Early Flint Automobiles.

Wisner’s 2nd  horseless carriage.
Wisner’s 3rd horseless carriage.

The judge built three horseless carriages. You can find their photos in Lawrence Gustin’s book “The Flint Journal Centennial Picture History of Flint. These and the photos below are from that book.  The story about them can be found in the book.

The very first automobile built in Flint was built by Judge Charles H. Wisner,  possibly as early as 1898. The carriage house which was his workshop was written about in The Detroit Journal of October 10, 1901 as being one of the best appointed machine shops in the state. I just so happened to be there the day they were moving it to it’s new home in Crossroads village near Flint, where it can still be seen today. I was skipping school that day. It was located at the southwest corner of east Court and Lapeer Street. I looked in the windows with the glass now removed and it was already elevated for moving. It was bright red with white trim as I recall. It was being moved to make way for the new business loop through Flint called the Buick & U.A.W. expressway or I-475 as we know it today. Wisner’s first car was known as Wisner’s “Buzz Wagon”. Wisner built a total of three cars and two of them are said to have had their final assembly done at the Armstrong plant on St. John Street. Robert (Bert) Armstrong supposedly helped Wisner with those two. One side note is that James Parkhill erected the first gasoline station in Flint during 1905. A recreation of this station was for a time set up at the Sloan museum in Flint.   James Parkhill Flint Garage 1906.  James Parkhill’s book: To My Friends: by James Parkhill 

As best I recall this is where the Wisner home and carriage house were located.


February 1, 1901. December 19, 1900.     January 9, 1901.        Links:   Arthur W. Hough    March 25, 1928 story of early Flint & Buick.

Hyatt Roller Buick 1917.

This is the Buick factory in Flint, Michigan.
November 10, 1917 Collier’s Magazine.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    October 10, 1917.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  July 1917.

1929 Buick Funeral Coach.

I was doing my other passion, which is World War II research, when I spotted this old Buick funeral coach. It was being used to carry the body of Hans William Lansdorff who was the captain of the “pocket” battleship Graf Spee, in the opening months of the war. Even the British sailors paid their respects at that time, since this was at the very beginning of the war and the intense hatred towards Germans had not yet happened. Hitler would make that happen in a very short time. Since I have always studied World War II history, I find it very interesting that Lansdorff’s sailing orders proceeded the, so called, Polish incursion by 10 days. It’s as though Hitler could see into the future and knew the Pole’s were going to invade Germany before it actually happened.  
Notice the original 1929 bumper changed sometime after 1939. These are some of the German sailors that Lansdorff saved from certain death at the beginning of World War II.
The stylized cross has been cut down from the original 1929 cross (shown below).
Compare the height of the original cross with the current one shown above. Also of note is the open drivers compartment, in 1939, and the now covered one.
This enclosed drivers compartment was not part of the original design (shown above) from 1939.
The original bumpers are gone now. I could not identify the replacements. 

The rear fender looks to be from a 1935 Chevrolet Master Deluxe. The original 29 Buick fender is visible during the Lansdorff  funeral procession.
There were many different companies doing conversions back in 1929, so I do not know which did this particular example. I’m thinking all the conversions like this one, (link here for unique coaches) from Uruguay, may have actually been converted in Montevideo.
This shows that the steel wheels used were actually an option that year.
This would be my best guess for the main chassis used in the Lansdorff  funeral coach.

Video link; Lansdorff funeralWiki link.  Life Magazine. Life Magazine