The Fab Five
1934 Model 40
Buick might not have survived the 1930s were it not for the Model 40. As the Depression wore on, the division's products ossified into grim and dowdy cars that were too chintzy to be classy and too expensive to be solid values. By 1933, when Harlow "Red" Curtice became president of Buick at age 39, Buicks production was running at one-sixth what it had been in 1926.
In a crash development program, Curtice created the 117-inch wheelbase Model 40, swiping some structures and parts from Pontiac and Chevrolet to make it happen. The 40's interiors were spartan by Buick standards, but the car itself was handsome. And thanks to its relatively small size, lighter weight, and 93-hp 3.8-liter straight eight, it was quicker than most cars of the era. More important, it was cheaper than other Buicks, carrying a base price of only $795 for the two-door Business Coupe.
The Model 40 was an instant success, and Buick was saved.