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.
- Founded : Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company 1899
Buick Motor Division May 19, 1903
- Founder : David Dunbar Buick
- Headquarters : Detroit, United States
- Website : http://www.buick.com
Under Whiting, the company moved to Flint, Mich., and produced the first Buicks available for sale. The company had built 37 cars by the end of 1904, but it once again fell on hard times. This time the owners turned to William C. Durant, a Flint carriage builder. Durant had already established himself as a top-notch carriage builder, so making the transition to motorized carriages seemed a logical next step. Durant excelled at salesmanship and self promotion, and in 1905 he went to the New York Auto Show and took orders for 1,000 new Buicks before the company had finished building its first 40. With a combination of upscale features, power, and a higher cost, Buicks were popular with professionals and became known as "doctor's cars."
Always the promoter, Durant created a Buick racing team which included drivers Wildman Bob Burman and Luis Chevrolet (who would go on to start another well-know motor company). In addition to its race wins, the Buick racing team enjoyed success at the inaugural races held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, two years prior to the start of the Indy 500.
In the years that followed, Buick continued to make its reputation as an innovative brand. By 1908 Buick out-produced Ford and Cadillac combined with 8,000 vehicles built. In 1911 Buick introduced a closed coach model four years before Ford managed the feat, and in 1920 introduced the first production vehicle with four-wheel brakes. Buick's success prompted Durant to set up a holding company called General Motors, forming the cornerstone for the GM we know today.
Buick's success fluctuated with the market over the years, but the company always managed to adapt to current market needs. As a premium brand, when the depression hit Buick was hit harder than most automotive manufacturers. It responded with the small Series 40, a Buick that was affordable to a wider range of consumers. With the introduction of the Roadmaster, Super and Special, sales continued to climb through the middle of the century, peaking in 1973 with 821,165 vehicles sold. When the oil embargo hit, Buick rebounded by returning to smaller cars.
Along the way, Buick would be credited with such innovations as the first passenger car to come standard with a torque-converter-equipped automatic transmission. Buick also had a strong run in NASCAR in the early 1980s, and in 1985 Buick-powered cars qualified first and second in the Indianapolis 500. Eleven of the 30 cars entered in the 1990 Indianapolis 500 were powered by Buick engines. But, despite those racing succeses, and performance cars such as the GS series, the Grand National, and GNX, Buick was still viewed by many to be the doctor's cars of yore.
Today, Buick is battling a reputation as the No. 1 choice of conservative professionals and retirees. It has expanded and revamped its line to include utility vehicles with some success, such as the Enclave, which is a premium derivative of the Saturn Outlook, GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Traverse. The Buick Lacrosse and Lucerne have been given many of the same styling treatments as the Enclave. Buick also hired golfer Tiger Woods as the brand's official spokesperson. The association ended in late 2008.