Since it was founded in 1903, Buick has cemented its place in American culture. Whether you know them as the six-time Official Pace Car of the Indianapolis 500, the manufacturer of some of the best muscle cars in the last century, or your hand-me-down first car, chances are you have an affinity for at least one Buick model.
If you’re looking for a classic Buick to call your own, or you just want to brush up on old Buick cars you should know, check out this guide to the 10 best old Buick cars of all time.
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What makes an old car great?
After more than 100 years in the business of building cars, there are bound to be some hits—and some misses (we haven’t forgotten you, Terraza, but we wish we could). So, how do you determine which models are cool enough to be classic and which are better left in the dust?
We used a few different criteria to determine which Buicks would make our list of the best of the best. Some of them mark turning points in the story of the company or industry at large. Some are particularly impressive for their speed, power, and prowess. And some are just so stylish that they’ve become synonymous with the word “classic.”
10. Buick Race Car (1909): The one that started it all
Just five years after Buick’s first model as an independent company, The Model B was introduced. The manufacturer stepped up its game for one of the earliest automobile races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1909.
Upon first glance, it’s hard to see how the early model could be a predecessor of the muscle cars and speedsters the company would later produce. Further inspection, though, reveals it to be a feat of its own. In fact, The four-cylinder, 298-cubic-inch Model 16B would go on to win the second race ever held at the track and set 11 speed records in its time.
This first racecar set the stage for other record-breaking Indy 500 legends, like the Buick Century Indianapolis 500 Pace Car and the 1984 Buick/March Indy Car.
9. Buick Wildcat (1965–1970): An endangered specie
Buick’s answer to the
Oldsmobile Starfire and the
Pontiac Grand Prix, the Wildcat was originally under the Buick Invicta series before branching out on its own thanks to the ever-growing popularity of the style.
The Wildcat was available as a two-door coupe hardtop or convertible, and as a four-door sedan or hardtop. No matter the style, the Wildcat was a hard one to catch, with a V8 engine and 325 horsepower.
In 1966, the Wildcat Gran Sport package was introduced for just one year, offering even more speed in the form of either a 7.8L V8 engine with 340 horsepower or a dual-carb engine that boosted its power up to 360 horsepower. These models are now rarities: less than 1,500 of them were said to be ordered.
In 1969 and 1970, the Buick Wildcat got a bit of a makeover, with a style more closely matching
Chevrolet’s Impala SS and
8. Buick Roadmaster (1946–1958): An American classic
The Roadmaster has been in and out of the Buick lineup since its first introduction in 1936. It’s the 1946 to 1958 series, however, that steals the spotlight. The Roadmasters of the early 1950s, more specifically, are synonymous with classic Americana.
Offered in colors like cherry red and sky blue, available as a convertible or hardtop, and with the signature Buick sweepspear—chrome trim starting above the front wheel opening, then falling towards the rear wheel—adorning the sides, early 1950s Roadmasters jumpstarted a 38% increase in sales for Buick.
Even now, the iconic sweepspear, portholes, and unique grille teeth have casual car connoisseurs and gearheads alike drooling.
7. Buick Skylark (1961–1972): A powerful ride
From 1953 to 1998, the Buick Skylark saw its fair share of overhauls and redesigns, but it was the early 1960s that solidified this model in the pantheon of great Buicks.
The Skylark is a stylish car, and the 1961 model changed it up even further with a new unibody Y-platform.
But it was this car's power that set it apart. Boasting Buick’s 3.5L V8 engine, the 1963 Skylark came with the option for either a two-barrel carburetor with 150 horsepower or a four-barrel carb at 190 horsepower.
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6. Buick Century (1936–1942): A new start
The Buick Century saw a couple of reincarnations after its first run from 1936 to 1942, but none made quite the mark that the original did.
First introduced in the midst of the country’s struggle to recover from the stock market crash, the Buick Century represented a huge shift in how Buick would make and sell its product.
Even its moniker was brand new: Buick was in the process of rebranding all of their numbered models with catchier names, and so the Series 60 became the Century.
The Buick Century ushered in the use of hydraulic brakes, synchromesh transmission, and a more sleek, rounded style that would become definitive for the decade. It was also one of the fastest in its day, earning a name for its ability to get up to 100 mph.
5. Buick GNX (1987): The fastest in the country
First introduced as a limited-edition, higher-performance version of the Buick Grand National, the 1987 Buick GNX quickly made a name for itself in the world of high-performance cars.
New tires, new suspension, and an updated exhaust system were added to the Grand National to create the GNX. It also received some body modifications for optimized function and speed.
The result? The fastest American car you could buy at the time, with a 0 to 60 speed of just 4.7 seconds.
The Buick GNX set the bar high for T-types to come and shifted Buick’s focus even more toward producing headline-making performance versions of their most popular models.
4. Buick Riviera (1963–1972): Luxury meets muscle
Referred to by many as one of General Motors' most beautiful cars ever, the Buick Riviera was a star not just for its looks but also for its powerful performance.
The styling of the Buick Riviera ushered in a new era of car design, one that took more inspiration from their European counterparts than from the hallmarks of traditional American builds.
Angled fenders with leading edges, plus contoured sides, frameless windows, and clamshell covers on the headlights were added in 1965 and all lent the Buick Riviera an air of sexy sophistication.
While not the fastest Buick around, the 6.6 to 7.0L V8 engine options were more than enough to add some power to this beauty.
3. Buick GSX (1970–1972): Muscle car madness
Putting a new spin on the Buick Gran Sport, the Buick GSX was designed to compete in the American muscle car showdown of the early 1970s. And compete it did.
The 7.4L V8 engine gave the GSX an impressive horsepower of 350 and a record-setting 510 foot-pounds of torque.
The GSX is instantly recognizable thanks to its two signature colors, Apollo White and Saturn Yellow, both of which came with a cool black stripe painted along the full length of the body that was outlined with red pinstripes.
The Buick GSX is still a sought-after model among car enthusiasts, with restored versions going for as much as $200,000 at auction.
2. Buick Special (1963): Accessible and affordable
The Buick Special may not always get as much attention as its flashier cohorts, but the sporty and spacious classic still sits pretty on the list of the best of Buicks.
First introduced in 1936, Buick brought the Special back in the 1960s as a midsize car. The updates included more passenger room, more cargo room, an all-vinyl interior, and a simple but cool build.
The Buick Special was also unique in its accessibility, as it was typically the lowest-priced model in the lineup.
1. Buick Regal (1973–2020): Decades of performance
The Buick Regal was a staple of the Buick lineup for over four decades before it was retired in 2020. In that time, the Regal has seen many iterations: muscle car, sports sedan, all-wheel-drive wagon, and many, many more.
Those reimaginings of the favorite allowed Buick to make a splash in markets that it may otherwise have been left out of and gave it staying power that surpassed others in the General Motors catalog (like Oldsmobile and Pontiac).
The Regal has also been credited with popularizing the Buick 3800 V6 engine, which has become a staple in many Buick models today.
More than four generations have fond memories of at least one version of the Buick Regal. That, along with the influence the popular line has had in the industry and for the manufacturer itself, earn the Regal a spot at the top.
How to find affordable car insurance
All of these Buicks deserve credit for their influence on what we love about the brand today. However, that doesn’t mean they are all necessary good picks for a used car if you’re looking to buy.
While you’re considering which model is a good choice for your next ride, make sure you also choose a
car insurance policy that can meet your needs. Whether you’re looking for coverage for a 2020 Regal or a 1987 GNX, the
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