Buick Roadmaster

Buick Motor Division was founded by David Dunbar Buick, a builder of gasoline engines and his engineer, Walter L. Marr in 1903. The first automobile named Buick was actually developed somewhere between 1899 and 1900, however 1903 is considered to be key year for Buick brand, since during that year the company moved from Detroit to Flint.

The beginning wasn't spectacular and the company was on the verge of bankruptcy in 1904 when it staged a staggering recovery becoming the largest producer of automobiles in 1908 in United States of America, surpassing the combined production of Ford and Cadillac.

The company later became a financial pillar on which General Motors was created. The famous Roadmaster name dates back to 1936 when Buick added names to its entire model lineup designed to celebrate the engineering improvements and advancements over their earlier models.

Buick's Series 40 was named the Special, the Series 60 was named the Century and the Series 90, the largest and most luxurious vehicle produced was named the Limited. The Series 50 was retired, but was in essence replaced with Series 80 Roadmaster. The Roadmaster title implied the first time a test model leveled out on the open highway.

From the technical standpoint, the Roadmaster was introduced when Buick's valve-in-head straight-eight engines were significantly revised. Company halved the number of engines from four sizes to two: a 233 cubic inch, 93 horsepower job for the Special, and 320.2 cubic inch, 120-horsepower engine for all other series. Likewise, a major engineering change occurred in 1936 when Buick adopted an all steel turret top and hydraulic brakes. In addition coil springs were placed in the front.

The Roadmaster was a big car, in sedan form tipping the scales at 4,098 pounds, around 90 pounds heavier than Cadillac models of that period. In regard to price, the Roadmaster was a tremendous bargain compared with competition. The sedan sold for mere $1,255, which made over $400 less in total in comparison with the least expensive Cadillac.

The only other body style available was a four door convertible phaeton, priced at $1,565. Pheaton was however produced in rather small numbers, with only 1064 cars made. At the time Cadillac in the same body style sold at prices ranging from $2,745 to $7,850. Buick's new engineering approach and modern design was stunning success, as the year sales more than tripled from 48,000 to nearly 158,000. Most popular model was naturally new Series 80 Roadmaster which sold a total of 16,049 units.

Model performance

In 1937 Buick Roadmaster was still considered a relatively new successful model, when the company decided to redesign its entire line of the previous year. The Roadmaster was given a divided grille with horizontal bars painted to match the body of the car. Fenders were squared off and the headlight shells were gracefully streamlined.

Overall height was reduced by 1.5 inches (38 mm) without changes to the comfortable interior. A new carburetor and revised camshaft raised engine horsepower level to 130. Other technical innovations implemented were a new intake manifold, oil pump, cooling system and a quieter overhead valve mechanism. A formal sedan, featuring a movable glass partition between the front and rear compartments, was added to the Roadmaster line for $1,641.

Meanwhile the price of sedan was raised to $1,518, and of the phaeton to $1,856, making a 20 percent rise in model prices. The popularity of the company among the consumers resulted with sales increased to 16,129 units.

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