Engineer David Dunbar Buick made his fortune manufacturing plumbing supplies. He held 13 plumbing patents and is credited with inventing the process of annealing porcelain to iron, paving the way to modern bathtubs, sinks and other fixtures. Using that fortune, along with financial support from others and mechanical expertise of Walter Lorenzo Marr, developed a motorcar with an overhead-valve engine. Later, William 'Billy' Crapo Durant of Flint Michigan was put in charge and he instilled a new-found confidence in the Buick motorcar and its future. When Durant took over in 1904, only 37 cars had been built. Using Buick as his base, he formed a new corporation named General Motors. Unable to deal with the frenetic pace of his company as it became big business, Buick sold his stock and departed in 1908. By 1909, sales rose to 14,606 cars; doubling that in 1910. Only Henry Ford was selling more cars, so it was ironic that Durant was ousted when Buick was on top of its game.
In 1931, Buick introduced three straight-eight engines with each of the units sharing almost no tooling or parts to each other. The 221 cubic-inch engine could be found in the 50 Series, the 272.6cid in the 60 Series, and the 80 and 90 series sharing a 344.8 cubic-inch powerplant which offered 104 horsepower.
Introduced during the Great Depression meant that sales fell, with 1932 numbers barely half those of 1931, and with 1933 sales falling even more. For 1934, sales were aided by the introduction of the knee-action independent front suspension. The series 90 reigned as Buick's top-of-the-line model, with horsepower upped to 116. Included were four-wheel mechanical drum brakes and a three-speed manual transmission.
This car, designated the model 96S, retained for $1,875 and had a curb weight of 4,546 pounds. Unlike the lower series of Buicks, the Series 90 Buick coupe came standard with a rumble seat, with a special luggage space between passenger compartments accessible through a small door just forward of the rear fender.