What’s the Weirdest Piece of Automotive Trivia You Know?

The person Buick cars are named after barely spent any time running the company.

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What’s the Weirdest Piece of Automotive Trivia You Know? © What’s the Weirdest Piece of Automotive Trivia You Know?

The 2023 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance was held this past weekend in Florida; lovely ancient and obscure cars covered the rolling lawns outside a Ritz-Carlton near the Georgia border. Specifically, there was a large showing of immaculate Buicks. While the cars were parading their way out of the show, I overheard someone make a comment about Buick that I'd never heard.

"You know why so many old Buicks were white don't you," someone said to another person I couldn't see. A beat later: "The guy who invented them invented white bathtubs." Naturally, I had to look that up myself when I got somewhere shady enough to see my phone. The story of David Dunbar Buick is no secret, but I'd managed to be into cars for 30 years without hearing it. Cursory research wasn't enough to confirm whether or not early Buicks really actually colored to match bathtubs specifically, but plumbing was indeed what Mr. Buick was better known for in his time.

David Dunbar Buick, apparently an inventive individual from Scotland living in the United States in the 1880s, is credited with creating the process of enameling iron bathtubs, giving them the now-familiar white look and effectively inventing an aesthetic for residential bathrooms that still pretty much persists today. Sources say he even invented a lawn sprinkler system too, before getting into cars and starting the automaker Buick Auto-Vim and Power Co.

Mr. Buick was then reportedly responsible for the invention of the overhead valve engine which made its way into some prototype Buick cars, but the company was never able to build or sell vehicles at a commercially viable volume. Fast-forwarding: The fledgling automaker and its tech were sold, and Buick the car company was leveraged to basically start General Motors while Buick the man moved on into general anonymity.

Coincidentally, I learned about him on the exact date of his death (March 5), 94 years later.

All that to say—I'd been planning to prompt you all with the question: "What’s the weirdest piece of automotive trivia you know?" and that felt like a good nugget to share and get us started.

Who's got another good piece of car info many others might not know about?

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