Buick is a brand of automobile built in the United States, Canada, and China by General Motors Corporation. Buicks are sold in North America,
China, Taiwan, and Israel. The name is pronounced (IPA). It is now GM's only US-based entry-level luxury brand since the demise of Oldsmobile
in 2004, although GM's Swedish subsidiary, Saab, fills a similar segment in price and prestige level.
Buick originated as an independent motor car manufacturer, the Buick Motor Company, incorporated on May 19, 1903 by the Scottish-American
David Dunbar Buick (who invented the overhead valve engine on which the company's success was based) in Flint, Michigan. In 1904 the
struggling company was taken over by James Whiting, who brought in William C. Durant to manage his new acquisition. Buick himself unwisely
sold his stock for a small sum at his departure, and died in very modest circumstances forty years later.
Durant was a natural, however, and Buick soon became the largest car maker in America. Using the profits from this, Durant embarked on a series
of several dozen corporate acquisitions, calling his new mega-corporation General Motors.
At first, the different manufacturers who comprised General Motors competed against each other, but Durant put a stop to 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 luxurious Cadillac brand had more
In 1929, the Buick Motor Division launched the Marquette sister brand, designed to help bridge the price gap between Buick and Oldsmobile,
however Marquette was discontinued in 1930.
Even today, Buick retains that position in the GM lineup. The ideal Buick customer was comfortably off; possibly not quite rich enough to afford a
Cadillac or not desiring the ostentation of one, but definitely in the market for a car a cut above the norm. Buick is the fourth oldest marque in the
world (Oldsmobile is/was the second oldest, and Mercedes is the oldest, GMC is now the oldest in the GM lineup, by only 1 year before Buick, and
5 years younger than Oldsmobile).
Speculation exists, however, as to whether GM will repeat its termination of the Oldsmobile by eliminating the Buick brand in order to further cut
costs, following the temporary suspension of GM's planned Zeta project to develop new rear wheel drive cars which would have fit the Buick
market niche, and the consolidation of Buick, Pontiac, and GMC trucks into a single dealer franchise, which would make it simple to eliminate the
Buick brand without leaving any dealers with no product. However, with the development of the Zeta platform apparently still ongoing (including
the development of the 2006 VE Holden Commodore), it may be likely that Buick will survive still.
Buick began consolidating its lineup in 2005, replacing the Century and Regal with the LaCrosse, and the LeSabre and Park Avenue with the
Lucerne in 2006. The company will replace both of its SUVs, the Rendezvous and Rainier with the Enclave within 18 months, while the
slow-selling Terraza minivan likely to end production shortly after. This will leave the marque with just three models by 2009.
Buick's emblem consists of three shields, each bisected diagonally to the right by a straight line, the shields arranged touching each other in a
left-diagonal pattern, inside a circle. If represented in color, the leftmost shield is red, the middle white, and the rightmost blue, although white is
sometimes represented by light gray. This design, known as the Trishield, was adopted in 1959 for the 1960 models and represents the three
models that comprised the lineup that year-LeSabre, Invicta, and Electra. The shields are adopted from the shield of the Buick family crest, which
in modified form had been used on Buicks since the 30s. A version of the traditional crest appeared on Electras through the 70s.
A traditional Buick styling cue dating to 1949 is a series of three or four portholes or vents on the front fender behind the front wheels. The source
of this design feature was a custom car (one not made by Buick, but personal car of 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 the 40's), the ventiports put the driver at the controls of an imaginary fighter airplane. The flashing light
feature was not used by Buick in production, but the portholes remained as nonfunctional ornamentation.
These were originally called "Ventiports" as they did allow air flow into the engine bay (later just "portholes"). Ventiports have appeared
sporadically on several models since.
Lower cost models were equipped with three portholes, while higher cost models came with four. This made the top line modles instantly
recognisable on the road. When the number of portholes was standardized across the entire model line, buyers of the higher cost models
complained bitterly that they felt shortchanged. In 2003 they were re-introduced on the Buick Park Avenue. After the Park Avenue was
discontinued, Buick salvaged the portholes to appear on the new Lucerne. In a break with tradition, the Lucerne's portholes refer directly to
engine configuration: six-cylinder models have six, while V8s have eight.
Another styling cue from the 1940s through the 1970s was the "sweepspear", a curved line running the length of the car. In the earlier cars,
this was a chrome-plated rub strip which, after it passed the front wheel, gently curved down nearly to the rocker panel just before the rear
wheel, and then curved around the rear wheel in a quarter of a circle to go straight back to the tail-light. During the two-tone color craze of the
1950s, the sweepspear separated two different color areas. After that, the curved line was usually indicated either by a vinyl rub strip or simply a
character line molded into the sheetmetal.
During the 1950s, the characteristic form of the Buick taillamps was a tier of small circular bullet-shapes. In the early 1960s, most models began
to evolve a wide, rectangular pattern, until the '65 Skylark and Electra models appeared with full-width rear lamps. Since then, wide taillamps
have been a Buick hallmark.
The Buick styling cue (dating from the 1940s) that has most often reappeared, though, is for the grille to be a horizontal oval with many thin
vertical chromed ribs bulging forward. This has sometimes been called the Buick "dollar grin" particularly on the early 1950s models, which had
thick, highly-polished ribs that somewhat resembled teeth. The 1950 model took this tooth theme to its extreme as the teeth crossed over the
bumper exposing the 1950 GRIN. Click the following link to see a 1950 advertisement featureing a black 1950 buick, grinning its way along main
street USA http://www.buicknet.com. The 1951 model reigned in the theme bringing the teeth back behind the bumper.
It appears Buick may be preparing to abandon this styling cue for a new waterfall grille, as seen on the Buick Velite concept car from 2004 and
the Buick Lucerne introduced for the 2006 model year. This waterfall grille bears some resemblance to grilles of Buicks from the 1980s, such as
the Grand National.
The Buick V8 engine, nicknamed the "nailhead", became popular with hot-rodders in the 1950s and 1960s, because the vertical attachment of
the valve covers, in contrast to the angled attachment of other V-8 engines, enabled the engine to fit into smaller spaces while maintaining easy
access for maintenance.
* Buick Apollo (1973 - 1979)
* Buick Allure (2005 - Current, only sold in Canada, same as the LaCrosse)
* Buick Centurion (1971 - 1973)
* Buick Century (1936 - 1942, 1954 - 1958, 1973 - 2005)
* Buick Electra (1959 - 1990)
* Buick Enclave (2008 - Current)
* Buick Estate Wagon (1940, 1946- 1964, 1970 - 1996)
* Buick Excelle (2003 - Current, rebadged Daewoo Nubira, only sold in China)
* Buick G-series (1999 - 2003, rebadged Buick Century, only sold in China)
* Buick GL8 (2000 - Current, only sold in China)
* Buick Gran Sport (1965 - 1972)
* Buick GSX (1970 - 1972)
* Buick HRV (2004 - Current, only sold in China)
* Buick Invicta (1959 - 1964)
* Buick LaCrosse (2005 - Current)
* Buick LeSabre (1959 - 2005)
* Buick Limited (1936 - 1942, 1958)
* Buick Lucerne (2006 - Current)
* Buick Luxus (1973 - 1974)
* Buick Park Avenue (1991 - 2005)
* Buick Rainier (2004 - Current)
* Buick Reatta (1988 - 1991)
* Buick Regal (1973 - 2004)
* Buick Rendezvous (2002 - Current)
* Buick Riviera (1963 - 1999)
* Buick Roadmaster (1936 - 1958, 1991 - 1996)
* Buick Royaum (2005 - Current, only sold in China)
* Buick Skyhawk (1975 - 1980, 1982 - 1989)
* Buick Skylark (1953 - 1954, 1961 - 1972, 1975 - 1998)
* Buick Somerset (1985 - 1987)
* Buick Special (1936 - 1958, 1961 - 1969)
* Buick Sport Wagon (1964 - 1971)
* Buick Super (1940 - 1958)
* Buick Terraza (2005 - Current)
* Buick Wildcat (1963 - 1970)
* Buick Y-Job (1938)
* 1951 Buick LeSabre (1951)
* Buick XP-300 (1951)
* Buick Wildcat I (1953)
* Buick Wildcat II (1954)
* Buick Wildcat III (1955)
* 1956 Buick Centurion (1956)
* Buick Riviera Silver Arrow I (1963)
* Buick Questor (1983)
* 1985 Buick Wildcat (1985)
* 1988 Buick Lucerne (1988)
* Buick Bolero (1990)
* Buick Sceptre (1992)
* Buick XP2000 (1996)
* Buick Signia (1998)
* Buick Cielo (1999)
* 2000 Buick LaCrosse (2000)
* Buick Blackhawk (2000)
* Buick Bengal (2001)
* Buick Centieme (2003)
* Buick Velite (2004)