1975 Buick Century
Custom Series FAQ

Whether you're an owner or a prospective owner looking for this car, you will find the following information valuable. I've compiled the following information from years of research and reading. To the best of my knowledge it's all accurate.

If you have anything to add or correct, you can contact me at rich@menga.net.

 

Why is this car so difficult to find?

Buick had planned on making 1,700 of these cars - but it is rumored (although not proven) they built less than 400 of them. To find one in driveable condition (that hasn't been restored and/or well-kept) is rare. I was lucky enough to acquire one that actually drove.

Buick built 32,966 Century Custom Series Model 4AH57 Two-Door Colonnade coupes in 1975. Finding a Century Custom Series is a bit difficult, but finding a pace car model is even tougher because of the extremely low unit production.

A possible reason why unit production was cut short was because that the car didn't sell well. Most people weren't all that interested in driving a car so unbelievably wild looking. This car was built at a time where nothing else on the road looked even remotely close to the wild placard scheme this patriotic hauler wore proudly. Remember, this is 1975 - a time when "avocado" was a popular choice of color for cars (yuck!)

It is also well known that many dealerships purposely removed every trace of the Indy 500 trim and sold them as regular coupes. My father had personally witnessed this on not one but two pace cars back in '75 when the car was new. One was repainted to sky blue and the other to plain white.

If you are prospecting for this car, you will most likely find her in white - like the one I found. But while I was fortunate enough to find one that ran and drove, don't be surprised if the one you find is in poor condition.

 

How can you tell if a '75 Century Custom Series is a pace car or not?

If you happen to come across a '75 and suspect she might be a pace car, there are a few things that will let you know for sure whether you've got one or not.

  • A 4bbl Buick 350ci V8
  • "Glacier Blue" interior.
  • White naughahyde bucket seats.
  • Hurst Hatches
  • No identifying model emblems on the exterior
  • White rally wheels with deep dish trim rings
  • GS "Blackout" trim

More information on the above:

All pace cars sold in dealerships had a "350/350" setup, meaning a four-barrel 350 cubic inch V8 mated to a TurboHydramatic 350 automatic transmission.

Side note: For those wondering if the 455 ever made its way into this car, the answer is yes, but they were never sold to the public. Only two ever existed with the 455 beast under the hood that did actual pace car duty. One is in the Indy museum. The other is at the Sloan Museum in Flint Michigan.

All pace cars had a glacier blue interior color with white naughahyde (a.k.a. "pleather") bucket seats.

Strangely, pace cars never had identifying model emblems anywhere on the car. If there were, they would either be on the grille or somewhere on the front quarter - but none are to be found. On some you may find a small "BUICK" emblem on the trunk lid (aside from the large blue placard), but that's it.

On the interior of the car is a small "Century" emblem on the glovebox.

Part of the pace car package was Hurst Hatches. You may know these as "T-Tops", but the proper name is Hurst Hatches. These are immediately identified by the "H/H" logo somewhere on the plexiglass.

All pace cars had white rally rims with deep dish trim rings. The rings, if unavailable, are one of the few items of the car that can be easily replaced with new ones.

"GS" means "Gran Sport". For those wondering, no, the '75 pace car is not a Gran Sport model. The GS blackout package put black trim around the tail lights and a blacked-out front grille with a horizontal chrome strip across its center.

Things you can't see:

There were two suspension upgrades on the pace car: Higher rate springs and larger stabilizer bars. The springs are easily replaceable, as are the stabilizer bars - or you can alternatively have them custom fabricated.

When you combine all of the above, you've got a pace car.

 

Where can I find dimensions and measurements for the placard scheme?

See restoration.

 

What's that gold winged thing behind the opera window?

That's the Indy 500 "wings" logo.

Here's a close-up:

Indy 500 Wings Logo

Many pace car replicas did not have this Indy 500 logo. My father's didn't.

Note: The Buick does not show the flags in the image above. Just the gold portion.

 

Isn't this car a Regal?

Technically, no.

The Century Custom Series coupe is model 4AH57.

The Regal coupe is model 4AJ57.

Upon visual inspection, if you put the '75 Regal and the Century Custom Series side by side, the cars are nearly identical.

A non-pace-car Century Custom Series has a small "BUICK" emblem on the grille. On Regals there is a "Regal" emblem. The pace car has no model emblems on the grille or anywhere else on the car.

Pace cars do not have hood ornaments. Most Regals and regular Century Custom Series' do. If you see a pace car with a hood ornament, this was most likely installed by the dealership that sold it, or the hood was simply swapped out for one with a hood ornament on it.

To add to the confusion, the Regal is sometimes referred to as the "Regal Century" for 1975, even in some of Buick's own literature.

Strictly speaking from the model names, the Century Custom Series is not a Regal - but just barely.

The VIN will also say for certain what model it is. Pre-1981 cars have 13-character VIN's and not 17 like they do today. The second character of the VIN states the model. If it's "H", it's a Century Custom Series. If "J", it's a Regal.

 

Why would it be important to tell the difference between a Regal and a Century Custom Series?

When prospecting for this car, some people may list it in the classifieds as a Regal. So if you've been looking for this car, finding a pace car may be as simple as looking for a '75 Regal. If you find one with the glacier blue interior, white seats, Hurst Hatches and the VIN identifying it as a Century Custom Series - you may have found your pace car.

If on the other hand the VIN shows it to be a Regal, it's still a nice car - but not a pace car.

 

How do I decode the VIN?

The VIN will look something like this:

4H57J5H123456

4....... Buick

H....... Model (Century Cust)

57...... Body Style (2-Door Colonnade Coupe)

J....... Engine Code (4bbl 350ci)

5....... Model Year (1975, ends in 5)

H....... Assembly Plant (H is Flint, Michigan)

123456.. Sequential Production Number

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