WHMitchell

1951 Buick Special - History

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Hello all,  I am a new member here and hope that you folks can help me out with some historical information.  As I am sure all of you here know, the 1950 Buick Special was introduced in roughly August of 1949 with GM's new B-body for 1950.  This new for 1950 body became the basis for GM's 1950 B/C body program, used by Cadillac, Buick and Olds as discussed by Richard Stout in the SIA article.  For 1950, all Cadillacs and Buicks used the B/C body shell, while Oldsmobile used it for the 98, and the smaller 76/88 used the A-body. 

 

Then for 1951, things changed.  Buick moved the Special to the new smaller body shell, dubbed the OB-body.  This was then later used by the Oldsmobile Super 88 which eventually replaced the A-body 88.  For 1952, Oldsmobile also moved the 98 down to the same smaller OB-body.  

 

I have read Thomas Bonsall's books, and in his "Disaster in Dearborn" book he talks about GM's body sharing program.  He states that the OB-body was actually supposed to be the new Chevrolet and Pontiac A-body for 1951, but they couldn't afford the body.  So, it got foisted on Buick and Oldsmobile.  See the notation in this Google book link, (Page 216, note #5):  https://books.google.ca/books?id=7z9o69N-AJoC&lpg=PP1&dq=Disaster in Dearborn%3A The Story of the Edsel&pg=PA216#v=onepage&q=Disaster in Dearborn: The Story of the Edsel&f=false

 

So my question is, does anyone know why the OB body was created?  Why wouldn't Buick just continue to used the B/C bodies for all cars including the Special as it had in 1950?   Was the OB-body really supposed to be the new A-body?  And if so, why could Chevrolet and Pontiac not afford it, when Chevrolet was the volume leader?  Is the OB-body related to either the B/C bodies or perhaps the 1953-54 A-bodies at all?

Edited by WHMitchell (see edit history)

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I think some of this information is incorrect.  Just speaking for the Buick side of this, the 1950 Special kinda looks a lot like the 1950 Super and Roadmaster, but the bodies have significant differences.  I do not think the Special as part of "all the  Buicks"  used the B/C body. But I am just guessing.

 

 Also the 1951 Buick Le Sabre was a concept car , a two seater.  I do not know the body designation for that car. I do not know if that body was shared with other Divisions, but I am not aware of any production built two seater Buicks in 1951 or at any point till the Reatta in 1988.  But I do know there was not a production LeSabre till 1959.

 

 

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1 hour ago, JohnD1956 said:

I think some of this information is incorrect.  Just speaking for the Buick side of this, the 1950 Special kinda looks a lot like the 1950 Super and Roadmaster, but the bodies have significant differences.  I do not think the Special as part of "all the  Buicks"  used the B/C body. But I am just guessing.

 

 Also the 1951 Buick Le Sabre was a concept car , a two seater.  I do not know the body designation for that car. I do not know if that body was shared with other Divisions, but I am not aware of any production built two seater Buicks in 1951 or at any point till the Reatta in 1988.  But I do know there was not a production LeSabre till 1959.

 

 

 

Sorry, that LeSabre reference was a typo.  I corrected it now to say Buick Special.  

 

Based on the information I have, the 1950 Buick Special used a B-Body shell, like the majority of the 1950 Buick line-up.  The width of a 1950 Special was about 80", while the 1951 was reduced to about 75".  See the distinctive B-Body c pillar on the rear of this 1950 Special:

 

https://www.hemmings.com/magazine/hcc/2015/11/Blue-Light-Special---1950-Buick-Model-41D/3749075.html#PhotoSwipe1534360229528

Edited by WHMitchell
typos (see edit history)

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Ben is correct and WH Mitchell's account is correct. They all share the same basic body and rear fenders/quarter panels in 1950. For 1951-53, the Special has its own body, with welded rear fenders/quarter panels, and different tail lights and parking lights from the big series Buicks. The Supers and Roadmasters in 1951-53 use bolt-on rear fenders/quarter panels, and the grille bars & bumpers do not interchange with the 1951-53 Specials. I don't know why GM did it this way.

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In 1950 when the B/C body were reintroduced they were really just variations on the same body shell. Essentially a B-body had the smallest passenger compartment. This was utilized by the Cadillac Series 61, most of the Buick line and all of the Olds 98s.

 

The C-body had a 4" longer passenger compartment. It was used by most Cadillacs and by some Buicks. The C special was a longer version of this same shell again used by the 60 special Cadillac. The D-body was the longest variation which was used by the series 75.

 

The key to remember is the body shell is defined by the interior size not the wheelbase. Buicks had longer hoods in some cases compared to other GM lines. This was an ingenious way for GMs medium and high priced cars to share the majority of their engineering and costs while all had unique styling.

 

In 1951 the OB body was introduced which is decidedly smaller the the B/C body shell. It was significantly narrower. I am not sure why this GM introduced this body and if its is correct that the OB body was supposed to actually be the new A body. 

 

Does anyone know if anything interchanges between a 51 Special and a 51 super or Roadmaster?

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