National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

David Dunbar Buick (1854-1929)

David Dunbar Buick (1854-1929)

Inventor and Motor Industry pioneer

David Dunbar Buick's family emigrated from Scotland to the USA when he was two years old. They settled in Detroit, Michigan, where he later took over a company producing plumbing goods. He invented a method for coating cast iron baths with enamel and an early lawn sprinkler. In 1899 he set up a new company, the Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company, to develop and produce engines for agricultural use. In 1902, he established the Buick Manufacturing Company and pioneered the more powerful overhead valve engine for cars. He then launched the Buick Motor Company but it was taken over and moved from Detroit when he again got into financial difficulties. It eventually became a division of General Motors. Although Buick became one of the most successful car marques he only received a modest amount for his shares and lived in poverty. He died in Detroit on 5 March 1929. David  Buick's achievements are commemorated by a plaque in Arbroath close to his place of birth.

Birth in 1854

David Buick (here spelt Buik) was born on 17 September 1854, the son of Alexander Buik, joiner and Jane Rodger. The entry in the Old Parish Register (OPR) for Arbroath gives the date of baptism as 15 October 1854 and records that there were several witnesses. It isn't clear where the middle name Dunbar comes from.

Birth and baptism entry for David Buick

Birth and baptism entry for David Buick (22 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 272/6, page 414