The current Buick logo, just one of many (Part II)
There has been a lot of speculation over the past week regarding General Motors’ trademark application for a new Buick logo. Likely linked to a slew of new EVs on the horizon (but not yet confirmed), the news has revived the old thought box of abandoned history. Why not take a look at all the old Buick logos? We started yesterday in 1903 and resumed today in 1942.
There were a few significant changes to Buick’s logo that year as the company adopted brougham. The Buick family shield became larger and more shield-like, with curved edges decorated in a thicker chrome perimeter. The top of the shield was adorned with a silver ball and floral flourishes, with further ribbon decorations at both ends. A blue and white diagonal banner remained, but the blue segments became diamonds instead of squares. The brand suggested you “better buy Buick”.
The new logo for ’42 was featured in a black circle with a chrome ring, although the black circle was left out on the exterior badges. 1942 was a unique logo year, as World War II intervened for the 1943 through 1945 model years. Production resumed in the fall of that year for the ’46 model year. The heraldic badge returned for a second and final time.
The fanciful ’42 and ’46 badge was extensively revised for 1947, with a noticeable removal of the hustle. The floral and ribbon decoration around the logo was removed, and the shield was no longer featured on its own. Instead, it was tucked into a larger chrome grille trim set. It got a lot more attention than the shield itself, as seen here on the ’47 Roadmaster. It should be noted that the 1942 badge remained in use on Buick steering wheel centers until 1958, although there were several revisions to the exterior badging.
1948 Buicks reflected the recessed grille badge one last time, as the shield was freed from its chrome shackles in 1949. Wider than before and surrounded by thicker chrome, the ’49 shield had new details in its red inner part, with vertical lines. The stag and the cross appeared once more, although sharper in their definition. The cross has notably been revised and has lost the cutout it had in the middle since its creation. The diagonal widened and covered more real estate in the center of the badge.
There was a revision to the shape of the badge in 1951 when it became much wider than it had been before. Again it was covered in chrome, this time an oval. Although much larger than before, this particular badge tampering is generally not noted by online sources.
In 1954, the Buick badging disappeared completely and was no longer featured externally. In its place was the block BUICK lettering. The cars received stylized model designation badges on their rear fenders, highlighted by a red circle behind the first letter of the model name. Capital lettering replaced a badge until 1957. At that time, a circular red, white, and blue trim detail was added in the grille of all Buicks, with a chrome spear on each side.
The American-themed disc was not present until 1957, as in 1958 all Buicks were facelifted with the failed Fashion-Aire Dynastar look. Buick relied on a generic V emblem in the hood that year, flanked by widely spaced Buick lettering.
1959 saw an emergency restyling at Buick, and all the cars got angry staring at the front. Buick lettering was written on a white background, with some additional chrome detailing. The heraldic 1942 Buick crest (without the black backing circle) was still inside this year.
The following year, 1960, Buick completely changed its logo identity to the basic format we have today. The Buick family shield with its two-tone deer, cross and diagonal decor has been multiplied by three and embedded in a chrome circle. The shape of the shields was closest to the 1939 logo and was depicted in red, white and blue. The three shields were superimposed slightly on top of each other and rose from left to right. And there was a deeper meaning: the three shields were meant to represent the full-size triple threat that Buick offered its dealers, in the form of the LeSabre, Invicta and Electra.
The new three-shield logo remained unchanged until 1966, having migrated from the grille to the hood ornament in the years that followed. In 1967 it switched to a rectangular grille plate, as Buick removed the hood ornaments that year. In 1968, the plaque behind the logo disappeared and the three shields were placed directly on the grille trim.
The shields migrated from the grille area to the hood in 1970. In 1972 the circle around the shields made a triumphant return to the 60s design. The badge became a hood ornament again in 1975.
A secondary badging was added for Skyhawk models when they debuted in 1975. The logo displayed a hawk flying from a side perspective, facing right. Around it was a chrome circle that the wings of the bird protruded. The badge was limited to the Skyhawk, while all other lineup members retained the traditional shield badge. The unique Skyhawk badge died with the first generation model after 1980.
In 1976, Buick went all-in on the falcon-themed marketing for some reason, but didn’t change the three-shield logo. To represent the brand in general, a falcon was photographed landing on the Buick lettering. This falcon mark was used in various ways between 1976 and 1990.
In the early 80’s some Buicks had a hood ornament if they were more expensive, but cheaper or sportier ones (like a T-Type) they didn’t. In 1985, the Buick logo underwent a noticeable modernization and the removal of heraldry. Gone are the shimmering facets of the diagonal banners of the shields, and gone too is the stag and cross introduced in 1937. The shields have been simplified and smoothed, now in their respective colors of red, white and blue. There was a simple diagonal chrome decoration in place of the diamonds. The logo was now supported in solid black.
A separate, non-specific red and black heraldic hood ornament was newly available. This was only on certain models (like Electra) and again sportier or cheaper models went without a hood ornament. The following year, the red and black were replaced with a blue and white pattern. It negated the heraldic look and was simply a square. The blue and white logo was used on more models and even appeared as a fender badge in some cases. In 1990, the various other types of hood ornaments were phased out and Buicks reverted to either a grille-embedded logo or a standard hood ornament.
The logo design remained the same through the 1990s and saw the introduction of a cloisonné badge on the hood or grille of higher performance models, for example the Park Avenue Ultra or Regal GS. The 90s and into 2001 would be one of the longest periods without a Buick logo change, but that changed in 2002. Shall we Rendezvous?
Buick’s new crossover was the first of its products to sport a new colorless logo. Kind of like being bitten by a big mosquito, the color leaked out of the Buick logo. All shields were fully chromed and were hollow in the center for the first time. Other models in the Buick line retained the old logo until the next time they were refreshed in a year or two. But that era was the end of traditional Buick models. Around the middle of the 2000s decade, Century and Regal were replaced by LaCrosse. The LeSabre and Park Avenue have been replaced by the Lucerne.
Most consumers didn’t care for Jane’s colorless logo, but those who did called for the return of the traditional Americana-themed badge. Buick complied in 2017 when it reintroduced colored shields, with new details. First introduced on the LaCrosse, the badge was a little more three-dimensional than before and surrounded by thicker chrome. New details have been added to the shields themselves, as the red, silver (not white), and blue areas have received new vertical striped detailing. The logo was again placed on a black background.
And that brings us to the present day, where there might just be another logo on the way. When it’s officially announced, we’ll let you know, but until then, enjoy having a lot more information about the Buick logo than you ever thought you’d need. This is the path of abandoned history.
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