In 1977, Hale and Grace Burge wanted a brand new Buick Regal coupes painted in red. So they went to their nearby Buick dealership, and while Hale was happy with the Regal models on the lot, Grace didn’t see any bright red ones, a color she preferred.
“So this car was special-ordered for us with 40/60 split front seats with a center armrest, vinyl upholstery, AM radio, heater, air conditioner and power disc brakes on the front wheels,” he says.
After leaving a $1,000 deposit, the couple returned to their downstate home in east central Illinois to await the arrival of their Buick. Five weeks later, word came that their 3,612-pound red Regal coupe was ready.
Up to Chicago they went. “It was exactly what we wanted,” Burge says. The base price of $4,713 was pushed up to $5,453 by the optional extras. Burge drove the Buick home on its 112-inch wheelbase but soon afterward his wife laid claim to it for use on daily errands. “We’re the only two who ever drove this car,” he says. The interior is as totally red as the exterior.
“We wanted a simple car,” he remarks. “I do my own repairs and I have kept this car up with routine maintenance.”
The closest the car came to letting him down was once when the right rear tire went down. “I picked up a nail,” Burge says, giving his trusty car an alibi.
He has been pleased with the performance of the 231-cubic-inch V-6 engine that develops 105 horsepower. To keep it purring he changes the oil every 2,500 to 3,000 miles. The timing chain was replaced at 100,000 miles and the starter and alternator have both been rebuilt. The brake pads have also been replaced, but when the originals were removed he measured them and found they were only half worn out. He saved them for eventual reuse. The left taillight burned out before he replaced the offending bulb.
The Burges have driven their car on trips to Texas, Florida, South Dakota and Michigan in addition to daily local use. He reports mileage figures of 24 miles per gallon on the highway and 18 to 20 mpg in town. “It’s no strain to drive this car,” he says.
“When it was driven all the time,” Burge comments, “I always took it to the car wash.” In later years, the Buick wasn’t driven during the winter months. “I wax it twice a year,” he says. “I prefer Maguir’s.” Since 1977, the car has been garaged almost every day and night which helps to explain the incredibly good condition of the red paint.
“It didn’t sit around dirty,” Burge says. “I also keep it clean under the hood.”
Oftentimes people who see the car parked on the street will marvel at the excellent condition of all the chrome, in addition to the remarkable paint and ask, “Who painted that car for you?” Burge honestly responds, “Some guy up at General Motors in Michigan.”
Burge has placed the Buick into semi-retirement, but still manages to drive it enough to keep the juices flowing and the seals lubricated.
He says he wouldn’t change a thing if he were to order the car again today. “It is garaged unless I am driving it,” Burge adds, “It’s just a wonderful little old car.”