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.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

TWO DOOR TUESDAY- New Riviera Concept Car Debuts

 Exciting news for Riviera fans as a new Riviera Concept Car was unveiled last week at the Shanghai Auto Show. The coupe, which features a racy silhouette, waterfall grille, and gullwing doors, is described as "Purely a concept, but ...there is a lot that will have a significant influence on future Buicks,” said Ed Welburn, GM global design chief.

 The Riviera also features a Hybrid-Electric powertrain along the lines of the Chevrolet Volt and Cadillac ELS. While this car is not intended for production, it is worth noting that Buick recntly renewed the trademark of the Riviera name. Could an exciting new Buick be in the works? Stay tuned, and in the meantine enjoy these images of the Riviera Concept Car.

Friday, April 19, 2013

FAST FRIDAY- 2013 Buick Regal GS Six Speed

The last time I drove the Buick Regal GS Sport Sedan,I found it to be the most engaging Buick since the Grand National, although thoroughly different in character. Recently I spent a week behind the wheel of a 2013 model with the six speed manual transmission and came to a slightly different revelation. It's not the return of the Grand National-  it's a modern performance sedan instead.

This realization is not the least bit disparaging but rather an observation. A front drive, four cylinder turbocharged compact sport sedan with tons of power, stick-like-glue handling and highly supportive seats? Not to mention an EPA Highway Fuel Economy estimate of 27 MPG. This is a performance sedan for today.

When I  went to the press launch for the Regal back in 2010 and drove both the 2.4 conventionally aspirated 182 HP and the 2.0 Turbocharged 220 HP versions, I described the Epsilon based mid sized sedans as "well tailored and well mannered" and thought they were an excellent addition to the Buick line up. I found the 2.4 to be a bit sluggish and the 2.0 Turbo to have a very pleasing power band, but didn't think of either as a screamer.

The GS version is highly modified from the base model. The 2.0 Litre Turbo in the GS is the High Output Ecotec 2.0L Turbo with Direct Injection and Variable Valve Timing. It's rated at 270 HP and 295 lb/ft of torque. On paper it exceeds the '87 Grand National's 245 rated HP and falls just short of the  GNX's 274, but since both those engines were underrated, its probably about on a par with the Intercooled Grand National. It is offered with a 6 speed manual or 6 speed automatic transmissions.  

It's dressed up considerably from the base version as well. It has a deep skirted front fascia flanked by Bi-Xenon HIS headlamps and a unique rear one with dual exhaust ports. There are special rocker panels. a rear spoiler, and 19" twin spoke alloy wheels with Pirelli tires and optional highly polished 20s. Peek through the spokes and note the big Brembo calipers. Pirellis and Brembos- not a combination historically associated with Buick. 

The inside is toned up as well. The interior is offered in ebony leather only, with special touches such as a leather wrapped F1 style steering wheel, piano black dash trim. and leather trimmed sport seats with pretty wicked bolsters.  A Special GS Interactive Drive Control system offers standard, Sport and GS settings for the suspension. GM's Intellilink is standard, along with a pretty killer 336 watt Harmon Kardon Audio system with 9 speakers and XM Satellite radio. 

Options are few, and colors are limited. A total of five colors are available- Quicksilver and Smoky Gray are standard, White Diamond, Carbon Black Metallic and Crystal Red Tintcoat are optional. Perhaps this is one area where they could take a cue from the Grand National and make them in black. The rest of the option list is equally short- 20" polished wheels and performance tires, power sliding sunroof, GPS Navigation

My test car was finished in the Crystal Red Tintcoat and features the meaty 20" wheel package. I found it to be quite a handsome and purposeful looking car and others seemed to agree. I found neighbors in the driveway admiring it, and found it to be a topic of conversation from the couple at the table next to mine when I parked it at an outdoor cafe. All good signs as far as I am concerned. 

But enough looking, time to see what happens when the rubber meets the road. Touch the starter button and the 2.0 Turbo comes to life. It's smooth, Buick V8 smooth and the exhaust note is quiet. Shift into first and the car feels powerful, but doesn't play all of its cards. In fact, you could drive the GS in drive and your impression would be a smooth, well balanced sport sedan with a poised ride, excellent handling and crazy good brakes. The engine has an excellent torque band, but the automatic felt like it was always one gear too high. The six speed manual, however, is ideally suited to the car. The shifter is quick and precise- you'd swear that Audi did it- and it's a pleasure to run through the gears. It's much more Sweden than Skylark to drive. 

One thing that still annoys me are the suspension settings. There are three modes- Standard, Sport and GS. There's a discernible difference between Standard and GS but the Sport is just kind of there. And annoyingly, the car doesn't recall the setting past the next off cycle, so it's touch the button every single time you start the car. Of course I found it happiest in GS suspension mode.  Steering and ride are both tightened, and the Turbo soars up to redline without the slightest hesitation. The car is now crazy fun, and sticks like glue to the tarmac. The Brembo brakes are killer and bring the GS down out of harm's way in no time flat. 

Last year I said  that the Regal GS is the most fun I've had behind the wheel of a Buick since the Grand National. And the six speed only reinforces my conclusion. It's a nicely balanced, wonderful all around performance sedan- posed ride, excellent handling, superb brakes, and a 270 HP turbo that wails when you stomp down on it. 

But I still want to see Buick go all black and give us a Darth Buick with 300 HP.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Wing: Buick Debuts New LED Lighting Design Element

Most luxury car manufacturers have established a signature light design element in their headlamps: for instance, Audi is famous for its classy LED eye brows, Cadillac has pioneered the sharp and prominent vertical LED light strips, and BMW has its legendary angel eyes. Not to be left out of the cool LED lighting club, Buick has a unique headlamp design element of its own that it calls the “Wing”.

In some way, shape, or form, the Wing has been present on existing models such as the Verano, Enclave, and Encore — but the 2014 LaCrosse and Regal have really brought the design element into the spotlight. On the refreshed LaCrosse, for instance, the Wing serves as the LED-based daytime running light, stretching horizontally (across the top) and then vertically (down the side) across the headlamp cluster, all while wrapping the main HID jewel lamp.

According to exterior director of Buick design Phil Zak, the Wing accentuates the LaCrosse’s wide and planted stance, and will be consistently used across the Buick lineup going forward.

Courtesy of GM Authority 

Monday, April 15, 2013


Another fun day on the Reynolds Buick GMC Facebook Page. Today it's a salute to the men and women who assembled some of our favorite classic Buicks, via vintage photographs of the assembly lines humming along. There are several plants involved, including Buick's Home Plant in Flint as well as the GMAD Assembly Division in Fremont, the ASC plant where Riviera convertibles were made and even the Mitchell-Bentley Plant in Ionia, Michigan that made Buick station wagon bodies.

Oh, and be sure and notice Jackie Gleason picking up a new Roadmaster at the factory back in 1955. Buick Dealers were a sponsor of his TV series, "The Honeymooners." There's a new Riviera body on the line at Fisher, a delta wing '59 Electra 225 and even the roll test simulator where brand new Buicks moved under their own power for the first time.

So spend a few moments with us "on the line"- the Buick Assembly Line:


Thursday, April 11, 2013


 Love it or fear it, the 1958 Buick is a hard car to ignore. It's pretty much come to symbolize the chrome laden chariots of the late 1950's. A daring car, with Harley Earl's Dazzling Chrome Look all the way from the Fashion Aire Dyna Star Grille (flanked by new dual Vista Vision headlamps) to the chrome adorned tailfins- the 1958 Buick was an exuberant car for an exciting new postwar world.

A student of history will remind you that 1958 was a recession year and that sales of luxurious cars were down, yet the folks at Buick persevered and planned for a brighter future. The economy of 1958 had its challenges for Reynolds Buick too, but we kept our employees busy and our customers happy, as we've tried to do every year since Irv Sr. put up the sign in 1915.

And things were far from all bad- 1958 brought some milestones for us, too- Pete Reynolds took over the management of the dealership from his father, and the irreplacable Deane Salter (the Guinness World Record Holder for the the Automobile Salesperson with the longest continous employment with a single Employer) joined our sales force. It may surprise some to know that both are proud to be still affiliated with Reynolds Buick.

But it won't surprise many of our customers.