The story of General Motors began in Flint, Mich., in the fall of 1904, when Flint carriage king Billy Durant shook off his disdain of automobiles and decided the Buick might have a future.
It's true that Durant was no cheerleader for motor cars in 1904. It's also true that Durant, often called a visionary, initially had less vision about the future of the automobile than some of his friends and relatives.
In 1903, directors of the Flint Wagon Works bought the small Buick Motor Co. of Detroit and moved it 60 miles north to Flint. Flint Wagon Works was a local competitor of Durant's company, Durant-Dort Carriage Co.
Wagon Works leader James Whiting saw an opportunity to sell gasoline engines to farmers. But David Dunbar Buick, a onetime plumbing supplier executive, along with his engineer, Walter Marr, wanted to build automobiles. Buick already had built two in Detroit.
Whiting agreed that the Buick folks could build a few automobiles to see whether they would sell. By mid-September 1904 they had built 16 cars. The good news was Buick had created a powerful overhead-valve engine. The bad news was Buick was practically broke.