The Marquette was introduced by Buick in the wake of the success that Oakland had discovered with its Pontiac, and Cadillac with the La Salle. It was a companion car, a distinct marque of its own, but produced and marketed under the aegis of the Buick Motor Company. A small car on a 114-inch wheelbase, the Marquette was powered by an L-head six cylinder engine, unlike the famous Buick famous valve-in-head engine. It was offered in six body styles in the $1,000 price range, and rushed into production on the 1st of June 1929, nearly two months before the introduction of Buick’s 1930 model line (It was common practice then for cars built in the second half of a year to be classified as a model of the next year).
Promotion was vigorous, and press reaction was favourable. Although the car looked like Oldsmobile, another General Motors marque, one reporter called the Marquette “a small edition of the Cadillac”. Its herringbone-pattern radiator core set it apart from other GM marques.
If the Marquette did not shine in styling or engineering, it did in performance, with a maximum speed of nearly 70 mph. A Marquette was driven from Death Valley in California to the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado with no problem at all, covering the 778 miles in 40 hours and 45 minutes. It seemed that the car had a strong and successful future, but this was not to be. The stock market crash of late 1929 occurred shortly after the car’s release, and with sales being slightly sluggish, Buick cancelled production of the Marquette after just one year. Buick production had been declining each year in the late 1920’s, and the company decided to produce an “economy” car at a slightly lower price to bring in money to the company. The company was also planning on bringing out a full range of straight-8 engine powered Buicks in 1931, and thus the company wanted to concentrate on getting these cars right prior to their introduction.
Total production of the Marquette was approximately 40,000 cars, with 35,000 being built in the United States and 5,000 cars being built in Canada. Approximately 760 chassis were imported into Australia and fitted with Holden bodies.