Jump to content

1937 Buick Special - Opinions re. condition


Recommended Posts

Hello All,

 

I am brand new to this circle, trying to learn as much as I can about these wonderful cars before I purchase one... I come from the horse and cart club! (WWII jeeps) They're great, but ride a little different than a 38 Special!..:) In short, I have been looking for a solid car in the 15K to 17K range which should get a well preserved older restoration for what I've seen... I wish I was in the 22 to 25K, for which there seem to be no shortage of cars...

 

A bit to the point, I have found a 37 for sale, (115,000 miles/Would prefer a 38) which I'm sure some of you may know. As far as I can tell, it would need the following to be reliable...

 

1- Complete vehicle harness

2- Carburetor work

3- Possibly tires

 

1937 Buick 40 Special

 

The rest seems to be all there, including the steering which would be a whooping grand to replace! (and I thought jeep parts were expensive!) so, I am very close on an offer but have a couple of concerns...

 

1- The seller/dealer stated that while on the test drive the transmission did make a noise (Grind) downshifting only... Apparently he has driven many of these vehicles

2- The engine has been rebuilt by the previous owner, but there are no records... You can listen to it for about 30 sec. on this wonderful video...

3- Transmission 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awXADz9tWSs

 

I almost hear the engine knock, or maybe it is cold or idling too low. I'm familiar with flat head fours and sixes, but have zero experience with these... If anyone can shed some light into what I may be getting into (Short of paying an inspector/yet the winter weather gets in the way of a drive) I would appreciate it.. Thank you.

 

Best regards,

Philip

 

Antique Automobile Club of America - Discussion Forums

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello there,

Thank you very much for the lead... Looks promising! I just replied to the Craigslist ad and will hope for the best... I seldom see these cars in gray/silver. Wonder if the color is original... Be great to find out more details. Wish I was closer. I am located in the Pompano Beach area in Fl...

 

Regards,

Philip

Link to post
Share on other sites

If its like my 1939 you can't downshift to 1st until you are stopped.  That's the way they are made.  They are not synchronized.

 

Looks like a nice car (I did watch the video).  The valves may need to be adjusted if they haven't since rebuild/break-in.

 

Tires and wiring harness can easily be $2000-$2500+ with labor.

 

I'm not sure how long you have been shopping, but digging hard enough you can get a $25,000 car for $17,000 if you find one that's been for sale for a while.  Most of the time these late 30's sedans don't exactly fly off the shelves.  A $17,000 37-38 4 door Special needs to be close to perfect to command that sales price.  $25,000 better be perfect to justify that price.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi there, thank you for your response.... I am aware that these transmissions are only synchronized between 2nd and 3rd... Most people say, yeah, it drives like a 37, it grinds, is normal... Right!... I just shake my head and go to the next... Most vehicles 36 and up should not do that unless the synchro sleeve/rings are worn along with the gears and other internal components...

 

I certainly could do the valves, Is there a cold spec that works well for these, or is it mandatory to do them hot @0.15? Still, there are no records of the rebuild... I understand that harnesses, steering wheels and tires are expensive... As for the price of a vehicle, I am glad you're shedding some light here. I thought I was being unrealistic.. I was not aware that I could buy a super nice example for 17k. I have been looking for about 2 months, and wish I had more patience... There is one in northern Florida advertised for 25K with a 47 motor, very clean with a non working speedometer and fuel gauge. He would accept 22K. Too high, especially with the  incorrect engine and the fact everything is not working properly... Clutch pedal does not return all the way up. He mentioned a spring missing, but I just left it at that...  

 

So the search continues....

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Philip:

 

I am also a newbie as far as Buicks go, so I probably shouldn't be shooting my mouth off anyway.  I also don't think it's prudent to buy a car from a dealer anywhere unless you have seen it up close.  Photos just always look better than the real deal.  However, that being said, I was just reacting to the difference between a Special and a Roadmaster, and that certain things in the photos of the Roadmaster caught my eye.  I have not looked at the photos of the blue Special.  I was just offering an opinion, for whatever it's worth, on the Roadie -- I was not comparing the two cars.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Not a problem at all Neil, I understand your point of view... Something about the roadmaster I forgot to mention is that it has a significant transmission leak... That means torque tube removal and reseal...$$$ I also see how they've made some repairs to the exhaust and steering and get nervous about the rest of the car, despite hearing it run on the video. This may be the case when you're better off spending $250 for an inspector, or just make a blind offer. unless you're lucky to find a fellow forum member nearby willing to assist.. It can be costly if you're looking at 2 or 3 cars, so you better make up your mind!....

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, neil morse said:

It seems to me that you wouldn't go wrong offering 17 on that Roadmaster.  Yes, it needs some work, but it looks complete and many things on it look great -- like the dash, for example.

Agreed 100%, and buying a Roadmaster in that condition for $17k is much smarter than a Special for $17k in any condition (spoken by a guy with a Special :)).

Link to post
Share on other sites

philipj,

 

I have just glanced over this discussion and need to go back and read everything carefully. I have not listened to the car running in the video yet. The silver color on the 1938 would not be an original color. A Special (40 Series) is the small body with the small engine. A Century (60 Series) is the small body with the large engine. A Roadmaster (80 Series) is the large (heavier body) with the large engine. There are good and bad points about each series. The Special and Century are all steel bodies. The Roadmaster in 1937 has a bit of wood in the body, so be careful to avoid a large series car with any wood issues.  Assuming a wiring harness is about the same on most of these cars, you can expect to pay about $1,500 for a correct reproduction wiring harness. 

 

I would encourage you to join the 36-38 Buick Club. If you send me a private message with your email address I will be happy to send you a pdf copy of the most recent issue of the club newsletter. If you want to consider a Roadmaster, I would also suggest you check out the cars advertised on the club website. http://www.3638buickclub.org/advertisements.html 

 

I also know of a nice deal on a 1937 Century but the car is in California, and I don't have good photos yet, so it is not yet on the website. 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Dr. Mr. Hinson,

 

Thank you kindly for your input regarding this discussion... It can be a little confusing to remember all the model details at at once, but it is now getting better... Given the information you provided, I think I will confine my search for a Special or a Century model for practical reasons...

 

I would be most definitely be interested in the 37 Century located in California, even though I am in Florida; so if you can forward or pass along my information it would be greatly appreciated...

 

Best regards,

Philippe Jeanneau

Link to post
Share on other sites

The engine should be nearly silent. Not a Rolls Royce, but you shouldn't hear taps or knocks.

One important point between the Special and Roadmaster, is the Roadmaster has better gearing for high speeds.

A Special's comfortable  cruising speed is 40-50 mph.  It can do 55-60 OK, but that's pushing it a bit.

The Roadmaster with a bigger engine and better gearing can cruise at 55-60 with ease.

 

They're not exciting cars (like a Jeep), but they are grand and graceful cars.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought so... The one in the Special seemed a little louder, but I have to listen to the two videos again... Are these engines known to be problematic as far as connecting rod bearings (main  bearings) making noise when they're old? Or maybe a good valve adjustment is enough to quiet them down?

 

How tough is to obtain a Roadmaster rear end? Imagine everyone wants one, so they must be expensive... It would be great to cruise at 50 or 55 on a long trip at least... Not to get off topic, but  I remember reading an article about  a 38 Special with an overdrive... Wish I remembered the details! I was still looking at Pontiacs and Oldsmobiles, so I did not pay much attention!..

 

I am looking for more comfort, staying dry, and a moderate safe speed to travel... An of course, nothing beats the beauty of a 37 or 38 model...

Link to post
Share on other sites

I like those buicks also but the only thing that i don't like is the hump back on most of them .I like the slant back , my dream car would be a 1938 century slant back with sidemounts .But my wife says that i have to many cars now already ...  I know she's correct but i don't want to admit it 

  • Haha 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, 39BuickEight said:

...buying a Roadmaster in that condition for $17k is much smarter than a Special for $17k in any condition (spoken by a guy with a Special :)).

 

Do ALL the 1937 Buick Roadmasters have wooden body

structures underneath the sheet metal?  One of our

AACA region members bought and restored a '37 Roadmaster

phaeton, and his phaeton had a wood structure, making the

work quite a lot more complicated and expensive.  (Wood rots.)

 

He is an active Buick enthusiast, but he said that, if he had

known in advance, he would not have bought a Roadmaster.

Scan_Pic0008.jpg

Scan_Pic0017.jpg

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, philipj said:

How tough is to obtain a Roadmaster rear end? Imagine everyone wants one, so they must be expensive... It would be great to cruise at 50 or 55 on a long trip at least...

 

 The Roadmaster rear end won't work in a Special. There are a number of alternatives. Unless you are lucky and get a 1937 with the high speed rear end  probably available in 1938 also it was an option few bought) you will have a 4.44 rear end.  If you can find a 1937 or 1938 Century you can swap out the ring and pinion and go to a 3.9. If you can find the ring gear and pinion from a 1938 that had the self shifter you can go to a 3.6.  Other more intensive changes are possible like overdrive or part swaps that possibly require machining up into the 50's. However the 1937 has leaf springs instead of coil rear springs so it is more challenging with a 1937. If/when you get a 1937 or 1938 there is a wealth of information available from the old 1937-1937 Club available here;  http://www.1937and1938buicks.com/Technical-Tips/Technical-Tips.htm

 

Carl

Link to post
Share on other sites

Philip,

 

Here's a car for your consideration.  This is my car and I am selling to pursue another car (limited garage space).  Although my car is currently located at the Volo Auto Museum, my agreement/contract is expired and I can pick the car up at any time.  I have an enclosed trailer that I haul my cars in, so transporting the car to your location may be something that I would consider, depending on your location.  Obviously, in the link below Volo has the car listed high enough to cover there commission.  If you have an interest give me a call at 708-259-0298 or email to wilson1rodger@comcast.net.  Thanks.

 

http://www.oldcarsweekly.com/car-of-the-week/car-of-the-week-1922-overland-model-4-touring

 

https://www.volocars.com/auto-sales/vehicles/14350/1922-overland-touring

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Carl,

 

Thank you very much for your input and information regarding the possible driveline upgrades to the 37 and 38 cars... If I have it my way, it would be a 38, but I won't fret if it happens to be a 37... In any case, I very much appreciate the knowledge and help being offered here; it is worth its weight in gold...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Philip,

 

All Buicks are nice but 1936 to 1942 Series 60's ( Century ) are exceptional.

 

In this day and age they are the most usable model without modification. Rear end ratios, wheel size and a 320 cu in engine which can propel them to 100MPH earned them the nick name of " the bankers hotrod ".

 

Any Century body style is desirable and if you are patient I'm sure a 1937 or 1938 4 door sedan in your price range will turn up.

 

Be sure to join the Buick Club of America and you will find good examples for sale in the Clubs monthly magazine " The Buick Bugle ".

 

Good luck with your search.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

It makes me want one even more, the hardest thing is having patience... When I hear the word exceptional it tells me I should wait it out... 100 MPH seem pretty fast for a car of that size and weight... I wonder if it really settles down after a certain speed...

 

My price is up a little, though wish the funds were unlimited. I am hoping that 17K to 19K can get you a nice example, completely done...This one is near me,

(4 hrs) and even though it does not have a matching engine, and a couple of small issues, I have made a blind offer...

 

https://classiccars.com/listings/view/1033542/1938-buick-century-for-sale-in-maitland-florida-32751

 

Thank you very much for your encouragement and information...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is a Roadmaster that appears to be mostly original, in the following condition:

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/-/122891794064?fromMakeTrack=true

 

1- Paint about 10-12 years old

2- Engine also rebuilt, but no details

3- Original interior and glass

4- Original wiring, still 6 volt

5- Original drivetrain est. 130,000 miles

6- clutch probably replaced with engine rebuild-unconfirmed

7-Brakes, suspension, steering original-In order...

 

Awaiting for more photos... Shame that the original wheels are missing at it is way overpriced....

Link to post
Share on other sites

The tan dashboard would have me worried about many other details. Shows an electric fuel pump unit. Also the radial tires would not fit in the side mounts as spares.

 I was forwarded a request from you to my personal email about any of these cars for sale. My 1937-41 is not for sale at this time. Also I am located in Pennsylvania.

Larry

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Larry,

 

Thank you very much for your input... I am in agreement with you regarding too many things not being right with this car (Aside from being overpriced) I am not getting direct answers to my questions, so I just will pass...

Link to post
Share on other sites

The search goes on here... I have another candidate, (37 Special) Looks like a very nice vehicle...

 

https://www.hemmings.com/classifieds/carsforsale/buick/41/1980793.html

 

Older restoration with the following problems.. Some could be minor, headlamp switches (wiring short?) and others affecting driveability: carburetor; could be pricey, ie. exhaust manifold valve body stuck...Need to get more info here... I don't know who can rebuild a speedometer /fuel gauge or the cost, so I cannot give an opinion here...

 

1- Speedometer inoperative

2- Fuel gauge inoperative

3- R/H headlamp out. Not a bulb problem I am told...

4- Needs carburetor adjustment. Rebuilt 2 years ago, not adjusted. Very rich when cold. Stuck choke or exhaust manifold flap...

5-Heater, Clock, radio, wipers, inoperative

6- At least 2 non working door locks

 

Can I really go wrong if the price can be negotiated?  Your input regarding these problems such as best and worst case scenario would be appreciated... As of now, I am trying to find someone in San Diego to go and look, hopefully drive the car...

 

 

 

Edited by philipj
Adding more information regarding condition (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

You can put a third member in out of an early 50s special and go from a 3.9 to 4.4 down to a 3.6. Makes a world of difference for cruising down the road. Make sure the torque tube length is the same as yours and it’s a bolt in. Find a 54,5 Century rear and it’s a 3.42 gear.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/14/2018 at 11:41 AM, philipj said:

Here is a Roadmaster that appears to be mostly original, in the following condition:

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/-/122891794064?fromMakeTrack=true

 

1- Paint about 10-12 years old

2- Engine also rebuilt, but no details

3- Original interior and glass

4- Original wiring, still 6 volt

5- Original drivetrain est. 130,000 miles

6- clutch probably replaced with engine rebuild-unconfirmed

7-Brakes, suspension, steering original-In order...

 

Awaiting for more photos... Shame that the original wheels are missing at it is way overpriced....

 

You have to be careful with Ebay descriptions. That car is not a Roadmaster. It is a Special. There are several things that I would be concerned about. At that price, I would expect the car to look perfect at 20 feet away. The wheels and electric fuel pump both stick out like a sore thumb to me. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...