Generations Timeline, Specs and Pictures
Buick introduced the 1997 Century in late 1996 and was a far departure from its predecessor, which was already an outdated-looking vehicle.
While the fifth Century generation tried to hide its front-wheel-drive architecture of the A-body platform with a cab-rearward design, the 1997 model played the right card and boldly shown a cab-forward look. It was built on an entirely new W-body Gen 2 platform shared with other vehicles such as the Chevrolet Impala, Pontiac Grand Prix, and Buick Regal, to name just a few.
Its rounded design featured sweeping headlights with rounded margins towards the main oval grille on one side and the turn signals on the other. The Century was a fine example of bio-design, but its customers didn’t appreciate it since most of them were already AARP members. Buick managed to create a vehicle that was luxurious enough and subtle at the same time.
Inside, the carmaker made a waved-like dashboard with a curved upper side above the instrument panel and sloped-down on the passenger side. Buick offered enough room for four occupants, with wide, comfortable seats at the front and a bench in the rear profiled for two passengers. The base trim levels offered a high-quality velour, while the upper trim levels got a leather-clad interior. The four-spoke steering wheel featured buttons for the sound system and an airbag in the middle.
Under the hood, GM installed a 3.1-liter V-6 engine available in two power options for the U.S. market, while the Chinese customers received a smaller, 3.0-liter unit and even a four-banger paired with a manual transmission.
The Century received a facelift for 1989, gaining a new more-rounded roofline, but continuing on the A-body platform.
Black plastic inserts with the Buick trishield emblem replaced the rear quarter windows. The front end received flush headlamps and a rounded grille, and the stand-up hood ornament was now standard. All sedan models were easily distinguished by their distinctive full-width taillights, a somewhat extravagant flourish on a smaller sedan, but one that carried on a Buick tradition of big taillights. An exterior refresh came in 1991. The 2.5 L I4 was replaced with a new 115 hp 2.2 L for 1993. For 1994, the coupe model was dropped, and all models received a standard driver’s side airbag. Also in 1994, the 160 hp 3.3 L Buick V6 was replaced with a 3.1 L V6 with the same power rating, and power on the 2.2 L I4 was up to 120 hp with the introduction of MFI. In 1995, a round speedometer replaced the wide rectangular one, but the car still carried on with the original 1981-style dash.
Despite first launching the Century line-up from as early as 1936, all models featured a slight facelift some 3 years later.
Most of the modification underwent by the Buick Century were related to its exterior styling, as the new convertible coupe featured a wider front grille, lower body skirts and a 5-inch increase in length. It’s new 5.2L 8 cylinder in-line was updated to 143 hp, a good reason why this model was later nicknamed the “the banker’s hot rod”. The Buick Century was discontinued in 1942 after some rather poor sales that year.