the last year that the entire Buick lineup consisted of full-size models. This year was also the last appearance of tailfins, even though they were abbreviated versions of the previous year’s.

The now familiar red, white, and blue tri-shield emblem symbolizing Buick was initially introduced on the 1960 models. A “Mirro-Matic” reflective instrument panel employs a tilting mirror to adjust the viewing angle of the instrument panel, principally the speedometer.

“In many ways,” Cockerill says, “the influence of the jet-age is evident in the 1960 Buick’s distinctive styling.” The headlamps are set in simulated twin jet nacelles, while canted “delta” fins bring up the rear. It should be noted that the tailfins begin their climb to immortality at the base of the wraparound windshield.

Cockerill points out that although the aircraft-inspired theme was continued from the previous year, all sheet metal below the beltline was completely new, with the exception of the deck lid.

In order to demonstrate the 1960 Buick’s durability, Cockerill says, “Buick ran a production Invicta at the new (at the time) Daytona NASCAR track for 10,000 continuous miles, averaging over 120 mph. Unfortunately, GM’s anti-racing policy prohibited any promotion of the event and the achievement has been all but forgotten.”

— Vern Parker, Motor Matters

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2019

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