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Differences between 1908 Model 10 Runabout and Model S Roadster?


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Dear Gentlemen,


I am a lifelong classic car enthusiast, but confess to having dealt primarily with cars from the 50s, 60s and 70s.  Therefore, my knowledge on Vintage vehicles is somewhat superficial even if I find them hugely fascinating and charming.  This is why I humbly ask your help...


We have recently purchased a 1908 Buick Model S Roadster with S/N 252.  More precisely, this particular car:




Also the second car from last on this page:




I'm now trying to learn more about the model and not least our car in particular.
First of all, can someone tell me the differences between a Buick Model 10 and a Buick Model S?
I've found that the Model 10 has a 165 cu. in. 4-cylinder engine and a 2-speed transmission while the Model S has a more powerful 255 cu. in. 4-cylinder engine with a 3-speed transmission.  Is this correct?
But are there any visual differences between the two?
Frankly, I find that our Model S looks remarkably like a Model 10.  To the extent where I'm dreading whether RM Sothebys might have sold us a Model 10 which they advertised as a Model S.  I'm hoping someone here can put my fears to rest!


Looking forward to your replies...



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Trimacar..........aka David C is on this site daily. He knows early Buicks rather well, as he has owned a few and currently has one. Buick's can be hard to figure out....many different models and series in the same years. Usually price is a good indication of what you bought. At the number you paid, I would expect you have the "smaller engined" car. The "BIG" Buicks usually sell for quite a bit more. As is often posted here, one should hire an expert when buying ANY pre war car.......that said, you car looks very nice for what you paid. I recommend getting schooled up, learning to drive and service it, and then if you desire a bigger car........just sell this one and make a move up. Small steps in very early cars are always best. I don't think you have much exposure on price........I paid more for my lawn mower. Join the Buick Club, and get on the early Buick forum here.......lots of good guys who know these cars. Good luck..........Ed


The auction description is almost non existent........which can happen for a bunch of reasons. Even "experts" in early cars can confuse and mis identify cars like this. My guess is it's as is where is........and any info provided in the catalog or site is provided by the seller.......who also may not have known what model it is. Measure the wheel base and track also.....it's another indication of model and year. People will be asking foe it to help identify it.


Take a look.....







Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Thx for your input Gentlemen.  Much appreciated...

So it does indeed seem to be a Model 10 that we've bought.

To be honest, at the price we paid, I'm not terribly worried.
But we've got a museum where we will obviously exhibit our Buick.  I just wouldn't want to be the one claiming it's a Buick Model S if it is in fact a Model 10.  I'll leave it to RM Sothebys to make those kind of mistakes...  😉

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RM is a stand up company. I agree....give them a call. A lot of time has gone by. It could be difficult if the car was an estate settlement after all these months.

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Agree with Don and all that has been said so far. The sale price would have been in my ballpark! I would love to have it as is. My problem is with the description of a Model S.  At first glance it is a model 10. The sight of a T head Buick engine is something not soon to be forgotten. Not a 3 speed sliding gear transmission, it is planetary. The 1908 Model 10 engine is rated at 18 HP not 30. The larger 235 cu.in. T head model S is rated at 24 HP in some reference and 30 HP in others and is about double in size and mass of the model 10  165 cu.in. engine.

 Missrepresented ...Yes.  But, was the car worth the price it was in my book! Just would be a dissapointment for the hobbiest who was looking for that special model.

 R/M had an advertized a 1925-25S Sport Touring at the Fall auction several years ago. We were excited to go see it and document it for our Buick club Pre-War group. It went for an awful amount of money for a cobbled together, intrepretive "tribute car". The purchaser consulted the forum and we all dug deep to help him out in his case. Verifying even the chassis and engine #s did not fit for the group alloted to these  Sport Tourings.

 On the other hand here we have an example of this Model S (really a 10) not overpriced in the least.


Lot # 6163 1908 Buick Model S Roadster; S/N 252; White/Red; Estimate $35,000 – $45,000; Older restoration 3 condition; No Reserve; Hammered Sold at $23,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $25,300. – 255/30hp ohv inline four, 3-speed sliding gear transmission, wood dash, wood shift knob, button tufted seats, dual cowl lights, fold-down windshield. – An older restoration of a still desirable Brass Era car. The paint is in fair condition as is the interior which has a hole in the driver’s seat. The glass and tires are both in good condition. The brass on the vehicle is sound but in need of a thorough polishing. The engine is in fair shape having not been touched since the car was restored several years ago. A very cool Brass era Buick still holding a strong value despite its older restoration. – A cute and usable little car from the period when Buick rivalled Ford as Detroit’s mass manufacturer and the year when Billy Durant used Buick as the foundation for founding General Motors. While its aged, toured and chipped condition doesn’t present any car show opportunities it has immense potential as a weekend driver and its 30hp is a third more than the Ford Model T’s 22hp. It is a sound value in this transaction.

Edited by dibarlaw
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Congratulations on your purchase. A Model 10 Buick is a fun car. When sorted out right, they have a very spirited performance and are lots of fun to drive. Yours looks like a nice one and the price paid was certainly fair. Not sure why RM listed it as a Model S as they are two totally different cars. Oh well.......


Here is a very rare 1908 Model S Buick. This car sold at an RM Sale and again at a Bonham's auction. See links below.


As you can see from the photos, it is very different from a Model 10.


This was a great car and I was fortunate to ride in it on a few occasions after it was restored by a well known New England brass Buick guru.  It was a  real speedy tour-goer. I believe this might be the only Model S tourabout/runabout known to exist and one of only a very few Buicks built that is not "Valve In Head". The price paid at either auction was certainly realistic based on its rarity, performance capabilities and restoration quality.





1908 Model S.jpg

1908 model s engine.jpg

1908 model s snow shot.jpg

Edited by motoringicons (see edit history)
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Ed, thanks for the words, I'm not a Buick expert by any means, but do know quite a bit about one specific model, or two I guess, the 1909-10 Models 16 and 17.  These were the big Buicks made during those two years, 35-40 HP and long wheelbase.


The Model S was the precursor to the Model 16 Buick.  Note the body style and long hood, which would carry over to the Model 16 in 1909.  Engines were different as noted, with the late engines being valve in head, but both bigger engines than the smaller Buick lines.


Model 10s are good cars, were in direct competition with Ford's Model T, and they sold well.  They were nicknamed the "White Streak", but it should be noted that they weren't really white, but a light gray color.

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Model 10 was the car that made Buick famous. They sold so well they made Buick one of the top producers. Also, the Model 10 engine is the prototype of Buick engines to come for decades. Earlier OHV Buicks had 2 cylinders mounted under the car, and the earlier 4 cylinder cars were not OHV, but the model 10 engine was the first to have the basic Buick configuration of in-line multiple cylinder OHV engines mounted in the engine compartment......it's the first real Buick!

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Once again, thanks to all of you for your input.
I'm of course glad that the consensus seems to be that the price we paid was right for a Model 10.
A Model S would clearly have been a much more extravagant addition to the museum, but with rarity like that, it's unlikely to happen.
With the Model 10 being such a defining car for Buick, it has plenty to offer our exhibition.


We don't intend to make it a 100-point prize winner.  Instead we will simply make a few minor improvements to bring it up a notch or two.  Then display it in our museum and take it out for a couple of runs each summer.  I'm confident that the Buick will look fabulous parked between our replica of a 1886 Benz Motor Patentwagen and our 1922 Ford T.  Some of our other pre-war highlights are a cute little UK Royal Mail 1926 Morris Cowley, 1929 Overland Whippet 96 Coach, 1930 Ford A Victoria and our latest acquisition, a truly beautiful 1931 REO Royale Victoria...

Edited by 02Anders (see edit history)
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