Welcome to Thursday Trivia where we offer up a historical automotive trivia question and you try and solve it before seeing the answer after the jump. It’s like a history test, with cars! This week’s question: What two features did Buick introduce the year of its 50th anniversary celebration? If you think you know the answer, make the jump and see if you are right. General Motors’ Buick division has the unique distinction of being America’s oldest auto maker that’s still in existence. The company was founded in Detroit by David Buick in 1899 as the Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company, the intent of which was the manufacture of internal combustion engines. Buick formally incorporated his company as the Buick Motor Company in 1903. From its 1899 founding to that 1903 incorporation Buick built a total of three cars. In contrast, this past year the company set a new brand sales record: 1,231,941 cars. A lot has happened in between too. William C. Durant, who would later going on to create General Motors out of a number of independent brands, one of which was Buick, served as the company’s General Manger in 1908. Louis Chevrolet was one of the company’s race drivers. It was in 1908 that Durant enlisted Buick to become one of the founding components of GM, with David Buick staying on with the newly assimilated company for a few years in an advisory employee role. Under GM, Buick would become the largest selling car make in America in 1911, a feat that Ford’s Model T eclipsed shortly thereafter. Perhaps better remembered today was Buick’s adoption in the early ’30s of the smooth and copious torque producing straight eight engine, which became the brand’s standard bearer. That eight was offered in three displacements, a 220-ci, 272, and 344 and while embelematic of the brand, it was their replacement that served as the company’s gift to itself on the advent of its 50th anniversary. They also celebrated the event by making their cars a whole lot cooler. From Conceptcarz (emphasis added):
The year was a big one for the brand that served as the foundation for the General Motors empire. Established in 1903, Buick celebrated its golden anniversary with the introduction of the Fireball V-8, its first, ending a long tradition of inline eights (although the straight eight remained in the inventory until 1954). The new engine was mated with a new Twin Turbine Dynaflow automatic transmission, and a 12-volt electrical system replaced the old 6-volt – much more likely to awaken sleeping Buicks on sub-zero winter mornings. Buick celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1953. It was fourth in sales with nearly 8-percent of the United States car market. This is one of only 1,450 Buick Roadmasters built in 1953 with factory air (by FrigidAire, which was introduced that same year). This Buick, which was chauffeur-driven, also featured power steering, power brakes, floor controlled radio, and factory half-wire wheels. Power was supplied by Buick’s new overhead valve V-8, which replaced the company’s legendary overhead valve in-line eight. The new V-8 produced 164 horsepower from its 322 cubic-inches. Most Buick Roadmasters came equipped with Dynaflow transmissions. Factory air conditioning by Frigidaire, was yet another first for Buick in 1953, and power steering and power brakes became standard equipment. The 322 cubic-inch (5.3 liter) overhead valve V-8 was available in three states of tune, ranging from 164 to 188 horsepower. At its most potent, the Fireball eight had a compression ratio of 8.5:1, tops in the industry at the time. Roadmasters continued to be the prestige end of Buick lineup, and this sedan served as a chauffeur-driven limousine for its original owner in Indianapolis. The Roadmasters rolled Indy’s streets and byways for 50,000 miles over its first 33 years. It was acquired by its current owner in 1985. Today there isn’t a Buick model built that offers a V8 engine, however factory A/C has long become a standard feature. Buick is one of GM’s success stories, having reinvented itself through the use of German Opel engineering, Korean construction, and a wildly successful marketing push into China.
Its Centenary well into the past, I guess we’ll have to look forward to the company’s 150th anniversary to see what marvels they imbue their products with next. Image: Conceptcarz