The three cars in our Slider are two Buick 18-h.p. twin-cylinder cars in front and a 24-h.p. four-cylinder behind them. They were taking part in a run of the Motor Club from London to Brighton and back. Mr. F. Eason is at the wheel of the first car, and Mr. John L. Poole of the second.
Buick is one of the oldest automobile brands in the world and is currently the oldest in the United States. The first two Buick motor cars were made in 1899 and 1900 at the “Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company” by chief engineer Walter Marr, but the company owner David Dunbar Buick was reluctant to begin making cars, being satisfied with stationary and marine engine production. Buick eventually relented and in 1904 his company, now called the “Buick Motor Company”, moved from Detroit to Flint, Michigan, and produced their opposed-piston two-cylinder car with patented overhead valve operation, the Model B. 37 Buick cars were made that year, while lack of capital forced them to bring in William C. Durant as a controlling investor, also in 1904. Durant spent the next four years turning Buick into the biggest-selling automobile brand in the US: in 1908 the company built 8,800 cars, placing Buick in the top spot in the USA ahead of Ford, Maxwell and Olds Motor Works. David Buick sold his stock upon departure in 1906, making him a wealthy man, but he died in modest circumstances 25 years later. In 1908 Durant founded General Motors, with Buick becoming a major part of the group. Durant’s stroke of genius as a promoter was to stop GM’s companies competing against each other. He therefore positioned Buick just below Cadillac. To save on resources, Buick vehicles shared a common platform, called the GM A platform, with Chevrolet, Oakland, Oldsmobile and Cadillac.
The early success of Buick is attributed mainly to that patented overhead-valve engine. The exact model number of the two front cars in our Slider is not known, but as they are OHV flat-twins, having the same power train and chassis architecture introduced on the Model B, they are almost certainly Model F cars, a model that was built from 1906 to 1909.
The first full-sized Buick to join the smaller Model B was the Model D, introduced in 1907 with a four-cylinder 4,178cc T-head engine, installed in the front with rear-wheel drive. This was one of the only cars with side valves that Buick ever made. The third car in our Slider, the four-cylinder, is therefore most probably a Model D.
Image courtesy of The Richard Roberts Archive: www.richardrobertsarchive.org.uk