David Buick

Rags to riches to rags

David Buick served his apprenticeship as a plumber where he first demonstrated his inventive talents. He invented the lawn sprinkler and a means of adhering enamel to cast iron – a system used to this day.

He quickly appreciated the potential of the internal combustion engine, sold up his plumbing business and turned his talents to developing the overhead valve combustion engine and developing the first Buick motor car.

Its success attracted financial backers for his business, one of whom was William Durant who turned the Buick company into the cornerstone for the foundation of General Motors.

By that time, however, Buick had moved on, selling up his interests in the car company and investing in Californian oil. That venture turned sour and he invested what was left of his cash in Florida real estate – another doomed project.

Buick returned to Detroit almost penniless, working latterly as a janitor at a trades school. The company he founded has now produced almost 50 million vehicles and is America’s longest established car marque.