Thursday, April 25, 2013

Buick At 110- Eleven Milestones for Eleven Decades

 With the 110th Anniversary of Buick speeding toward us like an Intercooled Grand National, the time seemed right to look back on our long and illustrious history and see some milestones- I've chosen eleven significant Buicks out of our eleven decades.

First is the car that made the company- the sturdy, moderately priced Model 10 runabout of 1908-1910. Introduced at a base price of $900 and offered as roadster or touring, the Model 10 was an instant hit and lifted Buick up to a solid #2 in the industry for sales. It cannot be argued that the sporty Model 10 put Buick on the map as a volume producer of automobiles.

The Master Six was introduced in 1925. That year, Buick eliminated four cylinder models and concentrated on two different six cylinder offerings. The Master Six, seen above with comedian Harold Lloyd and wife Mildred Davis, established Buick as a leader in upper middle class transportation, a place where it remains to this day.  

The Depression hit Buick and other premium manufacturers hard, but the boys from Flint bounced back. They introduced the Series 40 in 1934, renamed it Special for 1935 and gave it (and the whole line) modern new styling for 1936. The Century (shown above) was capable of 100 mph. They backed up their new look  with a new Ad Agency that knew how to sell. The Glory Days of Buick began in '36.

The modern production Hardtop was born in 1949 with the introduction of the Roadmaster Riviera Hardtop Coupe. Although only 4.343 were sold for 1949, the style was an instant hit and Buick went on to produce a half million within the first five years. 

Buick had a banner year in 1954. They introduced their high compression engine for 1953 in the Super and Roadmaster lines, and brought it across the board in 1954. Handsome new styling, panoramic windshields, the V-8 engine and the reintroduction of the sporty Century added up to a home run, and Buick passed Plymouth to take third place in sales. Then they followed it up with a record setting year in 1955 as well. 

The 1959 Buick was totally new from stem to stern, and represented the most radical styling they had ever attempted. Giant delta wing fins, floating rooflines with massive areas of glass, and diagonal headlamps gave the '59 Buick a look unlike any other car on the road. Three new series were introduced for 1959- Le Sabre. Electra and Invicta. It was a courageous car that was almost too daring for the motoring public, but is considered s styling tour de force and highly prized today

 A modern classic on the day it was introduced, the iconic Riviera of 1963 was not only Buick's entry into the Personal Luxury segment, but also an image defining statement for all Buick models. It was a home run all around and is considered a modern masterpiece.

Performance cars were the rage in the late 60s and early 70s, and the mighty 1970 Buick GSX is among the very fastest production cars of it's era. Available with two different 455 engines, the optional Stage 1 produced 360 hp and a whopping 510 lb/ft of torque. It's known in performance car circles as the "Hemi Killer."

Performance made a comeback in the 80s, and Buick was right there. The legendary performance car of the decade was the Grand National, and the special limited edition GNX was the Grand National to end all Grand Nationals. Only 547 of these monsters were produced, and featured independent rear suspension, a special engine with a ceramic turbocharger, and a list price of $29,290.

 The fourth generation Regal made its debut in 1997 as a five passenger front wheel drive sport sedan. The GS shown here featured the L67 Supercharged 3800 engine and developed 240 HP. It was a calm and comfortable way to gobble up a lot of miles quickly.

And now we have the sixth generation Regal. In GS trim, it features a 2.0 liter Turbo Four that develops a whopping 270 HP and is paired with either a six speed automatic or six speed manual gearbox. It's a high speed tourer that recently clocked a top speed of 162 mph in desert testing. Sure sounds like there's plenty of good days ahead yet for the venerable brand from Flint.

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