The Buick Special was an automobile produced by Buick. It was usually Buick's lowest-priced model, starting out as a full-size car in 1936 and returning in 1938 (after a two-year hiatus) as a mid-size.
By 1970, Special was no longer offered as a standalone model but the name would later be used for the entry trim on 1975 to 1979 and 1991 to 1996 Century models. From 1936 to 1958, Buick's Special model range represented the marque's entry level full-size automobile. The '36 was a very successful year for Buick and also marked the first time of using names rather than the simple serial numbers which had been in use before. The Special continued to also be known as the 40-series, however. The first Specials rode on a 118 in (3.0 m) wheelbase, but for the next model year this was increased to 122 in (3.10 m) as all Buicks grew for that year. The engine was also new, and was now of 248 cu in (4.1 L) rather than 233 cu in (3.8 L). The Special (and all other Buicks as well) underwent a full restyling for 1939, with a more enclosed nose and a wider grille. The wheelbase was also two inches shorter. For 1940, there was the usual restyle and the wheelbase increased by an inch. This was also the only model year that a four-door convertible Special ("Sport Phaeton") was offered, although only 552 were built. Halfway into the 1949 model year, the Specials received all-new bodywork, the first fully postwar design for the series. New was also the 40D-series, a better equipped version called the Special DeLuxe. The engine remained the 248 cu in (4.1 L) which had been used since 1937, but for 1951 this was replaced by the larger "Fireball" straight-eight. A two-door hardtop coupe was also new for 1951. The 1954 Specials had an all-new body and chassis, much wider and lower, and were now equipped with the all-new, more powerful "Nailhead" V8 engines. Introduced in the middle of the 1955 model year the four-door Buick Special Riviera (along with the Century Riviera, the Oldsmobile 98 Holiday, and the 88 Holiday) were the first four-door pillarless hardtops ever produced. By then, the Buick Special was one of America's best selling automotive series. In 1961, the car returned after a short absence of two years, but this time it was on the brand new unibody compact GM Y platform. The Special was powered by a 155 hp (116 kW) innovative aluminum-block 215 in³ V8, and had Dualpathtransmission and power steering. In mid-year a Skylark option was released with special trim, optional bucket seats and a four-barrel version of the 215 that made 185 hp (138 kW).In 1962, the Special was the first American car to use a V6 engine in volume production; it earned Motor Trend's Car of the Year for 1962. This 198 cid Fireball was engineered down from the 215 and used many of the same design parameters, but was cast in iron. Output was 135 hp (gross) at 4600 rpm and 205 lb⋅ft (278 N⋅m) at 2400 rpm. In their test that year, Road & Track was impressed with Buick's "practical" new V6, saying it "sounds and performs exactly like the aluminum V8 in most respects."