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1939 Special 41 engine identification


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Hello everyone! I've been researching for hours on here and a lot of my initial questions about my new to me project car have been answered. For example I know that the Motorola radio in it is not actually factory, that the holes drilled through my VIN plate for the heater are actually somewhat common (though I can't read my whole VIN), and that the parking lights on the front fenders were actually optional.

The question I have concerns identifying my engine. I assume it's the 107 HP eight, but I was wondering if that engine is still a "Dynaflash" engine. The valve cover is painted plain black, though the block is the blue color. I suppose it could have easily been painteed, but should the smaller engine still have the blue valve cover with the Dynaflash graphics and lettering on it? The only other picture on the engine bay I have found for a car like mine does have a blue valve cover, but still no Dynaflash lettering.

Thanks!

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Dear 39buickeight:

If you post the frame number (small plate down behind battery-8 digits) and the engine number (small ledge on block right behind distributor-8 digits) and as much of the numbers as you have on the body plate. I can tell you a lot about your car.

Regards, Dave Corbin

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Hey thanks everyone! Dave, here is what I found--the plate under the battery was next to impossible to read, but with a little crayon I think it reads 33541271, though the 2 3's look like different fonts.

style no. 39-4419

body no. 125177

paint (it is/was black) and trim no. are unreadable as you can see because of the heater

idnumbers002.jpg

idnumbers001.jpg

I know it was originally out of New England/Maine-it's in KY now. I can't beleive it is as solid as it is.

I also looked the best I could for the spot you are talking about behind the distributor with no luck. Do I need to remove the distributor to see that number?

I certainly appreciate your help!

Billy

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Dear Bill:

The frame number decodes as follows: The front 3 is the plant code for Linden NJ where your car was built. The balance of the frame number is 3,541,271 which is a car built in early April of 1939.

You do not have to remove the distributor to see the engine number. Look for a small ledge about 2 inches long about 2 inches behind the distributor. You may have to clean the crud and rust off of it to read it. Based on my records, IF the original engine is present, the first digit is a 4 (an engine for a 40 series Special). The balance of the number is probably between 3,620,000 and 3,753,000. Numbers will NOT match each other, as Buick didn't use a system that did this until 1957.

Some states used the engine number as the VIN on the title, so you might look there.

In regards to your body plate, the paint code was 530 if the car was originally black. Tell me what the upholstery is and I can give you a trim code for it. Usual choices are gray or tan bedford cord, but there are plenty of other choices.

Regards, Dave Corbin

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Thanks again Dave. The interior is definitely tan bedford cord. There was a seat cover on the back that I've seen used a few different times in my research-kind of a blue plastic with a plaid design. It had no carpet in it at all when I purchased it.

I'll check the engine again for that number.

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Ok, I am offically blind. My wife quickly spotted it. The engine code is:

43763456

This goes back to my original question. Is this the 107HP version, and what color is the valve cover supposed to be? It has the blue/green color on the block, and a black valve cover. Is it supposed to have the Dynaflash decals?

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It appears the engine code is from 1939, so I would think it's original. Here is a pic:

buick002.jpg

also, the steering wheel...I've seen some restored one with another ring in the middle, mine looks like this:

buick001.jpg

How do I know what steering wheel it came with-or does it matter?

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: DaveCorbin</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Dear Billy:

Engine is original to car.

Regards, Dave Corbin </div></div>

Thanks again Dave. This goes back to my original question I suppose. The judging manual says it should be gray, but no part of it is gray...

also-should it have the Dynaflash decals, or are those only for the 140HP engines?

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Hi Billy.

We've got the 39 in the pictures above. The engine is gray, but we used VHT Machinery Gray. Whether it's the correct shade, I don't know, but it seems to fit the bill. You should have the Dynaflash decal for your car as well. Our engine was blue and black when we got it! I should point out that the engine is actually a 1947 masquerading as a 39! The only difference when rebuilding was the size of the fan belt! At the time, we didn't realise it was a 47, so we got lucky with all the bits we ordered from Bob's.

Is that a Motorola radio I see in the picture of your steering wheel?

Cheers

Grant

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Hi Grant-yes that's a Motorola radio. I have no idea where the antenna is, so I am not sure how it ever worked.

Thanks for help with the engine. Maybe yours was the color of mine because it was a 1947, but mine appears to be a 1939... Sounds like I may never know how it became this color. So it should be gray with the Dynaflash decals? I've never seen one like that in my short internet research until now. Can you post a pic of the other side of your engine? I really appreciate the help!

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Dear Bill:

Kanter's has 1939 engine paint that is correct. It's a slightly dark gray with a very small hint of blue. Bob's or Cars has decals.

If you need an exhaust system, Burton Waldron in Michigan can fix you right up.

I have a habit: I don't recommend anyone unless I have used them myself!

Regards, Dave Corbin

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Hi Billy.

I hope this picture helps. See the spark plug cover is a different sort. The side cover is a bit different as well. I could be tricky and swap it out for our 1938 one! When putting the decal on, follow the Bob's instructions to the letter. and you'll be fine. As for your aerial, it's possibly the running boards. Have you checked to see if you have the insulators on the running board brackets? That would be a givaway. Our engine was exactly the same color as yours, but I think the original blue was a paler blue than what we had. More of a turquoise?

If you get a chance, can you find out how your radio is mounted please? We've got to install ours yet.

Cheers

Grant

n1180632791_30442009_1151635.jpg

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Thanks Grant!-it is interesting how different they are. I guess there are holes on the bottom of your spark plug cover-looks like I am missing that part altogether.

My running boards are barely even held on right now. The guy I bought it from had a spare set from another car he had and gave me those too. They are a little better than the ones on there now.

I'll post some pics of the radio for you as it sits now later this weekend. Is there anything specific you need to see?

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Grant, here are some pics of how it is mounted...There is a bracket attached to the firewall that holds the back up. The knob on the immediate right changes the dial. I am not sure if the one on the immediate left has anything to do with the radio or not. It's pretty stuck right now.

buick4-18-09008.jpg

buick4-18-09007.jpg

buick4-18-09006.jpg

Guys reading this--let me know if you want any pics of how it sits right now. It will be a little while still before I begin tearing it all down.

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Dave Corbin

#'s for my '38 special. Had my 248 rebuilt by Mike Kutkuhn at CAMS in newBern, NC and I am ready to put it back in the car. Took all the #'s of the car while I had the engine out and want to post them here and get any info I an about the car.

engine #434895353 flat plate behind dist.

engine #1303969-1 on engine casting right above oil pan on manifold side of engine also the #'s 11-22

Frame #1338329

On firewall tag

Mod.1938-41

style 38-4419

body 21524

trim 401

paint 519

any help ientifying the car will be a big help. Hpe to have it running by the May 9th show in New Bern run br first capital chater of the AACA.

thanks captainbrian38

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Dear Brian:

I think you type like I do, so I need you to check your engine number as you have 1 too many digits and your frame number has 1 too few. Both should have exactly 8 digits. Would you clarify both please?

Regards, Dave Corbin

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right Dave but I'm sure you type better than me. It was the transposing that got me.

engine #is 43489353 for the eight #'s

the frame had a number half hidden by the screw holding the plate down but after removing the screw it looks more like an I than a #

1338329I does that make any sense to you.

thanks again, Brian

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Dear Brian:

Ok, we're cool. 1 3,383,291 is a car built in Flint (code 1) in July 1938 very near the end of the run. 4 3,489,353 is an engine for a Special 40 Series. It was built in Jan 1938. Buick is at the point in July where they're cleaning out the corners and used up an older engine. I've seen this one before, as Buick's inventory rotation practices sometimes left something to be desired. The body number confirms a late car.

Trim 401 is Taupe Mohair fabric and paint code 519 is for Botticelli Blue (my favorite color!). It should be a good-looking car.

Regards, Dave Corbin

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Dave thanks for your help on the identification of the car. I'm ready to put the engine back in and can't wait to get it running and drive it. I had rebuilt the brakes about a year ago in the anticipation of running it then but could only get it to idle. So I'm a little behind but getting there. The car had been painted black but whoever did it left the door jams and engine compartment the Bottecelli Blue. My plan is to leave the fenders black as I had detailed the engine compatment to black and do the cab in the Blue when it comes time to paint. I can run the car like it is for a while to get the feel for it. I own a '41 Plymouth TPC that is a daily driver but I have a strong feeling that the Buick will blow it away for driveability.

again thanks for your help, I'll let you know how it turns out after I install the engine.

Brian

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  • 8 months later...

ok, looking at this again (still researching the engine history/color)

Dave said the engine is original to the car. I found this about engine colors in the BCA manual:

1939-1941 Gray (production through 11/18/40)

1941 Dante Red

1942-1952 Turquoise

My engine is definitely way more turquoise than gray (I think the head was reworked/replaced at some point since it is black)

could a 1939 possibly have a turquoise engine from the factory?

also in terms of body color---I've seen many shades of "sequoia cream" when I search for pics online--I really like some shades and don't like others. Can anyone confirm with a pic the actual correct shade of "sequoia cream?" Is it more of a yellow, or more of an off-white? It doesn't seem to be a very popular color, but like I said, I really like some of the ones I have seen.

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The 1939 engine was gray over black basecoat. So was the 1940 engine, and early and/or single carburetor 1941. 1941 engines, particularly the dual carb jobs were Dante Red. The 1942 engines were turquoise. After the War, not sure which year, the turquoise went more toward a sky blue.

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Correct, there is not a stud hole in the manifold back there on 1939, but I don't know if it is the only year. However, very few would make a big deal about it, since Buick offered the same replacement manifold for 1939-1949; maybe 1937-1949. I'd have to go look at the Parts Book. Also, I imagine if it went to 1949, it also went to 1950 on the Series 40. Check your Parts Book.

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The 39 head does not a drilled & tapped hole for the "missing" stud. The manifold casting is slightly different.

Somwhere I have a photo of my 1939 & 1940 exhaust manifods (took the manifold off a 1940 engine when I bought if for $50) Then took the 1940 manifold to New Zealand as checked baggage. NZ custom guys are used to car parts arriving as checked baggage.

http://forums.aaca.org/attachments/f165/67686d1287808473-1939-buick-special-numbers-1939_s40-head.jpg

Edited by 1939_buick
image added (see edit history)
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  • 9 months later...

It's an interesting question.

I wonder if there is a definitive answer ??? Judging rules maybe ??

Just curious Al, are the metal covers painted on your boxes ??

As an aside, when I first got my first "39, it had a very faint red diff housing, torque tube and back braking plates. Silly me painted them a nice red again. Must do something about that one day.........................

Danny

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..Just curious Al, are the metal covers painted on your boxes ??
I think they are black. Attached is a image from 1939 No 1 (its right hand drive for you USA folk). Note sure for 1939 no 2 or no 3. Can check the 1940's later. Cannot rember for the spare 1939 casting and other bits I have in storage (no access to them)

post-51977-143138335945_thumb.jpg

Edited by 1939_buick (see edit history)
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What is the thing to the left of the box with a cable coming out of it going around to the right and the other cable with a bracket off the torque tube?? Haven't seen that before.
Have wondered about this for many yaers Think its some sort vacuumn asstsitance for the clutch. Certainly not by Buick. This car has a few other strange engineering modications
Is that a Fisher or Holden body??
Fisher. Car is in New Zealand
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Wouldn't be a vacuum booster for the brakes? Ours was fitted with one when a guy from a brake shop owned it in the U.S.A. We painted ours grey, but it could well have been black. We tried to be as authentic as possible, so we may have found traces of grey. Can't remember! I do recall my 39 Chev trans was black.

Cheers

Grant

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