Buick Century

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Buick Century
Buick Century -- 04-23-2012.JPG
Manufacturer General Motors
Model years
  • 1936–1942
  • 1954–1958
  • 1973–2005
Body and chassis
  • Full-size car (1936-1958)
  • Midsize car (1973-2005)
Body style
Predecessor Buick Master Six

Buick Century is the model name used by Buick for a line of upscale performance cars from 1936 to 1942 and 1954 to 1958, and from 1973 to 2005 for a mid-size car.

The model name Century came about when Buick was designing its first production automobile capable of reaching a speed of 100 mph. The division needed to come up with a name. One of the Buick executives had returned from a recent trip to Britain, and told the other executives that the British referred to going 100 mph as "doing the century". The executives liked the Century name and it stuck.[citation needed]

The Century was sold as the Buick Regal in Japan, as Toyota owns the right to the name Century.

Series 60 (1930-1935)[edit]

1931 Series 60 Sport Coupe

Originally the Series 60 had a six-cylinder 331.4 cu in (5,431 cc) engine, developing 99 bhp at 2,800 rpm. It had, at the beginning of the generation, a full length running board denoting the top model for Buick at the time. In 1930, GM built 38,180 cars. The bodystyles available were torpedo, sedan, coupe, and roadster convertible, using GM's "B-body" platform.

In 1931 the running board was reduced and a new straight eight-cylinder 272.6 cu in (4,467 cc) engine and 90 bhp. Aesthetically, the Series 60 remained almost unchanged and the same fact occurred also in the following year. In 1931 and 1932 they were produced 55,135 examples.

In 1933 the length of the body increased. The engine power increased to 97 hp. In 1934 the appearance was discontinued to a more rounded appearance, with a new 278.1 cu in (4,557 cc) eight-cylinder engine and 100 hp. In 1935 the model remained almost unchanged. From 1933 to 1935 the car were produced 31,385 copies. In 1936 the model changed its name to "Century".

First generation (1936–1942)[edit]

First generation full-size Century
Buick Century 4-Dorrars Sedan 1937.jpg
1937 Buick Century
Model years 1936–1942
Assembly Buick City, Flint, Michigan
South Gate Assembly, South Gate, California
Body and chassis
Class Full-size car
Body style 4-door sedan
Layout FR layout
Platform B-body
Related Cadillac Series 60
Cadillac Series 61
LaSalle Series 50
Buick Special
Oldsmobile Series L
Oldsmobile Series 70
Pontiac Streamliner Torpedo
Pontiac Streamliner
Engine 320.2 in³ at 120 hp (89 kW) I8

Buick renamed its entire model lineup for the 1936 model year to celebrate the engineering improvements and design advancements over their 1935 models, introducing a "streamlined" appearance. Buick's Series 40 model range became the Special, the Series 80 became the Roadmaster and the Series 90—Buick's largest and most luxurious vehicles, became the Limited. The Century took the place of the Series 60.

The basic formula for the 1936 to 1942 Century was established by mating the shorter behind the engine cowl Special bodies to the Roadmaster's larger straight-eight engine (and consequently longer engine compartment). (In contrast the 1940 Series 50 Super would combine the larger Roadmaster body with the smaller Special engine.) While the Special was powered by Buick's 233 cu in inline-8 was rated 93 hp (69 kW) at 3200 rpm, Centuries produced between 1936 and 1942 were powered by the 320-cubic-inch producing 165 hp, making them the fastest Buicks of the era and capable of sustained speeds of 100 mph, hence the name Century (100), earning the Century the nickname "the banker's hot rod."

The Century was discontinued at the end of the abbreviated 1942 model year, during which total model production only accounted for about ten percent of Buick's total output.

Second generation (1954–1958)[edit]

Second generation full-size Century
Buick Century 4-Dorrars Sedan 1956.jpg
1956 Buick Century 4-Door Riviera
Model years 1954–1958
Body and chassis
Class Full-size car
Body style 4-door sedan
2-door coupe
2-door convertible
4-door hardtop station wagon
Layout FR layout
Platform B-body
Engine 322 ci 4-bbl. 255hp V8[1]
364 ci V8
Wheelbase 122"[1]
Length 206.3"(1954)
Width 76"(1954–55)
Height 60.5(1954)
Successor Buick Invicta

In 1954, Buick reintroduced the Century using the same formula of mating the smaller, lighter Buick Special body to its largest and most powerful 322 cubic inch V8 engine with the intent of giving Buick a performance vehicle. Included in the model lineup during this period was a station wagon model, a body style that had been unavailable during the Century's first production period of 1936 to 1942.

Introduced in the middle of the 1955 model year the 4-door Buick Century Riviera along with the 4-door Special Riviera and the 4-door Oldsmobile 98 Holiday and 4-door 88 Holiday, were the first 4-door hardtops ever produced. This was the first time "VentiPorts" appeared on the Century, a carryover from the Buick Roadmaster.

In 1955, the California Highway Patrol placed a large fleet order for Century 2-door sedans, a body style unavailable to the general public. It combined the Special 2-door sedan body shell with Century powertrain and trim. Broderick Crawford was shown driving a 2-door Century sedan during the first season of his popular syndicated TV series Highway Patrol. (In later seasons he'd drive a four-door Century, like his real life counterparts in the California Highway Patrol.) Power brakes were optional.[2] Tubeless tires were new.[3]

The Century remained Buick's performance line, with engine power rising from 200 (SAE gross) in 1954, to 236 in 1955, to 255 in 1956, and topping out at 300 from a bored-out 364 cu in (6.0 L) engine in 1957–58, the last model years for the full sized Century line.

In 1956 the Century's base price was $2,963. Power windows were standard in the convertible. A padded safety dash became optional.[4]

Because the Century was considered the senior "small Buick", the model received GM's only hardtop station wagon, the Century Caballero, from 1957 through 1958. The Caballero proved expensive to manufacture and unpopular with customers (only 14,642 produced for both model years), so GM did not bring it back for 1959.

For 1959, Buick renamed the Century the Invicta.


In 1969, Buick created a dream car (concept car) known as the Century Cruiser, using futuristic design and features while recycling the Century name.

Third generation (1973–1977)[edit]

Third generation
1973 Century Gran Sport Colonnade Hardtop Coupe
Model years 1973–1977
Assembly Flint, Michigan, United States
Framingham, Massachusetts, United States
Lakewood Heights, Georgia, United States
Body and chassis
Class Mid-size car
Body style 2-door coupe
4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
Layout FR layout
Platform A-body
Related Buick Regal
Oldsmobile Cutlass
Pontiac Grand Prix
Chevrolet Malibu
Engine 231 cu in (3.8 L) Buick V6
350 cu in (5.7 L) Buick V8
455 cu in (7.5 L) Buick V8
403 cu in (6.6 L) Oldsmobile V8

The Buick Century nameplate was revived for the 1973 model year on the rear-wheel drive intermediate A-body platform, which was redesigned for this year. The name replaced Skylark for Buick's mid-size cars. The Century Regal coupe was added at the top of the model range and would later become a separate series, dropping the Century name. It was available with two- and four-barrel versions of the Buick 350, putting out 150 and 175 horsepower (112 and 130 kW) respectively. The 225 hp (168 kW) 455 was also an option. The base Century and Century 350 coupes had a fastback roof with large rear quarter glass, while the Century Luxus featured a more formal notchback roofline with narrow opera windows.

By replacing the Skylark, the Century inherited the Gran Sport performance option. The package was available with any engine and included upgraded suspension, additional instrumentation, and unique appearance treatment. Dual exhaust increased output of the four-barrel 350 to 190 hp (140 kW). While the Stage I 455 was somewhat diminished from its performance heyday due to emission controls, output was competitive for the era at 270 hp (200 kW) and 390 lb⋅ft (530 N⋅m). A Saginaw three-speed manual was standard with either 350 engine. A Muncie M-21 four-speed was available with either 350 or with the regular 455, while the Stage I required a Turbo-Hydramatic 400.[5]

For 1975, the Luxus was renamed Century Custom. The new 110 hp (82 kW) 231 V6 was installed as standard equipment along with a three-speed manual transmission on coupes and sedans, and the big-block 455 was no longer available. The four-barrel 350 V8 became standard on station wagons. A new landau top became available for fastback coupes that partially covered the rear quarter glass, giving an appearance similar to the formal-roof Century Custom. A Century Special coupe was added to the lineup, using the fastback roofline. The Special was marketed as an economy variant of the Century and was only available with the V6 engine.

In 1976, the US government legalized rectangular headlights (long commonplace in Europe), and Buick promptly added them to the Century, positioned side-by-side on coupes and stacked vertically on sedans. Sedans received a taller, more-formal grille while coupes got an angled, body-colored front end along with new bodyside sheetmetal that lacked the traditional "sweepspear". The Gran Sport option was discontinued.

In 1977, the V6 engine was revised to be even-firing, and a 403 cu in (6.6 L) Oldsmobile V8 was added as an option for station wagons.

Buick Centuries were used in the 1975 and 1976 Indianapolis Motor Speedway as Pace Cars. Buick introduced a 1975 Buick Century "Free Spirit" edition replica based on the Indy Pace Car for the public with patriotic graphic decals and the Buick Hawk on the hood. This 1975 vehicle had a transmission shifter on the floor with bucket seats and "Hurst Hatch" t-tops installed. The white exterior and blue/white interior was based on the 1975 two door sheet metal. The engine was a 350 v8, as opposed to the 455 v8 used on the Indy Pace Car. Alternatively, in 1976, Buick introduced the "Free Spirit" edition of the Indy Pace Car, it was downsized to the 1976 Special facelift sheet metal with a 231 V6. The original Indy Pace car had the turbocharged 231 V6. The replica featured a rakish silver, black, and red paint job with black interior. The vehicle had positive-traction differential.

Fourth generation (1978–1981)[edit]

Fourth generation
'70s Buick Century.jpg
Model years 1978–1981
Assembly Framingham, Massachusetts, United States
Lakewood Heights, Georgia, United States
Body and chassis
Class Mid-size car
Body style 2-door coupe
4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
Layout FR layout
Platform A-body
Related Buick Regal
Oldsmobile Cutlass
Pontiac Bonneville
Chevrolet Malibu
Engine 196 cu in (3.2 L) Buick V6
231 cu in (3.8 L) Buick V6
265 cu in (4.3 L) Pontiac V8
301 cu in (4.9 L) Pontiac V8
350 cu in (5.7 L) Oldsmobile diesel V8
Transmission 3-speed THM200, 250, 350 automatic
3-speed manual
4-speed Saginaw manual
Wheelbase 108.1 in (2,746 mm)
Length 196 in (4,978 mm)
Curb weight 3130-3425 lb

In 1978, GM downsized its intermediate line, reducing wheelbase by four inches and curb weight by nearly half a ton. The Century name was now applied to the entire range except for the coupe, which retained the Regal name. A fastback coupe ("aeroback") and aeroback sedan were added (the body was shared with the Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon). It was also offered as a station wagon and two- and four-door notchbacks. The car was over a foot shorter, several inches narrower, and several hundred pounds lighter than its predecessor. V6 engines were still standard due to fuel economy regulations. Big block engines were gone and the new base powerplant was Buick's new 196 cu in (3.2 L) V6, introduced specifically for the Century and Regal. The 231 cu in (3.8 L) V6, and the Chevrolet 305 V8 were options. The Pontiac 265 cu in (4.3 L) and 301 cu in (4.9 L) replaced the Chevrolet engine for 1979.

One of the more rare models of this time was the 1979 to 1980 Century Turbo Coupe, powered by a turbocharged version of the 3.8 L V6, which offered V8-like performance with more reasonable fuel consumption and reduced emissions. The Turbo Coupe was not nearly as popular as the similar Regal Turbo Sport Coupe of the time, and total production is estimated to be less than 2,500.

The two fastback models (along with the Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon) proved unpopular. With the introduction of the new front wheel drive Century in 1982 (see below), the existing notchback sedan and wagon models were transferred to the Regal line.

Fifth generation (1982–1996)[edit]

Fifth generation
'83 Buick Century Sedan.JPG
Also called Chevrolet Century (Venezuela)
Buick Regal (Japan)
Model years 1982–1996
Assembly Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States
Lakewood Heights, Georgia, United States
Framingham, Massachusetts, United States
Tarrytown, New York, United States
Ramos Arizpe, Mexico,
Valencia, Venezuela
Body and chassis
Class Mid-size car
Body style 2-door coupe
4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
Layout Transverse front-engine, front-wheel drive
Platform A-body
Related Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera
Pontiac 6000
Chevrolet Celebrity
Engine 2.2 L LN2 I4
2.5 L Tech IV I4
2.8 L LE2/LB6 V6
3.0 L Buick V6
3.1 L L82 V6
3.3 L LG7 V6
3.8 L LG3 V6
4.3 L LT7 diesel V6
Transmission GM TH-125C 3-speed automatic
GM 440-T4 4-speed automatic
GM 4T60-E 4-speed automatic
Wheelbase 104.8 in (2,662 mm) (1982–1990)
104.9 in (2,664 mm) (1991–96)
Length 189.1 in (4,803 mm) (sedan & coupe)
190.9 in (4,849 mm) (wagon)
Width 69.4 in (1,763 mm)
Height 53.7 in (1,364 mm) (sedan & coupe)
54.1 in (1,374 mm) (wagon)
1986–88 Buick Century Estate Wagon

In 1982, another downsized Century arrived, this time on the front wheel drive A platform, in coupe and sedan form. In 1984, a station wagon was added to the lineup to replace the departed Regal wagon. 1984 also saw an Olympic version of the Buick Century, commemorating the 1984 games in Los Angeles, California. In 1986, all versions were "freshened" with a new, more angular front fascia. Wheelbase was 104.9 in (2664 mm), with 189 in (4800mm) overall length. Both four-cylinder gasoline units and diesel V6 engines were offered in this generation, although neither became popular. Performance versions of several Buick models, including the Century coupe, were offered in the mid-1980s under the T-Type name. With Buick's 181 cu in (3.0 L) V6 producing 110 hp (82 kW), the Century T-Type's performance was modest, but the 3.8 SFI engine, producing 140-150 hp (105-112 kW), offered spirited performance in this comparatively lightweight vehicle.

In 1985 and 1986, Hess & Eisenhardt/Car Craft of Lima, Ohio converted 124 finished Buick Century coupes into coachbuilt convertibles. Although these convertibles were sold as new cars through Buick dealerships, these convertible conversions were not factory authorized. In 1987, the engine distributor was replaced by a coil-pack ignition system that proved to be far more reliable than the system that it replaced. In the Japanese market Buick could not use the "Century" name, as that was already in use for the Toyota Century, so it was marketed as the "Buick Luxus" instead. Later it was sold in Japan as the Buick Regal at Yanase Co., Ltd. dealerships for a short time. The Venezuelan-built models were sold as the "Chevrolet Century" in South America and the Caribbean. In Mexico, it was sold as the Century Limited (with no brand, although it wears the Buick logos). Introduced in 1984, it was the top model for General Motors Mexico, it survived successfully the import car wave from 1991 (previously new car importations were forbidden in Mexico) and continued in production until the 1996 model year.

1989 refresh[edit]

1989–1990 Buick Century sedan

The Century received a facelift for 1989, gaining a new more-rounded roofline, but continuing on the A-body platform. Black plastic inserts with the Buick trishield emblem replaced the rear quarter windows. The front end received flush headlamps and a rounded grille, and the stand-up hood ornament was now standard. All sedan models were easily distinguished by their distinctive full-width taillights, a somewhat extravagant flourish on a smaller sedan, but one that carried on a Buick tradition of big taillights.The 3300 was introduced in 1989 as a lower-powered alternative to the 3800 cc power plant. The smaller engine featured multi-port fuel injection, waste spark distributor-less ignition controlled by the ECM after startup, but had no balance shaft. An interior refresh came in 1990.

1992 Facelift

For 1992, the Century received another slight facelift featuring a bigger radiator grille and different headlamps. Also the interior received new door panels moving the window switches and door lock switches into a more convenient configuration found on more modern cars, where the switch location corresponds with the window location in the car body. This feature never appeared on its sibling the Oldsmobile Ciera, which retained the inline switch bank mounted flush with the door panel, the rear switch being the drivers door window. The Century windows switches were not backlit, but lit by a small bulb in the door panel trim above the switch bank. Other interior changes included new seat covers, and relocating the front outboard seat belts from the A pillar into the door, functioning as "automatic" seat belts so that the belts could be buckled and the door opened and closed while still buckled. The driver and front passenger could enter and exit the vehicle while the seat belt was still fastened.

For 1993,the 2.5 L I4 was replaced with a new 115 hp 2.2 I4. For 1994, the slow-selling coupe model was dropped (603 sold in 1993, or 0.5 percent of overall Century sales[6]), and all models received a standard driver's side airbag. Also in 1994, the 160 hp 3.3 L Buick V6 was replaced with a 3.1 L V6 with the same power rating, and power on the 2.2 L I4 was up to 120 hp (89 kW) with the introduction of MFI. Midway through the 1994 model year, a round speedometer replaced the wide rectangular one, but the car still carried on with the original 1982-style dash.

Despite its dated design, the Century and its sibling the Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera still sold well during the 1990s and proved both reliable and profitable to GM since their tooling costs had been monetized. In general, the A-body platform was very sturdy, and quality was improved every year while more standard features were added.


Years Engine Power Torque Notes
1982–1988 2.5 L (151 cu in) Tech IV TBI I4 90 hp (67 kW) 134 lb⋅ft (182 N⋅m) Also with 92 hp[7]
1989–1992 2.5 L (151 cu in) Tech IV I4 110 hp (82 kW) 135 lb⋅ft (183 N⋅m)
1993 2.2 L (134 cu in) LN2 I4 110 hp (82 kW) 130 lb⋅ft (176 N⋅m)[8]
1994–1996 120 hp (89 kW) 130 lb⋅ft (176 N⋅m)[9]
1982–1985 3.0 L (181 cu in) Buick V6 110 hp (82 kW) 145 lb⋅ft (197 N⋅m)
1986 2.8 L (173 cu in) LE2 V6 112 hp (84 kW) 145 lb⋅ft (197 N⋅m)
1987–1988 2.8 L (173 cu in) LB6 V6 125 hp (93 kW) 160 lb⋅ft (217 N⋅m)
1989–1993 3.3 L (204 cu in) LG7 V6 160 hp (119 kW) 185 lb⋅ft (251 N⋅m)
1994–1996 3.1 L (191 cu in) L82 MFI/SFI V6 160 hp (119 kW) 185 lb⋅ft (251 N⋅m)
1984–1985 3.8 L (231 cu in) LG3 V6 125 hp (93 kW) 195 lb⋅ft (264 N⋅m) MFI[7]
1986–1988 150 hp (112 kW) 200 lb⋅ft (271 N⋅m) SFI
1982–1985 4.3 L (262 cu in) LT7 Diesel V6 85 hp (63 kW) 165 lb⋅ft (224 N⋅m)

Sixth generation (1997–2005)[edit]

Sixth generation
97-05 Buick Century .jpg
Model years 1997–2005
Assembly Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
Body and chassis
Class Mid-size car
Body style 4-door sedan
Layout Transverse front-engine, front-wheel drive
Platform W-body 2nd Gen
Engine 3.0 L LW9 V6 (China)
3.1 L L82 V6
3.1 L LG8 V6
Transmission 4-speed 4T60-E automatic
4-speed 4T65-E automatic
Wheelbase 109.0 in (2,769 mm)
Length 194.6 in (4,943 mm)
Width 72.7 in (1,847 mm)
Height 56.6 in (1,438 mm)
2000 Buick Century Limited
Buick "New Century" (China)

The Century was redesigned for the last time in 1997. The four-door sedan was the only body style offered (the station wagon was dropped due to decreasing sales), and was still a front wheel drive V6-powered configuration. Plainer "Custom" and fancier "Limited" trim levels were carried over from the previous generation. The 1997 redesign moved Centurys to the W-body platform, rejoining its former Regal sibling. In this generation, the Century and Regal were nearly the same car, distinguished only by seating configurations, trim, and engine differences. Since the Century was lower-priced than the Regal, it was also the lower-powered and plainer of the two, offering only a 3.1 L V6. In keeping with its traditional image, the 6-passenger Century came equipped with a front bench seat and column shifter, while the more performance-oriented 5-passenger Regal came standard with front bucket seats and console shifter. After the 1998 discontinuation of the Skylark, the Century for the first time became Buick's entry-level car. Buick tried to position the Century as a lower-priced alternative to Japanese family sedans like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. However, it failed to compete with them and was instead widely viewed as a car designed for an elderly target audience, an image not helped by the Century's assortment of senior citizen-friendly features like extra-large dashboard buttons and an extremely soft suspension. For 2003, all trim levels were eliminated, leaving one standard model. Additionally, the "Century" nameplate on the front doors was dropped, and only seen on the vehicle's taillights.

Changes were relatively few over the Century's nine-year run. The all-new Buick LaCrosse replaced both the Century and Regal in 2005. A limited run of Centurys with special trim were produced for 2005 to mark the end of the name. GM rolled the last Buick Century off the Oshawa assembly line on October 25, 2004.

The Buick Century was produced in China as the New Century from 1998 to 2000[10] and ran on the 3.0 litre LW9 V6 engine which was also used in the first generation Buick GL8. The Century was replaced by the Buick Regal due to poor sales.


  • 1997–1999 L82 3.1 L (191 in³) V6 160 hp (120 kW), 185 lb⋅ft (251 N⋅m)
  • 2000–2005 LG8 3.1 L (191 in³) V6 175 hp (130 kW), 195 lb⋅ft (264 N⋅m)


  1. ^ a b c d Flory, Jr., J. "Kelly" (2008). American Cars, 1946-1959 Every Model Every Year. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. ISBN 978-0-7864-3229-5. 
  2. ^ http://www.oldcarbrochures.com/static/NA/Buick/1955_Buick/1955_Buick_Brochure_1/1955%20Buick-26.html
  3. ^ http://www.oldcarbrochures.com/static/NA/Buick/1955_Buick/1955_Buick_Brochure_1/1955%20Buick-24.html
  4. ^ http://www.oldcarbrochures.com/static/NA/Buick/1956_Buick/1956_Buick_Brochure_1/1956%20Buick-29.html
  5. ^ Fitzgerald, Craig (June 2004). "1973-1974 Buick Gran Sport". Hemmings Muscle Machines. American City Business Journals. 
  6. ^ Gunnell, John (2004). Standard Catalog of Buick, 1903–2004 (3rd ed.). Iola, WI: Krause Publications, Inc. p. 279. ISBN 0-87349-760-0. 
  7. ^ a b Lösch, Annamaria, ed. (1984). World Cars 1984. Pelham, NY: L'Editrice dell'Automobile LEA/Herald Books. p. 271. ISBN 0-910714-16-9. 
  8. ^ Gunnell 2004, p. 280.
  9. ^ Gunnell 2004, p. 285.
  10. ^ "Spotted in China: Buick New Century". 

External links[edit]