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Chevrolet bodied 1941 Buick question


Grant Z
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As I've only just purchased my 1st Buick (a 1941 Series 40A Special Business Coupe), I have much to learn. In my research online, I've discovered that as my car is a Series 40A, it therefore has a 1941 Chevrolet body. If this is the case and I wish to purchase rear fender skirts for my car, should I be buying 1941 Chevrolet fender skirts? It seems obvious I guess, but I want to make the right decision as I live in Australia and don't wish to return the wrong product with expensive shipment fees. If anyone can help with the correct advice I'd appreciate thanks.

Buick 41.jpg

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My area of expertise is 1937 and 1938 but I would expect it to be the same for 1941. It is not that 40 series Buicks used Chevrolet bodies. It is that the 40 Series Buick used the same Fisher body as the same year Chevrolet. I think you will find the bodies to be identical between Chevrolet and Buick, but it is not a Buick or a Chevrolet body... it is a Fisher body. 

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Although the body shells were the same, the fenders were still Buick fenders. Use Buick fender skirts for your '41 Special model 44. Make sure you look carefully at the skirts when you buy them--note the flat rear edge, the length, and how they echo the shape of the fender itself. A lot of guys try to pass off earlier skirts or generic "teardrop" skirts as '41 Buick skirts, but they are not shaped the same and don't look right.

 

Correct: 

 

1941buicksupersportscp022812.jpg

 

Incorrect:

 

maxresdefault.jpg

 

1941-buick-series-40-sedanette-5.jpg

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3 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

Although the body shells were the same, the fenders were still Buick fenders. Use Buick fender skirts for your '41 Special model 44. Make sure you look carefully at the skirts when you buy them--note the flat rear edge, the length, and how they echo the shape of the fender itself. A lot of guys try to pass off earlier skirts or generic "teardrop" skirts as '41 Buick skirts, but they are not shaped the same and don't look right.

 

Correct: 

 

1941buicksupersportscp022812.jpg

 

Incorrect:

 

maxresdefault.jpg

 

1941-buick-series-40-sedanette-5.jpg

Many thanks Matt. I do prefer the Buick skirts (even though off the car I think the Chevrolet ones look a nicer shape). They change completely once on the car. Unfortunately it seems the Buick skirts are extremely expensive.

Edited by Grant Z (see edit history)
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4 hours ago, MCHinson said:

My area of expertise is 1937 and 1938 but I would expect it to be the same for 1941. It is not that 40 series Buicks used Chevrolet bodies. It is that the 40 Series Buick used the same Fisher body as the same year Chevrolet. I think you will find the bodies to be identical between Chevrolet and Buick, but it is not a Buick or a Chevrolet body... it is a Fisher body. 

Many thanks for you time Matthew. On the website (http://www.harwoodperformance.bizland.com/1941buick/1941_buick_buyers_Guide_2.htm) the following words are interesting - '

IMPORTANT NOTE: Sometime in early 1941, Buick decided to build a smaller Special series based on a 118-inch wheelbase and using Chevrolet bodies. These are referred to as “A-Series Specials” and are the only Series in 1941 to use the _4 (mine a Model 44 making it one of these) and _7 model number designations. These A-Series Specials featured traditional trunks unlike the regular production Specials (B-Series, using the standard  _1 and _6 designations) which were all of fastback or “torpedo” design. Station wagons were only available on the 121-inch wheelbase B-Series Special chassis.'

This clearly states "Chevrolet bodies' were used just in the '41 A-Series Specials (of which my car is one).

 

Do you understand the difference to Series 40A & 40B (see image below)? The 40A (Special) obviously has a wider body, longer wheelbase & heavier body than the 40B (also a Special). So there are 2 different 1941 Special 'bodies'. I trust you know much more than me however if the information above is correct it does cast doubt it seems. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding something? Also, I've heard of Fisher bodies many times over the years, but don't understand exactly what they are. Can you explain please?

Screenshot_2018-12-10 General Specifications.png

Edited by Grant Z (see edit history)
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Hi Grant,

if interested in further research, “Seventy Years of Buick” by George H Dammann and “The Buick - A Complete History” by Dunham and Gustin are two worthwhile publications. They give excellent background to the Buick years and models produced, along with photos, specifications and overall history. There are other publications as well that all enhance and add to the story, however these two seem to cover most of it.

 

First two pics are from “Seventy Years of Buick”, the second from “A Complete History”

 

There is is also an excellent article in one of the Automobile Quarterly publications giving a condensed version of the Prewar Buick years. 

 

I do have a copy of the “Seventy Years of Buick” for sale and possibly the Automobile Quarterly book, as a result of purchasing a couple of collections  recently. Let me know if you are interested.

Rodney 😀😀😀😀😀

 

 

5DA43F08-8634-485E-BA11-2AE308B52C80.jpeg

905B5CF3-36D8-45B2-9F41-F579E0107E53.jpeg

B5355BAD-60AE-4782-9026-D13FB6303F49.jpeg

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8 hours ago, Grant Z said:

Many thanks for you time Matthew. On the website (http://www.harwoodperformance.bizland.com/1941buick/1941_buick_buyers_Guide_2.htm) the following words are interesting - '

IMPORTANT NOTE: Sometime in early 1941, Buick decided to build a smaller Special series based on a 118-inch wheelbase and using Chevrolet bodies. These are referred to as “A-Series Specials” and are the only Series in 1941 to use the _4 (mine a Model 44 making it one of these) and _7 model number designations. These A-Series Specials featured traditional trunks unlike the regular production Specials (B-Series, using the standard  _1 and _6 designations) which were all of fastback or “torpedo” design. Station wagons were only available on the 121-inch wheelbase B-Series Special chassis.'

This clearly states "Chevrolet bodies' were used just in the '41 A-Series Specials (of which my car is one).

 

Do you understand the difference to Series 40A & 40B (see image below)? The 40A (Special) obviously has a wider body, longer wheelbase & heavier body than the 40B (also a Special). So there are 2 different 1941 Special 'bodies'. I trust you know much more than me however if the information above is correct it does cast doubt it seems. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding something? Also, I've heard of Fisher bodies many times over the years, but don't understand exactly what they are. Can you explain please?

Screenshot_2018-12-10 General Specifications.png

 

That's actually my website you're quoting. Matt Hinson is correct and maybe I should have been a little more clear on my website. Fisher made all the bodies for GM production cars, and when Buick needed a smaller Special, they used the same body shell as the Chevrolet bodies, which were all made by Fisher. It isn't that Buick took Chevrolet bodies off the Chevrolet assembly line and stuck them on a Buick chassis, they simply told Fisher to make for them the same bodies but with a few modifications for Buick purposes--I must assume that things like punching holes for the unique Buick trim would have been done on the Fisher line rather than by the guys on the Buick assembly line. 


So technically, yes, it's a Chevrolet body, but only in the sense that Fisher Body was already making this body shell for Chevrolet and Buick asked Fisher to make one for their purposes as well. Does that make sense? 

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Muddy the waters some more!  

  Page 229, The buick A Complete History,  reads    "  And on February 3rd, 1941, there were four new Special models designated Series 40-A. They were on a shorter  [ by three inches ] 118 inch wheelbase and used bodies that Curtice talked Chevrolet into providing him." 

 

  Ben

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39 minutes ago, Rooster said:

Is that car RHD ? Looks like it or my seeing eye dog glasses need upgrading.   If it is, that's a rare car here in that format -- good pick up.   😎

RHD. More here-->https://forums.aaca.org/topic/274517-favorite-pictures-of-my-pre-war-buick/?do=findComment&comment=1786282

May be 1 of a (unmatched ) pair formally owned by brothers in Victoria

 

Edited by 1939_Buick (see edit history)
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Thanks Ben Bruce for your information. It helps to make things clearer.

 

Many thanks Matt re the explanation on Fisher Bodies. That makes more sense to me now.

 

Yes Rooster, my Buick is RHD but was converted in 1989 by the gentleman who imported it that same year (Dale Collins). He was a Marine Engineer (now retired) who sourced an Australian 1946 Buick (they use a 1941 RHD dash), and he used the RHD steering also. I've got to know him and he's very helpful & knowledgeable. He currently drives 2 stunning cars (1941 Packard 120 coupe & 1946 Ford Convertible). He sold the car within 6 months (in 1989) to Jack Provan who stopped him in the street one day insisting he buy the car. Jack's brother David also owned a 1941 Buick Super Sport Coupe (Model 56S),

 

so yes 1939_Buick you are correct when you say ..

On 12/11/2018 at 9:31 AM, 1939_Buick said:

May be 1 of a (unmatched ) pair formally owned by brothers in Victoria

I believe Jack's brother David's car is 2-tone (grey & silver) and is around the Bendigo (Victoria) area now. Anyway, Jack Provan died in 2007 and left the car to his (then) 16yo grandson Jack Drewitt. He is now 27 and put the car up for sale on Carsales.com and I purchased it in early August this year.

 

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There was another discussion here about the fender skirts and you will note from some of the reference photos,  that chrome spear on the rear fender is probably in the way of fender skirts,  the fender skirt has the spear in the photos.

That only seems to open more questions.

 

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3 minutes ago, Barney Eaton said:

There was another discussion here about the fender skirts and you will note from some of the reference photos,  that chrome spear on the rear fender is probably in the way of fender skirts,  the fender skirt has the spear in the photos.

That only seems to open more questions.

 

 

Barney, those fender spears are a source of seemingly endless debate. It appears that if the skirts were factory-installed, as on the 90 Series and possibly on all convertibles, then you would get the little stainless trim piece on the bottom of the rubber stone guard and 24-inch spears and the fenders themselves would probably not have mounting holes punched in them (I have an NOS rear fender for B-series Special/Century/Limited with no mounting holes). If the skirts were dealer-installed or installed at some point after the car was built, then it's anyone's guess. Dealers would typically remove the fender spear, which in most cases was a shorter 21-inch piece, and simply reinstall it on the skirt. They may or may not have installed the little trim piece on the stone guard, I don't know if it was part of the fender skirt package the dealers received. I doubt many filled the mounting holes on the fender, as they would be covered by the skirt.You'll also note the skirts use unique stainless trim on the lower edge which is essentially a continuation of the trim on the rockers, and I have to believe that this trim came with the skirt.

 

There is some debate as to which rear fender spears were used where. Some say that the longer spears were early production but they were prone to breakage, so they switched to the shorter spears. Others claim the long spears were used on factory-installed fender skirts only, since they don't conform to the contours of the fender very well, only the somewhat flatter skirts' radius. Others say it was just completely random, and stories of cars with one size spear on one side and the other size on the opposite side persist although I think it's unlikely. My opinion--and that's all it is--is that the long ones were for the skirts because they don't fit very well on the fenders and the rearmost tips can stand proud of the fender surface, which they don't do on the skirts.

 

It is also likely that in the intervening years, the spears have been mixed and matched so frequently that it's all academic now--who is really going to measure the spears at a show and determine whether they're correct? My '41 Limited has the shorter spears on its skirts, and while I have a set of longer ones, I'm saving those for the Century, on which I have not yet decided whether I want skirts. I'll have to decide before I do bodywork, since the holes in one of the fenders will either have to be filled or drilled (I have one original fender with holes and that NOS fender without any holes). I will say that I think it's very unlikely that the longer spears would fit on the shorter A-Series Special rear fenders, but they should work just fine on the skirts. I also think it's unnecessary to use the longer spears on skirts, particularly since they're difficult to find and expensive when you do find them. Since there's no consensus on which spears should be where, there isn't any right or wrong choice.

 

To make it even more confounding, there are some who say that there are several different skirts, one type to fit B-Series Special/Century/Limited, a different type for Super/Roadmaster, and perhaps even a third type for A-Series Special. I don't know for certain, but I tend to believe that they were all the same and my conversations with '41 Buick expert Doug Seybold seem to confirm that all '41 Buick skirts are the same. He says he has never found a skirt that couldn't be interchanged between cars, but maybe the differences are so subtle that we find it acceptable today. I don't really know.

 

I found this photo of a Model 44C (sorry, I couldn't find any coupes like Grant's 44/44S with skirts) that shows the correct stainless trim piece on the stone guard, proper stainless lower trim, and what appears to be the short 21-inch fender spear. You'll note the rear fender itself is a bit shorter than the other '41 Buicks so the profile of the skirt doesn't match exactly, but it does fit and this is correct. You can see how much less fender is visible behind the skirt on the yellow car below versus the gray Super coupe, above. I'm not sure I love the look on the shorter wheelbase car (I'm not typically a fan of skirts in any regard, so take that with a grain of salt), but they do dress it up and were quite possibly standard equipment on convertibles, depending on who you ask.

 

buick_special_convertible_28.jpeg

 

Does that help or make things horribly confusing? I can't tell anymore. Do whatever looks right to you and you'll be happy, that's always my advice.

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Many thanks Matt for your very informative comments. Yes there is much confusion no doubt when someone like yourself isn't sure and the passing of time makes it very difficult to verify.

 

I assume you would agree that my fender spears appear to be the long versions? If I decide to go with skirts, I may get a very talented friend to style up and hand-make me some. That way they will fit and can be made to match the fender spear shape also. I doubt this would be more expensive than buying some in the USA and shipping them here to Australia (remember the Aussie dollar is only worth 72.2 US cents). Shipping is cheap though as I have friends who import so can come in a shipping container. Thanks again Matt!

Cheers Grant

buick fender spear.png

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  • 8 months later...
On 12/11/2018 at 9:31 AM, 1939_Buick said:

RHD. More here-->https://forums.aaca.org/topic/274517-favorite-pictures-of-my-pre-war-buick/?do=findComment&comment=1786282

May be 1 of a (unmatched ) pair formally owned by brothers in Victoria

 

Hi I just stumbled across this old conversation we had re my car. I've now made contact with the owner of the other brother's (David Provan) car. The current owner is Geoff Pollard and he lives near Harcourt, Victoria. I went to his home and saw the car about 3 months ago. A lovely man, and very nice car. I intend to drive my car to his home (640km) next year and photograph them both together.

 

Here is photo of David Provan's car (now owned by Geoff Pollard who is next to the car).

Geoff Pollard 1941 Buick.jpg

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  • 1 year later...
On 12/10/2018 at 12:58 PM, MCHinson said:

My area of expertise is 1937 and 1938 but I would expect it to be the same for 1941. It is not that 40 series Buicks used Chevrolet bodies. It is that the 40 Series Buick used the same Fisher body as the same year Chevrolet. I think you will find the bodies to be identical between Chevrolet and Buick, but it is not a Buick or a Chevrolet body... it is a Fisher body. 

Hi Matt, nearly 3 years later I'm going over this information after a Facebook disagreement regarding my 1941 Series-A Special Business Coupe having a Fisher/Chevrolet body.

You say above that you think the bodies to be identical between Chevrolet & Buick. However, my body is definitely different to my friend Geoff Pollard's 1941 Super Sport Coupe (model 56S). Geoff lives 400 miles (640km) from me but in March 2020 I went for a 1,300 miles (2,100km) 11-day journey in my Buick and visited him to park our 2 cars side by side. There were significant differences. His doors, rear fenders & trunk were all longer (we measured them). For the trunk see the attached photo where the top of the trunk of Geoff's silver car flows back quite a way before dropping towards the bumper. My car however starts to curve downward almost immediately. Also look at the differences in the 'shape' of the rear portion of our rear fenders (near the bumper).

 

This shows clearly that my body certainly differs from the Fisher/Buick body. Matt Harwood's site also shows clearly that the wheelbase & overall length of different dimensions (3" & 2-3/4" respectively).

2020 03 13 3.jpg

Edited by Grant Z (see edit history)
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The 'A' 1941 Buick body has parts that interchange with Chevrolet bodies as stated in The Hollander Interchange manual, called the 'bible' of interchange for used parts sellers, translation junkyards. Also stated in the back area of Buick body service manual of that era along with other GM body parts interchange listings. When I studied these books, my motivation was to try and broaden the vehicles I could search for parts that interchanged with my 1940 Super convrt. Easier to buy parts for my '40 Super cpe that applied to both rather than put Dollar signs in the eyes of sellers asking do you have_____part for convert? It's a Buick using some sheetmetal also used by Chevrolet. Jealous Chev owners never had the factory option of enjoying 2 extra cylinders, more torque, coil springs all four corners for that smooth Buick ride. Hooray for Buick for making such an affordable alternative for Chevy owners to upgrade to!

Edited by 2carb40 (see edit history)
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On 9/10/2021 at 5:24 AM, Grant Z said:

However, my body is definitely different to my friend Geoff Pollard's 1941 Super Sport Coupe (model 56S)

 

Yes, the Super has the "C" body which is different than either of the bodies used on the Special.  So that fact that the Super has a different body doesn't really answer your initial question about the comparison between the Chevy body and the Buick Special "A" body.

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10 hours ago, neil morse said:

 

Yes, the Super has the "C" body which is different than either of the bodies used on the Special.  So that fact that the Super has a different body doesn't really answer your initial question about the comparison between the Chevy body and the Buick Special "A" body.

Hi Neil, I've heard about there being a "C" body, but didn't know what than meant. Man this is confusing! So am I incorrect in thinking my body shell (firewall to trunk) is the same as a 1941 Chevy?

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No, you are misunderstanding me.  I'm saying that in 1941, the Buick Super and Roadmaster used the General Motors (Fisher) new "C" body.  This body was also used by Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Cadillac.  The 1941 Buick Special used either the "A" body (shared with Chevrolet -- your car) or the "B" body.  So all I'm saying is that your comparison of a '41 Special to a '41 Super is "apples to oranges."  The Super simply had a different body than the Special, so you are not shedding any light on the Chevy/Buick question by comparing your car to a Super.

 

Your car is obviously an "A" bodied Buick that shared a body with the Chevy on the 118" wheelbase.  As I understand it, it is not "exactly" the same as a Chevy from firewall to trunk because it used Buick fenders (see Matt Harwood's post earlier in this thread).  This thread seems to meander a bit into questions about fender skirts and whether the "A" body was a "Fisher body" or a "Chevrolet body," but I don't think anyone has ever questioned that your car has the "A" body, and therefore "the body shell (firewall to trunk) is the same as a '41 Chevy."  I don't think it's really that confusing.  Does that help?

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4 hours ago, neil morse said:

No, you are misunderstanding me.  I'm saying that in 1941, the Buick Super and Roadmaster used the General Motors (Fisher) new "C" body.  This body was also used by Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Cadillac.  The 1941 Buick Special used either the "A" body (shared with Chevrolet -- your car) or the "B" body.  So all I'm saying is that your comparison of a '41 Special to a '41 Super is "apples to oranges."  The Super simply had a different body than the Special, so you are not shedding any light on the Chevy/Buick question by comparing your car to a Super.

 

Your car is obviously an "A" bodied Buick that shared a body with the Chevy on the 118" wheelbase.  As I understand it, it is not "exactly" the same as a Chevy from firewall to trunk because it used Buick fenders (see Matt Harwood's post earlier in this thread).  This thread seems to meander a bit into questions about fender skirts and whether the "A" body was a "Fisher body" or a "Chevrolet body," but I don't think anyone has ever questioned that your car has the "A" body, and therefore "the body shell (firewall to trunk) is the same as a '41 Chevy."  I don't think it's really that confusing.  Does that help?

Many thanks Neil for that explanation. I'm sorry for the confusion, it's just that I'm trying to understand and am very happy to be corrected.

 

However, I thought that what I wrote makes it clear that I do already understand that my body is different to the Super (my friend Geoff Pollard's 56S). I mentioned the difference in the length of the doors, fenders & trunk (and even show my photo to prove the different rear ends). This shows that I KNOW my body is different. So I'm confused when you suggest I perhaps shouldn't compare "apples to oranges". Why not? I made comparisons BECAUSE I wanted to establish that I have had proved to myself they are different. Remember I live in Australia where these cars are rare and knowledge of them is rare. This is also my first Buick and my first prewar car. I want to learn and understand properly.

 

Perhaps I should state that what I'm trying to establish is; did Buick go to Fisher and say "can we have some of those bodies you're producing for Chevrolet so we can produce an inexpensive entry-level Buick?" If so, I assume there Fisher may have had to modify the firewall & cowl area to adapt make the Buick hood & front fenders mate up. This is the crux of what I'm trying to establish. Am I barking up the wrong tree here? Perhaps there is something fundamentally flawed in what I'm saying?

 

I also now understand there were 2 bodies extra to the A-body (B-body & C-body). Is it also possible to explain the difference between the B & C Bodies, and why were these 2 bodies produced instead of just 1.

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Of course you are correct, Grant.  If you want to compare an apple to an orange to show that you know they are different, why not?  😄

 

5 hours ago, Grant Z said:

Perhaps I should state that what I'm trying to establish is; did Buick go to Fisher and say "can we have some of those bodies you're producing for Chevrolet so we can produce an inexpensive entry-level Buick?" If so, I assume there Fisher may have had to modify the firewall & cowl area to adapt make the Buick hood & front fenders mate up. This is the crux of what I'm trying to establish. Am I barking up the wrong tree here? Perhaps there is something fundamentally flawed in what I'm saying?

 

Thank you for stating what you are trying to establish.  My understanding is that the answer to the first question you pose is "Yes."  Buick went to Fisher and asked for some of the Chevy "A" bodies to use to make a less expensive entry-level Buick Special.  (Although some on this thread have argued that Buick got the bodies from Chevrolet instead of from Fisher -- which I gather is irrelevant to what you are interested in.)  Now, if I'm following you correctly, we come to your second question, "the crux of what you are trying to establish," which is whether the bodies then had to be modified to make the Buick hood and front fenders mate up or whether the Buick front clip fit on the Chevy body without any modification.  And I'm afraid I don't know the answer to that.  I don't think you are barking up the wrong tree or that anything you are saying is fundamentally flawed -- you are just asking a question.   Maybe someone who is following this discussion knows the answer.

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