1949 BUICK 76C Roadmaster Convertible Coupe Straight EightView vehicle description
When better automobiles are built – Buick will build them.
So said Buick’s rather restrained advertising back in the day.
In the 1930s, Buick was pitched as one of General Motors’ more luxurious marques, and, just as the designation of this model suggests, everything about it was really pretty super.
Only Cadillac was on a higher pedestal in the GM hierarchy of the time. Chevrolet, Pontiac and Oldsmobile were distinctly lower in the pecking order.
As far as the company was concerned, ‘The ideal Buick customer is comfortably well off, possibly not quite rich enough to afford a Cadillac, nor desiring the ostentation of one, but definitely in the market for a car above the norm.’
One of the things that helped Buick stand out in the 1930s was its straight-eight engine, introduced in 1931. While many rivals were still using four- and six-cylinder engines and V8s were generally only found in much pricier machines, the Buick Eight was a great compromise: more power, flexibility and smoothness but without the V8’s extra expense and complication.
The new Series 50 cars were launched in 1930, albeit with somewhat conservative and upright styling. They started out with a straight-six engine, but the straight-eight was shoehorned in when it became available.
In 1933, the great Harley Earl, of GM’s Art & Colour department, introduced aesthetic revamps to make them look far more voguish, with dramatic, flowing aerodynamic lines and grilles that screamed Art Deco. Available with a variety of bodies, the reworked models proved a big hit with customers. However, their popularity was dented when their entry-level Series 40 ‘Special’ siblings underwent a similar facelift in 1936.
Buick is, of course, a US marque, but as General Motors’ global influence grew, examples were exported around the world.
King Edward VIII owned a specially-commissioned Buick during his brief reign. And Fidel Castro had a Buick Eight during his considerably longer career.
This beautiful 1949 Buick Roadmaster Straight Eight came from Arizona to the UK in 1983, where it received some level of restoration. In 1992, our vendor purchased it, and not happy with the restoration work it had received, he proceeded to take the car back to the beginning and carry out a total nut and bolt restoration of the Rain Man classic.
This restoration has undoubtedly been a labour of love, taking over 30 years to get it to the stage it is now and over an astonishing £55,000 worth of invoices. However, nothing has been left untouched on the Buick; all the parts have either been replaced or refurbished as necessary, to bring them to the standard the vendor was looking for.
Since the restoration, the car has covered approximately 46 miles, and for the past eight years, it has mainly been left untouched. However, there are some odd bits which need finishing on the car such as the windows have stopped working. At the moment, none of them will go up.They were working when the car was put back together and certainly when the new hood was fitted. It is likely to be something or nothing causing the problem, but obviously would need to be checked by someone who has knowledge of the system.
Overall the car is in excellent condition, as you would expect from benefiting from a complete restoration. It just needs someone with the time to finish the last few niggly bits off to fully enjoy this American classic.
On the Outside
Large and curvaceous are two words that could be used to describe the Buick. The bodywork is in excellent order, and there is a lot of it to look at; the Buick is huge!
Finished in Sequoia Cream with a black hood, the Buick certainly looks the part. Starting at the front, this 1949 model was the first model to receive the postwar restyling, which had a new design front bumper and grille, the two-piece front windscreen and the four Ventiports fitted to the wings. The huge bonnet aligns well and opens and closes as it should. There are an odd few chips down the side of the wing rail where the bonnet meets, but nothing which couldn’t be touched up.
Looking down the flanks of the Buick, the car is long!, very long, 2 inches longer than a Bentley Continental R. The door gaps are even and open easily; a firm hand is needed to close them. The chrome work around the windows is in good condition; with the windows not lifting, we were unable to see the condition of the glass, but it is thought to be in good order. Also, the chrome finish to the mirrors and search spotlight fitted to the driver’s door is in excellent condition, with no tarnishing to be seen. There are a few small chips here and there, but nothing which jumps out at you. The Ventiports are in good order, along with the chrome trim that runs down the Buick's length.
The boot lid aligns as it should to the curvy rear end, and the chrome work is all in excellent condition like the rest. Also in brilliant condition is the Dynaflow boot handle with no splits or cracks, the same as the light lenses. The wheels have the correct Buick hub caps fitted, and the matching whitewall tyres have excellent tread remaining on them.
The hood is finished in black and is in as new condition, having not been used since it was replaced.There is also a tonneau cover which is a tight fit but is believed to be the correct one for the car and looks to have been supplied with the hood.
On the Inside
What a place to be inside the Buick. The chrome and gloss black dash are in excellent order giving an authentic art deco feel. The chrome work and steering wheel are all reported to be original, as are the instruments. These are thought to be working as they should, with the odometer showing just 46 miles which is the mileage covered on the freshly rebuilt engine.
The huge bench seat has been retrimmed in red leather, which is in good condition, and the comfortable sprung seats hold you well. We noticed a small split in the corner of the seat base. The rear seat is also in excellent condition, as are the door cards. The inner door handles are not fitted;the vendor has these and they just need to be installed.
Covering the floor is a new set of fitted carpets in red to match the seats, and these fit well from front to rear. Inside the boot is a spare wheel with a new matching tyre to the rest. The underside of the hood is also in good condition with no damage to point out.There are also some internal linings to the footwell that are present and just need installation.
Starting with the 5.5 litre straight-8, the engine has been fully rebuilt from top to bottom with photographs taken during the rebuild. The engine starts up as it should and sounds perfect as it comes to a smooth idle. Since the rebuild, the engine has only covered 46 miles meaning it’s not even run in yet. At the same time, the gearbox and differential were also rebuilt. The Buick has been driven, just short journeys, never really having had a good run but is reported to change gear and come to a stop as expected.
The engine bay is well presented, with everything meticulously painted as it went back together. The same can be said for the underside of the car. Again, this is excellent; having not been used it is pretty much like a brand new vehicle under there.
The paperwork for the Buick is, shall we say, well documented! It really is unreal just how much paperwork there is. Firstly, there are a couple of albums full of photographs documenting the various steps of the restoration. Then, to complement the photographs, there are reams of paper with handwritten notes and plans for the car and several hand-drawn scale drawings of parts to be made, and they have to be seen to be believed. Then we get to the enormous folder full of invoices. But, again, everything has been saved and once totted up comes to over £55,000 worth of expenditure.
The bible is present, which is the Buick workshop manual, a must when taking on such a project. There is also the V5 present which shows the vehicle was registered in the UK on 21st October 1983, and it has had one previous UK keeper.
What We Think
This is your chance to own the American dream. A fully restored 1949 Buick Roadmaster Straight Eight Dynaflow Convertible. Restored over 30 years, the Buick has been a labour of love for the vendor, which is clear to see. A few little niggles are needed to be taken care of to get everything working as it should, but it’s thought that this is just a case of time rather than requiring parts, as when it went back together, things were working as they should. Will you be the one to enjoy the rewards of over 30 years worth of work?
As would be expected with a Buick addict there are also an array of parts for the car just in case although everything has already been restored or replaced which include a Buick Super Eight engine and gearbox and are available by separate negotiation.
We estimate this American classic to bring in the region of £50,000 - £60,000.
Viewing is always encouraged. The car is located in Blackburn, United Kingdom. To arrange an appointment please use the ‘Contact Seller’ button at the top of the listing. You won’t be disappointed!
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If needed, Footman James classic car insurance and Classic Concierge offer storage options plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping.
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