Buick (//), formally the Buick Motor Division, is an upscale automobile brand of the American manufacturer General Motors (GM). It has the distinction of being the oldest active American marque of automobile, and was the company that established General Motors in 1908. Before the establishment of General Motors, GM founder William C. Durant had served as Buick's general manager and major investor. Buick also has the distinction of being the first production automobile maker in the world to equip its cars with overhead valve engines in 1904.
|Founded||("Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company")
("Buick Motor Company")
May 19, 1903
|Founder||David Dunbar Buick|
|Headquarters||Detroit, Michigan, U.S.|
|United States, Canada, Mexico, China|
For much of its existence in the North American market, Buick has been marketed as a premium automobile brand, selling luxury vehicles positioned above GM's mainstream brands, while below the flagship luxury Cadillac division. Buick-branded vehicles are also known for reliability, ranking high in Consumer Reports' brand reliability ratings.
In 2015, Buick sold 1,231,941 vehicles, a record for the brand. The main market is in China, where 80% of Buick-branded automobiles are sold. Buicks are also sold in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Buick is one of the oldest automobile brands in the world and the oldest in America. (Autocar, founded in 1897, is the oldest motor vehicle manufacturer in the western hemisphere; while originally an automobile maker, Autocar now builds heavy trucks. Oldsmobile, also an early auto maker founded in 1897, is now defunct; Studebaker was founded in 1852, but didn't begin producing automobiles until 1902; Ford produced his first car in 1896 but did not start the Ford Motor Co. until 1903, and during the period in between was involved with other automobile manufacturers such as Cadillac, founded in 1902).
The first two Buick automobiles were made in 1899 and 1900 at the "Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company" by chief-engineer Walter Marr, but company owner David Dunbar Buick was reluctant to begin making automobiles, being satisfied with stationary and marine engine production, so Marr left Buick in 1901 to found his own automobile company under his own name. His replacement was Eugene Richard, who applied for a patent in 1902 for Marr's valve-in-head engine, which patent, number 771,095, was awarded to Richard in the name of Buick in 1904. In 1903, the third Buick automobile was made, this time by Richard, but in 1904 Buick, whose company was now called "Buick Motor Company," moved to Flint, Michigan, and Richard stayed behind. Marr was rehired in Flint as chief engineer, to begin making automobiles in production. That year, 37 Buick automobiles were made, production increasing to 750 in 1905, 1,400 in 1906, 4,641 in 1907, and 8,800 in 1908, taking the number one spot away from close competitors Oldsmobile, Ford, and Maxwell.
David Buick incorporated his company as the Buick Motor Company on May 19, 1903, in Detroit, Michigan. In March, 1904, the company fell to financier Benjamin Briscoe, who quickly sold it to James H. Whiting (1842–1919), owner of Flint Wagon Works, in Flint, Michigan. Whiting moved Buick to Flint that summer, to a location across the street from his factory, with the idea of adding Buick's engines to his wagons. David Buick stayed on as a manager, and re-hired Walter Marr as chief engineer. The engine Buick and Marr developed for this automobile was a 2-cylinder valve-in-head engine of 159 cubic inches, with each cylinder horizontal and opposed to each other by 180 degrees. Whiting built only a few automobiles in 1904, by bringing Buick engines across the street where his workers shoehorned them into his wagons, before running out of capital, causing him to bring in William C. Durant that year as controlling investor. Durant was co-owner, also in Flint, with Josiah Dallas Dort, of the Durant-Dort Carriage Company, which was the largest carriage-making company in the country and one of the largest in the world. Durant spent the next 4 years turning Buick into the biggest-selling automobile brand in the US. David Buick sold his stock upon departure in 1906, and died in modest circumstances 25 years later. In 1907, Durant agreed to supply motors to R. S. McLaughlin in Canada, an auto maker, and in 1908 he founded General Motors.
|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 at a re-purposed factory that was known as the Flint Wagon Works. There were 37 Buicks made that year, none of which survive. 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 early success of Buick is attributed mainly to what they called the valve-in-head engine, now known as the overhead valve (OHV), engine patented by Eugene Richard and developed by Richard, Buick, and Marr. 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 power train and chassis architecture introduced on the Model B was continued through the 1909 Model F.
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.
Billy 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.
The first full-size Buick to join the smaller Model B was in 1907, when the Model D was introduced with a four-cylinder 255.0 cu in (4,178 cc) T-head engine, installed in the front with rear wheel drive. This was one of the only cars with side valves that Buick ever made.
In 1911, Buick introduced its first closed-body car, four years ahead of Ford, but five years after Cadillac, which was the first. The car was built at the all-new factory in Flint which later became to be known as Buick City. Buick during the 1920s made various sized vehicles, with series designations for different years, sometimes using numbers, while later years using lettered designations. One of the larger vehicles, with straight-six, was the Buick Master Six.
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, which did not appear on other car brands until almost a decade later. All 1939 models also had a steering column mounted shift lever.
In the mid 1930s McLaughlin-Buicks were particularly popular with British monarch Edward VIII. He imported and used a Canadian built McLaughlin-Buick. It was GM's top brand in Canada. Being Canada's most luxurious brand Buicks are always presented for Royal transport within Canada. George VI used one for a coast to coast royal tour of Canada in 1939.
1904 - 1911. Two cylinders horizontally opposed at 180 degrees, OHV, 159 cu. in.
1907 - 1924. Four cylinders, in line, OHV, 165 to 392.6 cu. in.
1914 - 1930. Six cylinders, in line, OHV, 191 to 331 cu. in.
Post World War II yearsEdit
- 1940 — Estate introduced as wagon designation on Super.
- 1942 — Produced the M18 Hellcat army tank and supplied radial engines installed in the B-24 Liberator, Douglas C-47 Skytrain, and Douglas C-54 Skymaster.
- 1948 — Dynaflow automatic transmission first offered.
- 1949 — VentiPorts debut.
- 1953 — Buick's 50th Anniversary. Introduction of Buick V8 engine and Roadmaster Skylark.
- 1955 — Best model year sales to date with 738,814 Buicks sold.
- 1957 — New 364 cu. in. engine block & Ball joint front suspension debut. Roadmasters now had aluminum finned brake drums.
- 1959 — Electra, Invicta and LeSabre and 401 cu. in. V-8 (in Electras & Invicta) introduced. Electra was the Official Pace Car of the Indianapolis 500 race.
- 1960 — Electra 225 was the Official Pace Car of the Daytona 500 race.
- 1961 — Skylark nameplate returns as top model of new Special compact car with new 215 cu. in. aluminum V-8. Fireball V6 engine introduced.
- 1962 — Wildcat introduced as trim level on Invicta. Special named Motor Trend Car of the Year.
- 1963 — Riviera introduced as its own model with 425 cu.in. V-8 as an option. Wildcat introduced as its own model. Electra 225 was the Official Pace Car of the Daytona 500 race.
- 1964 — Special reintroduced as intermediate sized car on GM "A" body platform.
- 1967 — Radial tires available as options on all full size Buicks.
- 1970 — Estate introduced as its own model. GSX high performance package first offered on Gran Sport (GS) 455.
- 1971 — Centurion and "boat-tail" Riviera introduced.
- 1973 — Apollo introduced. Regal introduced as upper trim level on Century.
- 1975 — Skyhawk introduced. Park Avenue introduced as trim/option package on Electra 225 Limited. Century was the Official Pace Car of the Indianapolis 500 race.
- 1976 — Century was the Official Pace Car of the Indianapolis 500 race for the second year in a row. Final year for Buick Big-Block engine.
- 1977 — Electra redesigned and downsized. Best model year sales to date with 773,313 Buicks sold.
- 1978 — Buick's 75th Anniversary. Turbocharged V6 introduced in the Regal Sport Coupe. Best model year sales to date with 795,316 Buicks sold.
- 1979 — Riviera S-Type named Motor Trend Car of the Year.
- 1980 — Diesel engine became available on select Buick models. Somerset introduced as trim/option package on Regal Limited.
- 1981 — T-Type performance trim introduced on Riviera.Regal was the Official Pace Car of the Indianapolis 500 race.
- 1982 — Grand National high performance package first offered on Regal. First Riviera convertible produced.
- 1983 — Riviera was the Official Pace Car of the Indianapolis 500 race. Best model year sales to date with 810,435 Buicks sold.
- 1984 — Official Car of the XXIII Olympiad. Best model year sales to date with 906,626 Buicks sold.
- 1985 — Somerset introduced as its own model. LeSabre Limited Collectors Edition offered to mark the end of an era for the rear-wheel drive coupe and sedan. Electra redesigned and converted to front-wheel drive. Best model year sales to date with 915,336 Buicks sold.
- 1986 — LeSabre coupe and sedan redesigned and converted to the new front-wheel drive H-body platform.
- 1987 — Limited production GNX high performance package introduced and offered one year only on Regal.
- 1988 — Official Car of the U.S. Olympic Team. Reatta 2-seater introduced. Regal redesigned and converted to front-wheel drive. "The Great American Road Belongs to Buick" slogan debuts.
- 1989 — Ultra introduced as trim/option package on Electra Park Avenue.
- 1990 — First Reatta convertible produced. Regal is now offered as a 4-door sedan for the first time since 1977. "The New Symbol for Quality in America" slogan debuts.
- 1991 — Park Avenue introduced as its own model. Roadmaster returned to lineup after 33-year absence.
- 1993 — Buick's 90th Anniversary. Special 90th Anniversary Edition LeSabre produced to commemorate the milestone.
- 1996 — Roadmaster discontinued.
- 1997 — Regal and Century are redesigned.
- 1999 — Limited production Riviera Silver Arrow produced to commemorate original 1963 concept as well as end of Riviera production.
In the 2000s, Buick's lineup was modified with the compact and performance segments being abandoned in favor of the crossover/SUV market which was growing in popularity. In 2000, the eighth and final generation of the LeSabre was introduced and remained in production until its discontinuation in 2005. In 2003, the Buick Centieme crossover concept car commemorated Buick Motor Division's 100th anniversary. Some of the Centieme's exterior design and interior features would later appear on the 2008 Enclave crossover. In 2004, Buick added the Rainier mid-size SUV. Buick began consolidating its lineup in 2005 and by 2008 had reduced it to just three models with new nameplates: the 2005 LaCrosse/Allure, the 2006 Lucerne, and the 2008 Enclave. In 2008, the Super name returned after a 50-year absence as a new performance trim level on LaCrosse and Lucerne. While the brand's total overall sales slipped in the United States, the profitability of the model lineup 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 the 2009 J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study, Buick tied with Jaguar as the most dependable brand in the United States.
The 2010s saw the return of a classic Buick nameplate (Regal) as well as the addition of several new ones, plus the brand’s first factory convertible since the early 1990s.
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 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. For 2012, the all-new Verano, which was 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. In 2013, GM confirmed plans of a "hybrid global brand" which includes Opel/Vauxhall and Buick using more synergies between the brands. LaCrosse and Regal were refreshed for the 2014 model year. In 2015, the all-new Cascada compact convertible debuted at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. In November, the all-new 2017 LaCrosse was shown at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Buick also confirmed that the Envision mid-size crossover would be sold in North America starting summer 2016. The Verano compact sedan was dropped from the Buick lineup in North America in 2017. For 2018, Buick replaced the Regal sedan with an all-new model offering hatchback and station wagon body styles. This new Regal is the first hatchback from Buick for the North American market since the 1987 Skyhawk and the first station wagon since the 1996 Roadmaster.
For the 2018 model year, Buick's North American lineup consists of the Encore compact crossover, the Cascada compact convertible, the Regal mid-size hatchback and station wagon, the LaCrosse full-size sedan, the Envision mid-size crossover, and the Enclave full-size crossover. There are plans to add a Sub-brand to accompany Buick, with the Avenir badge being applied to its top of the line level trims, starting with the 2018 model year, utilizing the same strategy as GMC's Denali Sub-brand, which has been successful for GM. With GM spinning off the Opel/Vauxhall division to Group PSA in March 2017, Buick is expected to move away from sharing the same Opel model/designs upon the completion of the current generation vehicles or a debut of a replacement after the sale closes.
A GM company spokesman said that Buick is positioned as a "premium" marque (entry-level luxury) to compete with Acura, some Lexus models, Volvo, and Infiniti, while Cadillac is aimed at the "luxury" performance segment which includes BMW and Mercedes-Benz, and Audi
- Model B (1904)
- Model C (1905)
- Model F & G (1906–1910)
- Model 10 (1908–1910)
- Model 14 & 14B (1910–1911)
- Special (1936–1958, 1961–1969)
- Roadmaster (1936–1958, 1991–1996)
- Century (1936–1942, 1954–1958, 1973–2005)
- Super (1939–1958)
- Skylark (1953–1954, 1961–1972, 1975–1998)
- Invicta (1959–1963)
- Electra (1959–1990)
- LeSabre (1959–2005)
- Wildcat (1963–1970)
- Riviera (1963–1993, 1995–1999)
- Estate (1970–1979, 1990)
- Centurion (1971–1973)
- Apollo (1973–1975)
- Skyhawk (1975–1980, 1982–1989)
- Somerset (1985–1987)
- Reatta (1988–1991)
- Park Avenue (1991–2005)
- Rendezvous (2001–2007)
- Rainier (2004–2007)
- Terraza (2005–2007)
- Lucerne (2006–2011)
- Verano (2012–2017)
Buick has a long history of creating intriguing concept cars dating back to the Y-Job, the industry's first concept car, of 1938. Its most recent concepts have included the Avenir, unveiled at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, and the Avista which was unveiled a year later at the 2016 North American International Auto Show.
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. It was supplanted by the Buick Hawk in the 1970s, but the trishield reemerged in the 1980s, simplified, but with its same patriotic colors. The Trishield with red, white, and blue features, was simplified in 2005, but the colors have returned representing the current trio of vehicles in the Buick marque for sedans and crossovers. However, the Trishield enjoys its even more distilled and emboldened tri-color 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 grille 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 P-51 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 Ultra. 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. The newly designed VentiPorts appear on every Buick model from 2014 onward.
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 shape of the feature shows similarities to the Jaguar XK120, with the feature running the length of the car in both examples.
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 feature was re-introduced with the 2nd generation Buick LaCrosse.
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.
Classic grille stylingEdit
The Buick styling cue (dating from the 1942–1958 period,) 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.
In addition to premium and luxury vehicles, Buick has also been well known for its offerings of high performance cars. Some of the better known examples included the Gran Sport and GSX models of the 1960s and 1970s, and the Grand National and GNX models of the 1980s.
China is Buick's largest market, accounting for 80% of the cars sold worldwide in 2015. In 2015, General Motors sold 990,000 Buicks in China, four and a half times what it sold in the United States. Buicks have always been popular in China. In pre-World War II China, one in five cars was a Buick Buick is a leading vehicle brand in China. Buicks were used by the last emperor Puyi, the first president Sun Yat-sen, and the first premier Zhou Enlai.
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.
On April 2010 Buick debuted the localised version of LaCrosse, named Alpheon, to South Korean market.
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.
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 early to late 1980s. General Motors entered the Regal, particularly the Grand National model, in the NASCAR Cup Series alongside the Oldsmobile Cutlass. Buick was also a major powerplant in the 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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