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These photos show the best Buick models between 1904 and 1938

David Goran

Buick, formally the Buick Motor Division, is an upscale automobile brand of the American manufacturer General Motors (GM). For much of its existence in the North American market, Buick has been marketed as a premium automobile brand, selling luxury vehicles positioned above GM’s mainstream brands, e.g. Chevrolet, while below the flagship luxury Cadillac division.

Buick retains the distinction of being the oldest active American marque of an automobile and the original Buick Motor Company was a cornerstone of the establishment of General Motors in 1908.

Before the establishment of General Motors, GM founder William C. Durant served as Buick’s general manager, while his friend Louis Chevrolet worked as a racing driver for Buick and later learned automotive design working there.

Photos: New York Public Library

1904 Buick – first car model

1904 Buick – first car model

 

1905 Buick Model C – 2 cylinder – 16.2 H.P.

1905 Buick Model C – 2 cylinder – 16.2 H.P.

 

1906 Buick Model F – 2 cylinder – 22 H.P.

1906 Buick Model F – 2 cylinder – 22 H.P.

 

1907 Buick Model S – Turtle back – 4 cylinder – 24 H.P.

1907 Buick Model S – Turtle back – 4 cylinder – 24 H.P.

 

1908 Buick Model 10 – Runabout – 4 cylinder – 18 H.P.

1908 Buick Model 10 – Runabout – 4 cylinder – 18 H.P.

 

1909 Buick Model 17 – 4 cylinder – 30 H.P.

1909 Buick Model 17 – 4 cylinder – 30 H.P.

 

1910 Buick Model 41 – Limousine – 5 passenger.

1910 Buick Model 41 – Limousine – 5 passenger.

 

1911 Buick Model 39 – Touring Four – door.

1911 Buick Model 39 – Touring Four – door.

David Dunbar Buick incorporated his company as the Buick Motor Company on May 19, 1903, in Detroit, Michigan. Later that year, the company was purchased by James H. Whiting (1842–1919), owner of Flint Wagon Works, in Flint, Michigan, who moved Buick 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 secretary and re-hired Walter Marr as chief engineer. The engine Buick and Marr developed for this automobile was a 2-cyinder valve-in-head engine of 144 cubic inches, with each cylinder horizontal and opposed to each other by 180 degrees.

1912 Buick Model 43 – Touring four-door.

1912 Buick Model 43 – Touring four-door.

 

1913 Buick Model 40 – Touring – five passenger.

1913 Buick Model 40 – Touring – five passenger.

 

1914 Buick Model B – 38. Coupe -Three passenger.

1914 Buick Model B – 38. Coupe -Three passenger.

 

1915 Buick Model C-55 . Touring – seven-passenger.

1915 Buick Model C-55 . Touring – seven-passenger.

 

1916 Buick model D 46, Coupe, Three-passenger.

1916 Buick model D 46, Coupe, Three-passenger.

 

1917 Buick Model D47. Sedan – five-passenger.

1917 Buick Model D47. Sedan – five-passenger.

 

1918 Buick Model E46 . Coupe – three-passenger.

1918 Buick Model E46 . Coupe – three-passenger.

 

1919 Buick Model H50 . Sedan – seven-passenger.

1919 Buick Model H50 . Sedan – seven-passenger.

Whiting built only a few automobiles in 1904, by bringing Buick engines across the street where his workers shoehorned them into his wagons and drove them back across the street as Buicks, before running out of capital, causing him to bring in William C. Durant that year as controlling investor. Durant was co-owner, also in Flint, of the Durant-Dort Carriage Company, which was the largest carriage-making company in the country. Durant spent the next 4 years turning Buick into the biggest-selling automobile brand in the US. In 1907, Buick agreed to supply motors to R. S. McLaughlin in Canada, who made automobiles there, and in 1908 Durant founded General Motors. David Buick was kept for several years as an employee. He sold his stock for a small sum upon departure and died in modest circumstances 25 years later.

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Between 1899 and 1902, two prototype vehicles were built in Detroit, Michigan by Walter Lorenzo Marr. Some documentation exists of the 1901 or 1902 prototype with tiller steering similar to the Oldsmobile Curved Dash. In mid-1904, another prototype was constructed for an endurance run, which convinced James H. Whiting to authorize production of the first models offered to the public. The architecture of this prototype was the basis for the Model B.

1920 Buick Model K44. Roadster – two-passenger.

1920 Buick Model K44. Roadster – two-passenger.

 

1921 Buick Model 46. Coupe – two-passenger.

1921 Buick Model 46. Coupe – two-passenger.

 

1922 Model 45 Buick. Touring – five-passenger.

1922 Model 45 Buick. Touring – five-passenger.

 

1923 Buick Model 50. Sedan – seven-passenger.

1923 Buick Model 50. Sedan – seven-passenger.

 

 

1924 Buick Model 48. Coupe – four-passenger.

1924 Buick Model 48. Coupe – four-passenger.

 

 

 

1925 Buick Model 50. Sedan – seven-passenger.

1925 Buick Model 50. Sedan – seven-passenger.

 

 

1926 Buick Model 54D. Country Club Sport Coupe – three-passenger.

1926 Buick Model 54D. Country Club Sport Coupe – three-passenger.

The first Buick made for sale, the 1904 Model B, was built in Flint, Michigan. There were 37 Buicks made that year, none of which survive.

The basic design of the 1904 Buick was optimally engineered even by today’s standards. The flat-twin engine is inherently balanced, with torque presented to the chassis in a longitudinal manner, actually canceling front end lift, rather than producing undesirable lateral motion. The engine was mounted amidships, now considered the optimal location.

1927 Buick Model 51. Brougham Sedan – five-passenger.

1927 Buick Model 51. Brougham Sedan – five-passenger.

 

1928 Buick Model 58. Coupe – five-passenger.

1928 Buick Model 58. Coupe – five-passenger.

 

1929 Buick Model 50. Seven passenger- four door Sedan.

1929 Buick Model 50. Seven passenger- four door Sedan.

 

1930 Buick Model 60. Sedan – seven-passenger.

1930 Buick Model 60. Sedan – seven-passenger.

 

1931 Buick Model 96. Coupe – five-passenger.

1931 Buick Model 96. Coupe – five-passenger.

 

1932 Buick Model 57S. Special Sedan – five-passenger.

1932 Buick Model 57S. Special Sedan – five-passenger.

In 1911, Buick introduced its first closed-body car, four years ahead of Ford. In 1929, as part of General Motors’ companion make program, Buick Motor Division launched the Marquette sister brand, designed to bridge the price gap between Buick and Oldsmobile; however, Marquette was discontinued in 1930. All Buick, Marquette, Viking, and Oldsmobile products shared the newly introduced GM B platform starting in 1926. Buick debuted two major achievements for the 1931 model year, the OHV Buick Straight-8 engine and a synchromesh transmission in all models but the Series 50. The Eight was offered in three displacements, the 220 cubic inch (bore 2 7/8 in. stroke 4.25 in.), was available in the Series 50 with 77 brake HP. The Series 60 engine was a 272 cu. in. unit (bore 3 1/16 in., stroke 5 in.) giving 90 brake HP. The Series 80 and Series 90 used a 344 cu. in. version (bore 3 5/16 in., stroke 5 in.) for 104 brake HP. Automatic vacuum-operated spark advance was another new feature replacing the steering column mounted spark lever although an emergency lever was now dash mounted.

1933 Buick Model 57. Four-door Sedan – five-passenger.

1933 Buick Model 57. Four-door Sedan – five-passenger.

 

1934 Buick Model 66C. Convertible Coupe (R.S.) – 2-4 passenger.

1934 Buick Model 66C. Convertible Coupe (R.S.) – 2-4 passenger.

 

1935 Buick Model 41. Sedan.

1935 Buick Model 41. Sedan.

 

1936 Buick Sedan.

1936 Buick Sedan.

 

1937 Buick. Limited series – 90.

1937 Buick. Limited series – 90.

 

1938 Buick Series 40 Special 5-passenger, 4-door touring sedan.

1938 Buick Series 40 Special 5-passenger, 4-door touring sedan.

In the 1930s, Buicks were popular with the British royal family, particularly Edward VIII. He imported and used a Canadian built McLaughlin-Buick that was GMs top brand in Canada, Cadillac not having caught on there. George VI used one for a coast to coast royal tour of Canada in 1939.

Buick-branded vehicles are sold in the United States, Canada, Mexico, China, and Taiwan. In 2015, Buick sold 1,231,941 vehicles, a record for the brand. Since restructuring in 2009, GM has also started to share technology and development between Buick and GM’s European Opel division.