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1938 Special 2-dr sedan rare Self-Shifter for sale

Pete Phillips

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David Corbin, who is probably known to many of you on this forum, is in the hospital fighting lymph node cancer, and has asked me to put his rare '38 Self-Shifter Buick up for sale. I have been bringing it back to life for the past couple of months after storage in his garage. He has owned it since approx. 2001 and has researched its history extensively. It has been a north central Texas car since new, having sold new in Ennis to a doctor. It has 94,000 actual miles and runs very well. The only rust repair has been a couple of small areas under the driver's floor, due to poor drainage & condensation under the rubber floor mat. The car is solid, driveable, and looks decent, but needs little things like a trunk mat, dashboard wood graining, radio speaker grille needs replating, and it doesn't seem to have the correct air cleaner. I also think the radiator needs to be rodded out. This is a two-door sedan, model 48.

248 straight eight runs well and does not smoke, has good oil pressure. Interior is decent, but there is a 3 to 4" split in top outer corner of driver's seat back upholstery. Brown interior has some fading due to sunlight, but it appears to be the correct material. Interior door panels are nice. Good headliner. This is an early production 1938 and he claims it is either the oldest or second-oldest GM automatic transmission car in existence. It's actually a semi-automatic because you have to use the clutch to go into gear and when you come to a stop. Buick made about 3000 of these in 1938, and then recalled most of them for transmission replacement. About 12-14 of them still exist and this is one. Very, very rare piece of operating Buick history. All self-shifter models have the Century 3.9 rear end, which allows for nice highway speeds without over-revving the engine. Has four forward speeds plus reverse, with the shifter on the column. Low and High ranges for "Forward", with two speeds in each forward range. Has a clutch instead of a torque converter.

I have rebuilt the master cylinder and wheel cylinders, cleaned out the gas tank, replaced the fuel sending unit, rebuilt the carburetor, rebuilt the fuel pump, installed a new battery, and had the starter and generator rebuilt. Tires are wide whitewalls with less than 20 miles on them. Car has new running board covers installed at a cost of $1300. There are several extra parts in the trunk which go with the car. Asking price is $13,500 without the spare Self-shifter transmission and without the literature collection. The spare transmission and the very rare Self-shifter literature collection is an additional $2000. The literature collection includes Self-shifter operating and shop manuals, Salesmens' Self Shifter demonstation manual, self shifter owner's manual for glove box, and all of the normal 1938 literature like sales brochures, shop manual, regular owner's manual, etc. and a few Self-shifter tools and the tool manual. The literature collection fills an 18 by 18 by 12 inch box. Clear title, currently licensed, but I would not plan on driving it home as it has been in storage for several years and the radiator still needs attention. Will overheat after 30 minutes or so.

Car is located in my garage in Sherman, Texas.

Pete Phillips, BCA #7338




Edited by Pete Phillips (see edit history)
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Please pass on my best wishes to Dave, didn't realise he was ill but had noticed his absence from the forum for awhile. He is a great resource and has helped so many Buick owners with great build date information. I hope the treatment goes well and he will be able to rejoin the forum soon after treatment.

Perhaps we should let the the BCA General Forum know of Daves situation, I'm sure many others would like to send their best wishes and prayers ( or has this already been done and I missed it? ).

And a really nice rare car at a very reasonable price, but my shed is full unfortunately.<!-- google_ad_section_end -->

Edited by 50jetback (see edit history)
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Give my regards to Dave and tell him my prayers are for his recovery. I had Mantel-cell Lymphoma stage 4 in 2006. 5 months of chemo then I had a stem cell transplant. I know what he is going through. At the onset of my cancer all I wanted to do was to clean out my stuff. My good wife was my support and kept me focused on that there will be a tomorrow. So far my maker has provided me with 6 extra years of relatively good health.

My best wishes:


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