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|Founded||Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company|
Buick Motor Division
May 19, 1903
|Founder||David Dunbar Buick|
|Headquarters||Detroit, United States|
|Owner||General Motors Company|
|Founded||Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company|
Buick Motor Division
May 19, 1903
|Founder||David Dunbar Buick|
|Headquarters||Detroit, United States|
|Owner||General Motors Company|
Buick, formally the Buick Motor Division //, is an American automobile division of the American manufacturer General Motors (GM). For much of its existence in the North American market, Buick has been marketed as a premium automobile brand, selling entry-level luxury vehicles positioned above its mainstream GM stablemate Chevrolet, and below the flagship Cadillac division. Buick holds the distinction of being the oldest active American marque of automobile, and the original Buick Motor Company was a cornerstone of the establishment of General Motors in 1908. Before the establishment of General Motors, GM founder William C. Durant previously served as Buick's general manager, while his friend Louis Chevrolet worked as a racing driver for Buick and later learned automotive design working there. In 1939 Buick also pioneered the use of turn signals, which did not appear on other car brands until almost a decade later.
Since the discontinuation of Saturn in 2009, GM has positioned Buick to be an analogue to its German Opel brand, sharing models and development. Buick-branded vehicles are sold in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and China. Buick sold 1,170,115 vehicles worldwide in calendar year 2014, a record for the brand.
Buick is currently the oldest active North American automotive make, (Autocar, the truck-maker, is the oldest motor vehicle brand) 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), 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.
|Buick in the early years |
Between 1899 and 1902, two prototype vehicles were built in Detroit, Michigan by Walter Lorenzo Marr. Some documentation exists of the 1901 or 1902 prototype with tiller steering similar to the Oldsmobile Curved Dash. In mid-1904, another prototype was constructed for an endurance run, which convinced James H. Whiting to authorize production of the first models offered to the public. The architecture of this prototype was the basis for the Model B.
The first Buick made for sale, the 1904 Model B, was built in Flint, Michigan. There were 37 Buicks made that year, none of which survived. There are, however, two replicas in existence: the 1904 endurance car, at the Buick Gallery & Research Center in Flint, and a Model B assembled by an enthusiast in California for the division's 100th anniversary. Both of these vehicles use various parts from Buicks of that early era, as well as fabricated parts. These vehicles were each constructed with the two known surviving 1904 engines.
The power train and chassis architecture introduced on the Model B was continued through the 1909 Model F. The early success of Buick is attributed in part to the valve-in-head, or overhead valve (OHV), engine patented by Eugene Richard and developed by David Dunbar Buick. The Model F had a two-cylinder engine, an 87 inch wheelbase and weighed 1,800 lbs. The creation of General Motors is attributed in part to the success of Buick, so it can be said Marr and Richard's designs directly led to GM.
The basic design of the 1904 Buick was optimally engineered even by today's standards. The flat-twin engine is inherently balanced, with torque presented to the chassis in a longitudinal manner, actually cancelling front end lift, rather than producing undesirable lateral motion. The engine was mounted amidships, now considered the optimal location.
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, a ranking that Buick occupies currently in the General Motors lineup. To save on resources, Buick vehicles shared a common platform, called the GM A platform, that was shared with Chevrolet, Oakland, Oldsmobile and Cadillac. 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, four years ahead of Ford. 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. All Buick, Marquette, Viking, and Oldsmobile products shared the newly introduced GM B platform starting in 1926. 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.
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.
The number of Buick models in the lineup fell over time, with the compact and performance segments being abandoned altogether. However, Buick maintained their traditional Century, Regal, LeSabre, and Park Avenue sedan lines. In 2001, Buick introduced its first SUV, the Rendezvous crossover, while golf star Tiger Woods became its spokesperson.
Buick began consolidating its lineup in 2005, eventually reducing its line to just three models with new nameplates: the 2005 LaCrosse/Allure, the 2006 Lucerne, and the successful 2008 Enclave. While total sales slipped, the profitability of this model line ensured Buick's future within General Motors.
Since 2005, GM had gradually consolidated Buick with GMC and former Pontiac dealerships to create the current Buick-GMC network. During General Motors Chapter 11 reorganization and emergence in 2009, the company designated Buick as a "core brand", citing the division's success in China. Behind the scenes, GM began to move products originally planned for other brands to Buick. The Opel Insignia was originally intended to become the second-generation Saturn Aura, but instead became the new Buick Regal.
In January 2009, Buick unveiled the new 2010 LaCrosse sedan, an all new styling direction which included traditional Buick cues. The market responded to the LaCrosse, with reviews favorably comparing to luxury models such as the Lexus ES. In the 2009 J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study, Buick tied with Jaguar as the most dependable brand in the United States.
In 2010, Buick became the fastest growing automotive brand and attracted a younger customer demographic. An all-new Regal sedan, a smaller model based on the European Opel Insignia, was re-introduced for the 2011 model year after a seven year absence.
In June 2011, the Lucerne full-size sedan was discontinued after six years in production. Several months later, the all-new 2012 Verano a compact sedan based on the Chevrolet Cruze joined the lineup. Additionally, the performance-oriented Regal GS officially went on sale and became the first Buick in almost 20 years to be offered with a manual transmission and a turbocharger. Buick also entered the hybrid market with the introduction of eAssist technology on the 2012 LaCrosse and Regal which helped improve fuel economy ratings by as much as 38% over the regular gas-engine versions. Meanwhile, sales of the Enclave crossover remained strong.
In January 2012, the all-new Encore mini crossover was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Also in 2012, a turbocharged version of the Verano was introduced and the Enclave was redesigned for the 2013 model year.
As of 2015[update], Buick's North American lineup consists of the Encore mini crossover, the Verano entry-level compact sedan, the Regal mid-size sports sedan, the LaCrosse mid-size sedan, and the Enclave full-size luxury crossover. The all-new Cascada convertible debuted at the North American International Auto Show and is due to go on sale in early 2016.
A GM company spokesman said that Buick is positioned as a "premium" marque (entry-level luxury) to compete with Acura, entry level Lexus models, and Volvo, while Cadillac is aimed at the "luxury" performance segment which includes BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
The Buick Trishield is rooted in the ancestral coat of arms of the automaker’s founder, David Dunbar Buick. That crest was a red shield with a checkered silver and azure diagonal line from the upper left to lower right, a stag above, and a punctured cross below. The division adopted this on its radiator grilles in 1937. In 1960, the logo underwent a major overhaul. Its single shield was replaced by a trio in red, white, and blue—denoting the LeSabre, Invicta, and Electra then in the Buick lineup. Usurped by the Buick Hawk in the 1970s, the trishield reemerged in the 1980s, simplified, but with its same patriotic colors. Today, again representing the trio of vehicles in the Buick marque, the trishield enjoys its even more distilled—and emboldened—monochrome form.
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.
The installation of VentiPorts was a reference to Buick having participated in the war effort by supplying over 74,000 Pratt & Whitney radial engines that were installed in B-24 Liberator aircraft. Buick also supplied Pratt & Whitney engines in the Douglas C-47 Skytrain and Douglas C-54 Skymaster. GM also had a controlling interest in North American Aviation from 1933 until 1948, the company that built the P51 Mustang fighter plane. GM also owned the Allison Engine Company, the manufacturer of the Allison V-1710 V-12 engine that was used in the Lockheed P-38, Bell P-39 and Curtiss P-40.
When introduced, the number of VentiPorts (three or four) denoted the size of straight-eight engine installed. Since displacement differences in straight-eight engines resulted in more dramatic differences in engine length than on V8s, the Buick Roadmaster (which was the only model at this time with the larger engine) needed a longer chassis in front of the cowl to accommodate the larger engine. Thus an extra VentiPort also corresponded directly to the necessary extra length in front. After the more compact V8 replaced the straight-eight engine in 1953 this difference in chassis length was no longer needed. Nevertheless, the convention remained. Consequently, when the Buick Century, which shared the Buick Special's smaller body, was reintroduced in 1954, it also received four VentiPorts to denote its engine's greater displacement. However, in 1955, the Buick Super, which shared Roadmaster's larger body, was promoted from three to four VentiPorts despite having the smaller displacement engine. In turn, the Buick Invicta which took the place of the Buick Century in 1959, and consequently had the smaller body with the larger displacement engine, was demoted from four to three VentiPorts on introduction. Thus the number of VentiPorts came to denote body size rather than engine size.
In 1961, Buick introduced the first V6 engine installed in an American passenger car, called the Fireball V6 in the Buick Special, and three VentiPorts appeared on the side, ushering a new designation denoting the number of cylinders instead of displacement and bodysize. As a result, VentiPorts have appeared sporadically from 1960 through 1981. The Buick V6 engine was not related to the GMC V6 engine introduced for commercial use in 1959.
In 2003 VentiPorts were re-introduced on the Buick Park Avenue. After the Park Avenue was discontinued, Buick salvaged the VentiPorts to appear on the new-for-2006 Lucerne. Consistent with the tradition that held from 1961, the Lucerne's VentiPorts refer directly to the number of pistons: V6 models have three on each side, while V8s have four on each side.
Modern and edgy compared to the oval ones that adorned Buicks for years, the new VentiPorts have become a Buick-wide talisman again and are currently featured in one form or another on the Lucerne, the popular Enclave CUV in 2010, along the inner hood ridges of the redesigned LaCrosse. On the new 2012 Buick Regal, only two appear in the hood, referring to the 4-cylinder engine in that car.
The newly designed VentiPorts appear on every 2014 Buick model.
Another styling cue from the 1940s through the 1970s was the Sweepspear, a curved trim line running almost the length of the car. Introduced as an option on the 1949 Buick Roadmaster Riviera hardtop coupe, the original Sweepspear was a chrome-plated steel rub strip which began level over the front wheel, gently curved down across the front fender and door, dove nearly to the rocker panel just ahead of the rear wheel, then flared up and over the rear wheel before leveling off again into a straight run back to the tail-light.
The "Riviera trim", as it was initially called, was made available on the Roadmaster convertible very late in the '49 model year. It proved so popular that by the 1951 model year it was made a standard feature on all Buicks. During the two-tone color craze of the 1950s, it separated two different color areas.
In time, the Sweepspear became stainless steel, then a vinyl rub strip or simple character line in the sheetmetal, as hinted in some versions of the Buick Riviera, distinct on the 1968-1969 Skylark, and appearing on the 2008 Invicta concept car. Often optional trim was available to reinforce a plain character line in the bodywork.
The 1958 Buick was marketed beginning in September 1957, just as the space age began with the launching of Sputnik I on October 4 of that year. This Buick was nicknamed "the king of chrome" and had rear tailfins reminiscent of a rocket ship. In 1959, Buick had the aerodynamic Delta Fin. The fin made parking difficult and blocked the driver's line of vision. It was snubbed down in 1960 and disappeared in 1961.
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 1965 Skylark and Electra models appeared with full-width rear lamps. Since then, wide taillamps have been a Buick hallmark, usually consisting of four bulbs on each side. The brake light illumination uses the two outer bulbs, while the two inner bulbs remain as tail lights.
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". The 1951 model reined in the theme, bringing the teeth back behind the bumper. Current Buick Models have a new take on the classic styling with their Chromed "Waterfall Grilles".
In recent years, Buick has adopted a Waterfall Grille, as seen on the Buick Velite concept car from 2004 and first used in production with 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 because of its relatively small intake and exhaust valves which resembled nails, 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 V8 engines, enabled the engine to fit into smaller spaces while maintaining easy access for maintenance.
By 1967, Buick was making quiet history with more conventional V8s that had abandoned the "nailhead" design but made much greater power. For the 1967 model year, Buick renamed its "Gran Sport" performance models (not to be confused with the Chevrolet "Super Sport" cars) as "GS" models. In 1970 this was headed up by the powerful GS455 Stage 1, so named for its 455 cu in (7.5 L) engine, with its high performance "Stage 1" package. Built on the same "A-body" platform as the Chevelle, Cutlass/442, and LeMans/GTO, the GS cars were performance based vehicles spawned from Buick's Skylark line, and shared all of the A-Body GM offering's tendency for good looks. Both hardtop and convertible "GS" models were offered.
Midway through that year, Buick debuted its GSX model, which was an appearance package rivaling that of the GTO "Judge". GSX colors ran the spectrum that year, if that range included just yellow and white. Subsequent GSX models offered a variety of colors to go with the GSX signature hood blackout treatment and the swept wide pin striping vaguely reminiscent of the famous Buick "sweepspear". GSX models could be ordered with 350, 455, or 455 Stage 1 engines, and were outfitted with the usual GS options such as dual hood scoop hood with functioning "ram-air" intake, and dual exhaust. Horsepower ratings for the Stage 1 455s were a relatively mild 360 hp (or 370 depending on sources), but featured 510 lb·ft (690 N·m) of torque at 2200 rpm, good to propel the relatively weighty GS455 Stage 1 equipped cars to quarter-mile times of under 13.4 seconds. Buick halted GSX production after the 1972 model year.
The prototype GSX survived the show circuit, and was a fully functioning car that beat the odds to survive not only the usual showcar life of "construction-display-destruction", but also the life of an ordinary car, as it was sold from a dealership after being on display for some time. The car survives to this day, is restored to its original condition, licensed and ready to hit the road.
The GSX nameplate was revived as an appearance package available on the 1974 Buick Apollo. A total of 1500 vehicles with this package were built, and were offered with either a Chevrolet 250 c.i. L6 or Buick 350 c.i. V8 engine.
Buicks were sold in Mexico from 1921 to 1962 when a protectionist policy on behalf of the government restricted the percentage of imported parts that could be used in the manufacture of vehicles and the sale of imported cars. From then onwards, all GM products were sold by Chevrolet dealerships. In 1990, after a heavy modification to the protectionist policy of the sixties, GM started assembling the Buick Century in Mexico, at the plant in Ramos Arizpe, in the state of Coahuila, just south of Texas, and selling it through Mexican Chevrolet dealerships, so it was not uncommon for many people to call it "Chevrolet Century". In 1997, GM stopped production of Buicks in Mexico and the brand was not sold there until 2009.
With the announcement in 2009 of the elimination of the Pontiac brand, it was speculated that Buicks would be sold once again in Mexico, since there was a large network of Pontiac-GMC dealerships already in place. On July 24, 2009, Grace Lieblein, the new president of GM in Mexico, revealed that the Buick brand would be available in Mexico in late September of that year, after an absence of a dozen years, with the LaCrosse and the Enclave models. Buick shared the dealership floor with Pontiac and GMC until the Pontiac brand faded away in the summer of 2010.
In Israel, Buicks are imported by Universal Motors, Ltd. (UMI), which also imports other GM vehicles. For model years 2004 and 2005, the Buick LeSabre and Buick Rendezvous were sold. For model years 2006 and 2007, the Buick LaCrosse and Buick Lucerne were sold alongside the Rendezvous. For model year 2008, the Buick LaCrosse and Buick Lucerne were available. Buicks were sold throughout the Middle East until the second-generation Buick Roadmaster was discontinued.
Making up nearly 35% of those sales, China is Buick's largest market, selling more there than even the United States. In 2007, General Motors sold over 330,000 Buicks in China, more than twice what they sold in the United States. In pre-World War II China, one in five cars was a Buick Buick is a leading vehicle brand in China.
Since 1999, a Chinese version of the Buick Regal has been produced and sold in mainland China by Shanghai GM and has proven to be popular among upscale, professional families, establishing Buick as one of the most popular vehicle brands in China. In addition, Buick of China also sells the compact Excelle, in its first generation based on the Daewoo Lacetti/Nubira), a five-door hatchback version called the HRV, and a modified version of the first generation Pontiac Montana minivan named the GL8. Many Buicks for the local market are equipped with smaller more fuel efficient engines with double overhead camshafts, than those with overhead valves in the same nameplate for the American market. The engines of 2005-09 Chevrolet Equinox and Pontiac Torrent, originally intended for Buick in China, were made in China and imported by General Motors.
In June 2005, Buick announced that it would market the Australian RWD Holden Caprice in China as the Buick Royaum (2005–06). Buick previously marketed the subcompact Sail, sourced from GM's Asian operations and based on the Opel Corsa B, until 2005. Since then, Shanghai GM has replaced it with the Chevrolet Sail (a rebadged Opel Corsa). Buick has stated that it expects China to become its second largest market.
In 2006, Buick debuted the Chinese version of the LaCrosse sedan. The only differences are exterior design, different engine choices, and a facelifted interior. It is positioned above the Regal but below the Royaum.
In 2009, Buick sold 447,011 vehicles, an increase of 59.6 percent compared with the previous year.
Buick has sold over two million vehicles in China. The first million took eight years, the second came in at only three years.
GM Taiwan was founded in August 1989. In the early 1990s, Buick, along with other GM brands, was very popular and frequently seen on Taiwanese streets. Park Avenue, 3rd and 4th generation Regal, and 6th generation Skylark used to be sold in Taiwan.
In December 2004, General Motors signed a memorandum of understanding with Yulon, a firm based in Taiwan, for the licensed manufacture of Buick vehicles there. In July 2005, Yulon GM Motor Co. Ltd. (Yulon GM), a joint venture with 51 percent equity stake held by Yulon Motor and 49 percent by GM, was founded.
On April 17, 2006, Yulon GM debuted the first Buick vehicle ever built in Taiwan, the LaCrosse sedan. It is very similar to the Chinese version of the LaCrosse.
For many years, Buick was a substitute for Chevrolet in automobile racing. No earlier than the 1960s, Buick was a competitor in the Indianapolis 500, and (like almost every other American manufacturer) also participated in the Grand National stock car racing series using its Regal and later the Gran Sport.
The golden age of Buick in motorsport, however, was the late 1980s. General Motors entered the Regal, particularly the Grand National model, in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series alongside the Oldsmobile Cutlass. Buick was also a major powerplant in the CART IndyCar Series and IMSA GT Series (particularly in the IMSA GTP class) for several years. The 1990s, however, proved to be the end of Buick's reign in motorsports, as GM replaced it for many years with Oldsmobile before phasing out that marque in 2004. Oldsmobile would be replaced by Pontiac until its demise in 2009, being replaced by Chevrolet.
Buicks were also entered in the Trans Am Series in the 1980s and 1990s using aftermarket V8 engines.
The Buick Club of America, founded in 1966, is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and restoration of automobiles built by the Buick Motor Division of General Motors Corporation.
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