Adventures in the Old Buick LeSabre

The car had its quirks back in 1982, but she's still running strong today.

Our 1975 Buick LeSabre convertible has been with us since July 1982.

We had flown to our honeymoon destination, beautiful Victoria B.C., where we purchased the car as soon as we spotted it in a dealer’s lot. We had been looking for this type of convertible for quite some time and were really excited by our find.

While driving back to Alberta through the mountains, the car began to smoke, heat up and lose power. After we drove into a trucker’s pull-out, we talked with a trucker who told us about a town with a transmission place, as well as another repair shop owned by a friend of his, not too far down the road. We coasted gently down the hill and rolled into the transmission place.

The vehicle had been certified as serviced from the dealer that sold it us, just a week before. Of course, this shop owner said, “The transmission is shot. You will need to replace it.”

“No way!” was my reaction, so we limped off to the small repair shop owned by the trucker’s friend and consulted with him. He laughed, changed a filter, filled up the transmission fluid and we were off! Today, the same transmission is still going strong.

Psst—here are 20 secrets your mechanic won’t tell you.

Vintage Blue Buick LesabreDoug Scherlie

In 1987, as we were travelling across Canada, the heated back window suddenly shattered as we were pulling into Dryden, Ontario. After days of rain, we hadn’t wasted a minute in putting the top down once the sun finally came out. In the meantime, our camera bag had slid forward into the trunk area and, as the top folded down over the bag, “POP” went the window!

We were devastated, but all we could do was repair it the best way we knew how—with good ol’ duct tape. We carried on along our route to the eastern seaboard, then back across the northern states. Our longest one-day run was approximately 1,126 kilometres from Bemidji in Minnesota, to Bladworth, Saskatchewan, as we strove to make it there for a favourite aunt’s birthday. Along the way, while on the freeway, a sheriff’s car pulled up alongside us, eyed us up and down, then motioned, let’s roll! We followed him for a while, running our 455-four barrel as it was meant to cruise, while literally following the law.

No doubt, it’s always safer to respect the speed limit, as I came to appreciate in our own city of Grande Prairie, Alberta, one beautiful summer evening. It happened in the most unlikely location—a quiet side street in an industrial park. An RCMP officer in training pulled us over and issued me a ticket for going over the speed limit, by just a small amount. She was very professional, very considerate and soon-to-be, very surprised! I was used to driving a basic pickup truck that you had to hit the gas hard to get rolling decently. Out of habit, I used the same technique with the LeSabre as I pulled away from the front of her police car; the tires squealed and rubber began to smoke. Uh oh! She just smiled and wagged a finger at us as we sheepishly drove off down the road. Phew! Just goes to show that driving such a powerful car can turn into an unexpected adventure if you’re not careful.

Recently, we decided to give our LeSabre a total overhaul in our shop on the farm, with the intention of putting her back on the road again next spring. She is still a pleasure to drive, so comfortable and always has lots of power to spare!

Next, can you help reunite this couple with their beloved honeymoon car?

Originally Published in Our Canada