January 22, 2017


Buick Manufacturing Co. (1902-1903)

Detroit, Michigan

Buick Motor Co. (1903-present)

Flint, Michigan

This is a Buick radiator emblem (1913-1928)    mjs
Size: Three sizes (see below)     

David Dunbar Buick started to produce gasoline engines in 1899 and in 1902 he reorganised his business as the Buick Manufacturing Company. Together with his engineer, Walter Marr, and Eugene Richard he produced the famous Buick valve-in-head engine and built the first Buick car. Benjamin Briscoe had put up the finance for the Buick venture and reorganised the company as the Buick Motor Company in 1903. Briscoe was impatient with David Buick and gave the Buick business to James Whiting of Flint Wagon Works when he decided to support Jonathan Maxwell instead.

Production of the first two-cylinder Buicks began in Flint, Michigan in the summer of 1904 but James Whiting was also frustrated by the slow pace of development by David Buick and passed the business to William Crapo Durant, co-owner of the Durant-Dort Carriage Company. Under the leadership of Billy Durant the Buick business began to grow with 750 cars produced in 1905, 1,400 in 1906 and 4,641 in 1907. A four-cylinder Buick joined the line for the 1907 model year. David Buick was moved out of the company in 1908 and production doubled to 8,820 units, making Buick the largest American car producer.

Billy Durant saw racing as a means to advertise and sell the Buick. Bob Burman and Louis Chevrolet were the star drivers of the Buick racing team and had won over 500 race trophies by 1910, including many speed records that would last for years to come. Charles Nash took over the Buick business from 1910 until 1912, when Walter Chrysler became president of Buick. The first six-cylinder Buick was introduced in 1914 and production grew steadily to over 124,000 cars by 1916 and over 200,000 cars a year throughout the 1920's.

Buick had a long standing relationship with McLaughlin in Canada and Buick cars were assembled by McLaughlin. All McLaughlin built cars were renamed as McLaughlin-Buick from 1923 until production ceased due to the Second World War in 1942, after when they were Buick only.  

Buick also built commercial vehicles from 1910 initially powered by two-cylinder engines. The most popular vehicles were a delivery van and an open stake truck but a hotel bus was also offered. In 1912 the two-cylinder range of commercial vehicles was replaced by conventional four-cylinder trucks with load capacities of 1/2-ton to 3/4-ton. Truck production ceased in 1918 apart from a few trucks built in 1922 and 1923. Thereafter, Buick concentrated on passenger cars, although some other manufacturers used Buick chassis for funeral cars and ambulances.

Buick introduced a lower-priced companion car called Marquette in 1930 but this was not successful and lasted only one year (see Marquette). Straight eight-cylinder engines were introduced to all Buicks in 1931 and in 1936 a series of more modern Buicks were introduced, including the Special, Century, Roadmaster and Limited Series with updated styling and improved technical performance. Sales grew and put Buick into the number four spot in the industry.

During the Second World War, Buick production turned to the war effort. The period after the war was a good time for Buick in terms of styling, engineering and sales, which rose rapidly to 550,000 units in 1950 and 745,000 units by 1955. However, Buick suffered problems in the late 1950's and sales fell sharply. But the introduction of a new range of models, including LeSabre, Invicta and Electra, saw Buick gain popularity again and sales rose to a record 821,165 units in 1973 and more than one million worldwide by 1984. Buick remains today (2016) an important part of General Motors and one of America's leading and oldest automobile brands.


Early Buick vehicles displayed the name "BUICK" on the hub caps but, otherwise, did not carry any clearly visible nameplates or emblems, except possibly for vehicles in races for publicity purposes, see original photo below of a Buick race car at Newark races in 1904 showing a large "Buick" script mounted on the radiator:

Buick race car with radiator script (1904)     dpl

From 1906, the Buick signature logo began to appear in various styles on some Buick models either in the form of a large brass radiator script or impressed in the brass radiator tank top, or both together. See examples shown below: 

This Buick name is impressed in the radiator tank top  (c1906-1910)    ms 

This is one of several sizes of Buick radiator script (c1906-1910)   mjs

A brass Buick emblem has been seen on some models from about 1910, see example below. This Buick emblem is very rare.

This is a Buick with a brass radiator emblem )1910)     hccg

Brass radiator scripts continued to be used by Buick for several years from about 1906 up to 1910, as can be seen in the original 1910 photo shown below: 

1910 Buick Model 10   wiki

The Buick script shown below was displayed on the gasoline tank mounted behind the driver's seat on some roadster models in 1911 and may have been used on earlier models but I am unable to confirm this. This distinctive Buick script is scarce.

This is a Buick script displayed on the rear mounted fuel tank (1911)   mjs
Size: 123mm wide 88m high
The first enameled Buick radiator emblem appeared in late 1911, see example shown below. This Buick emblem is rare, as it was only in use for just over a year. The emblem is unusual in that the emblem maker's mark, Ford Metal Spec. Co. Chicago, is placed along the bottom edge of the emblem rather than on the reverse side of the emblem.

This is the first enameled Buick radiator emblem (1911-1912)   mjs
Size: 46mm diameter 54mm wide overall     MM: Ford Metal 

Close-up showing the Ford Metal Spec. Co. maker's mark on the edge of the emblem    ms

In late 1913, the design of the Buick radiator emblem changed to the much more familiar blue and white square shaped emblem shown at the top of this post. This emblem design remained in use for fifteen years. There were three sizes of this emblem as shown below:

Here are the three sizes of this Buick radiator emblem (1913-1928) ( specific dates shown below)   mjs
Dates: Large (1913-Unknown)  Medium (Unknown)  Small (1924-1928)
Sizes: Large: 70mm wide 54mm high  Medium: 60mm wide 48mm high  Small: 47mm wide 36mm high

MM: Large: None  Medium: D L Auld  Small: Unknown          

The following emblem was used on a Buick car assembled in Canada:

This is a Canadian Buick (c1920)     mjs
Size:    MM:

For the next five years Buick used painted or chrome metal radiator emblems, see examples below:

This is a Buick radiator emblem (1929-1930)    ms
Size: 280mm wide  MM: None

This is a Buick radiator emblem (1931-1932)   ms
Size: Unknown

Then, for the 1933 model year only, Buick again used an enameled radiator emblem, as shown below. This emblem is relatively scarce but was produced in large numbers.

This is an enameled Buick radiator emblem (1933)   mjs
Size: 48mm diameter MM: D L Auld

For the following two years Buick used painted radiator emblems, as shown below:

This is a Buick emblem attached to the top of the radiator (1934-1935)     mjs
Size:200mm wide  MM: None

From 1936, Buick returned to enameled radiator emblems, see examples shown below:

This Buick emblem was displayed on the radiator core (1936)   mjs
Size: 69mm diameter   MM: Fox

This smaller Buick emblem was displayed on the trunk lid (1936)   mjs
Size: 60mm diameter  MM: Fox

Then there was a complete change in the design of the Buick radiator emblem based loosely on the Buick family coat of arms. For 1937, the Buick car radiator carried an enameled emblem on the center column of the radiator and an enameled Buick 8 emblem on the radiator grille, see examples below: 

This Buick emblem was attached to the center column of the radiator (1937)  mjs
Size: 85mm high   MM: AEC

This Buick emblem was displayed on the radiator grille (1937)   mjs
Size: 85mm wide 65mm high   MM: Fox

Buick continued to use the Buick family coat of arms on its radiator emblems for over ten years, see examples below:

This Buick emblem was attached to the center column of the radiator (1938)  mjs
Size: 134mm high  MM: None

This Buick emblem was attached to the center column of the radiator (1939)  mjs
Size: Unknown  MM: Fox

This emblem was displayed on the rear direction signal (1939)   mjs
Size: 90mm high  MM: Fox

This Buick emblem was attached to the center column of the radiator (1940)   mjs
Size: 118mm high  MM: None

This Buick emblem was attached to the center column of the radiator (1941)  mjs
Size: 207mm high    MM: None

This Buick emblem was displayed on the hood (c1942-1946)   mjs
Size: 113mm high 112mm wide  MM: None

This Buick emblem was displayed on the trunk (c1942-1946)    mjs
Size: 59mm high 50mm wide  MM: None

This Buick emblem was displayed above the radiator (1947-1948)   ms
Size: Unknown MM:Unknown

This metal and plastic Buick emblem was displayed on the hood (1949)   mjs
Size: 150mm wide  95mm high   MM: Gerity

This is a metal and plastic Buick radiator emblem (1953)   mjs
                        Size: 310mm wide  90mm high  MM: Gerity                        

The Buick "Valve In Head Motor Cars" emblem shown below appears to be a reproduction emblem. Whether an emblem like this was used on a Buick vehicle is not known but it was used in Buick advertisements for several years from 1929.

This appears to be a reproduction Buick emblem (Dates unknown)    mjs
Size: 40mm wide 32mm high   MM: None

When and how the following Buick emblems were used is not known:

This appears to be an enameled Buick radiator emblem (dates unknown)    sam
Size: 60mm wide 48mm high   MM: Unknown

This is an unknown enameled Buick emblem (dates unknown)     sam
Size: 70mm wide 27mm high   MM: Unknown

This Buick emblem has the colors reversed (dates unknown)    ms
Size: Unknown   MM: Unknown

The Buick emblem shown above with colors reversed may be a reproduction emblem but I am not certain. It is interesting to note that the Buick Motor Company applied to the US Patent Office to register a reversed color trademark in 1915.

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