The 1953 Buick Super was part of a celebration of an important year in Detroit -- looking to the past as well as the future. Buick was one of two great American automakers celebrating their 50th birthday that year. Ford indulged in a splashy year-long party; Buick simply issued a more changed group of cars, with the 1953 Buick Super as an important member of the lineup.
Long a prewar symbol of upper-middle-class affluence, Buick ran its traditional fourth in postwar industry production by continuing to offer attractive styling, smooth performance, and near-Cadillac luxury at competitive prices. The 1946-1948 models, continuations of the smart all-new 1942 design, were followed by all-new postwar 1949s.
Just a year later, the top-line Roadmaster and mid-range Super acquired a bulkier, reskinned General Motors C-body, shared with Cadillac and the senior Oldsmobiles. The low-priced Special got a new B-body for 1950 -- and quickly displaced the Super from its late-Forties status as Buick's best-seller.
As ever, early postwar Buicks were big, solid, and comfortable, powered by the division's reliable "valve-in-head" straight eight that by 1952 reached 320.2 cubic inches/170 horsepower for Roadmaster and 263.3 cid/124-128 bhp for Super. Division chief designer Ned Nickles had enhanced the traditional Buick look by giving the 1949s front-fender "Ventiports" and rakish "sweepspear" bodyside moldings. Both were perfect complements to the make's usual toothy grille, and would be much in evidence through 1958.
Two popular postwar innovations contributed to Buick's success in this period. One was the pillarless "hardtop convertible," which Buick pioneered in mass production (along with Oldsmobile and Cadillac) with its 1949 Roadmaster Riviera. A Super version arrived for 1950 and sold better than 56,000 copies. Abetted by Special models from 1951, Buick would sell vast numbers of hardtops through decade's end.
Equally popular was Dynaflow automatic, introduced as standard for the 1948 Roadmaster and made optional for other models the following year for about $200. Dynaflow multiplied torque via a drive turbine that was made to rotate through an oil bath by a crankshaft-driven power turbine. Though a smooth operator, Dynaflow did nothing for performance (leading some to call it "Dynaslush") but was immensely popular. By 1950, it was being fitted to some 85 percent of total Buick production.
Go to the next page to read about the 1953 Buick Super's styling and performance.
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