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The 1953 Buick Super was part of a lineup marking Buick's 50th year of production. However, at first glance, the Golden Anniversary 1953s didn't seem all that, er, special, retaining the basic 1950-1952 bodies for one final year. Yet these were arguably the most changed Buicks since 1949.
Aside from the glamorous limited-edition Skylark convertible and improved Twin-Turbine Dynaflow (with dual power turbines), the big attraction was Buick's first-ever V-8: a modern short-stroke, high-compression design aptly dubbed "Fireball."
Sized at 322 cubic inches, it boosted the Super to 164/170 standard horsepower with manual/ Dynaflow; higher compression (8.5 versus 8.0:1) gave Roadmaster 188 bhp. Accompanying it was a new 12-volt electrical system. This year's Special retained the 263.3-cid straight eight but would get the V-8 for 1954.
Though Buick was later with a postwar V-8 than most rivals, the Fireball was a fine engine: smooth, efficient, and as time would prove, extremely elastic. With successive increases in displacement, compression, and output, it would serve the division well into the 1960s.
Buick's 1953 styling was recognizably evolved from 1950-1952, but more impressive with a lower, wider grille; bigger front bumper guards; and a reprofiled hood/front-fender ensemble that imparted a lower look. Headlamps were newly combined with parking lights in oval nacelles, an idea lifted from the 1952 XP-300 show car that would return for 1954.
One surprising departure from the earlier body style was a shortish 121.5-inch wheelbase for all models, save the smooth Super and Roadmaster Riviera sedans that remained on a 125.5-inch span. Recent Roadmasters had measured 126.3 inches between wheel centers (130.3 for the four-door Riviera).
This change should have helped the Super, and did; series volume rose more than 40 percent for 1953. But Special nearly doubled its 1952 sales and Roadmaster went up almost 70 percent. Still, the Super Riviera hardtop was the second best-seller in the 1953 line (after the four-door Special). Skylark aside, Super continued with the same four models as Roadmaster -- Riviera sedan and hardtop, convertible, and a four-door Estate Wagon with vestigial wood structure -- at prices about $500 lower model-for-model.
But Super was on the wane, ever overshadowed by the Roadmaster in prestige, the Special for value and, from 1954, the revived Century for performance. By 1958 the line was down to just two-and four-door Riviera hardtops. It then disappeared, along with Buick's other longtime series names. So in a way, the 1953 was the last Buick Super that really was.
Go to the next page to read the specifications of the 1953 Buick Super.