Buick, previously known as Buick Motor Division, is one of the American automakers that’s part of the General Motors company. They’re considered to be the oldest American automobile marque that’s still active. The first Buick was produced in 1899, but the company joined GM in 1908.
Prior to becoming GM’s founder, William Durant was a significant investor in Buick and the general manager. In 1904, they became the first automobile maker to use overhead valve engines during production.
Buick is known as a luxury automobile brand in North America. It sits above GM’s other mainstream options, but below their top-of-the-line Cadillac division. Their vehicles are known to be both reliable and dependable.
A Brief History Of Buick
Buick is the oldest automaker in the United States and one of the oldest across the world. Their first vehicle was produced in 1899, with the second just a year later. Even still, David Dunbar Buick, the owner, didn’t want to manufacture automobiles and was content producing marine engines. That caused Walter Marr, the chief-engineer to leave and start his own company. He was replaced by Eugene Richard. He ended up with a patent for the valve-in-head engine that Marr created.
Richard produced the third vehicle for the brand in 1903. Just a year later, the company relocated from Detroit to Flint, Michigan. At the time, Richard chose to stay behind. That’s when Marr decided to come back as the chief engineer once again. In that year, a total of 37 automobiles were built. By 1905, the company was making 750 a year. Three years later, in 1908, they were up to 8,800 vehicles.
David Buick ended up incorporating the company in 1903. Benjamin Briscoe, a financial backer, chose to sell control of the company to James Whiting. He planned to have Buick supply the engines for his wagons at Flint Wagon Works. During this time, David Buick remained in the company as the manager.
Marr and Buick created a two-cylinder valve-in-head engine measuring 159 cubic inches. In 1904, William Durant became the controlling investor of the company. At the time, he also co-owned the Durant-Dort Carriage Company.
Their plant located in Jackson was open through 1912 and produced Buick trucks. David Buck was able to turn his company into the largest-selling automaker in the United States before leaving the company in 1906. Starting in 1907, Buick began supplying all the motors to a Canadian company, R.S. McLaughlin. Just a year later, in 1908, Durant founded General Motors.
Their first model for sale was the 1904 Model B. It was produced in Flint, Michigan as part of Flint Wagon Works. None of the original 37 production vehicles survived, but two replicas exist. There’s a 1904 endurance car located at Flint’s Buick Gallery & Research Center plus a Model B in a private California collection.
Their early successes came from the valve-in-head engine design, now referred to as an overhead valve. While the models and engineering of the company were superior to anything else, the creation of GM is what propelled the company to more significant success.
Initially, the companies making up General Motors were in competition against one another, but Durant chose to end that. He decided to add a lineup that targeted each class of American. Buick was located close to the top of the hierarchy, but Cadillac featured more prestige.
Their first full-size car was the Model B, released in 1907. It had a four-cylinder 4,178 cc T-head engine with rear-wheel drive. Then, in 1911, they created their first car with a closed body, an astonishing four years before Ford. They weren’t the first because Cadillac created one five years earlier, making them the first company to accomplish the feat. This car was produced at the Flint factory, later called Buick City.
Throughout the 1920s, Buick produced several varieties of vehicles. Each had a different designation for the year, and sometimes they applied numbers as well. Later, the system used letter designations instead.
In 1929, Buick launched Marquette, a sister brand. Its purpose was to close the gap between the Oldsmobile and Buick brands, but they discontinued the division just a year later. In 1931, they debuted two new achievements: the synchromesh transmission, and an OHV straight-8-cylinder engine. This Series 60 engine measured 272 cubic inches and offered 90 horsepower.
Their Series 90 and 80 engines were a 344 cubic-inch version with 104 horsepower. They replaced the steering column-mounted spark lever with an automatic vacuum-operated spark advance. In 1939, they were the first automaker to use turn signals.
During the 1930s, the brand also became popular with the British monarchs. Buick became the top GM brand in the country of Canada. That’s why they were always chosen for royal transportation in the country.
In the early 1940s, Buick supplied vehicles for the war. Some of these included the M18 Hellcat army tank, engines for the B-24 Liberator, Douglas C-54 Skymaster, and Douglas C-47 Skytrain. Then, in 1948, the Dynaflow transmission was offered.
In 1953, they celebrated their 50th anniversary with the introduction of the Buick Roadmaster Skylark and a new V8 engine. Just three years later, they hit their best sales with over 738,000 cars sold.
Just before the 1960s, Buick introduced the LeSabre, Invicta, and Electra to the market. They all had a V8 engine and the Electra went on to become the Indianapolis 500 official pace car, as well as the Daytona 500’s pace car.
In 1961, the Buick Skylark became a top model with its 215 cubic-inch V8 engine. A year later, the Buick Invicta Wildcat was named Motor Trend Car of the Year. By 1967, the company offered radial tires as an option on all cars.
The 1970s was a time of many new introductions. The first was the Buick Estate, followed by the Centurion in 1971. Then, the Apollo was manufactured starting in 1973 with Skyhawk just two years later. Buick used their big-block engine for the last time during the 1976 model year.
During the 75th anniversary in 1978, they released a turbocharged V6 engine inside the Regal Sport Coupe. Just a year later, the Buick Riviera S won Motor Trend Car of the Year.
During the 1980s, the company refocused on performance, racing, and turbocharging vehicles. They also introduced a diesel engine on some of the models. In 1982, they released the soft-top Buick Riviera which paved the way for the convertible to make a comeback.
During 1984, the automaker became the official XXIII Olympiad car. This is also the year where their sales topped one million.
By 1988, they became the official sponsor of the U.S. team once again. They also introduced their two-seater Reatta (later as a convertible). They also added the Electra Park Avenue Ultra to the Buick lineup. It had 20-way power front seats, leather interior, aluminum wheels, and other luxury offerings. It carried a higher price tag than the comparable Cadillac Sedan de Ville, but it never gained a lot of recognition.
End of the Century
In 1990, they released the Reatta convertible and a four-door Regal sedan. They also led the industry in market share. A year later the Buick Park Avenue Ultra featured a supercharged 3.8-liter V6 engine. This helped propel the company to be the industry leader in supercharging. From 1992, the Buick LeSabre was only available as a four-door sedan. It remained in production through 2005.
In 1996, the Business Hall of Fame added William Durant to their ranks. After nearly 100 years in Flint, Michigan, Buick moved their headquarters in 1998 to Detroit. This is the same year that they opened the Buick Gallery and Research Center at the Sloan Museum located in Flint. During independent studies during 1999, Buick ranked as the second-leading global automaker and first domestic manufacturer. This was also the same year they ceased Riviera production.
Turn of the Century
During the early 2000s, the entire lineup received modifications. The company focused on modifying the performance and compact aspect in favor of more SUVs and crossover choices. The LeSabre also received a redesign and was the best-selling full-size car for eight consecutive years by that point.
By the beginning of the century, Buick had sold over 35 million vehicles. In 2004, they added the Ranier, a mid-size SUV to their lineup. By 2008, they had reduced their line to just three models in an effort to streamline. They were the LaCross, Lucerne, and the Enclave. During the Chapter 11 reorganization of GM during 2009, Buick was cited as a core brand, mainly because of their Chinese success. That’s when GM started shifting products they planned for different brands over to Buick instead. For example, the Opel Insignia had initially been slotted to be a second-generation Saturn Aura, but they made it into a Buick Regal. That same year, J.D. Power listed Buick as the most dependable brand in the U.S. They tied for first place with Jaguar.
In the Modern Age
2010 was the year they brought back the Regal nameplate and some new vehicles as well. It was also the return of their first convertible and wagon since the 1990s. They also unveiled their latest LaCrosse sedan, which competed against the Lexus ES.
Buick quickly became one of the fastest growing brands and started attracting younger customers. In 2012, they released the Verano, a compact sedan that was based off the Chevy Cruze. They also released the Regal GS, a performance-based model. It was their first vehicle in almost 20 years that was offered with a turbocharger and manual transmission.
The Enclave crossover sales remained steady, so in 2012, they released a mini crossover, the Buick Encore. That same year, they also unveiled their Verano turbocharged version. In 2018, the company replaced their Regal sedan with a newer station wagon and hatchback style instead. By then, the company’s lineup included a compact crossover (Encore), compact convertible (Cascada), mid-size hatchback (Regal), station wagon (Regal), full-size sedan (LaCrosse), mid-size crossover (Envision), and full-size crossover (Enclave).
Alternative Propulsion Methods
Buick stepped foot into the hybrid market starting with their 2012 Regal and LaCrosse. They featured their eAssist technology which helped to improve the fuel economy ratings by up to 38% over a typical gas engine.
Their 2018 LaCrosse was powered with a 2.5-liter eAssist engine. This combined both an electric motor with an advanced lithium-ion battery to conserve more fuel. The EPA rating on it was 25 mpg city/35 mpg highway.
Safety and Crash Ratings
For the 2018 model year, the IIHS labeled the Buick Envision as a Top Safety Pick. Two other vehicles had been evaluated, the Encore and LaCrosse. Both of these came up short of superior ratings. The Encore lacked in Passenger Side Small Overlap Front and Child Seat Anchors while the LaCrosse didn’t reach the expectations of the organization in Headlights and Child Seat Anchors.
For the 2017 model year, both the LaCrosse and Envision made the list of Top Safety Picks.
On the other hand, the NHTSA lists the 2018 Buick Cascada, Encore, Envision, LaCrosse, and Enclave all with overall five-star ratings. While a few of the models only receive four stars for either frontal crash or rollover, all of them received the full five-star rating in a side crash.
Buick Safety Equipment
Buick carries most of the primary safety features that other luxury brands offer. The Rear Park Assist activates anytime the vehicle is in Reverse while traveling under five mph. It provides distance-to-object alerts that help the driver park. They also offer the standard selection of airbags.
They also provide the Buick Connected Access with ten years of standard connectivity on most vehicles. In addition, safety features include electronic traction control, Following Distance Indicator, Forward Automatic Braking, Forward Collision Alert, Front Pedestrian Braking, LATCH System, and Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert. Additional features include Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Rear Park Assist, and Rear Vision Camera.
Their StabiliTrak electronic stability control system automatically enhances control, mainly during emergency maneuvering. It automatically adjusts the brakes and engine torque to keep drivers on their intended path safely.
Buick Safety Recalls
Wards Auto estimates that General Motors (including Buick) has one of the lower recall rates by the manufacturer. What they did note, however, is that over 90% of their recalls could’ve led to crash, injury, fire, accident or death. More than 53% of their recalls are initiated by them and not the NHTSA, so that placed them better than the industry average.
In 2014, they recalled more than 700,000 vehicles due to six safety recalls at once. Some of them were related to an ignition switch concern while another was for a loose bolt in the power adjustable front seats. There had been two crashes and three injuries as a result. Affected Buick vehicles included the 2011-2012 Regal and LaCrosse as well as the 2013-2014 Encore.
In 2016, the company recalled another four million vehicles to repair an airbag defect linked to one death. This included 2014-2017 Buick vehicles.
Consumer Satisfaction Reports & Dependability Ratings
As far as customer satisfaction goes, Consumer Reports ranked Buick as average among automakers. They issued the same rank for dependability as well.
In 2018, J.D. Power awarded Buick as the Highest Rated Dependability Brand. In addition, the Buick LaCrosse won for Highest Dependability in a Large Car.
Consumer Reports also rank brands by how much they cost to maintain and repair. During a three-year period, they estimate the average repair or maintenance cost is just $45. They are also listed as the third lowest for a ten-year average of only $410. This comes in just slightly higher than the Lincoln line of automobiles.
The prestigious line of Buick automobiles is no stranger to success. Here are some of the most recent awards they’ve received:
- 2018 Best Value Luxury Brand from KBB
- 2018 Buick Envision Ranked Highest Quality compact vehicles from J.D. Power
- Regal TourX Won 2018 Must Test Drive Award from Autotrader
- 2017 Highest in Sales Satisfaction among Mass Market Brands from J.D. Power
- 2016 Best Value Luxury Brand from KBB
- 2016 Highest in Sales Satisfaction among Mass Market Brands from J.D. Power
Snapshot of the Company
Buick was founded in 1899 as the Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company. It wasn’t until 1903 that they became known as the Buick Motor Company. The founder of the company was David Buick, but he passed away in 1929. The company’s current headquarters are in Detroit, Michigan.
They’ve been a part of General Motors since 1908 and currently supply automobiles to the United States, Mexico, Canada, and China. GM is also the parent company to Chevrolet vehicles, GMC trucks, and the luxury Cadillac line.
The CEO of GM is Mary T. Barra while Duncan Aldred is the Vice President of both Buick and GMC.
In 2017, Buick sold over 1.4 million automobiles around the world. It’s also the same year that they launched a bunch of new vehicles including the Regal Sportback, Regal GS, Regal TourX, Enclave, Enclave Avenir, GL6, Excelle GX, LaCrosse Avenir, and Velite 5.
In North America alone, they saw an increase of over 15% in Canada and almost 2% in the U.S. They also accomplished their best year ever in China, which continues to be their main market. Throughout the past five years, the company has expanded steadily with over 8% annual growth.
The company operates production facilities around the world. The Buick Encore is built in Bupyeong-gu, Incheon, South Korea while the Buick LaCrosse comes from Detroit, Michigan. The Buick Enclave, on the other hand, also is produced in Michigan, but in Delta Township instead.
The company has a worldwide distribution of their automobiles. Here are their main markets.
China is the company’s largest market. They accounted for 80% of the 2015 sales. Before World War II, one in five cars in China was a Buick. They’ve always been a popular brand among the locals. They’ve even been used by emperors and presidents.
A version of the Regal is sold in China and popular among professional, upscale families. They also sell a compact Excelle, a five-door hatchback referred to as the HRV, and a version of the Pontiac Montana van called the GL8.
The Chinese Buicks contain small, fuel-efficient engines that feature double overhead camshafts, unlike the overhead valves offered in America.
In addition to China, Buicks are sold in Taiwan. They’ve been in the country since 1989 and are often found on the Taiwanese streets. They also see production and sales in South Korea.
From 1921 through 1962, Mexico saw sales and production of Buick vehicles. Then, a new protection policy from the government restricted how many foreign parts were used in cars. From then, the GM cars were sold by Chevy dealerships instead.
In 1990, substantial modification occurred in the protectionist policy. This allowed the company to start assembling their Century once again in the country. Since they were still sold at Chevrolet dealerships, it’s commonly heard that their car was a Chevy Century. Once again, they ceased production in 1997 and didn’t return until 2009.
When Pontiac was eliminated in 2009, GM began selling Buick vehicles in Mexico once again. They started with the Enclave and LaCrosse models. They were sold together at GMC dealerships.
Israel receives imports of Buick vehicles through Universal Motors. They’re the same company that imports other GM automobiles for the company.
During 2004 and 2005, both the Rendezvous and LaSabre were sold in the country. In 2008, they added the Lucerne and LaCrosse.
Prior to World War II, New Zealand operated the GMNZ plant located in Petone. Once the war ended, they didn’t revive the country’s market.
David Buick used his ancestral coat of arms to create the company’s Trishield logo. The crest features three shields with a diagonal line in them. Initially, the logo had only been one red shield with a checkered azure and silver diagonal line through it. Then, in 1906, they did an overhaul of it and replaced it with three. These three shields represented the Invicta, Electra, and LeSabre line of vehicles.
In the 1970s, they exchanged the logo for the Buick Hawk, but the tri-shield came back during the 1980s. They added the red, white, and blue to the logo in 2005 to represent their patriotism.
Buick has had success in marketing with their line of commercial spots showing the car isn’t just for the older generation. The ad spots over the past few years have highlighted a younger crowd that’s impressed with the sleek design and features of the automobile brand. It’s been a strong front for the company, so they’ve decided to stick with what works best and continue that mindset.
While they’ve also been a part of many sports partnerships, including with the NCAA, they’ve been most known for their more than 50 years of sponsoring PGA events.
Buick had been a substitute for Chevrolet during some automobile racing events. In the 1960s, they competed in the Indianapolis 500, alongside many other American manufacturers. They’ve also participated in the Grand National stock car racing series with the Regal and Gran Sport.
Their greatest era was during the late 1980s when the Regal entered into the NASCAR Cup Series. They also had success in the IMSA GT Series and IndyCar Series. During the 1990s, GM replaced the motorsports division with Oldsmobile vehicles instead. Then, in 2004, Pontiac replaced them until 2009 when they were ultimately switched out for Chevrolet.
Overall, their V6 motors have set many stock-block records. Two times in history, their engines also powered more than a third of the Indy 500 field. The best that a Buick vehicle ever finished was third place in 1992 by Al Unser Sr.
The Buick Heritage Alliance operates several establishments for enthusiasts to visit. They participate in the AACA Library & Research Center located in Hershey, PA. Here they’ve provided a multitude of documents and historical information regarding the Buick marque.
They’ve also provided automobiles to the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, New York. Some of the collection includes a 1918 Buick Model E46 Opera Coupe, 1937 Buick Model 46C Special, 1940 Buick Special Sport Coupe, and 1942 Buick Model 91F Limited.
The Sloan Museum – Buick Gallery and Research Center is located in Flint, Michigan. They feature more than 30 vehicles, including trucks, concept cars, and classic cars. There’s also the Whaley Historical House Museum in Flint, Michigan.
All financing on Buicks for sale go through GM Financial. Their headquarters are situated in Phoenix, Arizona. They offer some innovative solutions for consumers looking at a Buick on sale or a Buick for lease. Another thing that sets them apart from some automakers is the BuyPower Card. It’s offered through Capital One and provides customers the chance to earn rewards on their purchases. Then, the rewards are redeemable for a new vehicle and more.
Each GM brand offers its own line of protection plans to keep consumers secure. Buick has several available including Advanced Lease Protection, Platinum Coverage, and Silver Coverage.
They also offer several discount programs for buyers. They include GM Family First, Military Discount, College Discount, Supplier Discount, Education Discount, and Dealership Employee Discount. On top of all these incentive plans, the company also gives special pricing to business clients and those who need a fleet of vehicles.
There are about 2,000 GMC-Buick dealerships located in the United States. Of these, the top locations are honored with the company’s “Dealer of the Year” program. This is only awarded to those who’ve maintained customers for life and receive exceptional rankings in customer satisfaction.
J.D. Power also awards dealerships with a prestigious honor of being labeled a Dealer of Excellence. At this time, none of their dealers are on that list.
The dealers also offer Buick Certified Service Technicians that supply the simplest form of repair to the most complex. They even have a pre-paid maintenance plan with two different plans to choose from. The plans are also transferable if the vehicle is sold during the coverage period.
7 Interesting Facts about Buick
1 – Their first vehicle, the 1904 Model B was their shortest. It rode on an 83-inch wheelbase. Their second smallest was the 1912 Model 34 which was only 90.7-inches.
2 – The 1936 Buick Century hit 100 mph just three decades after the company began producing vehicles.
3 – In 1916, Walter P. Chrysler was the company’s president. Eventually, he resigned in 1920 and went on to form the Chrysler Corporation.
4 – In 1958, Buick began sponsoring golf as the first major corporate sponsor. Their first sponsorship was the Buick Open located at Warwick Hills, not far from Flint. By the 1990s, the company had four PGA tour sponsorships occurring.
5 – The 1979 Buick Riviera was their first front-wheel drive vehicle.
6 – The Buick Regal GS luxury sport sedan was their fastest production vehicle. During the 2012 Nevada Open Road Challenge, it hit a top speed of 162 mph.
7 – Buick has produced numerous vehicles with many designs over the years. While they’ve had models that offered seating for two, four, five and six passengers, only two have had room for eight. T/hey were the 1991-1996 Roadmaster Estate and the 2008-2013 Enclave.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Buick GM? Yes. They’ve been a part of General Motors since 1908, but they’ve been in existence since 1899. GM is also the parent company over Chevrolet, GMC, and Cadillac.
Where are Buicks Made? They have several assembly facilities located around the world. There are two in Michigan, but they also reach as far as South Korea. In addition, parts are manufactured from across the globe and then sent to the assembly locations.
Are Buicks Good Cars? It depends who you ask. Consumer Reports gives them average rankings, but J.D. Power lists them as the top automobile brand in terms of dependability. One thing is for sure; they feature a relatively low cost to maintain and repair.
Is Buick a Luxury Brand? They are considered to be one of the American luxury automotive brands. It’s higher-end than most of the GM marque’s but lower than the company’s Cadillac division. It’s marketed toward a younger, professional group.
Are Buicks Expensive to Fix? No. On average, they have a relatively low cost to repair and overall cost of ownership, especially when compared with other luxury brands. Consumer Reports estimated that during a three-year period, the average repair or maintenance cost is just $45. They are also listed as the third lowest for a ten-year average of only $410.
When was Buick Founded? The company began in 1899, making them the oldest American marque that’s still in production. Later, in 1908, they became part of GM. Interestingly, William Durant, GM’s founder, had once been a general manager and investor in Buick prior to taking them over.