The 1960 Buick
There seems to be some confusion over the engines offered in 1960 Buicks. Perhaps this is because they have an identical external appearance, except for carburetors and air cleaners. It may also be due to Buick’s practice of identifying the engines by their torque rating, rather than their cubic inch displacement.

The 1960 Buick had two engine sizes: a 364 and a 401. Both are members of Buick’s original (1953) family of V8’s known as “nailheads”. This nickname is because of the small, vertically positioned valves. The 401 was a bored and stroked 364 and had been introduced only a year earlier in the 1959 models. For 1960, ALL LeSabres had 364 engines, while ALL other models used the larger 401.
Wildcat 375E: the regular fuel 364 LeSabre engine.
There was only one version of the 1960 401 engine. It was rated at 325 horsepower and 445 lb-ft of torque. It used either a Carter or Rochester 4-barrel carburetor. Identification was by a silk-screened (not decal) emblem on the air cleaner that stated “Wildcat 445” (named for the torque rating) and depicted a leaping wildcat.

Engine serial numbers for all US-built 1960 401 engines begin with "4G" and are located (along with vehicle VIN) on the forward intake rail of the block. In Canadian-built cars, the 401 engines begin with "C9".

In contrast to the 401, the 1960 364 LeSabre engine was offered in FOUR different versions: Three were available for automatic transmission LeSabres, and one for the manual transmission cars.
Unrestored (original!) Wildcat 445. This "smooth" style air cleaner was used on all 4-bl engines.
Wildcat 384: The "standard" LeSabre engine.
Offered as a no-cost option on US-built LeSabres equipped with Turbine Drive, and standard on all Canadian-built LeSabres with Turbine Drive, was the “Wildcat 375E”. Presumably the “E” stood for economy. This was a 2-barrel low-compression 364, rated at 235 horsepower and 375 lb-ft of torque. It was for the customer that wanted to use the less expensive regular grade fuel. Air cleaner identification consisted of the usual silk-screened cat, "Wildcat" lettering, and the numerals "375E" and "regular fuel". [See photo near top of page.] Some early literature places this engine's torque rating at 362 lb-ft, rather than 375.

Optional, at extra cost, on all US-built LeSabres, was the “Wildcat 405-4B” engine. Listed on the order form as the Power Pack option, it was a 300 horsepower high-compression 364 that delivered 405 lb-ft of torque. It included dual exhausts and a 4-barrel carburetor (hence, the name “-4B”). This engine also required the Turbine Drive transmission. It used the same (smooth) air cleaner as the 401, but I am unclear what artwork was used for identification.

Lastly, there was the lowly “Wildcat” engine. No numbers, just the name “Wildcat”. This was the standard and only engine available on cars with synchromesh transmission. It was rated at 210 horsepower and 340 lb-ft of torque. Since less than 1% of 1960 Buicks had manual transmissions, this engine is quite uncommon. I am uncertain what type of air cleaner identification this engine had.

For US-built cars, engine serial numbers on the high compression 364s (Wildcat 384 & 405B) begin with "3G", while the low compression versions (Wildcat 375E & synchromesh) use "L3G". Canadian-built cars with 364 engines (recall that all were low compression) use the prefix "B9" when equipped with Turbine Drive, and "B" when equipped with a manual transmission.

I welcome comments from anyone that has seen an unrestored example of the air cleaner markings on 405-4B, or synchromesh engines.

(Note: see other website topics to discover additional differences between US and Canadian 1960 Buicks)
And The Number Is.......
So where do you find the engine numbers on a 1960 Buick?

They're on the front of the engine block, in the valley under the intake manifold.
Confused? This view is looking straight down on top of the engine. The numbers are stamped into the top surface of the forward bulkhead of the engine block.

The front of the car is at the bottom of the picture. (Notice the back of the thermostat housing is just barely visible.)
This picture is from a later model year, so the actual numbers shown are incorrect for a 1960 Buick. However, the locations are still valid.

The short number--the one called "production code" in the picture--is the one that begins with 3G or 4G on US-built cars (B9 or C9, if Canadian). This is stamped at the engine plant. An example would be 3G207055 (or B9228007, for Canadian-built units). Note that this has nothing to do with the VIN.

On a 1960 Buick, the longer number--labeled as "engine serial number" in the picture--is actually the full 9-digit VIN. An example would be 4G1077155. This was stamped on the engine at the vehicle assembly plant.
COPYRIGHT 2005 by Gregory L. Cockerill. All text contained herein, including interviews/recollections of other parties, is my original work and is owned by me. This also applies to all images of my white 1960 LeSabre convertible. As such, the aforementioned material may not be used without express written permission. Other images presented herein are either from the public domain or used with permission of the owner(s).