1972 Buick Electra Custom Limited – The Fabled Deuce And A Quarter

In 1972, Buick Motor Division’s top of the line series, the Electra, entered its fourteenth year. The Deuce and a Quarter, so named by its many fans due its impressive length of two hundred and twenty five inches. The luxury Buick was always a fine choice in full size cars, and even in the early 1970s it still held its head high as the car of doctors, lawyers and other professionals who wanted comfort, quality and reliability, speaking quietly of their wealth instead of shouting it with a Cadillac.

The Electra first appeared in Buick brochures in 1959, replacing an even more famous nameplate: Roadmaster. Indeed, all 1959 Buicks gained new nameplates, and the longstanding model lineup of Special, Century, Super and Roadmaster gave way to LeSabre, Invicta, Electra, and Electra 225. The 225 was the ne plus ultra in Flint finery, so designated due to its impressive even for 1959 225″ length.

I could go on regarding the history of the Electra from 1959-1971 for another five hundred words, easily, but let’s stick to The Year of Our Lord 1972, shall we? All full size Buicks were thoroughly redesigned in 1971, from the “cooking version” LeSabre to Centurion, Electra and Riviera.

A bolder grille and revised taillights were the biggest changes to 1972 Electras, available in 225 two- and four-door hardtops, and in the top-trim Custom Limited, again as a two- and four-door hardtop. The convertible was gone, having disappeared after the 1970 model year.

Despite being officially designated the Electra 225 Custom Limited, said top-trim Electras simply had “Limited” badging on their exteriors, on each sail panel, and in the trim on the right-hand taillamp. That move probably saved at least a half a pound in cursive, chrome plated emblems!

The Limited nameplate went back to the prewar years at Buick, so its inclusion on the ’70s Electra was not without precedent. Just remember, “Limited” is Buick for “Brougham.”

The Custom Limited four-door hardtop weighed in at 4,450 pounds. Base price was $5,059. The two-door Custom Limited was slightly less expensive at $4,951, but curiously was heftier, to the tune of 4,475 pounds. Maybe it was those giant doors.

As with most luxury cars in the ’70s, the top trim model gained you the nicest interior, with plush upholstery, thick carpeting and fold-down armrests front and rear. Our featured car also has the optional split 60/40 front bench seat, which allowed the driver to move his or her seat back and forth without worrying about crunching their front passenger or passengers against the instrument panel and/or windshield.

All Limiteds featured Kismet cloth and Madrid-grain vinyl upholstery, available in green, blue, sandalwood (as shown in this car) and black.

Elk-grain expanded vinyl and Madrid-grain vinyl was also offered on Custom Limiteds, as shown in the small picture at the bottom far right in this 1972 brochure picture. Yes, in the early 1970s, cloth was king. That’s what most luxury cars were equipped with, and if you didn’t want it, the only other choice was vinyl. At GM, leather was still Cadillac-only. It was much the same at other Big Three marques, with leather usually only seen on the full-blown luxury makes, Cadillac, Lincoln and Imperial.

All Electras were equipped with the four-barrel 455 CID V8, and GM’s famous Turbo Hydra-Matic 400 automatic transmission. A more bulletproof drivetrain could not have been found that year. Thirsty? Well of course, but gas was cheap.

And if you were spending $5,000 on a luxury car that year, you probably didn’t care. As the old saw goes, if you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it. Frugal-minded new car buyers could always scope out the Opels sharing space with the Rivieras and Electras in the Buick showroom, if they were so inclined.

And, as many know, 1972 was the last year for slim, smooth, well-integrated bumpers. Prone to damage? Well, all 1972 Electras received standard front and rear bumper guards, but yes, fender benders could indeed crush those elegantly sculpted chrome barriers. But they sure looked good!

In 1973, all Buicks, (and other GM cars, and Fords, and Chryslers, and everything sold in the United States) would either get blunt chrome park benches up front, or disproportionately huge bumpers guards on their noses. Oh well! Progress, and new safety standards, wait for no man. Or car.

Another thing pleasantly available in 1972 Buicks: Color! Of course, browns, golds and greens were exceptionally popular (much like silver silvermist, white whitemist and black blackmist are in 2018), but you had several primary colors, in various solids and metallics, from which to choose. One thing those of you with exceptional eyesight may notice: Our featured Electra is painted Code Y, Sunburst Yellow, which was available only on Skylark, GS and Sportwagon models.

But back then you could get your new Buick painted in any color for a nominal fee, and whoever ordered this ’72 Limited wanted yellow. And got it. I have to say, I really liked the colors on this car.

“Your new Electra 225 speaks softly, but definitely sets you apart.” -from the 1972 Buick brochure

But wait, there’s even more! As you may have surmised from these photos, I was at the 2017 Buick Club of America national meet, held at the Sheraton Milwaukee Brookfield Hotel early last July. I saw all manner of gorgeous Buicks (and wrote up a particularly nice ’78 Regal Turbo right here on RG) and with so many cars on display, there was ANOTHER fantastic 1972 Electra Custom Limited four-door hardtop.

This example was driven to the event by its owner from Minnesota. No trailer for this Buick! And why not? These cars are so comfortable, it’s practically a crime to haul them around on a trailer.

Although it may look somewhat green in the pictures, chalk that up to the bright July day. This car was painted in Code V, Silver Mist, with black vinyl roof and matching interior.

This model has the full wheel covers, rather than the accessory wire wheel covers seen on the yellow car. I do like these a lot, so much more elegant than the usual alloy wheels seen on modern 2018 luxury sedans.

However, if one were so inclined, the classic, beautiful Buick Road Wheels were available on various ’72 Buicks. One of the best wheel designs of the last fifty years! This lovely green 1972 225 coupe was also at the show.

How about a few more pics of the coupe. Hey, I love these cars, and I digress a lot. Deal with it!

This one was painted in Code I, Hunter Green, with Sandalwood interior and a matching vinyl roof.

When an American car was an American car, dammit! No one was going to mistake this for an Avalon or 335i or Sonata, which is possible with certain 2018 Buicks. But I digress, yet again! Onward!

As I was taking multiple pictures of the Silver Mist ’72 Limited, the owner came over and asked if I’d like to see the interior. Sure! So I got some better pictures of the black-clad luxury of this car, which was nice, because it was midday and the glare from the sun was somewhat messing up my through-the-glass interior pictures.

I did wonder how warm it got in that car with the black upholstery. But the Harrison air conditioning units in these cars were first-rate; odds are he had to turn in down to keep icicles from forming on his nose, ha ha! These 1971-76 GM C-bodies were about as close as you could come to driving around in your living room. All it was missing was the RCA or Magnavox wood-trimmed console TV!

Yes, the Electra was a fine choice in 1972 if you were luxury car shopping. And it makes for a fine collector car today, judging from the many 1970s-era Electras I saw at the show. I didn’t even mention the gorgeous 1975 Electra Park Avenue with genuine wire wheels and factory velour-trimmed bucked seats and console! Perhaps next time…until then, keep calm and drive a Buick!

20 Replies to “1972 Buick Electra Custom Limited – The Fabled Deuce And A Quarter”

  1. 98horn

    What a great writeup! A close family friend bought a 225 when I was a kid in the 90s and daily drove it. Big yellow beast, like the one pictured. Sadly, it was a Michigan car and the tinworm ate through the frame. I always enjoy your stories, Tom

  2. John C.

    I love how you point out that the market for this car was those that wanted luxury but in a discrete package that did not broadcast financial success but rather taste and refinement. These were just the ticket for small town lawyers, bankers, and clergyman.

    I do think that Olds stepped up their equivalent 1972 offering by offering the Regency package with the luxed up loose pillow interior and the Tiffany key and clock. All the luxury on the inside where it can be enjoyed privately. Buick eventually caught up with the Park Avenue package.

    • stingray65

      John, you are correct about the Buick position in the GM lineup, but by the early 70s Cadillac gotten conservative enough in their styling and moved enough down-market in price that they were attainable by many and lost their flashy “rock star” image. Hence Cadillac was increasingly seen as socially acceptable for bankers and lawyers, which started to hurt the upscale Buick and Olds (and Chevy and Pontiac moved up from below with the Caprice and Bonneville). That was the problem for GM, as all their divisions ended up “stuck in the middle” rather than specializing in small economy cars or technically sophisticated Mercedes competitors, etc. which creates big holes in the market for the imports to drive through.

      • John C.

        I was directly talking about in a small town context. A visit from a banker asking to pay up or a clergyman at a difficult time goes a lot better in a less ostentatious car. The average person just having so much less. MB or any import aren’t much of a consideration with only far away dealers. Except perhaps engineers or college professors who are expected to be a little quirky.

        I agree the market gradually dried up as these style leaders aged out without replacement, much to the detriment of the small towns. In a way it is surprising that the Electra, as a Park Avenue lasted till 2005. By then it was probably mainly going to retirees whose money is still green but do not any longer quietly project power.

        • stingray65

          My grandfather was a small town store owner and banker, and he drove Buicks from the late 1950s to late 1960s (and Chevys before that) for exactly the reason you state, but switched to Caddies from the 70s to 90s because they were no longer considered “too flashy”.

  3. James Williams

    I still say that Buick has the best stable of model names of any carmaker. Electra, Invicta, Roadmaster, Skyhawk, and Wildcat just to name a few. They even had a great name for their V-8, the Nailhead. How about a Fireball V6?

    They really need to bring back a PLC with the Electra nameplate. Base it on the v6 Camaro. Hnggg.

    • Disinterested-Observer

      Updated Riviera body on a Camaro platform would be very cool. Only instead of calling it the Riviera they should call it the Buick XDR or some other meaningless random string of letters, as long as there is an ‘X’ in it. (jk)

  4. -Nate

    Nice car .

    One of my jail bud’s fathers was a Buick Man and always drove a new new 225 when he came ti visit in the early 1960’s .

    “speaking quietly of their wealth instead of shouting it with a Cadillac.”

    Taste and class too Jack…..


  5. Ronnie Schreiber

    The funny thing about the folks who drove Electras rather than Cadillacs because they wanted something less ostentatious is that the Duece & A Quarter was a flashier car than the Cadillacs were, at least by the late ’60s and early ’70s..

  6. Robert

    Great article that exactly summs up why I can’t wait for the next road trip in my 72 Electra Limited 4dr.. will add another 6,000mls visiting CA, OR, WA, MT,CO and UT.

  7. stingray65

    Those pictures of the interior fabric really brought back many memories – I rode a lot of miles on seats like that. Whatever they made that fabric out of, it wears like iron as evidenced by the still perfect original seats on so many of those old Buicks.

  8. SCE to AUX

    One of my best friends in high school had a ~72 Electra 225 2-door in white. She was barely 5 feet tall herself, so it was quite a sight to see her driving this big boat.

    Great story.

  9. Dean Edwards


    I just found out that you are here through the posted link! I’ve always enjoyed your writing at the other site, and see that you haven’t lost your touch.

    All the best!


  10. JRD

    Just love the ’72 Electras! My Dad and I owned many of these during the 80’s up to the early 2000’s. That was a great year for the 455, no known issues and will run forever. I just picked up a 2 door Limited, sandalwood with saddle interior. It’s getting brought back to original little by little. Considering how long these cars were ( a foot longer than my ’96 Roadmaster), they handle quite well and drive easy. Thanks for a great article and pictures.

  11. PAS

    John, I am fascinated by your (unintentionally) sociological study of this car, and this specific model year. You take into account contemporary geopolitics (oil) and cultural morays (ostentatious displays of wealth), and you have inspired an informative discussion in the comments. In a way, the study of cars is no different than art history — it’s all about context. The more you know of the era, the richer your appreciation of the object of beauty. I’ve owned 3x ’72s; current is a 2-dr. Limited, black over charcoal gray. You’ve inspired me to consider a BCA meet in the future. Wishing you best health and abundance in 2020.


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