Thursday, December 12, 2013

1955 Buick Special 4-door Tourback Sedan

"Sky-high style and Snap to match! Up front you note first a stunning new Wide-Screen Grille that's distinctive as the name above it. Curbside, you take in the rake of the silvery sweep-spear, the sports-car cut of the wheel wells, the arching sweep of the broad panoramic windshield that has set a complete new trend for the industry to follow. To the rear, you find still more modernity — in the smart slash-back styling of the tail-light grouping that adds a new fashion profile to the whole gleaming grace of the car. This, you see, is Buick for 1955 — and there's a tilt to the lines of it that we believe you will find nowhere else on the new automotive horizon."

The 1955 Buick perfectly embodies the massive grace that made cars of GM's "chrome-and-glamour" division so desirable for many customers. In 1955, Buick's sales soared by more than 60 percent, and with 738,814 cars produced, the company scored third in the annual production statistics, ousting Plymouth from its long-standing position. Buick was by far the most successful American luxury car make, and a large part of this success is owed to the classy styling, which, by the way, is said to have been one of Harley Earl's personal favorite designs.

Buicks of this generation are an interesting showcase of strategic product development: in the lineup's lifecycle between 1954 and 1956, the appearance of Buicks evolved gradually, but decidedly, from pretty curvaceous volumes to a leaner and more modern look. All Buick Special of this period were based on the same corporate "B-body", as you can notice in their similar rooflines. The outer sheetmetal, though, was slightly altered each year. The 1954 Buick, for instance, still sported the sculptural hood of earlier Buicks, with the middle part raised atop the front fenders. In 1955, a much flatter hood appeared and the dip between hood and fenders became very shallow, which made for a lower and boxier overall look. The front fenders became straightened out even more for 1956, further emphasizing on the horizontal lines of the car.

The car's front grille, too, became wider and more angular each year, while the cone-shaped "dagmars" were pushed out to the sides, anticipating the full-width grille of the 1957 Buicks. Along with these changes went yearly revisions of the rear end and chrome trim.

Of course, all these changes didn't happen randomly, but were carefully orchestrated by Harley Earl and his GM design team to ensure a constant evolution of the "Buick look" while, at the same time, being able to please the customer's thirst for novelties by introducing an "all-new“ design, each year.

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