Tuesday, September 2, 2014

1960 Buick LeSabre 4-door Sedan

"It's a great thrill to drive a LeSabre for the first time, but don't stop there. Drive other cars in LeSabre's class and see if you can find a ride as cushiony, and automatic transmission as smooth, handling as sure and responsive. Chances are you will be happy to return to LeSabre."

A 1960 Buick, we think, is one of the most impressive looking cars you can find in Cuba, and its design clearly is one of our all-time favorites. The Buick look for 1960 is also an interesting evidence of far-reaching change within GM's design philosophy and leadership: albeit being "just" a facelift of the all-new 1959 lineup, this car marks a new era at GM styling, as it is the first Buick showing Bill Mitchell's new styling direction.

Already the 1959 Buick was an outstanding design. Yet, despite being the fruit of an internal disobedience of the young GM design management, including Mitchell, against Harley Earl, it still bears a strong influence of GMs design czar, who always had favored lots of brightwork and rather soft, voluminous shapes. After setting the trends in American car styling for more than three decades, Earl seemed to have lost its mojo in the latter 1950s. Suddenly, even Chrysler models looked much more modern and leaner than GM's increasingly garish looking chrome monsters. Adding insult to injury, the recession in 1958 made customers strive for economic and smaller "compact" cars. Customers stopped embracing GM products. When Earl went into retirement in December 1958, GM was in trouble. Luckily, Earl's protégé and successor Bill Mitchell had a clear vision and did act quickly. The 1960 Buick is a good example for this transitory phase at GM design.

A comparison with the 1959 Buick shows very different detailing of otherwise very similar cars. The garish "Fashion-Aire Dynastar Grille" with its many small chromed pyramids that should maximize the reflection of light, had to go, as well as the extreme tailfins of the 1959 models. The 1960 Buicks still featured full-on jet-age design. Yet, a much cleaner concave front grille made room for headlights that resembled contemporary aircraft engine pods and extended into the front doors, while the tailfins became leaner and cleaner. Mind you, they still looked endlessly long. Overall the Buick now appeared rounder and softer, with a nice play of volumes and an emphasis on horizontal lines that should become a signature element of Bill Mitchell's new "Linear Look" design philosophy.

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