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Two Roadmasters

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  1. Hello, thank you Brian for bringing in the photo. This all started in late 1972, I had for quite a while known a 1939 Packard 4-dr mod. 1701 that had been in a barnstorage since 1958 in a barn owned by a cousin of my father. I have tried to purchase the car as it was a very good original car with a flawless interior and some minor exterior needs. It all ended up in the purchase of a 1936 Roadmaster 4-dr Sedan instead that I should restore. To get to know more about the Buickyear 1936 I had come to know an elderly gentleman that had a Century. With this car we entered a car tour with quite an amount of old cars in August 1973. During one of the stops I suddenly saw one of the most beautiful convertibles I had ever seen. It was just fantastic in my point of view. When the owner told me about the car he said that the body was made by a swedish body maker, Gustaf Nordberg, in 1938. This was one of six cars made in a 4-dr style while six others, with same chassisize, where made in a 2-dr style. Of course I realised immediately that finding another car among a total production of six was more or less useless. So I started to restore the -36. In the end of 1976, a friend of mine where having a work in another town and during the transports back and forth to this work he passed by a parking lot where there was something parked under a big tarpaulin. He mentioned this to me and I said to him to stop by and have a look. So he did and then told me that when he touched the roof he said it felt very "soft" and when he lifted up one side of the tarpaulin he saw a Buick name in the front. When he then said that the car had rear-hanged front door, which is unique for a body like this, I almost needed a plastic bag under my tongue because I realised that we might had found another one of these, to say the least, rare cars. The fact was that it was a -38 4-dr! We managed to find the owner and one way or another pursuaded him to sell the car. The day after he said yes, he got the money, I know from the recent non-purchase of the Packard that you need to be speedy so they don´t have time to regret the selling. This happened in June 1977. But beeing in the mid-up of the -36 restoration, this car had to wait until 1986 before I started. The body was placed on five stands and the frame was lowered to be able to paint everting under. The front and rear were dissaembled and restored and when I came to the body itself it turned out to be quite good. These cars had standard Buick parts in the front the the cowl and the fenders and wheels. The rest was done by making a wooden frame from the cowl and backwards and put handmade sheet metal outside this frame work. The doors where in excellent conditon while the rear pan under the deck lid had to be renewed. This was done by using the english wheel where you can strecth the metal to the design you need. The wood that hold the top to the body was very bad and had to be renewed, You guys that has done this know that this takes quite a while because it can´t only be 96%, it must be 100%. In the meawhile I had located the original manufacturer of the top material in Germany and bought what was needed. The paints where mixes from Mercedes paints of the thirties and could be duplicated. The paint was done locally after I had grinded the body down to bare metal. My wife handsewed a new interior, as this car was equpped with cloth. The door panels where nailed to the doors but I didn´t want it that way so I remade them to the standard "snap-in" type that is used today. The configuration of the design forced me to drill 400 holes in every panel and we then used two sewing nails back and forth through the holes a that fixed the design of the cloth. The seats where springequipped but to hold the springs in position we needed to string them up in a special french pattern used on old hand made furniture. The interior is just terrific as is the top which a local saddler did. He went into business in 1937 and is very attracted of old cars, especially from the prewar area. So I gave him the outer material while he fixed the material that you have under the top. This is an all-weather top which means that it could be used in winter time as well. We have done all the restoration ourselves including the straight mahogany wood graining of the dash apart from the paint, top and chrome. The engine was rebuild by the previous owner but I luckily decided to clearance messures. I had to adjust the crankshaft clearance and I have weighted all the pistons and connecting rods to less than 1,8 grams difference. It is oddly equpped with a Marvel carb. It works fairly good but I think Stromberg AAV-2 is better. Have not been able to find one for money that I can afford as everything is doubled due to transport etc. The owner history of this car is that it was purchased as a replacement for a 1935 Buick Nordberg bodied car owned by the CEO of a movie company in Sweden. This forced me to look at old movies and the first one it appers in is from a movie done in mid 1939. The car is seen in a scene where it is quite dark but you can see that the car is shining in the new paint. It was registered in February 1939 so it had only been in traffic 2-3 months. I have seen in it in several other movies, the last one from 1964. It was stored at the movie studio in 1965 and was sold in 1968. But nothing happened apart from a new sale in 1970. This owner was the one we had the deal with. As a matter of fact, Sunday May 29:th this year we had a meeting with four other Nordberg bodied cars in Stockholm. This meeting had been arranged by the sons of the owners of this body work shop. The cars where one Rolls Royce Town Car Landaulette from 1927, my and the sister car from the tour 1973, one Cadillac 4-dr Convertible Sedan from 1939 and one Volvo 2-dr Convertible Sedan from 1948. The sons are really very pleasant people and could show us photos from the workshop and cars that had been done during the decades. I must also tell you that when this wokshop closed down in 1990, the first owners sold it already 1969 to a car painter, I was able to find brand new door handles, special screws that where stopped as production screws in 1950 and ash trays for this car in their store that had never been scrapped during the years. I find that quite extraordinary. The car has been in the Bugle in early 1995 and also in Special Interest Autos. I have more pictures but must find a way to get them to this forum, I don´t fully understand the way to do it. I would be pleased to show the car for anyone visitng Sweden. I live 70 miles from Stockholm so it is not that far off if you are in that area. With these two restorations I hope and will try to help any with the information and knowledge I have accuired for Buicks before 1939. Mats Ahrin, BCA#5373
  2. Hi Yeye, glad to see that some more european guys found the way to one of the nicest prewar Buicks. I myself own a Roadmaster 4-dr Convertible Sedan from 1938 that has passed a 7000 hour restoration. I will be glad to help you in questions regarding your possible buy as the Limited is more or less the same car when you talk about the drivetrain and outer design. I will try to save a photo the correct way so the car can be seen in my display name, I know this is explained and possible to do. Please keep us informed of your progress. Mats Ahrin, Sweden
  3. I am a daily reader of this forum and I know there is a lot of knowledge within the BCA. I am helping a friend to restore Riviera -75, a rare car here. What has happened is that when we tried to replace the gasket between cylinder head an exhaust manifold, the bolts that were "engaged" through rust to the manifold mounting holes forced some slight knocking which created small cracks in the manifold. We are therefore looking for another one, but I am too unfamiliar of the differencies between this year of the 455 engine compared to earlier and if earlier manifolds may fit. My knowledge is more in the straight eight era. The number that is on the manifold is B-1246671-2. I have seen a manifold on E-bay with B-1246671-3. Can anyone tell me if this last digit is of importance regarding the fitting of the part to this year. Of course, anyone having a manifold spare they are willing to sell would be very interesting for us to come in contact with. Any help is greatly appreciated.
  4. Hi GSW38, as the Special has a shorter engine, the fenders won´t fit from a Roadmaster. The steering wheel on a -37 has nine stainless spokes which are straight while the -38 has nine that are angled. This difference enables the horn ring to be on the same level as the outer ring and the risk of activating the horn by mistake is reduced. Not every -37 had a horn ring, some of them only had the plate in the hub. The -38 wheel fit on a -37, only with the mentioned difference. The standard steering wheel on the Special, both in 1937 and 1938 was a banjo steering wheel, this stainless spoke wheel was an option. The colour of the Special/Century wheel is ivory while the Roadmaster/Limited is mahogany coloured. I had mine restored and the result was just perfect. It was expensive but well worth while. The wheels are usually dry rotted, like most of the wheels on the american cars between 1937 and approx. 1948. That´s why you often see wheels that are covered with leather or similar protection. Hope you will be doing well on the restoration of your car.
  5. Hi 5050, yes, I still need a counter gear. If you happen to have one or know of one I am interested in it. I am looking around where I live but these cars are not that common nowadays compared to earlier. Please inform me what you might have. Thank you.
  6. Is there anyone that has a new or used counter gear for the Roadmaster gearbox? The one in my box is quite worn, which causes a lot of noise when starting. I don´t think that 1937 and onwards does suit due to that this one has needle bearings but from 1937 the bearings are not used, although I am not sure. Any help is appreciated.
  7. Hej Johnny, var håller du till med din 49:a. Själv bor jag i Nyköping och har två Buick, en från 1936 och en från 1938. Har varit medlem i BCA i 28 år och renoverat båda bilarna med hjälp av delar från USA. Hör av dig får vi kanske ses eller om du kan skicka en bild. Mvh Mats Ahrin E-mail. mats.ahrin@glocalnet.net
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