1986 Buick Century sedan

There’s been a white Buick Century sedan parked outside one of my local supermarkets for the last few weeks. Followers of Eighties Cars know that presence is likely to generate a blog entry.

“… truly satisfying motoring in the European tradition.”

For 1986, Buick’s Century gained a new slanted grille along with lower profile headlamps. The other major news was the T Type coupe had been discontinued, though the sedan version of the most sporting Century remained alive. Both the sedan and the coupe were available in Custom (base) and Limited trim, while the wagon was available in Custom (base) and Estate versions. We’ll concentrate on the sedan in this post.

Standard power on the Century remained the Iron Duke 92 bhp 2.5 liter/151 ci inline four with throttle-body fuel injection. Two different V6 engines were available: a $435 112 bhp 2.8 liter/181 ci V6 with a two-barrel carburetor and a $695 150 bhp 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 with sequential fuel injection. A three-speed automatic transmission was standard with the 2.5 liter inline four and 2.8 liter V6, but buyers could add a four-speed automatic for an additional $175.

With these three engines, two transmissions, and curb weights in the 2,750 to 2,850-pound range, there was a wide variance in performance. 0-60 mph with the inline four/three-speed automatic combination was about 13.5 seconds, while 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 owners with the four-speed automatic could expect to get from 0-60 in about 10 seconds.

Mileage ratings with the base four and three-speed automatic were 22 city/32 highway (19/29 by today’s standards), while owners of the top-of-the-line V6/four-speed automatic combination could expect 19 city/29 highway (17/26 by 2018 standards). With a 15.7-gallon fuel tank, Century V6 drivers could expect a range of between 305 and 340 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard equipment on the $10,228 Century Custom (about $26,900 in 2022 dollars—just slightly over what a 2022 Encore GX SUV goes for) included front-wheel drive, power rack-and-pinion steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, and 185/75R14 tires (a size still available from Hankook) on 14-inch wheels. Inside, a cloth notchback front bench seat and a Delco AM radio with dual front speakers and a fixed antenna were included.

Moving up to the $10,729 Limited (about $28,000 in today’s dollars) added 55/45 notchback velour seats and a hood ornament.

The relatively rare $13,714 T Type (about $35,800 in 2022 dollars) included the 3.8 liter/231 ci V6 and four-speed automatic combination, along with a Gran Touring suspension and 215/60R14 tires on 14-inch aluminum wheels. Inside, a sport leather-wrapped steering wheel, a full length storage console, and reclining cloth bucket seats were included.

Options & Production Numbers

Century page from the 1986 Buick full-line brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures pages.

Century buyers had many choices to personalize their sedan. Optional exterior and mechanical equipment included aluminum wheels ($199), Soft-Ray tinted glass ($115), and an engine block heater ($18). Inside, air conditioning ($750), cruise control ($175), Twilight Sentinel ($57), power windows ($270), power door locks ($180), tilt steering ($115), and a six-way power driver’s seat ($225) were available.

The 1986 Buick Century sedan sold rather well—sales inched up slightly from 1985 as Buick moved about 232,000, with 5,286 being the T Type version. The Century overall remained the most popular vehicle at most Buick dealers.

The View From 2022

I think of these A-body cars as basic and honest. Centurys sometimes show up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors, though this is increasingly unusual.

Make mine Dark Blue Metallic, please.

Other A-bodies I’ve written about in this blog include the 1983 Pontiac 6000 STE sedan and the 1989 Chevrolet Celebrity sedan—I guess I owe the Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera some attention.

Updated March 2022.


One thought on “1986 Buick Century sedan

  1. I had one of these cars, a 1984 Custom (I think). It had red velour and a column-mounted gear shifter. At the time I sneered at it. It was a somewhat forced purchase. In the end, the car gave dogged good service and I miss it, apart from the appallingly unsupportive seats. What did GM do with all the swept volume of those engines? The car was a V6 and far from fast. In Europe anything with a V6 goes at least quickly if not like hot spit.

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