Monday, December 8, 2008
First Flint Buick
The Wolverine Citizen reports on the first Buick being built. Original paper with this story. Announcing the first Flint Buick in a race.
July 2, 1904 Wolverine Citizen.
This is the first completed Flint built Buick in front of the Buick factory on west Kearsley st. Flint,Michigan. Marr is behind the wheel seated next to Tom Buick. In the rear is Charles Begole in the Bowler and James Whiting in the straw boater hat. It would be nice to speculate that the man with arms folded in the window of the factory is David Buick. Looking pleased at the scene before him.
James H. Whiting.
Saginaw and east First street after the return trip. A 1914 interview with Walter Marr. " This was the first real road test this car had been given and established a record at that time which is considered good even today by cars that have three times as much horsepower. We covered 115 miles in 217 minutes or a little better than 30 miles per hour. We came through Pontiac, Oxford and Lapeer, and the roads were deep in mud every mile of the way. I did the driving and Buick was kept busy wiping the mud off my goggles. "At one place, going down a hill, I saw a bump at a bridge too late to slow up. when I hit it, I threw on all the power and landed over it safely in the road. Buick was just taking a chew of tobacco, and a lump of mud as large as a baseball hit him square in the face, filling his mouth completely. We were plastered with mud from head to foot when we reached Flint, but the little car ran the distance without a skip. The last I heard of this Buick was in 1913, when I was in Chicago, and it was still running." .........I have read one report that stated the Buick needed an axle bearing replaced near Lapeer. So many different versions are presented in numerous books that I feel safer using the newspaper stories.
Original map link.
The Flint Daily Journal's account of the first test run of a new Buick. July 13, 1904. Bespattered with flying real estate from every county they had touched, but with the knowledge that they had made a "record", Tom Buick and W. L. Marr, of the Buick Motor Works, who left for Detroit on Saturday to give the first automobile turned out by that concern a trial on the road, returned to the city late yesterday afternoon. The test of the machine was eminently satisfactory, and, in fact, exceeded expectations. In spite of the muddy conditions of the roads the trip home was made in remarkable time of 3 hours and 37 minutes, or at the rate of a trifle less than a mile in 2 minutes, on the basis of the distance traversed as figured by the gentlemen in charge of the machine. Through a mistake they failed to take a right turn when near Lapeer and it was necessary for them to make an extra 15 miles. This increased the total distance of the run to nearly 115 miles as they passed through Pontiac, Orion, Oxford, Lapeer and Davison, not following the direct route. "The machine made the run without a skip." said Mr. Marr today, "and reached here in the best of condition. We took hills handily with our high speed gear and the machine sounded like a locomotive. It simply climbed. In one place we raced with an electric car and showed them the way. We went so fast at another time that we could not see the village 'six-mile-an-hour' sign." The machine used in making the trip is the $950 tonneau put out by the Buick company, and is equipped with a 12-horse power engine that can develop from 18 to 21 horse power on a pinch. It was provided with a "testing" body and was stripped of anything that would add unnecessary weight. Its long rakish looking body, covered with mud, gave it the appearance of a speeder and attracted much attention along the route of the run. Upon its return to the city the machine and its occupants, mud and all, were photographed by C. R. Quay.
Walter Marr And Tom Buick the day they returned from the Flint to Detroit test run, beside the Buick factory. They left Flint July 9th 1904 on a Saturday and returned Tuesday the 12th. The total miles covered was 115. Total driving time was 3 hours 37 minutes. Wolverine Citizen announcement for the first Buick. Story about early accessories including the rubber cover for engine shown above.