David Dunbar Buick

David Dunbar Buick ( born September 17, 1854 in Arbroath, Angus, Scotland, † March 5, 1929 in Detroit, Michigan ) was an American engineer, inventor and industrialist.

Buicks family emigrated in 1856 from Scotland to the United States and settled in Detroit. David left the school in 1869 and worked in a Plumber. Together with a partner he could take over this 1882. To this period belong some of his inventions like a lawn sprinkler, or a method which allows to combine email and cast iron. This can especially metallic surfaces that come much into contact with water, are better protected against corrosion. Applications have included pots, bowls and all baths. The company prospered. However, Buick was more of a tinkerer and inventor but not a businessman. When he in the years after 1890 more and more concerned with the internal combustion engine and spent less and less time for the company, this has led to tensions among partners and ultimately for separation and sale of the company to the Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company.

Motors and the Automobile

Buick now spent his time and capital for engine development. In 1899 he founded the Buick Auto- Vim and Power Company for the production of engines for agricultural and boats, but dealt simultaneously with the development of a complete automobile. Again, he focused too much on these subtleties and too little to the sales success of its products. 1902, the company was renamed Buick Manufacturing Company. Meanwhile, there was a single prototype, but at the same time it was foreseeable that Buicks capital was virtually depleted. He was supported by the engineers Walter Marr and Eugene Richard, who came from Oldsmobile. The three of them have developed a new type of engine, the valves were not installed on the sides but in the cylinder head. They called the principle of " Valve -in- Head ", a precursor to the modern, overhead- engine. As an investor the industrialist Benjamin Briscoe jumped in with an amount of $ 5,000. Briscoe was also undertook a re- transformation of the company and let them register as the Buick Motor Company under the laws of the State of Michigan on May 19, 1903.

General Motors

Disillusioned presented Briscoe stated that there used to be only a test car and a fabrication plant for its capital infusions - but no prospect of an early start of production. Briscoe therefore withdrew from the project back ( he and Jonathan D. Maxwell Maxwell - Briscoe Company, another successful car company ), Buick mediated but in the late summer of 1903 with James H. Whiting ( 1842-1919 ), owner of the coach building firm Flint Wagon Works a new investor. According to Flint, Michigan, the production facilities were relocated. However, the Buick prototype came in the summer of 1904 there and in August a first Buick automobile could be sold. In the next two months followed orders for 16 additional vehicles. However, their production exceeded Whiting's financial possibilities. On 1 November 1904 he therefore gave the company formally to William Crapo Durant, then co-owner of Durant -There Carriage Company in Flint. Durant increased the company's capital within one year of $ 75,000 to $ 150,000. He is said to have distended in a single day $ 50,000 among its neighbors. Shortly thereafter, the Buick Motor Company merged with the coach building firm of Charles Stewart Mott.

Durant and Mott founded in Flint on September 16, 1908, the General Motors Company (GM ) as a holding company for Buick Motor Company. Mott has long been the largest single shareholder, but did not participate in the shops. In the same year Oldsmobile came under the holding umbrella. David Dunbar Buick sold his shares at year-end and left the company he had founded. Chief engineer, Walter Marr.

Later years

David Buick was also demonstrated later no lucky hand at shops: Together with his son Tom, he failed with a company for the manufacture of carburetors. In June 1921 he took over with a group of investors Lorraine Motors Corporation in Grand Rapids ( Michigan). This company had been founded only the year before and had started production of a new automobile in the former factory buildings of 1919 bankrupt Hackett Motor Car Company. Also Lorraine was quickly run into trouble.

The car had a purchased by Herschel - Spillman four-cylinder engine with 35 HP (26 hp), with a wheelbase of 114 inches ( 2896 mm) and was available with four bodies between USD 1,695 and USD 2,590. A smaller model to $ 1,200 with a process developed by David Buick engine after he co Valve -in- Head - principle has been done only as a prototype, before Lorraine also had to give up after about 200 cars built.

The next project covered the automotive industry. The David Dunbar Buick Corporation was founded in 1922 by David Buick, together with some wealthy entrepreneurs to life. The company was able to raise $ 5 million in capital. Until the beginning of 1923 a prototype chassis of the planned medium -class passenger car with the name of Dunbar was born, three more were reportedly in the works. It was only in April 1923 as appropriate production facilities could be found. They lay in Walden, New York, about 100 km outside of New York City. The start of production with four models in the range between USD 1,100 to USD 1,400 was scheduled for mid-May 1924. Finally, a single car, a prototype made ​​. The Roadster had a wheelbase of 112 inches ( 2845 mm) and purchased by Continental six-cylinder engine with 52 HP ( 39 HP ).

This is what David Buick tried unsuccessfully as an investor in Californian crude oil and in real estate in Florida. Finally he worked, now destitute, as a teacher and then at the information desk of the Commercial School Detroit School of Trades. He fell ill with cancer and died on March 3, 1929. Unlike Louis Chevrolet David Buick General Motors never had a support in the form of a pension.

No doubt he had been instrumental in the development of the automobile for demanding use and sports cars. The company Buick that bears his name exists today. By 2000, about 35 million cars bearing his name.


  • Kimes, Beverly Rae ( editor ) and Clark, Henry Austin, Jr., "The Standard Catalogue of American Cars", 2nd edition, Krause Publications, Iola WI 54990, USA (1985 ), ISBN 0-87341-111-0, pages 151, 152, 479, 637 and 864
  • Man
  • Americans
  • Automotive pioneer
  • Business (automotive )
  • Engineer, inventor, engineer
  • Born in 1854
  • Died in 1929
  • Person ( Arbroath )