In an effort to bring the museum to you, we'll be sharing our favorite pieces throughout #HarmonMuseum. Today we're sharing our 1908 #Buick. It's just inside the main foyer and often the first thing that draws guests' eye.
Our 1908 Buick was donated by the Ertel family (yes, as in Fields Ertel) in 1960. They had restored the Buick, with period correct parts, and would take it to shows and races. (We have a cabinet filled with their trophies and medals.) The historical significance extends beyond one family's love for speed. There Buick has no electrical components; from the gas powered headlights to the kerosene lamps and the air horn to the hand crank. 1908 was the last year before it all changed.
In 1909, Charles Kettering (yes, that Kettering) accepted a contract from Cadillac to invent a better means to start their cars. Enter the electric starter with electric lights soon to follow. It was Kettering's patent that allowed for batteries to be incorporated into automobiles as a power source. Pretty soon, every car company wanted to use this new design. (Kettering made his fortune as an inventor and author of many other patents.) Cars have changed a lot in the subsequent 110 years but we're still using batteries to start our cars and light our way.
Several mechanics have inspected the Buick (they always ask to) and we're assured it would still run. We won't take it out though for fear of the little rocks of the pavement road tearing up the undercarriage. So, for now, it'll live as it has for the past 60 years, on display in our Transportation Gallery. However, our recently retired Director, Victoria VanHarlingen purchased an antique bulb for the airhorn so, when you visit, you can honk it. 😋
Staff and volunteers of WCHS