Buick’s image is changing again. The once vibrant and exciting brand turned stale and boring in the 90′s only to have an early 21st century comeback. Such a historic brand should have never faced the decline it did in the 90′s. Luckily, GM has invested millions into Buick to help spark its resurgence.
Buick has an amazing American history, in fact, they are the oldest active American automaker. You can read the full history here. They also have some of the most amazing concept cars built over the past decades which is surprising for a brand that GM left for dead in the 90′s. Here are some of the best you may have never seen before.
The Y-Job was the first concept car ever. It was designed in 1938 by Harley Earl, largely considered the pioneer of automotive styling and one of the most influential automotive designers ever. The Y-Job was Earl’s personal car and featured powered headlights which were hidden in the front bumper. The car also had the Buick waterfall grill which would become one of the the most defining elements of Buick.
This was the car designed by independent engineer Norman E. Timbs. The car was inspired by German Grand Prix cars which took their design cues from airplanes. Unlike American cars at the same, the Streamliner didn’t have the gaudy shiny bumpers or four doors. In fact, the car had no doors at all and the driver and passenger had to step on a mat placed in the car’s sweeping lines. While the car only cost $10,000 to build in 1948, the car’s all-aluminum body cost $8,000.
1951 Buick LeSabre Concept
This Harley Earl designed convertible had all the elements of a car inspired by aeronautics. The front bumper had turbine-like molding and a grill that looked like the front end of a MiG-15. The technology on this car was decades ahead of its time, too, with moisture sensors that would automatically put the top up if it began raining and was powered by both gasoline and alcohol.
1954 Buick Wildcat II
Per usual, the Buick Wildcat II concept stuck closely to the aeronautic design cues Harley Early liked so much and also featured the Buick VentiPorts. The wheel wells on the vehicle’s front end were revolutionary for leaving the front wheel and vehicle’s suspension exposed. In back, the exhaust tips were built right into the bumper. The Wildcat II was seen as a precursor to Chevrolet’s Corvette.
1985 Buick Wildcat
The Buick Wildcat concept was a four wheel drive with rear-mounted engine sports concept car with help from McLaren Engines. Instead of a turbocharged engine, Buick opted for a multi-valve design so there would be no lag and increase a driver’s feel. The concept also had a unique transmission described here as being similar to a motorcycle’s. Also, do check out this awesome picture of how people are supposed to get into the Wildcat.
1999 Buick Cielo
The Buick Cielo concept was never designed to be produced for the mass market, but instead designed to spark excitement into a GM brand that was struggling bad. The grill, the curves, the chrome and 50′s-themed juke box radio are all odes to Buick’s design history. The technology, though, with voice operated doors, hidden dashboard controls and airbags installed into the hallow roof rails was futuristic. Interesting side note, the Buick Cielo concept even has it’s own Facebook fan page. Note the five likes.
2000 Buick Blackhawk
The Blackhawk concept was designed for the type of person that loves custom hot rods. It’s got the grill off a 1939 Buick, the body of a 1940′s Buick and it’s paired with the modern technology and power of the early 2000′s.
Buick Velite designed by Bertone
The Buick Velite might remind you of the Pontiac Solstice or Saturn Sky but those weren’t designed by the uber-luxury Italian brand Bertone. You might know Bertone from classics such as the Lamborghini Countach or the Fiat 850 Spider. The platform slated for the Buick convertible was the same as the Pontiac G8 and Chevrolet Camaro. The engine? Well, that was supposed to be a twin-turbo 3.6 V6 that is now being used in the Cadillac CTS.
Buick Riviera Concept
The Riviera concept hales from China where it was designed and engineered. The Riviera was reportedly inspired by the Y-Job and the vehicles it inspired like the Electra and LeSabre. The design team also took cues from the Buick Velite, but unlike the Velite, the Riviera was said to be the foundation of all future Buick design. Just take a look at the current Regal or LaCrosse – it would seem GM stayed to true to its word. To see what past generations of the Riviera looked like, check this out. The first and seventh generations are our favorites.
Written by Max Katsarelas