Saturday, October 10, 2009

Marquette - Buick

1911 rainier automobile.
The original Marquette factory would become a Chevrolet plant. Link.

Building the Saginaw plant in 1910. This view is facing north-east across Sixth st.

Sheet music for the Buick song. The men pictured are: Louis Chevrolet, Lewis Strang, Bob Burman and the team manager William H. Pickens. It was announced in the New York Times of October 6, 1909 that Pickens was leaving the Buick team and joining the Benz Import Co. team as their manager. Go here for the sheet musicLink for story.

Marquette racers lined up and revving their engines. This may be at the Saginaw, Michigan factory but I'm not sure.

This postcard shows the Marquette plant in color. The black and white photo is shown farther below.

This Buick is shown in 1959.

This is the same car as the two lower photos. I have read that there are only two known to exist, but it seems at least three are still around. I believe this is a model 10. My knowledge of the cars themselves is pretty sketchy.

Same car as below.

Another 1909 Marquette-Buick at a car show.

Another view of the model 16-b Indy Marquette-Buick. Link:


I.M.S. museum In Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Marquette-Buick.

This is a nice example of the 1910 Marquette-Buick, owned by Harrah's Automobile Collection in Reno, Nevada.

Another pose of the Buick team. (as seen below). Identified Louis Chevrolet (passenger seat) To the right of Chevrolet (arms folded) Lewis Strang, Walter Marr (arm resting on Chevrolet), Bob Burman (behind the steering wheel), Joseph R. Common (back row 4th from left). I believe the gentleman in center (resting his arm), next to Marr is team manager William Pickens.
Joseph R. Common (ninth from left)Joseph R. Common (ninth from left)

The Buick team on the test track at the Buick factory in Flint, Michigan.  
W. W. Brown (fourth from left on the front row), Joseph R. Common (ninth from left with wide brim hat) and Glenn Breed (standing at far right) were all team mechanicans;  Link for other info.

Louis Chevrolet in a Marquette-Buick. I believe that is Lewis Strang behind the wheel. This is on Hamilton Ave. in front of factory #01 in Flint, Michigan.

Chevrolet in a Marquette-Buick in 1910.

No. 10 winner of Cobe Cup Race, June 19, 1909, Marquette-Buick, Chevrolet was the driver.

Louis Chevrolet at the Vanderbilt race in #29. Long Island, Oct. 1, 1910.

Louis Chevrolet would have an on and off relationship with General Motors. The factory sponsored race team disbanded in 1910 because Billy Durant lost control of the company. Long story short, he worked with Durant to create the Chevrolet brand. He then left in 1913, "selling his stock". Built race cars for awhile (Frontenac) and also started an airplane enterprise. After loosing all his money he was hired by General Motors in 1934. He became sick in 1938 and retired. He died in Florida June 6, 1941. He is buried in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Lewis Strang.

Lewis Putnam Strang in a Marquette-Buick. Strang left the Buick team the same time as their manager W.H. Pickens. He continued in racing and died in a testing accident in Blue River, Wisconsin July 20, 1911. I'm not sure but I believe he is buried in his home town of Atlanta, Georgia.

Check out the makeshift fenders on George DeWitt's car.

This is George DeWitt in a Marquette-Buick. He was not sponsored by the Buick factory team.

A close-up of Burman in a Marquette-Buick. Click on page below for easy reading.

This is "Wild"Bob Burman in a Marquette-Buick. Burman continued racing after the Buick team disbanded, and died in a crash at Corona, California April 18, 1916. He is buried in his hometown of Imlay City, Michigan. Burman killed story.

This is Louis Chevrolet in #42.

Here is #34 at the 1910 Indianapolis race.

This is the actual factory where the Marquette-Buick was built, viewed (at top) from the corner of Sixth and Washington, in Saginaw, Michigan. The lower view is facing south west, from the rear of the factory. The sequence of photos below are dated 1911.

1911 rainier automobile.

This map from 1916 shows the location of the factory in Saginaw, that built the early Marquette-Buick's. This factory, originally known as "Rainier" was purchased by Billy Durant, probably early in 1909. It was incorporated for $300,000 on March 29, 1909 under the name Marquette Motor Company and was planned for building a small car. The Rainier, being a large automobile, was not selling well. Durant the promoter, needing a more competitive race car to further enhance Buick sales, decided to skirt the rules of the day and build a completely new racing machine at this facility. The rules for stock car racing in 1909 stated you must have built at least 35 units to qualify as a stock production model. This vehicle being originally raced as a Buick, was called into question and disqualified. And since they were technically not built at the Buick plant and being sold to the public, as Buick's, the final outcome was the hyphenated Marquette-Buick. When Durant lost control of General Motors in late 1910 the bankers went to work selling and consolidating the varied company's that he had purchased. Welch-Detroit, Rainier and Marquette were taken over by the Peninsular Motor Co. After Durant regained control of General Motors in 1917 the company started producing the Rainier Truck, becoming the Rainier Motor Corporation. In 1924 they became Rainier Trucks Incorporated. Also in 1917 new factories were built on the Washington avenue site. The new group of buildings became the Saginaw Malleable Iron Division. Over the next decade more factories went up in Saginaw, Chevrolet Grey Iron, Saginaw Steering Gear (steering gear operated as Delphi for a decade, now known as Nexteer) and the Saginaw Crankshaft Division. These combined factories came under the umbrella of Saginaw Products Division. The crankshaft work was eliminated in 1931. The steering gear plant is located on Holland Avenue M-46. The streets bordering the property are Sixth st. and Washington ave. Most people today know this as the location of G.M. Powertrain's Saginaw Metal Casting facility. It is still operating at this location. Washington avenue is the M-13 loop through the city.

Shown on map above at lower left.


geoffreypelkey said...

After Durant regained control of GM 1917, The Ranier/Marquette/Peninsular building was converted to the "Shell Plant" during WW1 in 1918, making over 3,000,000 trench mortar shells, and was then converted in 1919 to a Chevrolet/Oldsmobile Motor Plant, and then in 1921 converted to the Crankshaft Plant.
Saginaw Malleable Iron was not next to the Rainier plant. It was at Center and Salt Streets, Central Foundry which was next to the former Rainier plant was its own division, as was SMI. The original incarnation of the Steering Gear plant was located on N. Hamilton and Niagara Streets and was the first GM venture in Saginaw. It became the head of all the Divisions before splitting into separate divisions in 1928 because of the expansive nature of all the plants

Unknown said...

Is there any more information on George DeWitt, beyond the photos of him in his Buick racing car. I would be very interested in hearing anything about him, he was my Grandfather.

Art Tidesco said...

Excellent Blog Gerry, I stumbled across it looking for information on the 1909 #34 Buick which I saw in England a couple of years ago.

I love the photograph of the Indy start in 1910 clouds of smoke and a piece of string just like horse racing still has today.

I now have a model type thanks to your blog :-)



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