Driven: 1970 Buick Electra 225 Custom Limited Sport Coupe

1970 Buick Electra 225 is a muscle machine minus the machismo | Nick Kurczewski photos
1970 Buick Electra 225 is a muscle machine minus the machismo | Nick Kurczewski photos

Who doesn’t love the power and drama of a good, old-fashioned American muscle car? The genre always suggests images of wild racing stripes, ram air hood intakes, fat tires, and an engine bay bursting with a massive V8 engine.

So why are we so smitten with this big brown Buick? It’s definitely no Road Runner when it comes to visual impact – sorry, there is no SubLime green or Go ManGo paint job to be found here.

It's called 225 as in its length in inches
It’s called 225 as in its length in inches

And even Buick’s own 1960s-era GNX muscle car, not to mention the Grand National from the 1980s, would run smoky burn-out circles around this Electra. Except that’s part of the point of this car, and one of the main reasons we love it. It’s a muscle machine in stealth mode, the kind of classic you could drive all the time and never worry it’s too precious for anything but sunny skies and 72-degree temperatures.

As part of the NB Center collection in Allentown, Pennsylvania, this Buick stands in good company. The Center’s owner and namesake, Nicola Bulgari, is himself an avowed fanatic of the Buick brand. Of the hundreds of vehicles in the collection, many are run-of-the-mill automobiles that were the typical everyday man’s car of their respective era.

That holds true with this Electra, a true “survivor”car that hails from Southern California and shows less than 23,000 miles on the odometer. That’s correct, for 46 years, this brown beast has only traveled about 500 miles annually. The original paint and interior are all original, as they left the factory. This example has been a part of the Bulgari collection since 2014.

Stretching about 225 inches long, this Buick coupe is roughly the same length as a 2016 Chevrolet Suburban full-size SUV. You might expect the Electra to handle like the proverbial Yank Tank, bobbing and bouncing its way down the road, with a pillow-like ride guaranteed to lull you to sleep – or cause seasickness.

Just like the exterior, the interior is brown
Just like the exterior, the interior is brown

It’s intimidating, until you drive it. For starters, the cabin is a riot of brown-on-brown; from the seats to the dashboard, and the doors to the floors, there is one (and only one) predominate color in this car. Hint: It’s brown.

However, getting comfortable is as simple as stretching out on the expansive front bench seat. The thin plastic rim of the steering wheel and column-shift automatic transmission lever are right where you want them. And compared to the claustrophobic cabins of so many modern cars – with their narrow greenhouses and tall center consoles – it’s amazing how light and airy this cabin feels.

The rectangular-shaped speedometer stretches to 120 miles per hour and, based on the rumble from the 455-cubic inch V8 under the helipad-sized hood, you’d sweat this car is good for it. Nice and classy touches include cursive script font on the dashboard, denoting the climate control levers on the lower left-hand side of the dash, or the gentle reminder to “Fasten Seat Belts,” placed just above where the steering column meets the dash.

454 V8 packs plenty of power to propel the big car
454 V8 packs plenty of power to propel the big car

Punch the gas pedal and you had better have those belts fastened! This Buck moves, quickly! The 370-horsepower on tap manages to get the Electra off the line sharply, but the real fun begins when there are some curves in the road.

Plowing into corners, the Electra leans hard, then settles and digs in as much as possible. Yes, we got the rear tires to emit a nice and steady squeal on a couple of occasions, while flinging the car around the NB Center’s private test track. In fact, we started to imagine Gene Hackman or Steve McQueen was hot on our heels, gunning it hard on the mean streets of Brooklyn or the launch-pad roads of San Francisco. Yes, we know, those were Pontiacs, Mustangs, and Dodges… but you get the point.

Considering this car’s pristine condition, we decided not to drive it like we stole it. Original options include power windows, AM/FM radio, tilt steering wheel, remote mirrors, a vinyl roof, and factory air conditioning.

The original spare tire and jack are in the trunk which, when we opened it, looks like something you’ve seen countless times in Martin Scorsese mob films.

Ok, Nick, get back to work
Ok, Nick, get back to work

“How many people do you think fit in it?” asked Casey Maxon, historian at the Historic Vehicle Association which is headquartered adjacent to the NB Center. Never ones to be bashful, we handed him our camera and jumped aboard the trunk.

Apart from the thin carpet that covers the cargo area, the space itself was very roomy – though we’re guessing anyone with this view probably isn’t concerned about comfortable carpeting.

Roomy and comfortable, but better buckle up
Roomy and comfortable, but better buckle up

12 thoughts on “Driven: 1970 Buick Electra 225 Custom Limited Sport Coupe”

  1. The car was 225 incheslong and that is why it was called an Electra 225. This was one of the last of the big Buicks. This was also before GM quality dropped so badly.All the Electras from 1964 onward to this were beautiful cars. This car really needs white wall tires. No Electra of this period came without white wall tires/

  2. Very nicely written article about this almost 19 foot long Buick. How many miles on it? How many owners has it had these last 46 years? Is it for sale? Where is it located? Many thanks for a reply to my email: my 42packard@aol.com. Happy Holidays from Harry J. Pappas

  3. We, in southwest Ohio, called it a “Deuce and a Quarter”, and the ones we called that were four door family cars. I never saw a 2 door 225…although I knew they existed. My friend was allowed to drive his Dad’s…….load up 6 guys…each contributing a dollar for gas (roughly 29 cents a gallon at “Clark”… and we’d cruise to all of the “cruise spots” to meet friends that had rich Dad’s…… that gave them the 396 Camaro SS or the Corvette or the Chevelle SS to drive….or all of the muscle provided by Mopar. Not too many Fords…although they were represented. Good memories.

  4. A friend of mine Charlie had one. He used to drive me to work down Queens Boulevard and it was a rocket ship. He drove it hard and he drove in Fast.

  5. Come on guys, the Electra 225 is NOT a “muscle car”. it’s a luxo-boat with a big engine. The Buick muscle of this period was the Gran Sport 350 and 455. The 455 being the fastest American production car that year including the Corvette 0-60mph, and faster in the quarter mile than ANY other muscle car. The following year all engines were detuned and Buick finish as the “king of the hill” in the muscle car lexicon. BUT with the Gran Sport not the Electra225.

  6. I am an original owner of a 69 “duce and a quarter” , and in my opinion it is indeed a muscle car, although the 69 only had a 430. I still have the car that I bought at 25 and I am now am almost 70. I street raced many a so called muscle car in the late 60’s and early 70’s with that car, which by the way still runs great at 145K+ on the odometer . No, it couldn’t beat a Stage 1, but then basically no car could. Point is, my car could and did beat many cars ordained today as muscle cars by those who weren’t even alive during the muscle car era. I also own Corvettes, so I know a little bit about speed and muscle cars. Don’t let looks fool you when your racing for “pink slips”. Note; stating that the car in this article looked like it belonged in a mob movie, a 69 Electra coupe, ( Cameo Yellow ) actually was in the movie, The French Connection, for a second or two in one scene.

  7. When I had a Used Car Lot in Vallejo CA I had one of these in my inventory, although it was called a ‘Lectric Duce and a Quater by more than one person, oh, yes it was also called a BRUCK. The things that one learns………………

  8. The Electra is a little to big for my taste, that’s why I drive a 1970 Wildcat convertible. Every where I go people always turn their heads with a thumbs up because you just don’t see them around. Even at cars shows, I’m the only ’70 Wildcat there. have owned since 1994.

  9. I owned a 1968 Buick Electra 225 Convertible while at college. What a great car for trips, dates, parades and road trips.

  10. My brother owned one for a spell. I’d have to agree with Levon Helm, Keith Richards, Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana’s song “Deuce & A Quarter” as Keith and Levon sing “. . . . a deuce and a quarter ain’t no Cadillac”!

  11. My Dad bought one of these for his girlfriend-to-become-wife. Yellow with green, God bless it. A classic American touring highway car, great for, say a run from New York to Cincinatti and back,which we did twice. Pretty much as comfortable as Dad’s ’75 Eldorado, and that says a lot. Nice that the same motor was available across the Buick line in various states of tune. And in the black community we ALWAYS referred to ’em as Deuce ‘n a quarter, latter word pronounced “quota”.

  12. Carol Channing’s 1978 Electra 225 Conv. went thru Mc Cormick’s Auction about 2 years ago for $18,000.00!

Share your comments