Unusual Vehicles is a segment that looks into the history of unconventional cars from all over the world. Certain motors break the mould and have a design that’s ahead of the time. The Buick Centurion is a good example, as it had a futuristic appearance that set it apart from other vehicles. Named after a Roman military officer, the Centurion was certainly memorable.
Originally, the Centurion name was used for a concept car based on the 1956 Motorama. It came with a fibreglass body, aerodynamic interior, ‘bubble top’ roof and the world’s first backup camera. It would be at least another decade before anything came of the design. The concept debuted to public acclaim, with it serving as inspiration for a car that would eventually go into production.
The concept vehicle looked similar to the Buick LeSabre, though badging and grillework were different. The Centurion sported a side profile of a centurion soldier rather than Buick’s traditional tri-shield.
Introduced in 1971, the Centurion acted as a replacement for the Buick Wildcat. It met the demands of the middle market, positioned between the cheaper LeSabre and the more luxurious C-body Electra 225. The Centurion still had a luxury quality to it, as shown from the sleek body and chrome trappings.
It possessed a V8 engine that produced 315 hp, while the interior featured a notchback bench seat and all-vinyl upholstery.
In 1972, the Centurion received modifications, including rear light changes and a less powerful engine. The drop in power came about through an industry-wide update in horsepower measurements. Even with the decrease, sales climbed by over 20%, with 36,165 sold in that year.
The 1973 version featured a new grille and larger front bumper. At the time, the Centurion was the company’s only convertible and it was replaced by the LeSabre Luxus in 1974. Total production for Centurions amounted to 110,539 units. Even though it had only been on sale for three years, the car showed a lot of potential, showcasing the forward thinking perspective of American designers.