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Classic Ads: The Birth of the Buick

David Dunbar Buick was running a successful plumbing-supply business in the 1880s when he became interested in automobiles and gasoline engines. He eventually sold his business and sank his money into his first venture: Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company. Although a gifted designer, Buick was not a great businessman; he repeatedly ran into cash shortages and was always looking for more investors.

After obtaining a fresh supply of capital, he re-started his business on May 19, 1903, and named it the Buick Motor Car Company.

Shortly after Buick moved the company to Flint, Michigan, the company signed on William Durant as general manager and director. Durant provided the business skills that Buick lacked, and eventually built the company into automotive giant, General Motors. Buick retired from the company in 1908, never finding the success he had hoped his automobile would give him. Durant, though, was a born salesman with valuable connections in the horse-carriage business. Within a few years of joining Buick, he had obtained enough investment capital and built a distribution network so efficient that by 1908, Buicks had outsold every other automobile in America.

Buick ran its first ad in the Post in 1912, and followed it with more than 3,200 ads across the decades. The advertising in the gallery below highlights the introduction of several innovations and models in the Buick line.

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