A Short History Of The Buick Car Company

Buick Car Company

David Dunbar Buick


One of the great industries of America in the 20th century was the automobile industry. From the beginning of the 1900’s, the American automakers were the powerhouse leader in production of automobiles. Hundreds of automakers would set out to design, develop, and produce cars all over America and later the entire world. Of the hundreds of automobile manufacturers to set up shop in the early days of the 1900’s, one man would use his spirit and determination to defeat the odds by developing the engine and prototype that we still use today.
The Scottish Plumber
For much of his life, David Dunbar Buick mastered the craft of manufacturing plumbing goods. After more than a decade working with the Alexander Manufacturing Company, he would soon go on to own it. He had a very innovative mind in those days, developing lawn sprinklers and coating cast iron baths. The company would become known as the Buick and Sherwood manufacturing company. The company would become extremely profitable, and Buick would go on to sell his half of the company, which gave him the cash he needed to start a new business in internal combustion engines.
The fascination of the Internal Combustion Engine

Internal Combustion Engine

L-head Engine
By 1895, Buick had developed a fascination of the internal combustion engine so much so that he sold his beloved and extremely profitable manufacturing company. He would set out to redevelop the design of the L-head internal combustion engine. He would start the Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company in 1899. With help from engineer Walter Marr, they developed the overhead valve engine. This new engine was far superior to the L and T head engines because it allowed more air to flow into the engine allowing it to achieve more horsepower. The company had set out to make engines for agricultural use. They had spent much of their capital on research and development which soon ran the company out of money. Buick Auto-vim and Power Company would soon be out of business with only one car to their name.
The original bail-out
Buick would go on to find investor’s Ben and Frank Briscoe to help bail out his company. The bail-out would form the Buick Manufacturing Company which had a strong focus in developing engines to sell to other companies as well as manufacture its own cars. Again he would run out of money, so he was forced to take a loan from the Briscoe’s a second time and create the Buick Motor Company. Buick was unable to pay his debts back and the Buick Motor Company would be sold.
Buick and Marr’s Determination
Buick and Marr’s Determination
1904 Buick Body Assembly 

With no money and no company, Buick and Marr continued to develop the prototype using the 2 cylinder overhead valve engine. By 1904, Buick and Marr had finally completed and perfected the overhead valve engine and announced they would drop it into a Buick prototype. After an entire decade, losing 3 companies, and going completely broke, Buick and Marr drove their new prototype successfully from Detroit to Flint Michigan. The successful trip would convince James Whiting to put the car into production and create the cornerstone for General Motors. Buick would go on to sell hundreds of millions of cars over the next century and become a staple in American Automobile Manufacturing.

Buick and Marr

First Buick on the Road