It’s no small feat to last one decade, let alone 11. That’s how long Buick has been making quality, luxury vehicles. From the 1904 Buick Model B to the 2014 Buick Verano the brand has valued the idea of providing quality vehicles throughout its history. While the Buick in the garage today may look different than the Regal of years past, the company remains focused on innovation and luxury at a value.
After a few years of experimenting with automobiles built at his home in Detroit, David Dunbar Buick – a former plumbing inventor and businessman – incorporated the Buick Motor Company on May 19, 1903. A State of Michigan historic site marker outside General Motors Global Headquarters at the Renaissance Center commemorates the day.
Many milestones and highlights have come since May 19, 1903:
- 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
- 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 Enclave luxury crossover’s Lansing Delta Township plant was the industry’s first LEED Gold-certified manufacturing facility.
These past 110 years have included some pretty astounding highlights. While many include the success of passenger vehicles, Buick also played a role in World War II when the vehicles produced on their production lines looked decidedly different. In February of 1942, the last civilian car left a Buick facility before full attention was placed on engineering and producing aircraft engines, ammunition and the M18 tank destroyer, better known as the Hellcat.
Buick engineers brought the Hellcat to life from the design team’s sketches and developed an innovative torsion bar suspension that provided a steady ride. Though it weighed about 20 tons, the Hellcat was designed to be one of fastest tanks on the battlefield and was capable of traveling upwards of 60 mph. In addition to 2,507 M18 tank destroyers, Buick factory workers produced nearly 20,000 powertrains, a half-million cartridge cases, 9.7 million 20-mm shells, and a number of other war goods during WWII.
After WWII the lines switched back to the passenger vehicles that Buick was known for with the signature waterfall grilles that can still be seen on models today. Buick has adapted to remain a player in the automotive industry as a modern luxury brand offering vehicles with sculpted designs, luxurious interiors with thoughtful personal technologies, along with responsive-yet-efficient performance. Buick is attracting new customers with its portfolio of award-winning luxury models, including the Enclave crossover, LaCrosse sedan, Regal sport sedan, Buick Verano sedan and the all-new Encore crossover.