MotorCities National Heritage Area

By Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images courtesy of the National Automotive History Collection
Posted: 03.06.2017

file 20170306170234 1950 Buick
During the 1950s, Buick models were very popular and they always had a strong presence in the automotive community among customers.

In 1950, General Motors had introduced a redesigned model line for Buick. That year saw the first models for the Roadmaster, the Roadmaster Deluxe along with the Riviera, and the Special series and Super models which shared the same 121.5-inch wheelbase. The Super models, however, were 5 inches longer.
file 20170306170308 1950 Buick
On Sept. 21, 1949, Buick manufactured its 1 millionth post-war model, which was a 1950 Special Deluxe sedan. Mr. Charlie A. Chayne, who was chief engineer for the Buick Motor Division in 1950 said, “In announcing the new Buicks for 1950, we feel that we have achieved a new high standard in those elements of automobile design which make for owner satisfaction.” The company had coined the advertising slogan, “Buick’s the Fashion for 1950,” for its campaigns that year.

One of the main, redesigned features for the 1950 models was the front-end styling and grille which became a divisive issue for consumers. Some motorists thought the remodeled styling was ugly while others liked it. The vertical grille bars were mounted in front of the large one-piece bumper and were individually bolted to the bumper. Because of their location, each bar served as a bumper guard. It was a sturdy protection for the front end of the car with strong bumper guards and grille bars to absorb an impact.
file 20170306170340 1950 Buick
Despite the radical front-end styling, the 1950 Buick models were very popular among customers, and they broke the 1949 sales record by 38 percent in 1950. Buick also had ranked second to Chevrolet in manufacturing and automotive sales.

To highlight the interior of the 1950 Buick models, an attractive rear compartment lid emblem was placed low on the deck lid. For better vision, a large curved windshield and backlight were installed to improve passenger safety. Buick also installed a new push-button door lock for the customer to have an easier excess for exiting or entering the vehicle.
file 20170306170408 1950 Buick
The 1950 Buick interiors were trimmed with materials that had a general, grey-ish color scheme of varying shades to blend in with the colors of the instrument panel and with the dark stripes that were designed for the seat backs and seat cushions.

A complete line of new Buick Fireball engines with higher horsepower ratios had been provided at the time to give top performances for the entire range of the automobile. It should be noted that the Dynaflow Drive (transmission) became available on all three Buick series models for that year.
file 20170306170426 1950 Buick
 The Buick models were very different from anything else in General Motors new car line up for 1950. For many years, Buick’s signature design style was the vent ports. They were functional as well as decorative serving to ventilate the engine compartment.

In conclusion, the 1950 Buick models were great looking vehicles for a customer base that was already very loyal to the brand. The Roadmaster convertible along with the Roadmaster Estate wagon models were luxurious and impressive models and today are considerate very collectible.
file 20170306170443 1950 Buick
A special thanks to Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher, for contributing this story to the MotorCities Story of the Week Program.

For further information on photos please visit or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Please do not republish the story and/or photographs without permission of MotorCities National Heritage Area. (Bibliography: Dammann, H. George. “Seventy Years of Buick” Crestline Publishing 1973.)

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