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Thread: 71-76 GM "B" body question

  1. #1

    Default 71-76 GM "B" body question

    Here's a question for some of you GM experts. I know GM shared 71-76 bodies between it's different makes, along with numerous other parts. The BOP makes were even built together on the same assembly lines. I'm wondering if the frames/suspension were make specific, or if they were shared as well. I've owned at least one of each make over the years, and they feel nearly identicle. A friend of mine who owns a 73 Pontiac rode in my Centurion, and was shocked to see so many of the same pieces. I love the GM "B" and "C" body cars from 1971-1976, and I think they look, feel, and drive superior to the 69-70 cars they replaced, and the 77's that came after.

  2. #2
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    Randy, it has been my understanding that the '71 re-design resulted in far greater parts commonality in chassis and suspension design than had been the case during earlier years. In fact, the front suspension used by all divisions in '71 borrowed much from the Accu-Drive design that Buick introduced on its 1969 models. Increasingly, the unique engineering philosophy of each of the divisions was disappearing as the cars became increasingly "corporatized".

    I have read that part of this was intentional -- not only for cost savings -- in order to make it more difficult for anti-trust regulators to break up GM, which held a 50% or greater market share when the 1971 model cars were being designed. It would have been far easier to break up GM if each of the divisions continued to operate as separate companies with unique suspension and powertrain designs.

    During the 1971 - 1976 period, each of the divisions continued to produce its own V8 engines, so our Buicks have Buick-engineered engines. The Buick 455 is different from the Olds 455 and different from the Pontiac 455.
    Last edited by Centurion; 05-25-2011 at 07:30 PM.
    Brian Laurance, BCA # 5168
    A Centurion driver since December, 1970

    1971 Centurion Formal Coupe

  3. #3

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    Thanks Brian,

    I was asked that question recently, and I didn't know the answer. I have owned the 1972 version of the Catalina, Delta 88, leSabre, and Centurion convertibles, and the 1973 version of the Caprice, and the Centurion convertibles. It's remarkable how similar the cars drive/feel.

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    Randy, since you are the former owner of a '59 Electra sedan, I'll use it as an example to illustrate how much things had changed by 1971. Even though there were B-O-P assembly plants (like Kansas City/Fairfax) back in '59 and all of the divisions used the same basic cowl and inner body structures, each division had a completely unique frame, suspension, and powertrain design. Buick, for example, used Twin and Triple Turbine automatic transmissions that were shared with no other division, and continued to utilize the torque tube and coil spring set-up in time-honored Buick tradition. Buick still had the starter activated by the gas pedal, and was alone in featuring the massive finned aluminum brake drums that gave Buicks the finest brakes in the industry. My friend with a '59 Pontiac Bonneville always comments about my '59 Electra's superior ride and seating comfort when he travels in my Buick. Sadly, many of the features that differentiated one GM car line from another disappeared during the 1960's and 1970's.
    Brian Laurance, BCA # 5168
    A Centurion driver since December, 1970

    1971 Centurion Formal Coupe

  5. #5

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    Hopefully GM learned their lesson. It seems like they're trying to get away from selling cars that compete with each other. I agree with your 59 comment. I also had a 59 Cadillac, and it wasn't nearly as similar to my 59 Buick as the 70's cars were.

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