Lucy

1940 Buick Special Convertible

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Hi all, I am posting for a good friend who is in Cuba and has little internet access. She has recently bought a 1940 Buick coupe convertible. From pictures online we think it is a Special 46c Convertible, but we are not 100% sure. (Most of the pictures of that model show a side-mounted spare tire on the front fender. This car does not have that, was this an optional feature? Does the absence of a side mounted spare say anything about what model it is?

 

I am in the US for 3 weeks and during this time I am hoping to source a few of the parts that the car needs,  (exterior door handles, interior door handles and window cranks, trunk handle, windshield wipers, steering wheel shaft-mounted gear shift and turn signal indicator, and canvas top). I am hoping to find either advice for where to source these items, or, alternatively, suggestions for similar parts from other makes that might be interchangeable. Additionally, I  am planning on buying the canvas in the US and getting the top fitted and installed in Cuba. Does anyone have any suggestions for the best material to buy for the top? 

We are also trying to figure out the original color of the car. We have the engine number, which is 53960328, can we find the original color and exact model from this number? It also says Body129, and we are not certain what this refers to.

 

Any thoughts or suggestions would be much appreciated, thank you for your time!

 

Best,

Lucy

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Welcome to the AACA Discussion Forum. I don't really know much about 1940 Buicks as they are a bit different from my 1937 and 1938 Buicks. From the second photo, I don't see anything that looks to me like hardware to secure the top to the windshield header. I would suspect that this car originally had a metal roof which has been cut off to make the car a convertible. 

 

The best source of parts for 1936-1941 Buicks is Dave Tacheny. But unless you are near him or have someone else in the US who can pay by check and accept shipment from him, I don't think that Dave will be your best source. Dave is old school and accepts orders by phone or letter. He can be reached at 763-427-3460 between 4 and 7 pm Central time. He does not ship Internationally.

 

There would have originally been a Fisher Body Tag on the firewall. If it is there, and you can post all of the information from that tag, more information will be easily identified. "Body 129" is probably the body serial number from the data plate. The Body Style Number from the data plate is what will help identify the original body style. The Paint code and Trim code from the data plate will idenfy the original color and original upholstery style. The current upholstery is not the original style. 

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Looks like it might be a Super (series 50) to me.  Do you have more photos of the car? Open the right side hood and look for a painted metal tag on the side of the firewall.  Take a photo of that too.  From the tag we can tell you what the color used to be and confirm the series number.  You can also check with the guys at Bob's Automobilia for parts for your top.  Can't tell what all you are missing from the lack of photographs.

 

http://bobsautomobilia.com/?subcats=Y&pcode_from_q=Y&pshort=Y&pfull=Y&pname=Y&pkeywords=Y&search_performed=Y&q=1940&dispatch=products.search

 

http://www.obsoletebuickparts.com/

 

http://www.oldbuickparts.com/index.php

 

Check also with Doug Seybold: https://www.hemmings.com/magazine/hcc/2009/12/Doug-Seybold/2487571.html

 

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For the top, keep this link:

 

It is really a great video in spite of the narrator. I think I have watched it three times all the way through. It is fascinating to me, but the kids say I am easy to entertain.

Bernie

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The engine number decodes as follows:

 

53960328
5 = Series 50/Super
3960328 = sequential number, range for 1940 was 3786214 to 4074858

 

 

Look for a tag on the firewall or cowl that looks like the one I've attached below.

1940 Buick Trim Tag 04.jpg

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Hi all, thank you so much for your comments this is very helpful so far. Sorry for the lack of photos, I didn't want to inundate the thread but I will go ahead and post more. I also have a short video, enjoy the background sounds- songs of tropical birds and mid-day rooster crows!  

 

From the inside of the doors and the engine compartment, we think that the original color was red. (We also were told that this car appears in the 1990 Robert Redford film Havana, and that it is red there. 

 

Unfortunately the last paint job seems to have been less than perfect, and they painted over the vents and hood ornament and a few other details. 

 

I am interested in investigating more whether or not it was a hard top with the roof cut off- it was definitely sold under the pretext of being an original convertible. 

 

I dont have a picture yet of the metal tag but I am hoping to get one soon.

 

Thanks again, everyone!

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Turns out it wont let me upload the video, sorry about that. 

I thought I had narrowed it down to between either a Century, a Special, or a Super (as you can tell I am quite novice), but a few details continue to confuse me. For example, the other Supers seem to have 4 vents on either side (on the front of the car), while mine has 3  (well, 2 + latch, but visually there are 3 segments). 

 

Here is another picture from the front with the top on. It is also missing two vertical bumpers on the front. 

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4 vents is a Roadmaster- yours is not.

 

Best place to source parts will always be Ebay. You can find more on there in an hour then 5 years of flea markets.

 

Hirsch in NJ is a great source for top material - you can google them

 

good luck!

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Wheel base is 121", which means it has to be either a Special Phaeton Convertible, Special Convertible coupe, or a Super Sport Coupe (with the top cut off). Though the engine compartment latch does say Limited on it. Anyone else's say Limited on it? See the last picture in post # 8. 

 

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From these additional pictures I would conclude that it is a Super (series 50).  The Supers did have the three vents, for one.  Your car doesn't really have running boards, your car has been modified with paint, trim and possibly a piece of rubber to simulate a running board.  The door handles are in line with the beltline trim like the Super.  Also, your hood and front fenders extend all the way back to the doors.  This was the C-platform car used on the Super and Roadmaster for this year.  The Super has a shorter front end on the same body as the Roadmaster.  You also have the smaller engine.  The bigger engine from the Roadmaster would not fit in this car.  I also see plenty of contour changes on the body, this car has been mildly reworked enough that you would ave to be careful replacing body panels.

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5 minutes ago, Lucy said:

Wheel base is 121", which means it has to be either a Special Phaeton Convertible, Special Convertible coupe, or a Super Sport Coupe (with the top cut off). Though the engine compartment latch does say Limited on it. Anyone else's say Limited on it? See the last picture in post # 8. 

 

No, the car was originally a convertible based on the shape of the vent windows and the shorter windshield.  The hood release levers were just changed out at some point.  Your car is definitely not a Special, but a Super.

 

At this point, I'm willing to bet parts off your car!

Edited by kgreen (see edit history)
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On 6/5/2018 at 10:10 AM, Lucy said:

Hi all, I am posting for a good friend who is in Cuba and has little internet access. She has recently bought a 1940 Buick coupe convertible. From pictures online we think it is a Special 46c Convertible, but we are not 100% sure. (Most of the pictures of that model show a side-mounted spare tire on the front fender. This car does not have that, was this an optional feature? Does the absence of a side mounted spare say anything about what model it is?

 

I am in the US for 3 weeks and during this time I am hoping to source a few of the parts that the car needs,  (exterior door handles, interior door handles and window cranks, trunk handle, windshield wipers, steering wheel shaft-mounted gear shift and turn signal indicator, and canvas top). I am hoping to find either advice for where to source these items, or, alternatively, suggestions for similar parts from other makes that might be interchangeable. Additionally, I  am planning on buying the canvas in the US and getting the top fitted and installed in Cuba. Does anyone have any suggestions for the best material to buy for the top? 

We are also trying to figure out the original color of the car. We have the engine number, which is 53960328, can we find the original color and exact model from this number? It also says Body129, and we are not certain what this refers to.

 

Any thoughts or suggestions would be much appreciated, thank you for your time!

 

Best,

Lucy

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Hi Lucy

        Thanks for the pictures you have shared! It's fascinating to see how creative people have to be in Cuba to keep cars like this going in spite of the challenges in acquiring parts. Being an owner of a 1940 Super convt coupe, I have the advantage of comparison between yours and mine to confirm that this is also one. After studying the photos, the things that stood out are the convertible top frame, which shows under the cloth, the height and spacing of the bows and the shape of the inside door trim with the top edge of the side window trim showing(which should be a chrome channel wrapped around the side glass). The dash gauges and steering wheel look to be sourced from a 1948 or 49 Buick. 1948 was first year for that style of gauge face. The carburator on the engine uses an adapter plate that fits the one barrel carb to the intake manifold. All hood latches that indicate model are physically interchangable. 129 body refers to your car having been the 129th Super convertible coupe built that year. Super converts being a "mid-year" introduction car they were not available at the start of sales for 1940. I see you are new to this site. If you know how to send a private message, I can provide more info. Best Regards, Greg

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Hi Lucy,

 

I see that your friend's '40 Super is shown on the Avenida del Puerto, up by the Plaza de Armas. The only '40 Buick I've seen is this Special sedan on Calle Neptuno, and other places around Centro Habana, but how exciting to see the convertible! The Buick Club of America's magazine, the BUGLE just published extensive coverage of the Buicks I've seen in La Habana, and I would have loved to included your friend's Super. (I've made seven trips to La Habana since August, 2016, and will make my 8th next month.)

 

596937505_40SpecialNeptuno1XT.jpg.7cb6d8030105f5848dcf35ed0dec994c.jpg

 

The data tag like the one circled in kgreen's post above, like the one sean1997 posted would have looked like this originally. It may not be readable, but the "Paint No" (number) is what we need to determine the original paint color.  The top line should read "1940 MOD.  56C."

 

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I have a box full of old door handles at my garage and will check to see if any of it will work. It may not be specific to '40 Buick, but the GM handles of that period will work. I am not sure if I have any outside handles, but will let you know.

 

Below  is a friend's '40 Roadamster convertible for the sake of comparison, with the correct 4-section hood louvers, door handles and trim.  

 

1095607350_4076C1TerryBoyce.jpg.e2c0d5ac9bab3b68b0e797b34d5a53b3.jpg

 

And a '40 Super 56C with the 3-section louvers...from an RM/Sotheby's auction.

 

https://rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/AM04/Vintage-Motor-Cars-at-Amelia-Island/lots/164-1940-buick-super-convertible-coupe/193057

 

I will let you know what door handles and window cranks I find tomorrow, and good luck!

 

Tom Gibson

Edited by TG57Roadmaster (see edit history)
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Lucy,

 

This is the interior of an original '40 Special sedan, showing the door, vent and window handles with their ivory plastic inserts. I think it will be difficult to find them, but GM parts were standardized and others will fit.

 

540772922_40417X.jpg.0fa98f44ffb4800e1d7b17885dfcbee9.jpg

 

Years ago a friend gave me a shoebox of interior trim, and this is what I have for you. I believe they came from a '40's Cadillac (not sure), but I don't have the round escutcheons that go between the handles and the door panel.  Those can always be acquired later. They are the same size and similar in style, all metal, so they won't deteriorate in the sun and weather as the plastic-knobbed originals would. The little spring clips fit in the slots as shown, and you push the handles onto the rounded shaft and the clips lock the handles in place.

 

2132605301_4056CLucy1.jpg.d6a9faf43122019e6e2a444047e13b4c.jpg

 

If you want them, send me a PM with an address so I can get these to you before you return to Cuba.

I look forward to meeting you and your super Super on my next visit!

 

TG

 

 

 

Edited by TG57Roadmaster (see edit history)

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Greg and K Green, thank you for the confirmation that this is a Super. This has been very helpful. And to Tom, what a kind gesture, I hope to be able to cover the costs of that. I have sent you a PM Here I have 2 new photos, one of the area indicated above near the engine compartment hinges, and one (very) painted over metal tag. Not much information can be gathered from it yet, but I will post a better photo once we get the paint off... 

 

The other pictures that have been posted are great for comparison! In fact I think I have ridden in the red Buick sedan pictured above. If my memory serves, it runs as a maquina (collective taxi) around town! (Though it looks like it has an Oldsmobile hood ornament, is that correct?)

 

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Hi Lucy  !  You can get suitable escutcheons Tom refers to from Rich Baumgarten ,   thehandleman@comcast.net , as he has quite a selection.

 

Most of us here are interested in Cuba to some degree, certainly in part due to the old cars still rolling around there. As you can tell, we are all very happy you have joined us ! A number of the stronger, healthier, among us have been, and will go to Cuba. Unfortunately for me, I am older and in worse shape than most of the old Detroit iron rumbling and rattling around Cuba. I will see it only in my daydreams. Tom Gibson with his wonderful photographic and journalistic skills has done fantastic, informative postings here. I suggest you enter Cuba in the search box above, and scan for his work when you have time.  

 

!Bienvenidos al AACA, Nieta!  Nos vemos aqui.     -  Viejo,  cansado y  gastado, ya han pasados mis aventuras y locuras dichas,  -  Carl 

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