Buick Lost in Germany...

Discussion in 'Wet behind the ears??' started by Frenchie, Mar 4, 2024.


Where there any GM Switzerland assembled Buicks in 1972 or only USA Buicks exported to Swiss?

Poll closed Apr 3, 2024.
  1. USA Built and Assembled

  2. USA Built and Swiss Assembled

  1. Frenchie

    Frenchie Member

    Hi Team V8 Buick,

    Just landed in the V8 Buick Community. Many thanks to the crew that provides this site and service and to all the folks that maintain this site. Hats off to you.

    It is a real nice feeling to log in here and see so many other Buick Car fans, and all the different threads... it is like being back in Hershey PA, at a Swap Meet. I just love it!

    I am living in Heidelberg, Germany - Left over Army guy that stuck around too long.
    STAGE III and PGSS like this.
  2. TrunkMonkey

    TrunkMonkey Totally bananas

    Guten Howdy!

    Ehemaliger bewohner, mit freundlicher genehmigung von Uncle Sam. Flugplatz Bitburg, 80-83!
    "Bitte ein Bit!"

    All I am aware of were "knock downs" from Oshawa, but I am not certain of where all of them went, but I bet there are folks here that do.
    Australia, Middle East, and likely Europe.

    So, it might have been possible that some cars were even sold "outside the system", as many things did back in those days and others may have made way to strange places.

    Then there were all the G.I. cars shipped and left.
    (There was a 1966 Corvair Monza that went from Wichita, to Keflavik NAS in 1970 and stayed there... :))
  3. philbquick

    philbquick Founders Club Member

    I restored a 64 Chevelle when I was stantioned at Rhein Main AB in the nid 70s. Not sure what happened to it.
  4. pbr400

    pbr400 68GS400

    I saw the title of the post and thought, ‘no, Buick did not lose in Germany. Buick, via all the equipment it powered between 1942 and 1945, definitely won in Germany.’

  5. pbr400

    pbr400 68GS400

    73 Stage-1 likes this.
  6. 12lives

    12lives Control the controllable, let the rest go

  7. Frenchie

    Frenchie Member

    Thanks to all of you and especially to NailHead! I have one of these odd French Buick cars out of the Biel Factory, Switzerland in 1972 right when they signed the free-trade agreement with the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1972. Right afterwards they started consolidating GM in Swiss and moved Biel to Zurich. Yes its VIN also has Flint in it since it was a special order vehicle.
    I am in the process of researching all the history and will try using the Emil Frey Archiving services. Hopefully, not costing too much... Thanks again!
  8. Frenchie

    Frenchie Member

    In 1972 were the GM autos that were sold from this Biel factory with the Biel Swiss factory FIN plates (Fahrzueg ID Nummer) not VIN, actually assembled in Biel, and sent from Flint in crates, e.g. Motor, frame, etc. and then assembled? Or were the cars actually already assembled in Flint and then maybe only the European Parts to meet the Swiss/German regulations installed, such as the Kilometer Tacho, Speedometer, Front and Rear Lights, Side Markers, Different Turn Signal colors, and sometimes emission restrictors?
    Anyone knowledgeable about this in 1972, from this factory?
    Ps. i found some stories about Camaros that were built there completely even after they supposedly stopped building them in 1970, so it could be that this Buick I have was actually assembled in this plant rather then Flint...
  9. Frenchie

    Frenchie Member

    Vielen Dank, und immer wann du bist zurück in der nahe von Heidelberg, las uns eine Bit trinken!
  10. Frenchie

    Frenchie Member

    Nailhead, are you sure that Buicks were still built in 1972 in this factory, as all the information I have is that only Opels were still being sent across the factory line in that year. That is why I am so confused if this 72 Buick was assembled in Biel or just refabricated to meet Swiss/German specs?

    Ps, the GM Suisse Biel Administration Offices closed down in 72 after these Tax Treaties and were consolidated into Zurich offices according to the current head of GM Swiss, who I spoke with recently. Some factory operations continued for a couple of years afterwards and then ended.
    Yes, FIN is on the original Swiss Title Dokument, "Fahrzeugausweis" or "Permis de circulation" and it is listed as a Farhgestell-Nr. or a Chassis no.

    Chow, Frenchie
  11. TrunkMonkey

    TrunkMonkey Totally bananas

    Es ware mir eine freude, sie eines tages auf dieses bier kennenzulernen! [​IMG]
    Frenchie and philbquick like this.
  12. Frenchie

    Frenchie Member

    Hi V8 Crew, I have an update from the Emil Frey Museum archives on our question above. Actually, I think we are all wrong.

    First of all these folks were very helpful, professional, and didn't cost anything! Thanks for the tip from Nailhead.

    Second, Buicks were only built in Bienne, Swiss up until 1959, which is what I had previously been told from my contacts in the GM Swiss Management team. Nevertheless, as it states in this article, the factory acted as a staging point for EU imports that were then prepared for delivery including technical tests, re-work on quality problems found, and adapting the cars to the registration regulations in Switzerland (e.g. nice way of saying installing the parts that met the local regulations like the lights, side markers, tachometer / speedometer in kilometers, etc.).

    So, the old Knock Down theory is debunked and the idea that they built everything that was delivered from this factory and just put an H for Flint in the VIN plate is also a misnomer.

    See the actual autos and numbers that were Built in the Bienne factory below by year (Jahr):


    What is really cool is that there were two different grill ornament Emblems for the GM Cars that came out of this factory. One for the Autos that were actually built in the factory, e.g. for those in the numbers you see above and the emblem is here below (GM Montage Suisse). And, one for the Import cars that were prepared and then shipped to EU Dealers (GM Suisse SA Bienne).

    Key facts are in German written below and at the following Link: https://www.us-schrauber.de/html/gm_suisse_sa.html

    Einen ersten Hinweis gibt das Emblem im Kühlergrill, es gab ein Emblem für die Montage in der Schweiz und eins für die Importfahrzeuge.


    Zu den ca. 18000 pro Jahr produzierten Fahrzeuge, wurden von der General Motors Suisse SA ca. 9000 Automobile importiert. Wegen der geringen Stückzahlen und aufgrund von Produktionsengpässen im Werk Biel, wurden folgende Marken und Modelle importiert: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Pontiac und eine Reihe von Opel und Vauxhall Modellen, sowie Bedford Lastwagen.

    Upon delivery to the Studen warehouse, the imported vehicles were cleaned of protective wax and tested on a functional test bench (up to 140 km/h and up to 300 hp), a brake test bench and a sprinkler system. Any defects found were remedied on the spot and the vehicles were adapted to the registration regulations in Switzerland. The vehicles were then again covered with a protective wax layer and subjected to another inspection before delivery to the dealer.

    Links zum Thema:

    Schweizerische Bauzeitung, Band 109/110 aus dem Jahr 1937: Automobilfabirk der GM S.A. Biel

    Schweizerische Bauzeitung, Band 77 aus dem Jahr 1959: Automobilfabirk der GM S.A. Biel
  13. Frenchie

    Frenchie Member

    A little History Lesson, which I is very cool considering the Swiss and German art of technical perfection:

    Montage Suisse was created as a result of the global economic crisis. High protective tariffs were levied on finished products and especially luxury goods in order to strengthen domestic production. The import of semi-finished products was even subsidized to create jobs. This initial situation led to vehicle manufacturers setting up or using assembly plants in Switzerland to circumvent the protective tariffs. The first plant was the General Motors assembly plant in Biel. It was only a few years later that the Chrysler Group had vehicles assembled in Schinznach.

    This era ended with the creation of the EEC (European Economic Community), which in turn led to the creation of the EFTA (European Free Trade Association). This simplified customs agreement, which came into force in 1972, made the assembly plants in Switzerland redundant.

    Vehicles from Montage Suisse still enjoy a very good reputation today. The materials used were usually of higher quality and the vehicles were better equipped than their American counterparts. Willy Hutter, the long-time director of Schinznacher Automontage, said: “The small lettering Montage Suisse that we put on all the vehicles we assemble must always guarantee the highest quality!” This also partly applies to the imported vehicles, although of course no higher quality materials were used here. However, the imported cars all went through a complex inspection that was stricter than that of the American factories. All defects were then immediately remedied and the vehicles were adapted to Swiss registration regulations.

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