1908 Buick Model F Touring Open Tourer

Before creating his eponymous automobile company, David Dunbar Buick achieved considerable success in the plumbing industry. He was the first to successfully develop a method to coat cast iron in porcelain, thus creating the archetypal white bathtub. The process Buick developed has since been applied to all manner of products, from plumbing fixtures to cookware to automobile exhaust manifolds. Although he could have comfortably rested on his laurels, he sought more significant challenges and sold his plumbing business to Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company in 1899. With the proceeds, he moved into the production of gasoline-powered engines for farm and marine use, which he reorganized as Buick Manufacturing Company in 1902. Investors and partners joined the fray, and the firm changed names to Buick Motor Company along the way. But David Buick was hampered by either indecision or perfectionism, and his backers grew increasingly impatient. By 1904, one running prototype was produced, with customer deliveries following later in the year. With little to show for their money, investors again put the company up for sale, eventually squeezing David Buick out.

A savior came in the name of William “Billy” Crapo Durant. The President of the Durant-Dort Carriage Company, Billy Durant was a dynamic and enormously influential character in the early days of America’s motor industry. He turned Buick Motor Company’s fortunes around, ramping up capital investment and steadily increasing production to more than 4,600 cars by 1907, second only to Ford.

Buick’s early production models were high quality, mostly conventional cars, with planetary gearboxes and chain drive. The notable exception to the convention was the overhead valve layout of the two-cylinder engine. That arrangement would become an enduring feature of nearly all future models through World War II and a hallmark of the brand. The 1908 line consisted of several models – with a haphazard naming scheme. The Model F touring car and Model G roadster shared the same chassis and two-cylinder engine design along with all-new styling for 1908. Four-cylinder Models D & S joined by the Model 10 and the large-displacement Model 5. Central to the model F was the 159 cubic-inch inline two-cylinder, with a healthy output of 22 horsepower.

That same year, Durant used Buick as the cornerstone for his grandest venture yet – the formation of General Motors. Those early days of GM proved rocky with Durant at the helm, but the likes of Charles Nash, Walter P. Chrysler, and Louis Chevrolet all rose through the ranks of Buick and GM at one time or another, highlighting the long-reaching influence that Buick had in shaping the future landscape of the American automobile industry.

This charming and attractive 1908 Buick Model F touring car is a wonderfully restored example that spent the last 30 years as a cherished part of a private collection. It is in superb condition throughout, benefitting from light use and regular care in the hands of the last owner who used the car for show and touring. The striking livery is correct and featured exclusively on two-cylinder Models F & G from 1908. The warm maroon paintwork is outstanding, with glossy, consistent finishing on the wood body and steel mudguards, accented with black-painted trim. Bright red paint on the wheels and chassis round out the striking presentation and further enhance the superb character. The numerous brass fittings are in excellent condition all around, including the two-position steering column, headlamps, carriage lamps, and a period-correct Neverout taillight. Other fine details include the Buick-branded running boards and a brass acetylene tank.

Plum-colored button-tufted leather carries on the beautiful color palette. Seat upholstery and leather door panels are in excellent condition, displaying a light character from occasional use in the hands of the previous owner while remaining supple and free from excessive wear. The interior fittings, controls, and woodwork are all in fine order and represent the attention paid to every aspect of this restoration. Maroon fabric lines the black vinyl top, and a removable soft front windscreen provides a modicum of protection against the weather.

The two-cylinder, overhead valve engine sits midship below the seats. It is well detailed in red paint, brass, and copper. Some light wear on painted surfaces is consistent with this car’s usable, tour-ready nature. It produces very respectable power for a twin-cylinder engine, and chuffs along splendidly.

Early brass-era Buicks are somewhat of a rarity, particularly ones as thoughtfully and properly restored as this example. Offered after more than three decades in a single collection, this Buick is wonderfully prepared and ideally suited for touring with the Horseless Carriage Club or similar groups, and is sure to delight its next keeper for years to come.


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