Rare is a word that gets a lot of exercise in classic car circles, but few examples are as rare as this 1915 Buick. At a glance, it seems to be a standard seven passenger pre-WWI Buick touring car. But its hood shelters something unique - the one and only Buick V12 engine. The project was the brainchild of Walter Marr, who had served as Buick's chief engineer until he semi-retired to Signal Mountain, Tennessee, in 1914. Despite his distance from Michigan, Marr was supported by Walter P. Chrysler, Buick's president at the time. The desirability of adding a V12 option to the Buick lineup may have been prompted by Packard's impending Twin Six, as well as the 1914 introduction of Cadillac's first V8.
Buicks of the day were propelled by overhead valve sixes, reliable but lacking glamour. Assisted by Leo Goosen, on loan from Buick engineering, Marr worked up a design for the V12: Essentially two existing sixes mated with an aluminum crankcase. Fabrication was handled by Buick's experimental department, back in Flint. Two engines were built and installed in Buick D55 touring cars, one for Mr. Chrysler and one that was returned to Marr after being on exhibit in Flint and around the Midwest during 1916. The V12 never went into production, and Chrysler's car has long since disappeared. Marr's V12 remained in his family, passing from generation to generation to its current owner, Walter Marr's great-grandson.