The Buick brand is one of the longest-running car brands in the United States. It helped to establish General Motors and is still one of the company's largest automotive divisions, delivering car sales of well over 1 million vehicles globally. China accounts for over 80% of Buick’s worldwide sales. As at the end of 2012, Buick had sold over 43 million vehicles worldwide since its inception; only a few of today’s automakers have topped that. Buick has always been marketed as a luxury car brand and it sits just under Cadillac in GM’s brand hierarchy.
Buick’s story can be traced back to David Dunbar Buick, a Scottish-born American investor who started out as a successful plumbing goods and equipment manufacturer in Detroit, Michigan. Buick always had an interest in building internal combustion engines, and in the 1890s, he sold the plumbing-goods manufacturing business to concentrate on his passion. He set up the Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company in 1899 and started building gasoline engines for agricultural use and for the yachts of the Detroit yacht club. In the same year, Buick’s chief engineer, Walter Marr, built the first Buick automobile in the barn behind Buick’s house. However, soon after that, he fell out with Buick and left the company, but Buick rehired him before long; Buick hired Marr three times in total, and Marr went on to play a key role in the growth of the Buick brand.
In 1903, Buick incorporated the Buick Motor Company. Buick’s investor at the time, Benjamin Briscoe, had ran short of capital, so in September of that year, he sold control of the Buick Motor Company to James H. Whiting of Flint Wagon Works, a wagon-manufacturing company in Flint, Michigan. Whiting moved the Buick Motor Company to Flint and kept David Buick as the general manager. After building a few automobiles, however, Whiting’s his capital also got depleted, so in 1904, he also sold his controlling interest to another investor, William C. Durant. Durant had already made a lot of money as the co-owner of the Durant-Dort Carriage Company, so he was able to put up a significant amount of capital. Durant established General Motors in 1908, with Buick and Oldsmobile as its first automotive divisions.
One thing that Buick set out to do right from the start is build powerful engines. Walter Marr is credited with developing an engine with cylinder heads that had integrated overhead valves. Compared to the engines of that time, these overhead valve engines had significant power advantages. Soon, the entire automotive industry started making use of the overhead valve engine principle. Buick has also been known to feature some enormous engines, e.g. the 455-cubic-inch (7.5L) V-8 engine that drove the 1970 Buick Riviera. Thanks to its focus on powertrain excellence, Buick has enjoyed great success in motorsports, with two NASCAR Manufacturer Championships and the privilege of providing the Official Pace Car of the Indianapolis 500 a record six times. Also, Buick vehicles are known for their handsome, elegant styling characteristics and their premium interiors.
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