In the mid 1930s, a General Motors Styling researcher, Ralph Pew, found a description of the ancestral arms of the Scottish Buick family - then spelled Buik - in an 1851 edition of Burke's Heraldry in the Detroit Public Library. (The reference was apparently dropped in later editions.) The description, not accompanied by a picture, was interpreted as a red shield with a checkered silver and azure (light purplish blue) diagonal line running from the upper left corner to lower right, an antlered deer head with a jagged neckline in the upper right corner of the shield and a gold cross in the lower left corner.
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David Buick was born in Arbroath, a fishing village on the North Sea north of Edinburgh, Scotland, on September 17, 1854. His family (which used the "Buik" spelling in Scotland) moved to the United States when he was two and he grew up in Detroit. Buick, a plumbing inventor and businessman, began to tinker with gasoline engines around 1896, and the first experimental Buick horseless carriage was completed between 1899 and late 1900. His first automobile related company, Buick Auto-Vim and Power Co., was probably formed late in 1899. That evolved into Buick Manufacturing Co. (1901 or 1902), Buick Motor Co. of Detroit in 1903 and Buick Motor Co. of Flint in 1904.
In the fall of 1903, Buick Motor Co. was purchased by directors of the Flint Wagon Works in Flint, Mich., 60 miles north of Detroit. The company (which still included David Buick) began to build engines in Flint in December. In 1904, the first 37 production Buick automobiles were built. That November, Flint carriage maker William C. Durant, an energetic business promoter, took control of Buick. Four years later, in 1908, he used Buick Motor Co.'s success as the foundation for his creation of General Motors.
By 1908 Buick claimed U.S car leadership with production of 8,820 vehicles. During World War I, Buick builds Liberty aircraft engines, mortar shells, ambulances and experimental tanks. In 1923 Buick built its one-millionth car and the company had a strong car lineup thoughout the 1930s: Special, Century, Roadmaster and Limited.
In 1953 Buick built the limited-edition Skylark, for its 50th anniversary and buy its 100th anniversary the company had built more than 35 million cars.