I was hanging out with some friends with Pawn Stars playing in the background when I noticed a 1918 Buick roll onto the screen. The car showed some signs of its age and was appropriately appraised. Both the seller and the Pawn Stars seemed pretty happy with the sale and I enjoyed seeing a WWI car getting driven.
1918 was a crazy time for the American auto industry. The US had entered into the First World War with several car manufacturers contributing to the war effort in spite of supply shortages. Cars were being used to get health workers to patients infected with the Spanish Flu. The patent for the car alarm was granted. And it seemed that everyone and his brother wanted to make cars.
Half of the cars on the road were the affordable Ford Model-T (a feat I don’t expect any other manufacturer to ever accomplish again). Chevy and Cadillac had also established themselves as serious players in the auto industry. Buick was enjoying the luxury of buyers being happy to wait months for the delivery of their upscale cars in spite of not having introduced any new models for a few years.
Thinking of Buick’s position as the oldest existing American car manufacturer, my mind wanders to all those great companies that were either bought out or failed due to poor business practices. My thanks go to the folks at Pawn Stars for inspiring me to crack open the history books and visit five of the most interesting failed car companies of World War One.