1986 Buick Electra Park Avenue

60K Original Miles
Flame Red Metallic/Red Velour
3.8 V-6 Fuel Injected Engine
4-Speed Overdrive Automatic
Power windows, seat, steering, brakes, locks, mirrors, antenna. AM/FM cassette, tilt wheel, cruise control, self-leveling suspension, electric trunk and fuel lid releases

April 29, 2023 - A major change for the Buick - after nearly four years it finally has its own space in the garage!  Selling the Avanti let me shift cars around, giving the Studebaker and TC better accompodations and the Buick  its first inside gig.  I can look at compouinding the paint again and repainting the faded front and rear bumper fillers.  I may also get the rear bumper replaced!
October 30, 2022 - It has taken six months, but I finally got the AACA Senior badge on the Buick.  It took a bit of figuring to place the awards.  Hanging from the license plate would bend everything each time I hit a curb.  There was no room above or on the rear license plate.  Pulling the grille turned out to be a huge job.  Happily, I hit upon the idea of using small toggle bolts which slipped through the grille bars and secured from behind.  She got a good bath today and I will be taking her for a run to Mom's.
October 9, 2022 - The Buick has been sitting a while, and I was glad to give it a good run today.  The car has flipped over 60K miles and continues to be a pleasure to drive. 
July 16, 2022 - I was not able to participate in an MG Club outing today in order to visit a friend who hasn't been well. The Buick was great for the day, offering style and comfort for our drive to  lunch at Smithfield Station.  When I was done with the visit, I was able to catch up to the MG club at Captain Chuckamuck's Seafood in Carrolton.  The Buick filled in for Rodney in the lineup of MGs.  A lot of driving today!  About 200 miles on the odometer.
April 11, 2022 - Detailing paid off with a Senior Award at Charlotte, the highest award the car could receive.  She rolled along with traffic up and back, often at 80, and still managed 26 MPG.  The car is really amazing, by far the most comfortable of all my vehicles.  Fast, smooth, and still quite an eye catcher despite her 36 years.  I was concerned after getting really close up for detailing when I got there, as many flaws I had not seen before became obvious.  In the end, she still managed to fit in with restored cars wearing her original paint, interior, and trim.
April 5, 2022 - Light duties and meetings that could be listened to on a cell phone allowed me to compound and wax the Buick for this weekend's AACA National Meet in Charlotte.  I cleaned up the engine bay, and vacuumed the interior and trunk over the weekend.  Rain is expected tonight through Thursday morning, so I had to get everything done ahead of time.  The Buick is being driven to Charlotte in the rain, so I will have a big clean up job if I have any hopes of getting a Senior.
November 25, 2021 - I was recently dismayed to find white areas worn into to roof and fender edges of the Buick, obviously caused by the car cover.   It appeared that wind had caused the cover to rub against the paint enough to wear through to the primer.  Finding the damage to the otherwise beautiful paint job was a severe blow, but I found out today that my original diagnosis was way off.  The discoloration is apparently only on the clear coat, and it came off easily with some polishing compound!  This was a major relief, and I gave the car a good bath, polish, and wax job today.
September 25, 2021 - The Electra made a nice showing at our local antique car club annual meet.  I was planning to take the 1949 TC, but a review of registered vehicles showed only one other 'Malaise Era' car. It was important to have some good examples of later collectibles, and we had a number of TDs coming, so the Buick got the nod.  It was quite popular and got some very nice compliments.
July 15, 2021 - Advances in automobile design (and the lack of) were well illustrated in the parking lot at our first local car club dinner meeting in a year and a half.  The 1956 Oldsmobile at left, the 1968 Chevrolet in the middle, and my 1986 Electra at the right look vastly different.  Interestingly, though there is a big jump from 1956 to 1968, the difference between my 1986 and the big sedans of 2021 are pretty minimal, other than air bags. Front-wheel drive, fuel-injected electronic ignition V6, overdrive automatic, loaded with options, and able to get 28 mpg cruising at real highway speeds (70 mph), the 35 year-old Buick is as good as a new car in nearly every respect!
June 27, 2021 - The Buick earned her keep today by starring in a photo shoot!  I was called about providing a 1980s vehicle this morning, and rolled out in the Park Avenue.  It suited the photographer and model perfectly, and less than two hours and $300 later it was done!
November 26, 2020 - The engraved National Junior First Award tab arrived yesterday.  I had picked up a license plate tab ahead of time and was able to get it installed today.
November 7, 2020 - The Buick has been a great car to drive on weekends, but I hadn't taken it for a trip anywhere. Plans to take the car to two major AACA National meets both fell through when the shows were cancelled, however, the Hershey meet was replaced with a Special Meet in Gettysburg this weekend.  Though the car is all original, I decided to enter it for Class judging instead of HPOF (Historical Preservation Original Featured) figuring I would get a Second Place at best.  The car ran flawlessly for the 275-mile trip and got 27.5 miles per gallon up and back.  Pretty good for a 34 year-old luxury car.  Better yet, the car was awarded a First Place Junior, which is the highest award it was qualified for. Other than some traffic around DC, the trip home was just as smooth. Rolling with traffic meant 80+ MPH for a lot of the drive, but the car was quite happy to stay with the pack.
March 17, 2020 - A warm, sunny day combined with finding a 1988 Buick Electra at Pic-n-Pull, so I made a quick trip out.  The car was pretty rough and the wrong colors, but it did provide a few nice items.  There was a 1988 factory shop manual (close enough to 1986 to be quite useful), some wire wheel hubcap lock nuts, extra lug nuts, and best of all, a gas  filler door latch in great shape!  Well, maybe not best of all - that was when I showed the girl at the counter what I had and she sent me on my way - no charge!
November 16, 2019 - The Buick is on display at the 2019 Coastal Virginia Auto Show this weekend at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, along with her sibling 1962 Vespa.  Despite having to drive the car over in pouring rain and sitting outside for an hour while they maneuvered vehicles into the facility, cleanup was easy and fast.  Unlike 90% of the other display vehicles, the Buick got to the show under her own power.  The hardest part about getting her ready for the show was driving enough to lower the gas gauge to under a quarter tank.  The car gets very good mileage, so it took several extra trips to my Mom's and other places.
September 28, 2019 - Karmen Electra took home a First Place trophy at today's Wings and Wheels show.  The two big draws were her color and the unusual forward-flipping hood, though she also got a lot of compliments for her nearly perfect and original condition.  Steve Wright, the detailer, did a gratis refresh last night, vacuuming and making a last touch-up of the shine. 
September 25, 2019 - I am taking the Buick to this weekend's Wings and Wheels show in Virginia Beach, and decided to splurge on a professional exterior detailing. The car has always looked nice and I have done my best to keep her clean and shiny, but 2.5 hours of clay bar, commercial glaze and professional knowledge and equipment really made her pop! She did not look much better the day she was sold brand new in 1986, thanks to the efforts of Wright Detailing!
September 7, 2019 - The Buick is doing great, with no issues since the idle screw adjustment.  I took her to a local car cruise-in a couple of weeks ago and again tonight.  I was surprised when some very young kids were enamored of her red velour interior and were delighted to sit inside.  She got a lot of comments - having a copy of the window sticker was both useful and attention-getting, as is her unusual hood opening.  Her first big show is coming up in a few weeks - the Tidewater Region AACA WIngs and Wheels and the Virginia Beach Aviation Museum.
August 16, 2019 - The idle issue got sorted out tonight thanks to fried Fred's expertise and Buick diagnostic scanner.  Not that it made much sense at first.  All of the readings were right on, with no codes.  The only potential mechanical cause was the idle adjustment screw which lives under a plastic cover and hasn't been touched since I got the car.  The issue was that the problem started after I started driving the Buick, and went from intermittent to full time.  Fred re-adjusted the idle screw, which is only to prevent the butterfly from lodging in the body.  In this case, it was turned in all the way,  And sure enough, the idle came back down to where it was supposed to be.  After some driving around and several restarts, it seems good to go.  Further thought provided a likely answer:  The Idle Air Control valve got gummed up, and stuck where it was dropping the idle too far down.  The previous owner turned the idle adjustment up to compensate.  When I started driving the car I added Seafoam cleaner, which gradually freed up the IAC valve.  By the time I installed the new IAC valve, the old one was working properly and the idle screw had things hosed.
August 11, 2019 - The Buick is plagued with a high idle - it started off intermittent, but is now full time.  It runs great otherwise, but is racing at about 2000 rpm or higher.  I replaced the Idle Air Control Valve with no luck, and noticed that the air filter box cover was broken.  As it turned out, the cover had been torn off the box it is supposed to be glued to (on the right).  The 1990 Electra at Pick-N-Pull still had the air cleaner box (at left) so I got it this morning.  Only to find that the outlet to the intake is larger and the hose for the 1986 system doesn't fit.  I took another look at the original box, and saw that it had been badly glued in the past - I cleaned all the old glue off and used plastic trim and emblem adhesive to put it back together.  No help for the idle, but the air box is one piece again. The car club friend who bought the Reatta from me has offered to use his code reader - he is a former Buick dealership mechanic.
July 15, 2019 - The plastic catch for the electric gas filler door had broken off some time in the distance past, and the flap wouldn't quite sit flush.  I went back to raid the Electra in the junkyard and found that the latch piece was missing.   Following a weird hunch, I checked the glovebox and center armrest storage and found the latch (also broken) that the prior owner had removed for some reason.  After drilling tiny locator holes, I shaped a 4d 1-1/2 finishing nail and pushed it in, then secured it with heavy-duty adhesive.  I installed the latch tonight and was happy to find that it works great!  The filler door now sits flush, and pops open with a push of the release button..
July 13, 2019 - All of the power options on the Buick Electra worked except for the automatic power antenna. As with pretty much all her siblings, the plastic antenna mast cable had broken so the motor just kept running with no effect. The replacement from eBay had the wrong antenna lead and no connectors. The biggest issue was the unique GM antenna lead - I solved it by splicing the antenna lead end of the replacement antenna with the factory lead from the unit I bought at the junkyard. The power lead was more of a concern, as I did not want to make any permanent modifications. The solution there was taking the connector itself apart and using spade connectors to link the wire ends together. If I can get a working factory antenna, all I have to do is snap the wire ends back into the connector. Mounting was accomplished combining the spare factory mount and the aftermarket brace. End result is a working automatic antenna with no permanent changes to the factory mounting or wiring.  I also got in two more NOS wire wheel covers, a Haynes manual, and the Buick factory shop manual supplements and revisions. I also made a return trip to Pick-N-Pull to get the underhood pad and a broken gas door latch to experiment with.
July 10, 2019 - The only real flaw in the Buick's appearance is a large dent in the middle of the rear bumper.  It could possibly be straightened, but since it is polished aluminum, getting a perfect finish afterwards would be really difficult.  Problem is, only the top end Buicks from 1986-1990 use the bumper, and after 30+ years there are very few left.  However, I have been checking Row52 for local junkyard inventory, and a 1990 Electra Park Avenue showed up at Pick-N-Pull in Virginia Beach!  Even better, there was no damage to the rear bumper bar other than some old stickers.  I was able to pull it, and also grabbed the antenna (probably broken) and the coach lamps (definitely bad) to experiment with. 
July 6, 2019 - The Buick's new license plates came in today (86PRKAV), so I celebrated with yet another cruise-in - this one at Landstown Commons Shopping Plaza in Virginia Beach.  Hot and humid weather combined with the promise of rain later on kept attendance pretty sparse, but a couple of my antique car club friends were also in attendance.  Mixed driving on the first tank netted just over 21 MPG.  The factory Body Manual came in today, and I ordered another NOS wheel cover.  The power antenna I ordered ended up needing too many modifications, and I got a refund for it.  Looks like replacement masts are available for the original unit. On the plus side, I sold the aftermarket wheels and tires today for enough to pay for the new correct tires!
July 5, 2019 - I heard about a big car activity at the Virginia Beach SportsComplex and decided to take the Buick over tonight.  There were hundreds of cars on display, with at least 90 percent modified Japanese imports.  Even so, the Buick got a lot of attention - if only for being as far from a Rice Rocket as possible!
July 3, 2019 - As usual, I have been hitting eBay for Buick goodies.  I got in a showroom sales folder and color options brochure yesterday, but the more important items showed up today:  New Old Stock (NOS) wire wheel cover and center medallion in original GM packaging, a new owner's manual, and a replacement power antenna unit.  One of the original wheel covers has damaged plating, and the car's power antenna has a broken mast cable.  Other than that, the car is nearly perfect.  I drove it several times this week, adding about 200 miles to the odometer - the car is smooth, silent, and strong!
June 29, 2019 - The wire wheels and wide white tires on the Buick looked wrong to me, so I wasted no time replacing them with the correct items.  Discount Tire in Chesapeake was able to order in some highly rated 205/75R14 whitewall Hancook radials yesterday, and mounted them on the the original wheels this morning.  In keeping with the rest of the car, the wheels were like new, and even had new lug nuts. The chassis and hubs on the car are a little dusty, but the hardware and labels are still clean and bright.  I cleaned up the factory wire wheels and got everything installed in about an hour.  The aftermarket wheels and tires go on Craig's List tonight, and should bring enough to pay for the new tires.  Best of all, the Buick finally looks just like it did when it rolled off the dealer lot on March 14, 1986!
June 27, 2019 - My passion for cars has me 'window shopping' in Craig's List, FaceBook Marketplace, and Craig's List at least once a day, just to see what is out there.  While this can be dangerous for someone who has the Wil Roger's attitude of never meeting a car he didn't like, I am also marginally practical enough to avoid any actual entanglement.  Usually.  However, when I saw the pictures of this 1986 Buick Electra, it seemed to jump out from the screen at me.  Low mileage, and claimed to be in near-new condition, the car was top-of-the-line in 1986 and had all of the best features of the period.  The 3.8 fuel-injected engine was used for more than a dozen years, and the transmission was the hydraulically shifted overdrive instead of the more trouble-prone electronic unit.  Lever-type A/C instead of computerized and quirky climate control, and the analog dash instead of often-dead digital.  This is precisely the kind of old car I recommend to others - top condition, reliable, easy to get parts for, and high end.  I kept going back to the ad, and finally started a line of communication with the seller on Marketplace.  More pictures were shared, all supporting the low-mileage and condition claims, though being a purist I was not thrilled by the seller's swapping out the original wheels and wire caps for real wire wheels and wide whitewalls.  However, the original wheels and covers were still with the car. Of course, I had to take a look, and when I went over tonight the Buick was all it was advertised to be.  Engine bay and chassis were immaculate, and the car's gleaming cinnamon red paint and spotless brightwork made it look newer than a lot of actual new cars.  The car was simply amazing for something built 33 years ago, and a test drive proved it to run and drive as good as it looked. There was even a new car cover included!  Oh, there were a few minor issues, like a sickly power antenna and a small dent in the center bottom of the rear bumper.  I did not try to barter and I have learned over the years that when you want a car, you don't dawdle.  Have cash in hand and be ready to take the vehicle and everything that goes with it on the spot. The seller was a really nice man who had only bought the car a few months before, but was selling the Buick in order to position himself better to buy a house. Best bud Chip and his wife Charlotte had come along to drive the van back.  We loaded the original wheels and tires (going bad due to age) in the van, and came home.  The car could have been an electric, it was so silent inside.  I located the correct whitewall tires at Discount Tires and am having them put on the original rims tomorrow.  After that, I can sell the aftermarket wire wheels and wide whitewalls for enough to pay for the new tires.  Of course, a new owner's manual and showroom sales folder are on the way via eBay.

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