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Vintage Auto Ads: Buick

Published: August 19, 2015

David Dunbar Buick was running a successful plumbing-supply business in the 1880s when he became interested in automobiles and gasoline engines. He sold his business and sank his money into a new company: Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company. Although a gifted designer, Buick was never a great businessman. He repeatedly ran into cash shortages and was always looking for more investors.

After his first company folded, Buick started another on May 19, 1903, and named it the Buick Motor Car Company.

Shortly after the company moved to Flint, Michigan, it signed on William Durant as general manager and director. Durant provided the business skills that Buick lacked, and eventually built the company into automotive giant, General Motors.

Buick retired from the company in 1908, never finding the success he had hoped his automobile would give him. Durant, though, was a born salesman with valuable connections in the horse-carriage business, which he used to distribute his automobiles. By 1908, Buick was outselling every other automobile in America. (For more on the auto industry’s early years, check out Post‘s new special collector’s edition, Automobiles in America!)

Buick celebrated total sales of 150,000 vehicles in this 1913 ad, which also mentioned that electric starter motors were now standard equipment.

December 6, 1913

December 6, 1913


The company quickly made a name for itself with its overhead-valve engines. This design improved engine performance and made servicing easier than the angle-mounted valves in other cars.

November 24, 1917

November 24, 1917

To prove their cars’ reliability, Buick sent one of their standard models on a trip across Europe, India, Australia, and the U.S. To further emphasize its dependability, the car had just one passenger—the local Buick dealer in that country—and no mechanic!

December 3, 1927

December 3, 1927


Buick introduced a straight-eight-cylinder engine in 1931 and, the following year, introduced its smoother shifting, synchromesh transmission.

September 3, 1932

September 3, 1932


Midway through the 1930s, Buick redesigned its models to make them both lighter and more affordable.

May 15, 1937

May 15, 1937


Though you can’t see them in this 1939 ad, Buick became the first company to make turn signals part of their standard equipment.

March 25, 1939

March 25, 1939


With a month left in World War II, Buick started G.I.s dreaming of the new car they’d buy when they got back. The post-war Buicks, like this Roadmaster, were little different from the prewar models, but they were extremely popular anyway.

August 4, 1945

August 4, 1945


To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Buick introduced a sporty, new convertible— the Roadmaster Skylark.

May 16, 1953

May 16, 1953


The three “VentiPorts” on the Buick Super fender were originally intended to provide additional cooling to the engine, and suggest the exhaust ports on a fight plane. By the time it got into production, though, the holes had become just ornamental, blocked holes in the body.

January 16, 1954

January 16, 1954


The new models for 1959 featured “delta fins” which flared out instead of up. This “space age” design was meant to suggest the tail fins of a rocket, but drivers found they obstructed their rear view and made parking more difficult. Within two years they were gone.

April 25, 1959

April 25, 1959


In 1963, the company launched a competitor to Ford’s Thunderbird: the Riviera, with its tilted front grill and concealed headlights.

January 16, 1965

January 16, 1965

 

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  • john vitale

    I have 75,000 vintage ads for sale. 1905-1970’s. Bulk sale! 5/6 K auto /trucks ads 1920’s. MUTS SELL BULK. Painesville Ohio

  • Klinger

    Coool

  • One can only wonder how much money David Dunbar Buick lost out on from 1908 forward with the extremely successful car lines bearing his name. He had financial struggles up until his death in 1929.

    I really love the light maroon ’32; really stunning car and artwork. The ’37 and ’39 are great too, but don’t have the same charm of the ’32. Oh well, that’s progress, right?

    The yellow convertible ad transitioned Buick from being a builder of Word War II fighting machines back to autos once again. The ’53 Skylark convertible was and is possibly the ultimate auto Buick ever created. The ad is beautiful too—of course!

    The “space age/Jetson’s” Buick is one I love, especially from this angle. It was the result of a complete crash/do-over of ALL of GM’s ’59 cars during 1957 as a result of Chrysler Corp’s ultra-sleek and high finned ’57 models first seen in late ’56. The heavily chromed ’58 Buicks were NOT popular, leaving Buick dealers nationwide BEGGING GM to let them be the first division to get the drastically different new ’59s, which GM did, getting them to the dealerships weeks earlier than the other four.

    The Riviera is still beautiful, a true classic. To wrap things up, some other beauties Buick put out include the ’71-’73 ‘Boat tail’ Rivieras and convertible Rivieras in the early-mid ’80s. The Reatta 2 seater of the early ’90s were cool too.

    I’m glad Buick is still around today even if the lineup isn’t what it used to be. It goes with the present as
    autos always have in every era. A new sports car though (kind of like a Miata or BMW Z4) would be fun, and add the dash and sex appeal such a 2 door car would offer for Buick’s image amongst those 4 door sedans, crossovers and SUV’s.