About BuickFounded in 1899, Buick dates back to the dawn of automobile manufacturing and is the oldest U.S. carmaker still in business. The first Buicks were prototypes with tiller steering, but the first cars for sale--the 1904 Model B--were built in Flint, MI. A total of 37 Models Bs were built in 1904, but none survive.
William C. Durant, the eventual founder of General Motors, oversaw Buick's early growth. Advanced engineering on the Model B, which had a flat-twin engine, led to other, successful cars, such as the Model D in 1907 and the Model F in 1909.
Under Durant's leadership, Buick became the largest automobile company in the United States in 1908, as the company built a then-stunning 8,820 cars. The money rolled in, and Durant used the cash to buy other car companies, and... View more the resulting company became the behemoth General Motors. Buick became a premium line for GM, second only to Cadillac in status and price.
In 1923, Buick built its one-millionth vehicle. In 1925, Buick introduced the Standard Six line, which featured 6-cylinder engines. By 1931, Buick introduced the Series 50, which had an 8-cylinder, overhead valve engine--the first of its kind.
The Buick Century sold more than 28,000 units in 1936, which were big numbers during the Great Depression. In 1938 legendary GM designer Harley Earl--also known as the creator of the Chevrolet Corvette--designed the Buick Y-Job, which was the first real concept car. Earl also designed many of Buick's most famous models during this era, including the Special, Super and Century. Buick installed the first torque converter automatic transmission--the Dynaflow--in the 1948 Roadmaster.
During the 1950s, Buicks got bigger--and huge, chrome-plated front grilles and sweeping lines became trademarks. But, by the early 1960s, Buick cars, such as the Invicta, Electra, Skylark and LeSabre, became longer, sleeker and lost much of the heavy chrome.
The famous Buick V8 "Nailhead" engine was popular with gearheads in the 1950s and 1960s, as the powerful engine could fit into small spaces--yet was easy to service.
In 1963, GM designer Bill Mitchell's Buick Riviera made a big splash and sold more than 40,000 cars. The early Rivieras--from 1963-1965--were famous for high performance and stunning good looks. By the early 1970s, Buick jumped into the muscle car wars, and the 1970 Buick GSX, with its massive 455-ci V8, was the hottest of the marque.
During the 1980s, Buick was known for family cars, such as the Regal and the Riviera. In 1988, Buick rolled out the Reatta, a two-passenger luxury sports car. Buick's 1986 and 1987 Regal Grand National--and the limited-edition 1987 GNX--featured a turbocharged 3.8-liter V6 engine and were the fastest American-built cars of their era.
Despite General Motors' recent bankruptcy, downsizing and reorganization, Buick continues to build cars. For the 2011 model year, Buick offered three 4-door sedans, including the LaCrosse, which gets 30 mpg and is designed to compete with more-expensive imports. Buick plans to offer eAssist--Buick's hybrid electric motor system--on the 2012 LaCrosse and Regal sedans. View less
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