Featured in this article is a finely restored 1936 Buick Century. This was the first year that the Century model was introduced. Century was produced by Buick in 1936 as a full size automobile. This first generation of the Century model stopped production in February 1942 when all civilian auto production was stopped due to World War Two. At the time that production ceased in 1942 the Buick Century production output was just about ten percent of Buick's total.
The Buick Century was reintroduced in 1954 and ran to 1958. After that the model was built from 1973 to 2005.
Interesting story about how the Century model name came to be. According to legend, the British who had tested the automobile referred to the car as "doing the century" when it reached 100 MPH. Buick management liked the phrase and decided to name the model "Century".
Buick and General Motors
David Dunbar Buick started the Buick Motor Company in 1903 in Detroit, Michigan.. Later that same year the company was acquired by James Whiting who moved the Buick operation to Flint. The story is that David Buick really didn't see the opportunities presented by building cars and therefore sold his company soon after starting it. Whiting meanwhile hired William C. Durant to manage his new auto company. The first Buick that was offered to sale to the public was the 1904 Buick Model B.
The Buick badge was considered by many to be the first real automobile success. In fact, at that time it was the largest automaker in America. The brand had an excellent reputation for engineering and quality production at a time when buyers were getting acquainted with automobiles. Durant, with the success of Buick, went on and acquired more companies and in 1908 gave them the name General Motors.
William Durant took Buick to the racing venues. The racing team was put together with Louis Chevrolet and Wild Bob Burman and others. The team won a some 500 trophies just from 1908 to 1910. Buick was a huge success and by by 1908 it had become the country's leading automobile producer with 8,820 cars produced. A very high number of vehicles built during what was the early days of the industry.
Now a part of General Motors, Buick made a very significant statement in 1911 when they produced the first completely enclosed American automobile beating Ford to that major achievement.
The 1936 Buick Century
During it's time in production which accounted for four generations, the Buick Century at various times was offered in coupe, sedan and station wagon body styles. For the first two generations, from 1936 to 1942 and from 1954 to 1958 the Buick Century was classified as a full-size car. When Buick reintroduced the Century for 1973 ,it replaced the Skylark as the brand's midsize car. During the third generation there was a total restyling for 1997, thus the fourth generation.
The 1936 Buick came out of course during the Great Depression years which forced many automakers, especially upscale car makers, out of business. Buick, with it's powerful engine reputation along with it being a part of a larger corporation in the name of GM made it through just fine. The 1936 Buick Century was able to reach 100 MPH which caught the eye of many performance minded buyers.
For the 1936 model year Buick renamed it's entire line-up. This was done because of engineering advancements and more streamlined designs coming out that year.
1936 Buick Century Specifications
The 1936 Buick Century was produced with a 320 cubic inch straight eight engine. The engine delivered 165 HP and as mentioned above, the car could reach a top speed of 100 MPH.
Brakes were four wheel hydraulic.
Front suspension were independent coil springs and rear consisted of semi-elliptic leaf springs.
Total production for the 1936 Century Sedan was 17,800.
The serial number for this model can be found on the right side of the frame behind the front wheel.
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References used include...The Buick: A Complete History (90th Anniversary Edition) by authors Terry B. Dunham and Lawrence R. Gustin. Also, David Buick's Marvelous Motor Car: The Men and the Automobile that Launched General Motors (Updated 2013) by author Lawrence R. Gustin. Also GM Buick Archives.
The automobile featured in this article is an original model in great condition. In addition to the, the 1936 Buick Century was the first of that model produced.
You may find retail values in the neighborhood of $28,000 to $32,000. These are prices for a running and very good condition models.
(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)