Buick is one of the oldest automobile brands in the world and currently the oldest in the United States. (Autocar, founded in 1897, is the oldest motor vehicle manufacturer in the western hemisphere; while originally an automobile maker, Autocar now builds heavy trucks. Oldsmobile, also an early auto maker founded in 1897, is now defunct; Studebaker was founded in 1852, but did not begin producing automobiles until 1902; Mr. Ford produced his first car in 1896 but did not start the Ford Motor Co. until 1903, and during the period in between was involved with other automobile manufacturers such as Cadillac, founded in 1902).
The first logo of Buick (1904), with an image of the Uncle Sam and the legend "known all over the world"
The first two Buick automobiles were made in 1899 and 1900 at the "Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company" by chief-engineer Walter Marr, but company owner David Dunbar Buick was reluctant to begin making automobiles, being satisfied with stationary and marine engine production, so Marr left Buick in 1901 to found his own automobile company under his own name. His replacement was Eugene Richard, who applied for a patent in 1902 for Marr's valve-in-head (overhead valve) engine, which patent, number 771,095, was awarded to Richard in the name of Buick in 1904. In 1903, the third Buick automobile was made, this time by Richard, but in 1904 Buick, whose company was now called "Buick Motor Company", moved from Detroit to Flint, Michigan, and Richard stayed behind. Marr was rehired in Flint as chief engineer, to begin making automobiles in production. That year, 37 Buick automobiles were made, production increasing to 750 in 1905, 1,400 in 1906, 4,641 in 1907, and 8,800 in 1908, taking the number one spot away from close competitors Oldsmobile, Ford, and Maxwell.
David Buick incorporated his company as the Buick Motor Company on May 19, 1903, in Detroit, Michigan. Buick had been financed by friend and fellow automobile enthusiast, Benjamin Briscoe, who in September 1903 sold control of the business to James H. Whiting (1842–1919), of Flint Wagon Works, in Flint, Michigan. Whiting moved Buick to Flint, to a location across the street from his factory, with the idea of adding Buick's engines to his wagons. David Buick stayed on as a manager and re-hired Walter Marr as chief engineer. The engine Buick and Marr developed for this automobile was a two-cylinder valve-in-head engine of 159 cubic inches, with each cylinder horizontal and opposed to the other by 180 degrees.
Louis Chevrolet in his Buick 60 Special (aka "Buick Bug") in 1910
Whiting built only a few automobiles in 1904, the Model B, before running out of operating capital, causing him to bring in William C. Durant that year as controlling investor. Durant built a few more model B's in 1904, and greatly stepped up production for the model C in 1905, and spent the next four years turning Buick into the biggest-selling automobile brand in the US. During the 19th century, Durant had made his fortune as co-owner, also in Flint, with Josiah Dallas Dort, of the Durant-Dort Carriage Company, which by 1904 was the largest carriage-making company in the country and one of the largest in the world. Durant moved most Buick production to the former Durant-Dort Imperial Wheel plant in Jackson, Michigan in 1905. Buick continued car production in Jackson through 1907, when Factory #1 was completed in Flint. The Jackson plant continued production with Buick trucks through 1912. David Buick sold his stock upon departure in 1906, making him a wealthy man, but he died in modest circumstances 25 years later. In 1907, Durant agreed to supply motors to R. S. McLaughlin in Canada, an auto maker, and in 1908 he founded General Motors. An Electra 225 paced the Daytona 500 race in both 1960 and 1963. In 1961, a new Fireball V6 engine was introduced and the Skylark nameplate returned as the top model of the new Specialcompact car line. The Buick Special was named Motor Trend Car of the Year in 1962. Also in 1962, Wildcat was introduced as a trim level on Invicta and became its own model the following year. In 1963 the Riviera was introduced as its own model. In the mid-1960s Buick started officially selling German-built Opel cars through its North American dealerships. For 1967, radial tires became available as an option on all full-size Buicks.
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