Buick Turns 110: 11 Highlights of 11 Decades
Recounting the biggest, the fastest and most significant from Buick history
DETROIT - April 19, 2013: Buick vehicles today are built in state-of-the-art facilities around the world. The Enclave luxury crossover’s Lansing Delta Township plant was the industry’s first LEED Gold-certified manufacturing facility. The brand has evolved in many ways since 1903, when the first Buick was hand-built in a small barn behind David Dunbar Buick’s Detroit home. Here are 11 top highlights from Buick’s first 11 decades:
Through the end of 2012, Buick has sold more than 43 million vehicles. That’s the equivalent of every vehicle sold in the United States over the past three years. The 1938 Buick Y-Job, credited to famed designer Harley Earl, is regarded as the first concept car ever built. Its waterfall grille is still used on Buicks today, and it featured futuristic technologies like power windows. Earl drove the car himself for more than a decade. The 1963 Riviera, often regarded as one of history’s most beautiful cars, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The powerful sport coupe was said to be inspired by a Rolls-Royce that Buick design boss Bill Mitchell saw through a fog in London. Buick has a deep motorsports history, proving its performance on race tracks as early as 1908. A Buick has served as Official Pace Car of the Indianapolis 500 six times, and the brand also won two NASCAR Manufacturer Championships, in 1981 and 1982. After just over three decades of engineering progress, the first production Buick topped 100 mph. It was the appropriately named 1936 Buick Century. The fastest production Buick in history is today’s Buick Regal GS luxury sport sedan. At the 2012 Nevada Open Road Challenge, it recorded a top speed of 162 mph. Buick’s quickest car was also one of the brands rarest. Car and Driver magazine recorded 0-60 mph acceleration for the 1987 Buick GNX at just 4.6 seconds. Just 547 were built. Powertrain innovation is a Buick hallmark. Today, the company’s turbocharged, direct-injected 2.0L delivers 259 hp, but displacement was king in the 1960s and ‘70s. Buick’s largest engine, a 455-cubic-inch (7.5L) V-8, was introduced in 1970. The Buick Electra 225 nameplate was introduced in 1959, with the “225” referencing the model’s overall length in inches. By 1975, the Electra grew to become the longest vehicle ever produced by Buick. It measured 233.7 inches from bumper to bumper. Buick’s first vehicle, the 1904 Model B, was also the shortest, riding on an 83-inch wheelbase. The 2013 Encore luxury small crossover isn’t quite as small, but it does have the shortest wheelbase (100.6 inches) since the 1912 Model 34 (90.7 inches.) Buick has made many models with seating for two, four, five or six passengers. But only twice in 110 years has the brand produced vehicles with seating for up to eight: the 2008-2013 Enclave and the 1991-1996 Roadmaster Estate.