The Buick Story

Buick. The spirit of American style.

Watch a documentary on the Buick Story

This video is a wonderfully-done documentary, written and produced by Michael Rose, on the history of Buick as presented in 1995 from the History Channel's archive.  It is a full length feature documentary on the history of the Buick brand.  Warning, it is 47 minutes long.


Do you ever get confused about the Buick Engine colors?  Hopefully this guide can help.


History of Buick

                                                   1913 Logo

                                                   1913 Logo

Buick is currently the oldest active North American automotive make, and among the oldest automobile brands in the world. It originated as the Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company in 1899, an independent internal combustion engine and motor-car manufacturer, and was later incorporated as the Buick Motor Company on May 19, 1903, by Scottish born David Dunbar Buick in Detroit, Michigan. Later that year, the company was taken over by James H. Whiting (1842–1919),[3] who moved it to his hometown of Flint, Michigan, and brought in William C. Durant in 1904 to manage his new acquisition. He teamed up with R S McLaughlin in Canada in 1907 with a 15 year contract for motors 1908 GM Holding was founded.VMC virtualmuseum.ca McLaughlin-Buick:"Canada's Standard Car" Buick sold his stock for a small sum upon departure, and died in modest circumstances 25 years later.

Louis Chevrolet in a Buick

Louis Chevrolet in a Buick

Durant was a natural promoter, and Buick soon became the largest car maker in America. Using the profits from this, Durant embarked on a series of corporate acquisitions, calling the new megacorporation General Motors. At first, the manufacturers comprising General Motors competed against each other, but Durant ended that. He wanted each General Motors division to target one class of buyer, and in his new scheme, Buick was near the top — only the Cadillac brand had more prestige. Buick occupies this position to this day in the General Motors lineup. The ideal Buick customer is comfortably well off, possibly not quite rich enough to afford a Cadillac, nor desiring the ostentation of one, but definitely in the market for a car above the norm.

In 1911, Buick introduced its first closed-body car,[17] four years ahead of Ford.[18] In 1929, as part of General Motors' companion make program, Buick Motor Division launched the Marquette sister brand, designed to bridge the price gap between Buick and Oldsmobile; however, Marquette was discontinued in 1930. Buick debuted two major achievements for the 1931 model year, the OHV Buick Straight-8 engine and a synchromesh transmission in all models but the Series 50. The Eight was offered in three displacements, the 220 cubic inch (bore 2 7/8 in. stroke 4.25 in.), was available in the Series 50 with 77 brake HP. The Series 60 engine was a 272 cu. in. unit (bore 3 1/16 in., stroke 5 in.) giving 90 brake HP. The Series 80 and Series 90 used a 344 cu. in. version (bore 3 5/16 in., stroke 5 in.) for 104 brake HP. Automatic vacuum-operated spark advance was another new feature replacing the steering column mounted spark lever although an emergency lever was now dash mounted. Buick scored another first in 1939, when it became the first company to introduce turn signals. All 1939 models also had a steering column mounted shift lever.

1938 Buick

1938 Buick

In the 1930s Buicks were popular with the British royal family, particularly Edward VIII.  He imported and used a Canadian built McLaughlin-Buick that were GMs top brand in Canada, Cadillac not having caught on there. George VI used one for a coast to coast royal tour of Canada in 1939.[22]

Introduction of VentiPorts

A traditional Buick styling cue dating to 1949 is a series of three or four vents on the front fender behind the front wheels. The source of this design feature was a custom car of Buick stylist Ned Nickles, which in addition had a flashing light within each hole each synchronized with a specific spark plug simulating the flames from the exhaust stack of a fighter airplane. Combined with the bombsight mascot (introduced in 1946), VentiPorts put the driver at the controls of an imaginary fighter airplane. The flashing light feature was not used by Buick in production, but VentiPorts remained as nonfunctional ornamentation.

They were called VentiPorts because the 1949 sales brochure noted that VentiPorts helped ventilate the engine compartment to minimize the engine overheating. The suggestion was made that they allowed air flow out of the engine bay. Air entered from the grill into the engine bay and was pressurized by the radiator fan, and exited through the VentiPorts. The benefit might have been true in early 1949, but sometime during the model year they became plugged.


For some great photos of Buicks throughout the years, please check out the links below:


 

The Buick Regal has been cruising American roads for 40 years. To observe the Regal’s evolution is to observe the very events in modern history that helped propel its design.  As a pioneer of the automotive industry, the legacy of this mid-size car continues into 2014.