Four decades ago, Buick introduced the Regal nameplate as a mid-size luxury vehicle for North America. Since then, the Regal was produced without interruption across five generations – except for a five-year hiatus in the 2000s when the car was only available in China.
The nameplate was first used on the 1973 Buick Century Regal, which was an upmarket model in the Century line and one of GM’s first “personal luxury” cars.
Launched with a standard 350 cubic inch (5.7-liter) V8 engine, the Regal shortly started downsizing, as it had to face a major crisis during the 1970s Arab oil embargo.
The event forced manufacturers to use smaller engines and the Regal was the only mid-size vehicle in the U.S. to switch from a standard V8 engine to a V6 unit. The trend continued over the years, with Buick turning to turbocharging beginning with the 1978 Regal and continuing until today with the Opel Insignia-based model.
But let’s go back to 1973 and see what each of the Buick Regal’s five generations brought to the automobile world.
The first Regal’s main styling cues were the large swooping bodylines and opera windows. Offered with many luxury features at the time, the ‘73 Regal coupe sold 91,557 units, helping Buick surpass its 1955 all-time sales record. The 1975 Regal was the only mid-size car in the United States to come standard with a V6 engine.
Downsized from the previous generation, the 1978 Regal came with a 3.8-liter turbocharged V6, making Buick the first mainstream brand to offer a turbocharged unit. This breakthrough would pave the way for the 1980s Grand National and GNX.
The trend of scaled down cars continued in the U.S. and the third-generation Regal was no exception. The Regal underwent a major technical change, switching from rear-wheel drive to front-wheel drive. Power came from an all six-cylinder engine lineup including the 3,800 V6.
Just like the 1973 model, the 1997 Regal became once again an upmarket version of the Buick Century. The 1997 Buick Regal GS debuted with the brand’s first supercharged V6 engine, rated at 240 hp and 280 lb-ft (379 Nm) of torque.
After a five-year period during which Buick built the Regal only for China, the fifth-generation Regal debuted on the Chinese market for 2009 and a year later in the U.S. Based on the Opel Insignia, the Regal also saw the introduction of a high-output GS model for 2012. Introduced in 2013, the 2014 model is the first Regal to offer all-wheel-drive. Today’s Regal is equipped with its most-powerful standard engine in the car’s history, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 259 horsepower and 295 lb-ft (400 Nm) of toque.
By Dan Mihalascu