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Series #'s vs Model names

Mark Simmons

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Can someone clarify for me what series numbers 40-50 etc turned into which model names of Buicks from 1934 on? Everytime I think I've got it straight I read something that throws me a curve. Also the two sizes of Buicks is somewhat muddled in my mind. At the end of the straight 8 era was Buick still producing two sizes of motors. If so what size motor was put into what model? Thanks for the information in advance. Mark BCA # 45145 :confused:

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I do not think you can get an "easy" answer on a forum post. Every change over to different names may be equally cojnfusing. I do no the 40 series disappeared some time in the early 30s as there was no series 40 in 1932, but it reappeared in the mid-30s. Then going back, there was Standard and Master Series. I do know in 1932 there was 50, 60, 80 and 90, so no 70 series also. Of course, the bigger to number, the larger the car (wheelbase, which translated to size). The 50 series had one engine, 60 series another, and I think the 80 and 90 shared the same engine, so that would make 3 different engines for for the 4 series in 1932. Allso note, not every model was built in all series.

I suggest using a the Standard Catalog of Buick, or somne other good reference, to see them all. I honestly do not thinjk there was any attempt to "translate' from year to year.


Edited by jscheib (see edit history)
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You've asked a question that puzzles many, because of the array of bodies

Buick used and changes over the years. Off the record, thnk of it like this...

40 = Special

50 = Super

60 = Century

70 = Roadmaster

80 = Roadmaster (for some years)

90 = Limited (for some years)

Some models appeared then vanished over the years, at the dictum of GM.

We even have to relearn our our alphabet, as in A, B, C, and sometimes D,

and that doesn't even account for the advent of the compacts and mid-sizes.

You've started what should be a fun thread, Grasshopper.



Edited by TG57Roadmaster (see edit history)
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I believe there's also a model/series listing in the back of the BCA Roster, plus production figures.

I remember people talking about "Junior" series and "Senior" series. "Junior" would be the shorter wheelbase cars, with "Senior" being the longer wheelbase cars. Special and Super would have been the "junior" series vehicles.

Remember, too, that what made the smaller Super "super" was the fact it had the larger Century motor in it.

You've mentioned the basic series numbers, but these numbers were further refined with the "model designation" of sedan, hardtop, convertible, and such.

For many decades, the internal GM nomenclature for body series' were letters. Not the same orientation as we later knew, in some cases, but similar. These letter designations were also "body size designations", with "D" usually being the largest and "C" one notch smaller.

I suggest you dig into the back of the BCA Rosters and it might make things more evident when you can see things all listed together.



(decode: 5400 = Buick LeSabre Custom, 67 = convertible)

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I'll add to the confusion!

Pre 1930 they tended to be referred to as Standard and Master - but as the Master models had some different wheelbases they also seemed to refer to them by wheelbase i.e a Standard 1928 Buick was referred to as a Series 115.

In late 1929/1930 with the introduction of the Marquette they designated them as Series 30 ( Marquette ) Series 40 ( 118" wheelbase ) Series 50 (124" wheelbase ) and Series 60 ( 132" wheelbase ).

In 1931 The wheels fell off!!!!

For some reason the Series 30 and 40 designations were dropped.

So in 1931 the Series 50 became the smallest Series and replaced the 30 Series which had a similar wheelbase ( which replaced the 30 Series Marquette and the early ones actually used remaining Marquette parts - such as Hotchkiss open drive shaft rear ends )

The 1931 Series 60 replaced the 1930 Series 40 ( 118" wheelbase ) and the Series 80 replaced the 1930 Series 60! and a Series 90 was introduced.

1932 and 1933 ran the same Series list.

1934 saw the introduction of the new experimental straight eight motor in the small series which saw Buick reintroduce the Series 40 designation for the new 117" wheelbase model ( which subsequently became termed the SPECIAL ) but the senior series - 60, 80 and 90 carried the same designation ( and old style straight 8 motor and basic mechanicals ) until 1936.

With the immediate success of the somewhat experimental 1934 Series 40 engine ( developed more horsepower than the larger series 50 engine ) Buick refined this motor over the next 2 years for its larger series cars and 1936 saw the following designations

Special Series ( Series 40 )

Century Series ( Series 60 which ran the new 320 cu in Straight 8 )

Roadmaster Series ( Series 80 also new 320 motor )

Limited Series ( Series 90 also new 320 motor )

Most things settled down for awhile and the only notable change was the 1937 introduction of the 248 straight 8 motor in the Special Series. This motor was a refinement of the somewhat experimental 1934/35/26 233 cu in Series 40 motor.


Edited by 50jetback (see edit history)
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This is a favorite "primer," the gatefold center spread from the October '41 "BUICK Magazine"

featuring all the '42 models. You'll find everything from lowly Specials to the extreme Limiteds.


A very curious example is the Special Model 47 Sedan, a one-year-only A-Body design that mimicked

the big C-Body's wildly popular roofline. Chevy, Pontiac, Olds and Buick all used that body,

and one of the 47's (in the Special Series 40-A, 118" whb) exists in the BCA in the Midwest.

There was a Special Model 47 Sedan for 1941, but it wore the fastback styling that year.

The small Special A's didn't return postwar, and now is about the time I need an aspirin.

And an adult beverage, 'cause keeping it all straight starts to hurt...:confused:


The gatefold is from the brochure section on the cool site of Norwegian enthusiast Hans Tore Tangerud.

Edited by TG57Roadmaster
Added an adult beverage(!) (see edit history)
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All I can say at this point is WOW!!! So much information in so little time. I'm going to research the roster as mentioned by NTX5467 and a few other places. Thanks to TG57Roadmaster and 50jetback for clearing up some of the fog in my head on this topic. I'm thinking that a thorough research and clarification on this subject could be a life's work. If I tackle this enigma and that is a large if by the way at least I have a few good starting places thanks to all who chimed in. It'll give me something to do when I'm not working on my '34 project. Again thanks for the information. Nark BCA#45145

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I do think this is an interesting study. We know some of the more recent history of why certain models and names were created, but if you look at the historical development, it is difficult what decisions were made in marketing so many different models. For example, from the early '30s (which I am familiar), Buick had a variety of models in each of the four series. Except for size, the cars were almost identical (the higher number the larger the car and/or engine) But there were a few models that were unique to only one or two series. I think it is more of a marketing strategy more than any engineering decision. Good luck with trying to sort that out.


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Might some of these marketing decisions have been influenced by the financial activities "of the times"? Plus within General Motors itself? Might the "History of Buick" book have some infromation on how these things happened and why?

Seeing some of the items posted, it might be good to say that in some cases, the "absolutes" we've accepted for a particular model and model year range are "flexible"?

Just curious,


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