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(from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) Buick is currently the oldest still-active American automotive make, 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 struggling 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. Buick sold his stock for a small sum upon departure, and died in modest circumstances 25 years later.
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. Buicks were first built to replicate the living room in a moving automobile, and were nicknamed the "moving couch of America".
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. Buick occupies this position to this day in the General Motors lineup. 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.
At first, Buick followed the likes of Napier in automobile racing, winning the first-ever race held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 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. 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.
Overall domestic sales of the Buick brand peaked in 1984, with a broad model line ranging from compacts to large cars, including performance-oriented turbocharged models. Buick's hero car of the 1980s was the Regal Grand National, a midsize coupe with a turbocharged 3.8 V6, and one of the fastest production cars of the decade.
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. By the 2000s, Buick had a staid image, while not directly competing with import luxury makes. In 2001, Buick introduced its first SUV, the Rendezvous crossover, while golf star Tiger Woods became its spokesperson.
The Buick Centieme crossover concept car commemorated Buick Motor Division's 100th anniversary.
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 it to the Lexus ES. For 2011, Buick followed up by re-introducing the Regal sedan, a smaller model based on the European Opel Insignia. The Regal will offer a GS sport package and is the first Buick in almost 20 years to be offered with a manual transmission and a turbocharger.
In June 2011, the Lucerne full-size luxury sedan was discontinued after six years in production. Several months later, the all-new 2012 Verano compact sedan was added and the performance-oriented Regal GS officially joined the lineup as well. Meanwhile, sales of the Enclave crossover remained strong.
A GM company spokesman said that Buick is positioned as a "premium" marque (entry-level luxury) to compete with Acura, Lexus, and Volvo, while Cadillac is supposed to be aimed at the "luxury" performance segment which includes BMW and Mercedes-Benz. While both the LaCrosse and Regal share the Epsilon II platform, the larger LaCrosse is more luxury oriented and will face off against the Lexus ES350 and Acura TL, while the Regal's rivals will include the Acura TSX and Volkswagen CC.
In the 2009 J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study, Buick tied with Jaguar as the most dependable brand in the United States. Buick became the fastest growing automotive brand in 2010, attracting a younger customer demographic.
As of 2012[update], Buick's North American lineup consists of the newly introduced Verano entry-level compact sedan, the Regal mid-size luxury/sports sedan, the LaCrosse mid-size luxury sedan, and the Enclave full-size luxury crossover. Buick plans to launch the Encore, a new mini crossover vehicle, later in the year as a 2013 model.
Bodywork. Length/width/height/wheelbase – cm (in) : 524/194/154/309 (206.6/76.4/60.6/122); weight : 1850 kg (4080 lbs).
Mechanics. Engine Buick Fireball V8 4330 cc ( 264 ci), front-mounted, 16 valves, 1 x 4 carb, automatique 3-speed gearbox, rear-wheel drive. Maximum power : 188 bhp at 4800 rpm; torque : 347 Nm at 2400 rpm.