The Buick Motor Company was incorporated on May 19, 1903 by founder David Buick in Detroit, Michigan. Buick’s first car followed the conventional American design of the times carrying a flat-twin engine, 2 speed transmission, and final drive by chain. The struggling company was soon taken over in 1904 by James H. Whiting and moved to Flint, Michigan. Whiting hired William C. Durant to manage the company. With Durant in the lead, Buick soon became the largest car maker in America. In 1908, W.C. Durant formed General Motors with Buick being one of the original members of the group.
With the new collaboration of General Motors by Durant, it didn’t take long for him to build the success of Buick. To help matters, he created a racing team composed of Louis Chevrolet and Bob Burman both of which won numerous trophies from 1908 to 1910. In 1909 Bob Burman drove a Buick to victory in the first race ever at Indianapolis Speedway. By 1910, Buick sales had exceeded to 30,000 cars. Merely 6 years later vehicle sales rose to 126,000 cars and the company entered the post-WWI era with a 2.8-litre four-cylinder and a 3.9-litre six-cylinder which brought Buick into 4th position in U.S. sales behind Ford, Dodge, and Chevrolet.
By 1938 the Division produced General Motor’s first ‘dream car’, a two-seater convertible coupe styled by Harley Earl on a Roadmaster chassis. In addition to this line was the Buick Special, Super, Century and Limited and production was up towards 200,000 vehicles. Buicks used the same engines up to 1952, though they came out with a 2-speed Dynaflow automatic transmission in 1948. In 1948 they pioneered the now popular hardtop convertible body with their Riviera. Buick sales rose quickly from 550,000 in 1950 to 745,000 in 1955.
Along with the famous vertical-pillar grille introduced in 1942, Buick styling came on the scene in 1949 with the design of the Ventiports (or later to be known as portholes) which were three or four circular vents on the front fender behind the wheels. The design has remained on various models since and is one of Buick’s most distinguishing features. Ten years later in 1959 the Buick was once again the style leader with the delta tail and fins. They also discarded the old model names and now produced the LeSabre, Invicta and Electra. Although in the past Buicks generally targeted a more traditional luxury car buyer, the demand for cars with a sporty look resulted in the Rivera sports coupe of 1963. Today, the 3.8-liter 3800 V6 is an outcome of the Buick V6 used in the 1962 Buick Special which was the first V6 ever offered in mass production.
The Buick has not been shy of success. Twice the Buick has been named Motor Trend Car of the Year, the 1962 Buick Special and in 1979 for the Buick Riviera S which was the first front-wheel-drive Buick with a turbocharged V6 engine. Buick hit the mark again with the 1986 and 1987 Regal Grand National and limited-edition 1987 GNX which were considered one of the quickest American-built cars powered by a 3.8 liter V6.
Buick is one of America’s oldest brands dating back to the early 1900s and continues to be built in the United States today and several other countries under the General Motors Corporation. They are recognized as one of the “premium American motorcars” that continue to symbolize smooth power and high performance along with luxury.