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the B is for BIG

Ten years ago if you would have told me that kids today would happily give up their Honda Civics for huge full size General Motors cars of the late 70/all 80s/early 90s, I would have called you crazy.

But as fate would have it, that's what they like today. Yes, the same cars that when new we all hated because they were big and boxy. That hate has turned to love, and quite a bit of it at that.

The most love is for what are known as GM B-body cars. B is a platform GM used from 1961 to 1996. Every B is a large full-size rear-drive car.

(Small note before continuing: My '89 LeSabre is not a B, it's the front-drive H platform. But LeSabres were Bs for a very long time before that.)

Anyone in my generation has gone for a ride in a B car at one point or another. Buicks, Chevrolets, Oldsmobiles and Pontiacs all had Bs. It was one of those platforms many thought would never go away but eventually did.

A very particular range of B car is what's most desirable however, namely from years 1977 to around 1985 or 1990, depending on which GM brand you go with. These were without a doubt the most squared-off boxiest American sedans ever made. Big steel, big engines, big chrome bumpers, huge interiors and I don't think there was a single B of that time ever made that didn't come with a hood ornament.

Some examples of Bs:

1978 Chevrolet Impala

1986 Pontiac Parisienne

1981 Buick LeSabre

1977 Oldsmobile Delta 88

Okay, I know what you're thinking. "These cars kinda all look the same." That's more or less true. It was a longstanding complaint that brands between divisions of GM were useless because they were all the same cars with slightly different appearances to them. I have to agree with that for the most part because all B cars obviously use the same platform. And then there times when the brands couldn't even keep their own engines. Buick V6s would go into other brands, Oldsmobile V8s would go into others, etc. It was a mess.

Nevertheless, the kids today can't get enough of these cars and are buying them up left and right.

Would I ever own a B car?

No, for the reason I'm not fond of four-door cars, which the vast majority of B-bodies are.

One of the very few two-door B cars of the late 70s was the 1977-1978 Buick Riviera:


A nice enough car, I suppose, but it doesn't do much for me.

Collector's note: A B-body Riviera coupe is yet another example of a rare Buick. Very short run, and there was a special "LXXV" edition in 1978 to commemorate Buick's 75th anniversary:


Pretty snazzy lookin' car, to be sure.

I'm much happier with my A-bodied '75 Century and my H-bodied '89 LeSabre. Definitely not what the kids want, but that's fine. They can have their big Bs and be happy with them. 🙂

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