1970 Buick Electra 225 Convertible – Black Cherry Blues

While 1970 was not the complete end of the GM luxury convertible (the Eldorado would keep Topless Broughamance alive through the 1976 model year), it WAS the end of the true full-size drop-top land yacht. For one more round, you had your choice of REAL BIG convertibles!

1970 Oldsmobile Prestige-28-29

In Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight,

Buick Electra 225,

1970 Cadillac-16And Cadillac De Ville flavors. So if you wanted one, now was the time to take action! I would take any of the three, but we’re focusing on Flint’s favorite today, since that’s the car I stumbled upon at the Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour when they stopped for the evening in Bettendorf, Iowa, back in the summer of 2014.

Yes, due to recent safety regulations and the beginning of GM bean-counting, the ’70 Electra 225 was perhaps not quite as imposing as, say, a 1965 or 1966, but the Nimitz-class convertibles still held their own against any domestic luxury car in the year of our Lord 1970.

All 1970 Electras were, as expected, mildly touched-up for the new model year, and received a new, more squared-off grille and front bumper, among other refinements. As had been the case for many years, the Electra received more formal styling over the less-prestigious Wildcat (in its final year of availability) and LeSabre, with more squared-up rear quarter panels and standard fender skirts. All of these sheetmetal differences only made the convertible look more imposing, luxurious, and special–at least in your author’s opinion!

Okay, now if I may digress for a moment, I have to mention the black interior. A BLACK interior? On a convertible? Why would you do this if you planned on driving a convertible in, say, the summertime, with, say, the top down? A great way to flash-fry those little decorative seat buttons into the backs of your legs! I love this Electra 225 convertible, but definitely would have chosen the white interior instead. It would have contrasted nicely with the black cherry paint, and have kept my legs scar-free in the warmer months. In fact, if it was available, a red interior would have made for a pretty decadent color combo too.

There were two series of Electras for 1970, the standard 225 and more ornate 225 Custom. Convertible availability was restricted to the latter trim level, and prices started at $4802. For comparison’s sake, a Ninety-Eight convertible started at $4914 (yes, the “lesser” Olds was more!) and the Caddy at $6068.

The GMs had most of the market to themselves, too, as the nearest competitors were the $5195 Chrysler Three Hundred and $4769 Chrysler Newport convertible, $4047 Mercury Marquis, and $3429 Mercury Monterey convertibles–all in their last year of availability, just like the Electra drop top. 1,077 Chrysler Three Hundred convertibles were built. I actually have a friend who owns one of these rare beauties-I should do an article on it sometime! Jim would get a kick out of it.

The cheaper Newport sold only slightly better, to the tune of 1,124 fuselage-bodied open-top land yachts. Face it, air conditioning was killing convertible demand. And those who wanted a convertible by 1969-71 usually went for something sportier, like a Mustang. But even ponycar convertible was declining, and the last year for Mustang convertibles (until the ’80s, that is) was 1973.

The Marquis convertible was pretty spiffy with its pinstriping and button-tufted seats (and I simply love the hidden headlamps!), yet at the end of the model year only 1,233 of them had been sold.

The Marquis was downright common, however, compared to its more modestly-priced sibling. If you’ve ever seen a 1970 Monterey convertible, you’re in rare company, as only 581 were sold! These sales figures make even the sub-10,000 production figure of the Electra convertible look impressive. The market for full-size convertibles was truly dwindling.

Let’s be honest: In 1970 GM still had a pretty sterling reputation. It was the safe, solid choice for many people. So really, most folks who had the bank account to get a big luxury convertible most likely would have gone for one of the Olds, Buick or Caddy models.

Only 6,045 Electra 225 Custom convertibles were sold, along with 3,161 topless Ninety-Eights and 15,172 De Ville drop-tops. Clearly the Caddy was the favorite among well-heeled sun-lovers, but as much as I love the Cadillac version (and the one in the brochure pic further above is stunning in Nottingham Green Firemist with white leather), there is something compelling about the less-popular Buick and Olds versions. You just don’t see them that often. I’ve never seen a ’70 Ninety-Eight convertible, even though I attended the Oldsmobile Nationals in Milwaukee in 2015. So I was super excited to view and digitally record this Black Cherry beauty! And if you’re wondering about the title, James Lee Burke is my favorite author, with his Dave Robicheaux novels. Although his fedora-wearing private detective Clete Purcell may favor Caddy drop-tops, I think he’d like this Electra too!

19 Replies to “1970 Buick Electra 225 Convertible – Black Cherry Blues”

  1. Frank Williams

    “While 1970 was not the complete end of the GM luxury convertible (the Eldorado would keep Topless Broughamance alive through the 1976 model year), it WAS the end of the true full-size drop-top land yacht.”

    Uh… not quite so. In 1973 you could still get a Caprice, Olds 88, Pontiac Grand Ville, or Buick Centurion convertible. All were full-size land yachts.

    Reply
      • Peter

        Frank, you might want to check that; the last full-size GM convertibles were the ’75 Caprice Classic, ’75 GrandVille, ’75 Delta 88 Royale, & ’75 LeSabre Custom. The last Eldorado convertible was the ’76, until it was resurrected later.

        Reply
    • Tom KlockauTom Klockau Post author

      Yes, but those were B-bodies, not C-bodies. Big, true, but not as big. Electras, 98s and de Villes were always bigger then LeSabres, Catalinas and Delta 88s. Imagine a 1976 Electra Park Avenue convertible. Now that would have been awesome!

      Reply
      • Jack BaruthJack Baruth

        This was my fault, I think I removed a few C-body mentions in the editing process.

        Obviously you still had the Gran Ville in 1976 but that was a B-body fussed to look like a C.

        Reply
        • Tom KlockauTom Klockau Post author

          True to a point. The Eldorado was the last one standing in 1976. The final year for the Caprice Classic, Grand Ville, Delta 88 and LeSabre convertibles was 1975. I have a special soft spot for the 1975 Grand Ville convertible, it was a beaut!

          Reply
  2. Frank Williams

    In fact you could get the full-sized convertibles up until GM downsized their full-sized cars in 1977. (Had to add this as an additional comment, as it won’t let me edit the comment above.)

    Reply
    • Gary Smith

      Sorry, but you’re confusing the B and C bodies. For example, the shorter wheelbase Olds 88 versus the longer wheelbase Olds 98 or the Buick LeSabre versus the Electra 225. Pontiac and Chevrolet had no C Bodies at all.

      Reply
  3. JustPassinThru

    It’s interesting how tastes change, over time.

    The folding-canvas-top roadster, once the favorite of well-heeled sports…the open car yet with weather protection when needed…it was going out of fashion. Not coincidentally, those young bucks who were chasing the flapper-girls, Jay-Gatsby-like, in those years…were now dropping out of the market and soon, off the actuarial tables.

    And the process predated the death of the two-door coupe. Once, only stay-at-home mothers, and Grandma, wanted a four-door car. The two-door hardtop was the desired style – as recently as fifteen years ago. Then, again, something happened: the dashing young bucks and their beauty-queen consorts, got old. With it, went our understanding of auto styling – today, with inflexible demands made by CAFE, ALL cars are styled in the wind tunnel. And the wind is no respecter of brands or styling trademarks. So all cars, all four-door sedans, look the same.

    It might explain part of the popularity of these bro-dozer trucks – but not-so-much the proliferation of the four-door trucks. THAT, I cannot get my head around: The Jeep Wagoneer languished with low production numbers for its first 11 years, while the Blazer danced rings around it. Then, the AMC people got an inspiration: Pull out the old Jeep J-100 panel truck, cut windows in the side panels, and market it against the Blazer.

    Sales exploded. The OPPOSITE of today. Perhaps, again, the taste change is generation-based…as a generation goes the way of all flesh, so, too, do its tastes.

    Reply
  4. Sean

    I always considered 1965 to 1973/4 to be peak GM design. They pretty much gave up after the 5 mph bumper requirement and the bumper height requirements went into effect.
    1970 was a high water mark for certain.
    Not being much of a drop top guy, if I had to choose one from 1970 it’d most likely be a Chrysler.

    Reply
  5. stingray65

    Nice example representing when GM was still on top in 1970, but the rot is also evident. These C-bodies had such cheap looking interiors compared to the 1966 and earlier, and besides the adoption of front disc brakes they really weren’t mechanically any more advanced than the 1954s. In 1970 GM had the world’s best automatic transmission, A/C system, power steering, and generally better build quality and reliability than their domestic competitors, but they were lagging behind the Europeans on exterior build quality, interior quality, and mechanical sophistication. Hard to believe that GM pioneered mass-production fuel injection (1957), and US adoption of independent rear suspension (1960), yet both were gone by 1970, but were available/standard on the lowly VW – along with better build quality. Really sad how far GM had to fall before they started to put more effort into improving quality and innovation again.

    Reply
  6. Thomas KreutzerThomas Kreutzer

    Another great one, Tom. What a lovely car.

    I’m going to call 1967 as the peak year for Chevrolet. Although I do prefer the cleaner lines of the 1965/66 Impala, I’ll trade those away so I can include the first year of the Camaro. Also, by 1966, the shoebox Chevy II/Novas were at their peak prior their 68 redesign, the 66/67 Chevelles were solidly handsome vehicles, and the new C10 pickups are so much prettier than the previous design.

    As for the rest of GM, peak Old is 1971 with some of the cleanest looking cars ever built – I have special soft spot for the Delta 88 through those years as I learned to drive in my father’s. Peak Pontiac is 1969 – best looking GTO and the best looking Firebird IMO (although I would absolutely rock a ’71 Formula 400) while peak Buick is and always will be 1967 where just about every car in their lineup was a stunner.

    Reply
  7. -Nate

    What a sweetie ! .

    I don’t like driving land yachts but I sure love looking at or riding in them .

    I’m not sure what my favorite Generous Motors model years is, could be the 1937 Chevrolet Business Coupe or the 1939 Oldsmobile Opera Coupe….

    Maybe the 1968Chevelle ? . I was drooling on an unrestored four speed 307CID V8 Chevelle Coupe this morning, old and beat up but still ready for lots of fun on the open road .

    -Nate

    Reply
  8. Michael Craven

    Respectively suggest that both assertions are supportable: 65 was the best-looking year and 70 was peak GM. Full disclosure: my old man brought home a brand-new big-block 4-speed Impala SS in the summer of 1965, which the 8-year old me instantly and forever fell in love with. Otherwise I might consider 67 to be the best-looking year.

    But then again, I became a Ford-Mercury-Lincoln fanatic, so what do I know.

    Reply
  9. David Florida

    Thanks Tom, that’s not only a car you won’t see every day but one I’m sure I have never before seen – and I’m from Flint. I would enjoy that color combination on a few SUVs today.

    Reply
  10. ArBee

    I’m late to this one, but I’m glad to see it. Of all the really big droptop choices available in 1970, I would’ve chosen the Buick, but not with black vinyl. The years 1970 and ’65 are good choices for peak GM, but my personal favorite is 1961. Just sayin’…

    Reply
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