Remaining in business for 11 decades requires constant innovation, so choosing one model to represent a decade of significance can be a catalyst for debate. Among the hundreds of models designed and engineered for Buick, the 11 below stand out as the most significant for their respective decades since May 17, 1903. Let the debate begin.
1903-1912: The first Buick ever is quite significant, so Buick’s first decade honor goes to the 1904 Model B. The first one of the line was sold to doctor Herbert H. Hills of Flint, Mich., decades before the brand developed its reputation as a “doctor’s car.”
1913-1922: The 1916 D-45 Touring was the top-selling model in 1916, a year when Buick switched its lineup from four- to six-cylinder engines. Sales tripled that year and reached six digits for the first time. Buick became the top-selling brand in the industry a few years later, with five-passenger touring models remaining most popular.
1923-1932: The 1931 Series 50 was the best-selling model in the year of another upsizing of powertrains – from six- to eight-cylinder engines. The more powerful engines, paired with a major design overhaul the year before, helped boost Buick’s image during the Great Depression.
1933-1942: Harlow Curtice became Buick’s president in 1933, and three years later, a model range including the 1936 Century showed his revolutionary vision for the brand. Its streamlined designs were a dramatic change and Buick’s engines grew more powerful, making the Century the first Buick to reach 100 mph. Sales grew from 53,249 in 1935 to 168,596 in 1936 and continued to rise in the years to come.
1943-1952: Buick’s most iconic design features, including signature waterfall grilles and portholes, date to the 1949 Roadmaster. One of the most collectible Buicks of all time, the Roadmaster even became a Hollywood star in the 1988 film Rain Man.
1953-1962: Buick celebrated its 50th birthday with the 1953 Skylark, an opulent, limited-production convertible with advanced design and technology. Each had Italian wire wheels and the owner’s name engraved on the steering wheel. The same year also marked the first year of Buick V-8 engines and a new twin-turbine Dynaflow automatic transmission.
1963-1972: Buick’s most famous production design is the 1963 Riviera, a powerful sport coupe said to be inspired by a Rolls-Royce that Buick design boss Bill Mitchell saw through a fog in London. It energized a brand emerging from a period of design criticism.
1973-1982: Amid an oil crisis, the 1975 Regal offered a standard V-6 engine at a time when other mid-size sedans offered only gas-thirstier V-8s. Buick still leads the way in the downsizing trend, offering four-cylinder engines on four of its five 2013 models.
1983-1992: Buick’s lightweight, high-tech V-6 engines, mixed with the brand’s success in NASCAR, resulted in the brand’s most iconic performance car, the 1987 GNX. Its 276-hp turbocharged and intercooled V-6 delivered 0-60 mph acceleration in just 4.6 seconds, according to Car and Drivermagazine.
1993-2002: A 1999 Century was Buick’s first model built in China for the local market. Although Buick has a long reputation as a prestigious brand in China (one in six cars on Shanghai roads in 1930 were Buicks, according to the city’s government,) production there has driven the brand’s success over the past decade. China is now Buick’s largest market, with 700,007 vehicles sold in 2012.
2003-2012: The 2008 Enclave luxury crossover ushered in Buick’s current design language and brand focus. Along with the LaCrosse luxury sedan, which went on sale as a 2010 model, the Enclave introduced buyers to a new era of Buicks with leading design, quietness, quality and safety.
Things are heating up in Death Valley National Park on the California/Nevada border as more heavy-hauling GM pickup trucks were spotted doing hot-weather testing. Chris Doane and his team caught some of the engineers with their slips showing as they seemed to have forgotten to replace camouflage on the grilles. Here's what Doane's team sent us:
Thanks to the extreme heat in Death Valley, engineers removed the camouflage from the front ends of these prototypes, revealing the new face of these big rigs. We've also managed to snag a few photos of the inside of the cab.
Several different body styles were part of this test group, which included the Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD Crew Cab, the Silverado 2500HD Extended Cab, the GMC Sierra 3500HD Dually and the Silverado 3500HD Dually.
Power for the heavy-duty models will likely come from updated versions of the 6.0-liter and 6.2-liter gasoline engines, and the 6.6-liter Duramax diesel.
While our sources are reporting an eight-speed transmission in the works for the Silverado 1500, the HD models will likely stick with a six-speed.
Watch for GM's HD pickups to start production in October/November 2013 at the Flint, Mich., and Fort Wayne, Ind., assembly plants.
We fully expect the interior and exterior of the new heavy-duties to follow the all-new look of the 2014 half-tons, with a few more updates and software changes that should make them better, smoother towing and hauling vehicles. As the final spy photo shows, another team of engineers is in charge of high-altitude tow test as well. We're hoping for an early media drive before the end of winter.
Every 2014 Buick model – Verano, Regal, LaCrosse, Encore and Enclave– will be offered with a suite of available active safety systems that watch the front, side and rear of the vehicle to help prevent crashes.
Buick will be the only brand in the industry to offer Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Side Blind Zone Warning, and a Rear Vision Camera on every vehicle.
Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning are a pair of technologies that use a single forward-looking camera to read traffic and lane markers on the road ahead. Visual warnings and audible tones alert the driver to unsignaled lane changes or a slowed vehicle.
Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Side Blind Zone Warning use radar to watch spots the driver may not see – and provide visible and audible warnings to help prevent collisions.
When the vehicle is in reverse and the Rear Vision Camera is active, Rear Cross Traffic Alert will flash a red icon and directional arrow if another vehicle is approaching from either side, which is especially useful backing out of a tight driveway or parking space in a busy lot.
Side Blind Zone Alert detects other vehicles in a Buick’s blind spot and alerts the driver with a yellow icon on the glass of either side view mirror. If a turn signal is engaged while a vehicle is detected in the next lane, the system provides an audible alert to discourage merging.
“Striking design, uncompromised comfort and purposeful safety technology – those are the core attributes of every Buick,” said Tony DiSalle, vice president of Buick Marketing. “Our 2014 lineup will tell an active safety story exclusive to the Buick brand and, more importantly, one that helps protect our drivers and passengers better than ever before.”
Passive safety is equally important to Buick. Although 2014 models have not been rated, every 2013 Buick model available today has been designated as a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Current Buick models make extensive use of high strength steel and, with the Verano compact luxury sedan and Encore luxury small crossover, offer as many as 10 standard air bags.
The Enclave luxury crossover comes standard with the industry’s first front center air bag, which helps protect drivers and front passengers in far-side impact crashes. It deploys from the inboard side of the driver’s seat and positions itself between the driver and front passenger, offering protection that no other airbag can offer.