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1937 Buick Special


marcnoni
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I have a 37 buick special model 41. I bought it in pretty good shape but am going to do some work on it. I am interested in finding out where I can find all of the pieces to the hood mechanisms. That is the part that holds up the hood. The pieces that go on the hood. It looks like there are metal pieces that fit on the corners at the bottom. Any help or pictures would be great. I am not a professional but just try to plug away at this stuff. Also, I am aware that the engines in the 37 buick special were the the 248 but one guy I took it to thought it was the larger 320. Is this possible. The engine looks like an original Buick engine that someone tried to paint blue then green. Does anyone know what the original color of the engine is as I would like to restore it that way. thanks alot and any help is appreciated. Also interested in knowing what the original interior looked like. the trim style is 300.......Anyone with pictures.

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Dear Marcnoni:

1937 trim code 300 is for tan bedford cord.

If you look at your engine on the right side just behind the distributor, you'll find a small machined surface. Read the numbers there. If the first digit is a 4, it's an engine for a Special and is a 248. IF it's a 5, it's an engine for a Super which would be a later engine. IF it's a 6, 8, or 9, it's a 320 and your car is either a Century or someone's done a MAJOR shoehorn job.

Regards, Dave Corbin

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Congrats on your car.

There isn't anything on the hood itself that holds it up when opened to show the motor, the supports are on the firewall. The hinge itself is supported by a bracket behind the firewall and on top of the radiator support. The only hardware on the hood are the latches that secure the hood in the closed position. The quickest way to find out what you're missing is get a good look at a car up close. After you join BCA, if you haven't already, look through the membership directory, and look up a member nearby with a car like yours. I don't think anything but the trim strip on the hood hinge is being reproduced, so you might want to contact Dave Tacheny, 763-427-3460, a 37-38 dismantler. Engine is painted dark green, "Buick Green". You can get matching paint from several suppliers, Bob's Automobilia, CARS, Auto Color Library, Hirsch (sp?), etc. It's possible you've got a 320, but not at all likely. Way too much work to make the swap, as the 248 itself is a tight fit lengthwise. It's much easier to get a '41 dual carb manifold, etc. if you want a hot rod.

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Thank you all for your comments so far. I am very excited about this car.

Dave and suschan..........thanks so much for the information...I will be joining BCA at your suggestion. Also, sushan I would like to hear more about how I can hot rod the engine. I am a novice so forgive me if I am a bit slow in picking things up. Would a dual carb manifold help. Also I will be checking the engine codes you guys are talking about to see what exactly is in there. Thanks for the info on the engine color. I really appreciate all of the input. Keep it coming.

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Marcnoni,

Be sure to check out 1937 and 1938 Buicks www.1937and1938Buicks.com

There is a also a 36-37-38 Buick Division of BCA since you'll be joining the BCA you can become a member of this Divisions as well. For more info contact their Director John Cover at coverj@asme.org Good luck with your car. There are plenty of us 37-38 guys glad to help anytime!!

Thanks for joining!

Brian

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Hot rodding-wise, you might want to get the motor in top running condition before you decide to "improve" it. The Special's 4.44:1 gearing and peak torque @2000 rpm gives it good low-end power. Dual carbs, higher compression, headers, etc. would make more sense if you were going for higher cruising speed (Specials generally like to cruise at 45-50 mph due to the gearing), but then you need to swap out the rear end for one with a higher gear ratio, like the Century's 3.9:1, the semi-auto transmission-equipped Specials with 3.6:1 gearing, or something from the early '50's. It does get involved. A nice cheap and invisible upgrade, though, is electronic ignition.

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The product I'm familiar with is made by Pertronix, but there's likely others making electronic ignition conversion kits. Costs about $100.

The company says their product puts twice the voltage to the plugs, increases power, mileage, and spark plug life, along with stabilizing timing.

I can't say exactly how much power and mileage have improved, but I can attest to their other claims, and that's good enough for me.

I have heard that you need to have the charging system working well, that electronic ignition isn't as forgiving as the original setup, but that's a good thing, IMHO.

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The down side to electronic ignition is that when they fail, you need to replace it. At least if you have points and such, you can easily carry spares - something I should be doing as the points burned out on my '41 recently leaving me stranded (until CAA came along).

I don't know how frequently they fail as I have no direct experience. I do know that there are folks sitting on both sides of this fence.

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  • 3 months later...

Okay.........so my buick is being stripped down now and prepared for painting. The guy I have working on it is having diffuculty figuring out how to easily get the door handles off of the car. can anyone help here. I am guessing it is not difficult but we are just at a standstill right now. Thanks for any help anyone can give.

Also, I apologize I have had some questions and requests for pictures or info from some people on here and have not been able to adequately respond due to a few reasons. I have had losses in my family this year and more so the car is not with me and clear across town so I do not get over there too often.

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I think the exterior handles on the '37's are the same as my '38: There should be a hole in the door edge (or jamb, whatever it's called) the same level as the door handle. If you rotate the handle slightly (or maybe a lot, or maybe not all), you'll see a screw head. Remove the screw, and pull the handle out of the door.

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I went to the shop today to work on the door handles. I had no problem with the exterior handles and I appreciate the information. I am having problems with the interior door handles. Bob, thank you so much for the pictures you sent me but the door handles on my 37Special series 41 do not appear to be exactly the same. The interior handles on my car have a white ring, then another skinnier ring. Since I am also doing the upholstery on the door panels we ripped it apart and tried to see if their were any clips holding it in place and I am very sure there were not. Any other input out there.

Also trying to figure out how to take the chrome wiper piece off that is attached to the car body. Is there a stud or something attached that we have to get to from under the dash. help....lol.

I can't wait to have all this done and up and running!!!!!!!

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I went to the shop today to work on the door handles. I had no problem with the exterior handles and I appreciate the information. I am having problems with the interior door handles. Bob, thank you so much for the pictures you sent me but the door handles on my 37Special series 41 do not appear to be exactly the same. The interior handles on my car have a white ring, then another skinnier ring. Since I am also doing the upholstery on the door panels we ripped it apart and tried to see if their were any clips holding it in place and I am very sure there were not. Any other input out there.

Also trying to figure out how to take the chrome wiper piece off that is attached to the car body. Is there a stud or something attached that we have to get to from under the dash. help....lol.

I can't wait to have all this done and up and running!!!!!!!

I am not a Buick guy, but if you are talking about the windshield wiper arm base plate, I think that there is probably a small bolt holding it on from under the dash.

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I had the images in my original post this morning but after reading the replies I deleted my post.

Here are the pictures again for reference. I wouldn't think your car would be any different than mine. My car is a '37, Special Series 41 also.

handle001.jpg

handle002.jpg

handle003.jpg

Here's a picture of the complete set up of my handles. There were removed when I got the car so I don't know how they were removed. I would assume they used the tool. The plastic collars really fit tight:

handle004.jpg

Added:

I was goofing around when I first got my car and snapped the door window handle onto the vent window operator. I used two small screw drivers to remove the clip but there's a tool to remove the clips:

tool2.png

Most any auto parts should have one.

Edited by bobj49f2 (see edit history)
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That removal tool pictured previously is supposed to go behind the metal ring to pry it away from the door panel, then you use another tool that looks a little like a crochet needle or an ice pick with the end bent over to pop off the u-shaped retaining clip, then the handle comes off. Of course, with my car, the door panel was hard as a rock and stuck to the ring, so since most of my plastic rings were in need of replacing anyway, I broke them off with a hammer and screwdriver, then just popped off the retaining clips with the screwdriver. I bought a new set of plastics from Skip Boyer, and with the new, pliable door panels, replacing the handles was relatively easy. If you break, or lose, some of the retaining clips, Bob's Automobilia has them in stock.

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The down side to electronic ignition is that when they fail, you need to replace it. At least if you have points and such, you can easily carry spares - something I should be doing as the points burned out on my '41 recently leaving me stranded (until CAA came along).

I don't know how frequently they fail as I have no direct experience. I do know that there are folks sitting on both sides of this fence.

I just carry the points and condenser ( and the wire from distributor to coil ) which I replaced with the electronic ignition in the glove box as spares.

If the electronic ignition fails it is easy just to replace the original points set up to get mobile again.

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My 37 special has a tension spring on the inside of the panel and no clips. Still trying to figure out how to release the tension spring to get the handle off. I really appreciate the pictures but for some reason the way these handles are held in are different. the white plastic piece moves and I am thinking if it is pushed forward it may release the spring or there may be something on the shaft going into the door that needs to be pushed in. Anyone no of something similar.

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My 37 special has a tension spring on the inside of the panel and no clips. Still trying to figure out how to release the tension spring to get the handle off. I really appreciate the pictures but for some reason the way these handles are held in are different. the white plastic piece moves and I am thinking if it is pushed forward it may release the spring or there may be something on the shaft going into the door that needs to be pushed in. Anyone no of something similar.

The only thing different that I can think of is that there is a pin through the shaft beneath the escutcheon. Push it in hard to see if the shaft is drilled and the handle has a pin through it.

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The plastic and metal rings behind the handle are loose, held flush to the handle by the pressure of the tension spring behind the panel. That's what the tool's for, to push back the door panel and compress the spring so you can get at the retaining clip. Otherwise, you can't relieve the tension without cutting away the door panel and then cutting up the spring. I suppose someone could've drilled and pinned the handle, but it's more likely you haven't found the clip yet, or maybe the handle is seized on the shaft. Have you bought a copy of the '37-'38 Fisher Body Manual? Reprints are sold by many of the antique Buick supply sources (Bob's, etc.), and the process you're going through is described and illustrated.

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The tool I have pictured is used to remove the handle clip, I've used these on later model GM cars. After looking at the 37-38 Fisher Body manual I found the procedure for removing the handle and could see the tool is different that the one needed for our cars. If you can't buy them they look easy enough to make.

door_handle_removal001.jpg

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If your handles look different to the ones in the above photos then it's possible someone has replaced them some years ago. Handles on early GM cars like the 37 were often replaced due to breakage and the owners used what ever they could get to fit.

Some other versions I have seen that fit on the same shaft have a built in spring/clip that is part of the handle (ie: it isn't removeable) and is released by pushing in a notch. Have a look at the base right in line with the handle, if there is a part that depresses it should push in (maybe with a flat screw driver or the likes) and while it is pushed in try to wiggle the handle off the spline.

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Good Morning,

I was not successful using this type of generally available tool on my window cranks - if I recall properly, the tool was slightly too small to fit over the shoulder of the crank.

I purchased a small set of awls, two straight and two bent at 90-degree angle. These tools are approximately 4" long, and very slender. Using the right-angle tool, I was able to grab the loop side of the clip, and pull if off.

Note also that these spring clips are not "standard" for today's cars, either. The correct replacement springs clips are available at Bob's Automobilia.

Best Regards,

Jon

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Bob....................thanks so much. After a little bit of frustration and going back to the shop a couple of times we got it. Your pictures are right on. If you push back the plastic collar the clip is there between the collar and the door handle. I dont know why this ended up being so difficult. I think we just werent prying it back far enough and in the right place. Thanks so much for everyones help and the pictures posted by Bob are accurate for my 1937 Buick Special Series 41.

Anyone have any experience with 12 volt conversions but keeping the instruments 6 volt. I am moving my car temporarily out of the body shop (I am having them do only the body work and body paint) to have a good car club friend detail the engine compartment and work on the rewiring. He is a Buick guy and will probably know but any input here would be helpful.

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  • 1 month later...

Looking for an air cleaner assembly and filter for my 37 buick special series 41. Also looking for a front grille at this time.

Anyone know where to look for chrome trim pieces???

I had a paint and body shop nightmare. Ended up pulling the car out of the shop permanently. I am hooked up with some car club people now and trying to get back on the right track.

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Switching to 12 volt, which I am planning to with my '37, should be fairly easy. If you use the stock wiring harness, that is a new harness, not the frayed mess that probably was in your car, you will be more than adequate for wire guages. A six volt systems draws more current than a 12 volt system. You main worry will be reducing the voltage before the stock components like dash guages and motors, you can use dropping resistors for those items. Change out all of the light bulbs to 12 volt.

Glad to hear you were able to figure out the door clip, too bad you had a problem with the body shop. Body shop problems seem pretty common. I think many shops get in over their heads on restoration and half way through realize they aren't making the money they thought they were. Their interest in the project quickly dies out.

As for trim pieces it seems the go to guy for parts is Dave Tacheny, I am sure some will pop in with his contact information, if not do a search, you'll find it. There is also a guy on Craigslist in the Seattle area that advertises trim pieces, again, do a search and you find him.

I am planning on making a grill for my '37 out of stainless. My grill is broke in about 4 places and has pitting. I got a quote of $500 to repair and rechrome it. I can get the stainless steel for about $150. The grill is a fairly simple piece and I'm pretty sure I could reproduce it. With it being stainless it will out last the car and me.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My car is finally coming along. I have detailed the cowl and entire engine compartment. Wiring will be next. I have two questions for now.

1. I have been getting many opinions on whether you should do upholstery or paint first. I actually think that alot of the interior pieces that need upholstery can be removed in order to do it. What are your opinions out there. The paint guys tell me paint first and the upholstery guys tell me upholstery first......lol.

2. Does anyone have any pictures of what the original air cleaner on a 37 Special Series 41 is supposed to look like. i am still looking to purchase one and havent tracked one down yet. Not sure if the one I have is what is supposed to be on there.

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  • 1 month later...

You can find wiring schematics in the shop manual. Originals are expensive, but there are reprints available at a good price. My vote is for painting before upholstery. You wouldn't want to have to install some of the upholstery items more than once. If you're getting wood graining done, too, you have to remove all of that to do upholstery.

As to Bob's comment that he can get a grill with four breaks repaired AND chromed for $500, where is this guy? That's incredibly cheap if it's decent work. A lot of shops would charge several times that for quality work.

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I have a scan of the wiring diagram. It's a little blurry but it should work for you:

http://www.fatfenderedtrucks.com/37buick/scans/wiring_series_40.pdf

The shop will be a big help. It has procedures to wire all of the components.

I'll be wiring my Special when/if I ever get that far. I wire industrial control systems for a living, these old cars fairly easy. The hardest part is keeping track of where the wires branch out.

As for the grill, I talked to a guy at a swap meet and described the grill and the condition and he threw me a number. I don't know if he'd jack it up once I took it in or not. I am planning to make a grill out of stainless steel. The grill is a pretty simple design. Just a bunch of 1/4" x 1" flat stock welded to 1/4" square stock. I priced the stainless and it'll be about $175 for materials plus stainless welding wire.

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