The first Buick Century dates to 1936 -- the year Buick first began using names rather than numbers to identify its models. Century continued through the 1942 model year, which ended early when Buick converted to World War II military production. The Century model returned in 1954 as a midsize high-performance entry. The name was temporarily retired after 1958 then reintroduced in 1973, again as a midsize model. Although there have been numerous changes in Century since the first front-wheel-drive model was introduced for the 1982 model year, the 1997 Century represents the first all-new version in a decade and a half.
Source: The Buick -- A Complete History & Buick Motor Division