1985 Buick Somerset Regal

I saw a fairly original Buick Somerset Regal with Dark Gray Metallic paint on a side road in Philadelphia about a week ago. It was the first one I’d seen in many years.

“There has never been a Buick quite like the Somerset Regal”

Buick’s Somerset Regal was a new model for 1985. Available initially in coupe form only, Buick’s version of the N-body (Oldsmobile had the Calais and Pontiac had the Grand Am) was designed to at least partially replace the Skylark. It failed miserably, only surviving for three years before being subsumed into the Skylark product line.

1985BuickSomersetRegalExterior
1985 Buick Somerset Regal Limited, courtesy of the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

The Somerset Regal was not a big car by today’s standards. With 180 inches of length and a 103.4 inch wheelbase, it is within shouting distance of a 2014 Honda Civic coupe, which is 177.9 inches long and has 103.2 inch wheelbase. Of course, cars in general have gotten a lot bigger in these thirty years—the Somerset Regal was notably larger than the 1985 Honda Accord.

The standard powertrain was a 92 bhp Tech IV 2.5 liter inline 4 with throttle body fuel injection (a slightly upgraded Iron Duke) paired with a five-speed manual transmission, but I believe most buyers went with the optional ($425) three-speed automatic instead. The hot set-up (if you could call it that) was the optional ($560) 125 bhp LN7 3.0 liter multi-port fuel injected V6, only available with the automatic.

Mileage for the inline 4 and five-speed manual combination was an impressive 24 city/34 highway by the standards of the day (21/31 by 2014 standards). Choosing the more realistic three-speed automatic cost 2 mpg while upgrading to the V6 dropped you all the way down to 20 city/26 highway.

For the Somerset Regal’s $8,857 base price (about $20,300 in today’s dollars), standard equipment included power brakes, power steering, tungsten-halogen headlights, and body-colored bumpers. The interior included bucket seats and electronic digital instrumentation (somewhat upmarket at the time). Moving up to the Limited trim added dual horns, chrome bumpers, and courtesy lamps, along with snazzier seats and steering wheel.

1985BuickSomersetRegal
1985 Buick Somerset Regal interior, courtesy of the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

Standard features that date the Somerset Regal included the Delco Freedom II Plus battery, front and rear ashtrays in the console, and the P185/80R13 tires (now considered a trailer size).

Options included the $645 air conditioning (in the mid-1980s not yet standard on most cars), cruise control ($175), leather seats ($275 and only available with the Limited), power door locks ($130), power windows ($195), Vista-Vent sunroof, Delco GM/Bose Music System AM/FM stereo cassette ($995!), cast aluminum wheels ($229), and a Gran Touring suspension ($27).

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