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David Dunbar Buick

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David Dunbar Buick Famous memorial

Birth
Arbroath, Angus, Scotland
Death
5 Mar 1929 (aged 74)
Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, USA
Burial
Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, USA GPS-Latitude: 42.3042433, Longitude: -83.1390231
Plot
Allendale section
Memorial ID
View Source
Automotive Pioneer. He was a Scottish-American inventor, who was best-known for starting the car company that became the Buick Motor Division of General Motors Corporation (GM). He was born David Dunbar Buick on September 17, 1854 at 26 Green Street in Arbroath, Scotland. His father, Alexander Buick emigrated to the United States with his wife and two-year-old son. As a young man, he settled in Detroit, Michigan where he started manufacturing plumbing materials. Buick and his partner William Sherwood prospered modestly from his invention of a patented process for heat-binding porcelain to wrought iron to make white bath tubs that did not rust, which was a much sought-after status symbol in those days. He developed many household innovations including a lawn sprinkler and a toilet flushing device, however, he was infatuated with the gasoline engine and the automobile. In 1899, he established the Auto Vim and Power Company to produce gasoline engines for farm and stationary use. In 1900, he decided to concentrate on gas engines and cars and sold his share of the plumbing business for $100,000 to raise capital for his new venture. He immediately began tinkering, using the engines he produced to power four wheeled vehicles. In 1902, David Buick organized the Buick Manufacturing Company to make engines for various carmakers and to make cars himself. Although there is some controversy over this, he is credited with developing the modern overhead valve internal combustion engine design that made Buick Motor Division famous and is still widely used in car engines today. His mastery of automotive design was unfortunately not matched by his financial acumen or management skills. By the end of 1902, he had built his first car, but his company was bankrupt. To keep the struggling company afloat, he borrowed $5,000 from a friend, Benjamin Briscoe. Briscoe did not doubt Buick's mechanical skills but was wary of his business abilities. When Briscoe learned that a firm at Flint, 115 miles from Detroit, was thinking of starting car production, Briscoe persuaded Buick to join with the firm. Briscoe succeeded in selling the Buick company to James Hubert Whiting of the Flint Wagon Works company. A year later, with Whiting as General Manager and Buick as President, the Buick Manufacturing Company produce its second car, designated Model B. However, as before, the company was deep in debt and unprofitable. At that time, Whiting began looking for a buyer for the company. At this point, William Crapo Durant came onto the scene. A brilliant business man, he had already made a fortune in the carriage industry. He took over the Buick company and recapitalized it, substantially diluting the equity interests of Buick, Briscoe and Whiting. On November 1, 1904, Durant became general manager of the Buick Motor Company with Buick remaining as president. Durant, who would later create General Motors, was ambitious. Like automobile pioneer, Henry Ford, Durant knew the industry's future lay in mass production and cutting assembly costs. Not agreeing with mass production, Buick was a craftsman who regarded each car as a unique invention. With this disagreement in management, David Buick, at the age of 52, severed his last link in 1906 with the firm he founded and returned to Detroit with his wife and son, Thomas. He had been in the auto business since 1899, a full 14 years before the Ford Motor Company was formally established, making Buick the oldest automobile company. Under Durant's management in 1908, Durant acquired Oakland, which later renamed Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Cadillac to form General Motors; Chevrolet joined in 1915; Britain's Vauxhall was acquired in 1926; and Germany's Opel some years later. Buick production reached 100,000 cars a year in 1923. Although his company became profitable, David Buick died of colon cancer, penniless, and forgotten in Harper Hospital in Detroit, on March 5, 1929. Until a few weeks earlier, though 74, he was still working as an inspector at Detroit's trade school. His wife died some years later and his son Thomas died in 1943. Ben Briscoe wrote sadly in 1921 that had Buick been able to keep his shares in the firm, they would have been worth more than $10,000,000 at that time. Their value today would be almost incalculable. David Buick's birthplace in Scotland was demolished years ago. He was inducted in the Automobile Hall of Fame in 1974. A life-size bronze statue of Buick was unveiled in downtown Flint on December 1, 2012. Many of Buick's personal items are on exhibit at Flint's Sloan Museum.
Automotive Pioneer. He was a Scottish-American inventor, who was best-known for starting the car company that became the Buick Motor Division of General Motors Corporation (GM). He was born David Dunbar Buick on September 17, 1854 at 26 Green Street in Arbroath, Scotland. His father, Alexander Buick emigrated to the United States with his wife and two-year-old son. As a young man, he settled in Detroit, Michigan where he started manufacturing plumbing materials. Buick and his partner William Sherwood prospered modestly from his invention of a patented process for heat-binding porcelain to wrought iron to make white bath tubs that did not rust, which was a much sought-after status symbol in those days. He developed many household innovations including a lawn sprinkler and a toilet flushing device, however, he was infatuated with the gasoline engine and the automobile. In 1899, he established the Auto Vim and Power Company to produce gasoline engines for farm and stationary use. In 1900, he decided to concentrate on gas engines and cars and sold his share of the plumbing business for $100,000 to raise capital for his new venture. He immediately began tinkering, using the engines he produced to power four wheeled vehicles. In 1902, David Buick organized the Buick Manufacturing Company to make engines for various carmakers and to make cars himself. Although there is some controversy over this, he is credited with developing the modern overhead valve internal combustion engine design that made Buick Motor Division famous and is still widely used in car engines today. His mastery of automotive design was unfortunately not matched by his financial acumen or management skills. By the end of 1902, he had built his first car, but his company was bankrupt. To keep the struggling company afloat, he borrowed $5,000 from a friend, Benjamin Briscoe. Briscoe did not doubt Buick's mechanical skills but was wary of his business abilities. When Briscoe learned that a firm at Flint, 115 miles from Detroit, was thinking of starting car production, Briscoe persuaded Buick to join with the firm. Briscoe succeeded in selling the Buick company to James Hubert Whiting of the Flint Wagon Works company. A year later, with Whiting as General Manager and Buick as President, the Buick Manufacturing Company produce its second car, designated Model B. However, as before, the company was deep in debt and unprofitable. At that time, Whiting began looking for a buyer for the company. At this point, William Crapo Durant came onto the scene. A brilliant business man, he had already made a fortune in the carriage industry. He took over the Buick company and recapitalized it, substantially diluting the equity interests of Buick, Briscoe and Whiting. On November 1, 1904, Durant became general manager of the Buick Motor Company with Buick remaining as president. Durant, who would later create General Motors, was ambitious. Like automobile pioneer, Henry Ford, Durant knew the industry's future lay in mass production and cutting assembly costs. Not agreeing with mass production, Buick was a craftsman who regarded each car as a unique invention. With this disagreement in management, David Buick, at the age of 52, severed his last link in 1906 with the firm he founded and returned to Detroit with his wife and son, Thomas. He had been in the auto business since 1899, a full 14 years before the Ford Motor Company was formally established, making Buick the oldest automobile company. Under Durant's management in 1908, Durant acquired Oakland, which later renamed Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Cadillac to form General Motors; Chevrolet joined in 1915; Britain's Vauxhall was acquired in 1926; and Germany's Opel some years later. Buick production reached 100,000 cars a year in 1923. Although his company became profitable, David Buick died of colon cancer, penniless, and forgotten in Harper Hospital in Detroit, on March 5, 1929. Until a few weeks earlier, though 74, he was still working as an inspector at Detroit's trade school. His wife died some years later and his son Thomas died in 1943. Ben Briscoe wrote sadly in 1921 that had Buick been able to keep his shares in the firm, they would have been worth more than $10,000,000 at that time. Their value today would be almost incalculable. David Buick's birthplace in Scotland was demolished years ago. He was inducted in the Automobile Hall of Fame in 1974. A life-size bronze statue of Buick was unveiled in downtown Flint on December 1, 2012. Many of Buick's personal items are on exhibit at Flint's Sloan Museum.

Bio by: Edward Parsons



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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: Apr 25, 1998
  • Find a Grave Memorial ID:
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/145/david_dunbar-buick: accessed ), memorial page for David Dunbar Buick (17 Sep 1854–5 Mar 1929), Find a Grave Memorial ID 145, citing Woodmere Cemetery, Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, USA; Maintained by Find a Grave.