John in Bismarck

1931 Buick Model 50 sedan on Hemmings

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This is my first post here.  I’m  not a current Buick owner, but I’m looking for a nice classic car, and am considering older Buicks, so I visit this forum often. I just looked at a nice 1931 Buick four door sedan for sale in Pierre (pronounced “Peer”) SD.  It’s at a Chevrolet/Cadillac dealer, and was taken on trade!  The previous owner had it for 25 years.  It appears to be totally original, and is in good shape considering it’s 87 years old.  I was able to take it for a short drive, and it drove very well.  I would like to buy it myself, but I’m not sure I’m in a position to give it the care it needs. I have limited mechanical skills, only a standard garage with no lift, and haven’t been able to find a shop in town that can or will work on a car this old.  I think It should go to a good home, which is why I’m posting it here.  I don’t think I can include the url, but it’s on the Hemmings website, listing number 2135282.  The asking price is $18,000, but they want to move it.  There are good pictures in the Hemmings ad; I will try attaching a photo of the body tag.

ED7AEF72-E512-4565-9922-09D31C934CB8.jpeg

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John:

Very realistic considerations on your part. I bought my 1925 from a fellow after his go to mechanic passed away and he had not the skill or resources to maintain the car.

 Very nice looking car with a many original features.  Although I would be concerned about the cracked 60+ year old Kelly Springfield tires.

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I see they’ve lowered the price to $15,000, still “negotiable.”  If I thought I could spend a few thousand dollars and make it a safe and reliable driver, I would make an offer on it, but I’m just not convinced that would be a good idea.

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Buying an old car is NEVER a good idea. If you're trying to turn this into a rational decision that you can somehow make as a practical consideration, forget it. Nobody needs an old car. It's a completely irrational, unreasonable thing. 

 

HOWEVER, if that Buick speaks to you, if you find yourself sitting awake at night thinking about it, if you have a vision for what it can be and what you will do for it, THOSE are the right reasons to own an old car. What does your gut say? You should listen to it. Don't be afraid, just listen.

 

So many people try to figure out a way for this hobby to make sense. It doesn't. Not even a little bit. This is about fun and dreams and even some history. And the good news is that with old cars, you can always turn them back into about the same-sized pile of cash when you're done. If that Buick turns out not to be right for you, you'll be able to sell it for about what you paid and get out. It's not like that money is gone forever, you still have an asset that has value. It's not like joining a country club or something where the money is just vaporized and all you have to show for it is a hangover and a sunburn.

 

The success I've had in life and the cars I've had that I've enjoyed most have happened because I trusted my instincts and decided to just go for it as a gut reaction. The ones that I agonize over, try to analyze rationally, compare values and what I think I can do in the future--well, those always crumble in my hands.

 

Trust your instincts. This is irrational but not stupid. 

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10 minutes ago, Matt Harwood said:

if that Buick speaks to you, if you find yourself sitting awake at night thinking about it, if you have a vision for what it can be and what you will do for it, THOSE are the right reasons to own an old car.

 

That's what my next car will be.  The last old car I bought took 14 visits, most when the place was closed. I wasn't worried about someone coming along and buying it. I knew the smart ones wouldn't come near. I just kept getting more excited and dumber. Glad I bought it.

 

I have never been happy with those pragmatic purchases.

 

For the money, you can get out of it if the whole experience starts swirling down the toilet, maybe lose a few thousand tops in the worst case. In the best case you will find that you can "rise to the occasion" and have fun for a lot of years.

 

For some leverage, stop in and check the glass to be sure it is safety plate. Tell them one of the bunch of guys in the coffee shop warned you. That might make them think there was a local stigma spreading on the car if all the guys are talking. Don't be an authority, just act curious and kind of ignorant.

 

 

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John, when I bought my Wildcat I had limited skills, even more limited tools, very little disposable cash, and barely enough space for the car in the garage to get the garage door closed (I even had to remove the steps into the house).   But what I did have was passion and a vision, and it sounds like you do too.  I also knew it was going to take me a long time to get the car to the level I wanted, but taking it on the occasional cruise to the grocery store is all the motivation you need to keep working on it. You would be surprised what you can pull off by just spending some time with the car and a shop manual, and of course relying on the wealth of knowledge on this forum.  You will also meet other Buick owners in your area who are more than willing to help you out at a minutes notice.  If I can keep an old car running that previously sat in field for years, so can you.  I like this car you have found, if the guys on here think it is a good deal, don't hesitate.

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It's important to have mechanical skills and knowledge when buying an antique car. The pre-war Buicks are not difficult to work on but finding a mechanic who knows how to work on them might be a challenge. The local garages around here are not equipped to work on my '37 Buick and even Jiffy-Lube refused to change the oil; they didn't even have the proper oil for the differential.  At the car wash I was told to leave; they didn't want to take the responsibility of damaging it. I have a great advantage in my immediate area to have mechanic who services nothing but antique cars; I'd be lost without him since I can't do heavy work anymore due to crippling arthritis and just plain being old.  Incidentally, I like that '31 sedan but I don't have a garage for it.

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, TheRev said:

But what I did have was passion and a vision

 

I have always been blinded by passion, like a buck watching a doe on the other side of the Interstate.

 

And I'm supposed to be old enough not to think up a metaphor like that.

 

If the car is in generally good condition your main job will be lubrication and inspection. The owner's manual gives very specific information. They were written for the horse owner acquiring an automobile. Open the hood often, look, listen, check fluid levels, touch, and wiggle things. Diligence in lubrication and visual inspection will keep you at a point where something breaking will be the exception.

Bernie

Edited by 60FlatTop (see edit history)

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When I purchased my 1949 Super in 1978, I did two things very soon. I joined the Buick Club of America and I joined a local all-marque club.  The BCA kept me connected with fellow Buick owners; the local club kept me plugged into what was happening with the local scene, since there was no local BCA chapter.  Locally, I met folks with a like interest in old cars and found support, mechanical and otherwise.

 

More recently, I purchased my second old car, a 1939 Roadmaster.  I went back and forth, but finally committed.  I'm not getting any younger.  I thought that I needed to act now or never.  Neither car is showroom condition, but both are a lot of fun.

 

I see where there is a Pioneer Auto Club in Bismarck.  Maybe they would be a good local choice.

 

Good luck!  Happy Motoring!

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Guys, thank you for the wonderful comments.  I’ve owned many vehicles over the years, but never an old car like this one.  I have found a local shop that says they can check the car out and service it, but I don’t think they are prepared to do anything major.  Their expertise is more in hot rods and muscle cars, the latter being the most popular kind of classic car around here.  

 

It may sound silly, but I seem to attribute feelings to old cars like this, hoping they find good homes.  Sort of like animals from the shelter, I guess.  I just think it would be a shame for an elegant, original car like this one to end up as a hot rod, or worse.  To see it parked at a Chevy dealership surrounded by Silverados and Equinoxes (is that a word?) is very strange.  One of their mechanics looked at it and gave a fairly positive, though brief, report, noting a few minor leaks underneath.  My 1976 F350 was a leaker, too, but I got used to it, and a drip pan and cardboard on the garage floor took care of most of it.

 

If i do end up buying this car, I will certainly join the Buick Club.  The first car I remember my dad owning was a new 1955 Super.  He loved that car, and the 1963 Electra sedan that replaced it as our only family car.

 

Thank you again for all the great advice.  This coming week will likely be decision time.  I’m also seriously considering a 1931 Model A Ford.  It’s been restored, is in good shape, and, unlike the Buick, has been driven regularly.  Other plusses are that there are some local guys who own Model A’s, and parts are readily available.  The downsides are that it is a coupe, and we would prefer a car with a usable back seat, and it’s not nearly as classy as the Buick!

 

John. 

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If the Buick is in good running condition, service is likely all it'll need, unless you plan to drive the wheels off it. Lubrication, tuneups, tires, etc. Even the reduced price seems high considering the condition, but it is at a dealership. Model A's are fun cars ( I had a '30 roadster for a while), but the Buick's a better-driving car (and has a back seat). As has been noted, there's nothing rational about all this. If you like the Buick, go for it.

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One big advantage of the Buick is the fact that it has a sychro mesh transmission. Much easier to drive than a Ford crash box. No double clutching.

 

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Here’s an update, just to provide closure here. Last week, we bought a nice 1929 Model A Ford Town Sedan, and not the Buick.  We bought the Model A from a gentleman in Minnesota who restored it himself, and he and his wife drove it on several long trips.  All I did was drive it 400 miles back from Minnesota, which was quite an experience.  Thankfully, my wife was following me, keeping the other vehicles on the interstate out of my back seat.  The 31 Buick is still for sale, and I hope it ends up in a good home.  Thank you again for all the great advice.

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