In Praise Of The Ultimate Grandpa Car, The Buick LeSabre

Illustration for article titled In Praise Of The Ultimate Grandpa Car, The Buick LeSabre

The Buick LeSabre is not a fast car. It is not a pretty car. It is not a cool car, or a powerful car, or a desirable car. It’s a grandpa car, and it deserves a moment of respect.


Yesterday we listed 10 cars that you, the readers who are reading this very blog right this moment, would not take at any price. You elected the 1990s to 2000s Buick LeSabre as one such car. This is wrong.

Reader Jake explained as much earlier this month, when this question was first fielded:

You tell ‘em, Jake.

If a car is something that you can trust, and love, and drive until the tires shred, it’s worth appreciation.


If a car is something that keeps this country humming, providing solid transportation across our endless floaty highways, it’s worthy of appreciation.

If a car is something that absolutely refuses to die, no matter what, even if you secretly wish it would just give up the ghost and crap out already, it’s worthy of appreciation.


And that includes this soggy, lovely Buick.

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.


I’ll say here what I said in Tavarish’s thread.

I actually had a ‘95 LeSabre (same exact car, except with less power than the ‘96 because it was still rocking the Series I 3800). Paid for it with my own money I saved working summers and nights during my undergrad years (early 2000s).

I loved that car, and I cried when I crashed it (I was part of a five-car pileup during a lovely Michigan winter). It was good for 30 mpg when I went home for break from college. It got me through my internship and into my own place. It wasn’t a racer, but it had plenty enough power to pass people and otherwise get out of its own way. It was anonymous enough to save me the time I accidentally passed the state trooper doing nearly 20 over on the freeway (as in he was at the front of the line of annoying slow traffic that I cut around and passed at extralegal speeds). It was incredibly comfortable both on the road and around the pothole-ridden hellscape that is Michigan.

And most importantly: It saved my life from the aforementioned five-car pileup, which I entered at 60 mph thanks to the same black ice that spun the van, which hit the Spirit, which was rear-ended by the BMW, which I hit. All the airbags blew, and all I had was a puffy nose from hitting the airbag.

I loved that Buick! It was a fantastic car, even if it wasn’t an “enthusiast’s” car. Some cars are just really good at what they do, even if what they do isn’t all speed and handling. This “every car has to handle like I’m going to the track” bullshit is the reason there aren’t comfortable cruiser cars on the market these days, and the people peddling it can take a long walk off a short pier.

To add to that, I have a dear friend (we’ve been friends since Junior High. I stood in his wedding. He lets me store my Continental in his garage. And, there’s not a higher-quality person on this planet.) that, if they started the 1995 LeSabre again, would go to the dealership tomorrow and give them his money. He had a ‘94 that got stolen, and he loved it enough to buy it back from the insurance (with 197,000 miles and a caved-in roof) and fix it up. After that one got a bit too sketchy, he got a ‘98 LeSabre. He got rid of that one when he found out the reason the airbag light was blinking was because there was no airbag (car had been crashed, as it turned out) and went for a ‘97 next. That one took him from Michigan to California without stopping, and then got him from California to Florida, then back to Michigan.

The LeSabre was a lot of car for the money. They were safe, reliable, comfortable, and capable. Personally, I thought the styling was pretty good, especially as 1990s styling went.

And, I was happy to see I wasn’t the only one calling out Tavarish for adding LeSabre to his list in the first place.