The Buick Invicta had a much shorter run than the Electra. Nonetheless, Buick made some memorable cars during the four-year period between ’59 and ‘63 during which Invictas were made.
The Invicta was a full-size car available in two and four-door hardtop, a two-door convertible, and a station wagon. With a 123-inch wheelbase, the Invicta was another Buick boat. The Invicta sported Buick’s Nailhead V8 engine and nicknamed the banker’s hotrod.
According to the Robin Moore book, The French Connection, the 1960 Buick Invicta was the favorite car of heroin smugglers. Moore theorized that Invicta contained detection-proof hideaways due to the peculiarity of the frame.
The frame itself featured fins in both the front and the rear which gave it a land shark styling that was typical of the late 50s. The second generation of Invictas had massively reduced the effect, but the car maintains both a massive front and rear end. Both had a sleek angular quality to them that gave the appearance of reclining back as if the front end of the vehicle was pointing slightly upward.
1961 was the last year for Buick’s 364 cu in Nailhead engine. Later models would employ the 401 cu in Nailhead. In ‘62 Buick introduced the Wildcat in the Invicta line and 1963 had completely replaced the Invicta.
Big Engines in Lighter Cars
It’s hard to think of the Invicta as a smaller car, but compared to the Electra it was. Still full-sized on a 123-inch wheelbase, the Invicta was equipped with Buick’s Nailhead V8. Engineering initiatives like this would provide the foundation for an era of beastly muscle cars. But that had not quite happened yet. Still, performance and driveability remained trademarks of Buick’s brand.
The 1960s class ushered in the seamless Dynaflow transmission. Based on Buick’s patented Turbine transmission, the driver couldn’t feel the jerk between gears. Dubbed the Twin Turbine Automatic, it was pitched as the most advanced transmission ever designed. The Electra, the Invicta, and the LeSabre were all fitted with it.
Buick wasn’t quite in the same luxury class as Cadillac, but they did make one smooth ride, and that’s what set them apart from other American manufacturers.
The Invicta would be replaced by the Wildcat in 1963 and by ‘62, that transition was already in the works. Apparently a “banker’s hot rod” was a tougher sell than maybe it should have been.
While the Invicta was unconquerable and perhaps too big to fail, the Wildcat a free-range beast that terrorized roadways with reckless abandon.
While the Invicta does not have the same appreciation with collectors as the Wildcats and Electras, the features it offers are mostly indistinguishable from other Buicks of the period. The Wildcat retained the Invicta’s V8 Nailhead and it had the same Turbine Transmission offered with all Buicks. It also sat on the same 123-inch frame.
As one of the lesser-known Buicks, it retains all of the same qualities that draw drivers to Buick in the first place. The Invicta was a road beast.