labels: automotive, general motors, passenger cars
GM''s Buick turns 100 news
26 July 2003

Mumbai: General Motors Corp, the world's biggest automobile company, will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Buick model, among the few of GM's original brands, this week. Thus, over 1,800 vintage Buicks will gather in Flint Michigan for the centennial.

The Buick has a chequered history. At the turn of the 20th century, over a thousand companies tried to improve on the horse-drawn carriage by building an automobile. Nearly all of them failed.

David Dunbar Buick was the founder of Buick Motor Division. Buick started off by building gasoline engines in 1899, and his engineer, Walter L Marr, built the first automobile, which he named Buick between 1899 and 1900.

But it was in 1903 that Buick began operations. That was the year the company was incorporated and moved from Detroit to Flint, a small town in Michigan, USA, known as vehicle town.

Buick recovered from near-bankruptcy in 1904 to become the No 1 producer of automobiles in 1908, surpassing the combined production of Ford and Cadillac, its closest competitors and was the financial pillar on which General Motors — today the world's largest automaker — was created.

A number of major contributors to US auto history first headed towards Buick, an auto-building company — names such as Billy Durant, GM's founder, Charles W Nash, a founder of what later became American Motors, Walter P Chrysler, founder of Chrysler Corp, and Harlow H Curtice, a GM president and chief executive in the postwar era. Louis Chevrolet, co-founder with Durant of the Chevrolet automobile, had earlier achieved fame as a Buick race team driver.

But Buick's most important achievement could be that it started the concept of creating various cars for different groups of people. Because of that GM survived, as different parts of the company did well at different times.

When Buick Motor Car Company moved to Flint, Michigan, William Crapo Durant, a remarkable carriage-maker, took charge and predicted that someday a million cars a year of Buick would be in demand. Durant oversaw Buick's rise to become the second-largest and most influential automobile manufacturer in the country.

Early members of the fledgling GM company were Buick, Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Oakland (now Pontiac), Ewing, Marquette, Welch, Scripps-Booth, Sheridan, and Elmore, together with Rapid and Reliance trucks. Another automotive division, Chevrolet, became part of the corporation in 1918.

By 1920, more than 30 companies had been acquired by GM, by purchase of all or part of their stock. Two were forerunners of major GM subsidiaries — the McLaughlin Motor Company of Canada (which later became General Motors of Canada Ltd) and the Fisher Body Company, in which GM initially gained a 60-per cent interest.

The General Motors Company officially became General Motors Corporation on 13 October 1916, when incorporation papers were filed in Delaware. By 1 August 1917, the new corporation had acquired all the stock of GM of New Jersey, which was formally dissolved two days later.


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GM''s Buick turns 100