philipj

1937 Buick Special - Opinions re. condition

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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

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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

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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.

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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....

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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.

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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.

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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!....

 

 

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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 :)).

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Is the only difference between the special 40 (248 CID) and the Roadmaster (320 CID) the engine size? Is the Roadmaster really that much faster/better?

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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. 

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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

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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.

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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...

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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 

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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

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Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)

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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

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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

 

 

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"Is the only difference between the special 40 (248 CID) and the Roadmaster (320 CID) the engine size? Is the Roadmaster really that much faster/better? "

 

As an owner of a Special and Roadmaster, the engine makes a big difference.

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Hello Rodger,

 

While I sincerely appreciate your offer regarding your beautiful car, my heart is set on a 37 or 38 Buick 40 or 60 Series... Thank you.

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