This past month, I had the opportunity to visit Flint’s Buick Automotive Gallery for the first time. I’m not a car aficionado, but I could not help but gawk at the beautifully restored and preserved vehicles. Contributing to my awe was the difficulty I had imagining them actually being used by people at some time; they looked like props, or artifacts – not cars that people drove.
One particular vehicle, which was on display at the Back to the Bricks event, was a 1904 Buick Model B. Thirty-seven Buick Model Bs were made that year and no original 1904 production Buicks are known to exist anymore. At the time, the vehicle cost $950 to purchase.
The vehicle had its first test run on July 9, 1904 by Walter Marr and Thomas Buick (David Dunbar Buick’s son). Marr and Buick drove from Flint to Detroit, and once they made it to Detroit, they purchased a license for the vehicle. On the return journey to Flint, they drove an average speed of 30 miles per hour.
This particular vehicle was reproduced just for the Sloan Museum. In order to do so, staff and other volunteers had to collect detailed information on how it was built. The 1904 Model B vehicle was restored in 1976 with parts from 1905, all but the two-cylinder engine.
As it turns out, all these old cars are truly artifacts – they represent a history of people, and they remind us to get back to the basics once in a while. We must remember where we started as we forge ahead.