KBEngineer

1938 Buick RM Streamline Phaeton 80C (RHD) Restoration

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Hi All, 

I am restoring a 1938 RM Streamline Phaeton 80C (RHD), this car was restored earlier by someone else but sadly it wasn't restored to well!! They have got all the proportions on the fenders, boot lid, and many other body contours totally wrong. As we don't have another similar 80C around for reference we are relying on manuals and photos, but i am not finding the info i have been looking for. 

So my starting point is to look for used fenders for the car. It would be great if you guys could help me with some information. Someone on Ebay is selling 4 fenders that have come off a 1938 Buick Century which look identical to the 80c's. Were the fenders same on both the Series 80 as well as the Century? As the wheel base is different on both the cars, being 122 inches on the Century and 133 inches on 80C. I have attached some pictures, you can clearly see the fender arches out of proportion, and the left rear fender is literally an inch shorter than the right one... 

PHOTO-2019-04-16-17-36-18.jpg

PHOTO-2019-04-16-17-36-19.jpg

PHOTO-2019-04-16-17-36-20.jpg

PHOTO-2019-04-16-17-36-21.jpg

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Fairly hard for me to see what you are talking about from the photos you sent. What I can comment on is that the face plates for the covers for the sides of the spare tires are not correct, the center posts between the front and rear door that the windows slide up and down into should be plated not painted. Dashboard wood grained and not painted. If the car was sold new in England it was sold by the importers and English representatives for Buick in the UK ,  Lendrum and Hartman who issued their own sales catalog for England beyond the one printed in the USA for potential  customers . this post may be better in the Buick section. Many knowledgeable Buick people there and I also suggest you join the Buick Club of America that have excellent technical advisors who can most likely answer many of the questions you may have.

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I don't know how they would have possibly screwed up the proportions. The fenders, hood, doors, and deck lid either fit or they don't. I can't imagine someone took the fenders from a smaller car and somehow managed to force them onto the Roadmaster. The proportions do not look wrong to me--maybe the rear fender is a little too square on the trailing edge? I guess it's possible that the fenders were smashed and when they were restored they didn't get the contours exactly right--it's still not glaringly obvious. Have you stripped any paint to see what's going on underneath?

 

Hopefully Brian with a similar fully restored Buick 80C will chime in, but aside from the details that Walt notes, I don't see anything significantly wrong with the shape or proportions of the car itself. Compare it to another one:

12975615-1938-buick-series-80c-roadmaster-std_f.jpg

 

I tried a little Photoshop experiment for you and even though the shots aren't quite from the same angle, the important parts seem to be pretty much the same shape (fenders, hood, tail):

 

Superimpose.jpg.740814486863468edb8f66cc120dfbfb.jpg

 

What are we missing? Is it perhaps a terminology thing? Are you talking about panel fit rather than proportions or shape? More information could be helpful, but I think you've got a beatufiul and highly desirable car that is arguably one of the best-driving cars of the 1930s. It'll be spectacular when it's restored!

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33 minutes ago, Walt G said:

Fairly hard for me to see what you are talking about from the photos you sent. What I can comment on is that the face plates for the covers for the sides of the spare tires are not correct, the center posts between the front and rear door that the windows slide up and down into should be plated not painted. Dashboard wood grained and not painted. If the car was sold new in England it was sold by the importers and English representatives for Buick in the UK ,  Lendrum and Hartman who issued their own sales catalog for England beyond the one printed in the USA for potential  customers . this post may be better in the Buick section. Many knowledgeable Buick people there and I also suggest you join the Buick Club of America that have excellent technical advisors who can most likely answer many of the questions you may have.

I really appreciate your comments which I have no doubt in my mind are 100% accurate for Flint production.    I suspect this RHD car may have come from the McLaughlin-Buick plant in Oshawa, especially if it was destined for the UK.  Now I don't proclaim to know all the differences between Buicks and McLaughlin-Buicks coming from the separate plants, if there are any, but it is often the case there will be some differences including trim parts being finished differently. 

 

Craig

 

 

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Thanks Craig. I have the British issued ( and printed ) Buick sales catalogs for 1936 thru 1939 and there may be some very slight difference in images, but not many, that is what I was basing my comments on. If there was any significant changes these were mentioned in the souvenir motor show catalogs that were issued for the annual London new car shows. I have a run of those as well from about 1920 thru 1939.

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Welcome to the AACA Discussion Forum. I too am not quite sure what you think is wrong about the current fenders other than the rear contour of the rear fender, but the quick answer is, No the Century fenders on ebay will NOT fit on your 80C. I would also suggest you scroll down a bit to the Buick Pre-War Forum where you will probably find the most experts on this era of Buick available. I would also recommend you check out the 36-38 Buick Club at http://www.3638buickclub.org. Membership in that club would probably be a good idea for you. Also the best source of any parts for 1936-1941 Buicks is Dave Tacheny. You can best reach him between 4 and 7 pm Central Time by phone at 763-427-3460.

 

  

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The folks with probably the best info are with the Buick Heritage Alliance literature collection.  Much of it resides at the AACA Library in Hershey.  They now own the McLaughlin collection as well.

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2 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

I don't know how they would have possibly screwed up the proportions. The fenders, hood, doors, and deck lid either fit or they don't. I can't imagine someone took the fenders from a smaller car and somehow managed to force them onto the Roadmaster. The proportions do not look wrong to me--maybe the rear fender is a little too square on the trailing edge? I guess it's possible that the fenders were smashed and when they were restored they didn't get the contours exactly right--it's still not glaringly obvious. Have you stripped any paint to see what's going on underneath?

 

Hopefully Brian with a similar fully restored Buick 80C will chime in, but aside from the details that Walt notes, I don't see anything significantly wrong with the shape or proportions of the car itself. Compare it to another one:

12975615-1938-buick-series-80c-roadmaster-std_f.jpg

 

I tried a little Photoshop experiment for you and even though the shots aren't quite from the same angle, the important parts seem to be pretty much the same shape (fenders, hood, tail):

 

Superimpose.jpg.740814486863468edb8f66cc120dfbfb.jpg

 

What are we missing? Is it perhaps a terminology thing? Are you talking about panel fit rather than proportions or shape? More information could be helpful, but I think you've got a beatufiul and highly desirable car that is arguably one of the best-driving cars of the 1930s. It'll be spectacular when it's restored!

 

Thank you Matt for your input, but up close the car is not what it looks like in the pictures. You are correct this is apparently one of 24 or 26 RHD cars built. The car was not damaged but very extensively corroded.

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2 hours ago, MCHinson said:

Welcome to the AACA Discussion Forum. I too am not quite sure what you think is wrong about the current fenders other than the rear contour of the rear fender, but the quick answer is, No the Century fenders on ebay will NOT fit on your 80C. I would also suggest you scroll down a bit to the Buick Pre-War Forum where you will probably find the most experts on this era of Buick available. I would also recommend you check out the 36-38 Buick Club at http://www.3638buickclub.org. Membership in that club would probably be a good idea for you. Also the best source of any parts for 1936-1941 Buicks is Dave Tacheny. You can best reach him between 4 and 7 pm Central Time by phone at 763-427-3460.

 

  

Oh ok then i will let those pass & thank you for Dave's contact, i will look up the forums and chat with them.

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3 hours ago, Walt G said:

Fairly hard for me to see what you are talking about from the photos you sent. What I can comment on is that the face plates for the covers for the sides of the spare tires are not correct, the center posts between the front and rear door that the windows slide up and down into should be plated not painted. Dashboard wood grained and not painted. If the car was sold new in England it was sold by the importers and English representatives for Buick in the UK ,  Lendrum and Hartman who issued their own sales catalog for England beyond the one printed in the USA for potential  customers . this post may be better in the Buick section. Many knowledgeable Buick people there and I also suggest you join the Buick Club of America that have excellent technical advisors who can most likely answer many of the questions you may have.

As i mentioned to Matt up close the car looks nothing like it does in the pictures. Will try and upload more detailed pictures later. This car was sold new in India, its being restored in Mumbai. I will look up the Buick section on this forum. Many thanks for you input Walt.

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I always try to share whatever period information I may have with anyone I can. If period information and images are available from the start it just makes binging the car back from its current state to the way it was when it was new a little easier perhaps and save having to "redo" things that you thought were "right" the first time but in fact weren't.  I am not one to hoard information, never was, never will be, and I also do not consider myself an "expert" on anything like more and more people seem to think they are. We always can learn something no matter how old we may be. I have been very fortunate in that I have had some outstanding friends who always were there to share and answer questions for me ( Henry Austin Clark Jr., and from England ,Michael Sedgwick and Peter Moore  instantly come to mind) , now it is my turn to "carry on" as Winston Churchill used to say. It's all good and yes we are all a bit crazy! 

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Posted (edited)

KBEngineer,

Welcome and gorgeous car. As Matt eluded to I'm the 38-80C "expert" (as evidenced by my forum handle) and keep a registry of the 20-25 or so know to exist. Yours is one I did NOT know existed previously. Right hand drive and possible McLaughlin would make it very very unique and rare.

 

As for the proportion some IS in fact not quite right, but i cannot tell from the photos exactly the problem, however the sidemount spare is sitting much too high relative to the rest of the car. The side mount on a RM should NOT be higher than the belt-line/hood-side molding. It does look as though you have some gap between the rear of the fender and the running board, more than normal, BUT the running board at the back fender is considerably wrong. I suspect you do NOT have factory running boards.

 

After studying the photo a bit more I do believe your fender (passenger side at least) is correct for the car. The rear most section lines up correctly with the front door to cowl gap and the size and shape of the fender well is correct for a RM. All else proportionally looks correct for the fender, though my comments on the side mount itself stand. 

 

Whatever measurements, dimensions, photos, parts assistance, etc, etc, you need please simply let me know . I will PM you my contact info. I want you know that anything RM or worse yet 80C specific is rare and probably has to be made from scratch.

 

Of note other non-authentic or at least shall we say non US 80C things I see

1. rear Buick emblem is off a '35 or so. The correct one can be purchased here: https://www.ebay.com/itm/1938-Buick-Roadmaster-models-80C-87-Trunk-script-ornament-emblem/301058544580?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649 note however it is missing the mounting studs. These are rare as they only fit about 900 cars ( total production of 80C and 87 series Buicks for the year). I have never seen a creased (that's the difference due to the crease in the deck lid) one with McLaughlin Buick on it, but i have seen non creased versions with McLaughlin Buick, so one would think it may exist.

 

2. The "B-post" window divider is either missing pieces or entirely incorrect as there seems to be a large bump out on the bottom that isnt on the US models and the top is missing the connection "spar" (I'm sure there is a more proper term) to connect the post to the top via a  butterfly screw/bolt thing (that is reproduced). As noted they should be chrome but only the middle section, the outer section of the outer side is painted as is the inner side.

 

3. The wheels could be McLaughlin specific? the gaps in the rear ones in particular catch the eye as not like the US car. Are they 6 bolt? I know that McLaughlin Buick Specials of the same year had 6 bolt wheels compared to the US 5 bolt.

 

4. You're missing the rope on the back of the seat. These are EXCEEDINGLY rare as i am looking for one for my Model 87 and the mounting hardware is RM only ( possibly Limited too). You and I may have to have a set cast each from molds of my existing hardware. The chain itself between the hardware is of course nothing special and covered in leather. Hard to see but you may also be missing the foot rest which should be the same for all series for 38 with only the rod in between a different width. thus easy to repro.

 

5. The dash and steering is missing a few items, but none that i see are particularly rare or not produced.

 

6. Finally something is a bit off on your convertible top bow( the thin one visible in the one photo)  the irons seem to be correct, this bow however seems to be in the wrong location or something is just not right

 

Overall the car looks very complete in general and i look forward to seeing the progress on it.

 

 

Some comments on what others have said. No disrespect to the commenters just clarifying items

 

Walt G's comments:

1. the face plates for the side mounts seem to be fine. RM's don't have the emblem like the smaller series cause the side mounts sit down far into the wheel well so you wouldn't see them. Aside from the whole assembly being a bit too high i see no issues with the covers.

2. Wood grain dash is the most commonly accepted correct finish ( in Mahogany for RM) , but there was a chevron pattern with a gold-ish tinted painted finish that is quite handsome on a 80C. I believe my 80C had this dash originally but it cannot be reproduced and thus i went with wood grain. Walt's point about white painted being incorrect stands.

 

Matt H.

1. That 80C you pulled actually had an issue with it's side mount covers as they were missing when a recent owner bought it at Hershey a few years back. Just FYI when doing a direct comparison as i never found out exactly what he did to get correct faces (appears he may have cut down small series ones as the badge should not be on the side-mount face. The rest of the car however is very well restored as i spent considerable time inspecting it at Hershey in the car corral. The gentlemen who bought it at Hershey couldn't get it running to his satisfaction lost interests and sold the car.

 

8E45E: well said. there are some considerable differences between McLaughlin and US Buick for 38 though not copious. HOWEVER supposedly all 80C bodies were Flint produced. Chassis are another story. I agree this most likely is a McLaughlin Buick despite going to India, still a "British Empire" country thus probably came out of Canada.

 

 

Edited by 38Buick 80C (see edit history)
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Thank you Brian very much for the clarification. I knew there was something about the location and manufacture of USA vs Canada and it was the point about the bodies for the conv sedans 80C being produced in the USA and then as needed "exported" to be mounted on the Canadian built ./manufactured chassis. I have seen and read this else where or was told so by someone from Canada who was astute with that knowledge decades ago. I have a great interest in Buicks, belong to the BCA and the wonderful  long island, N.Y.  chapter. As of about 10 years ago the building in London where Lendrum & Hartman had their showroom pre war was still in existence but now was home to a women's clothes store. I made a point to check it out when I was there.  Since Lendrum & Hartman was such a huge presence in England and in Europe, I wonder if they were the coordinator for the import of Buicks for all of Europe and Asia?

I love conv. sedans, and have enjoyed a 1940 Roadmaster I own for many years, that except for a cosmetic redo about 45 years ago is all original with 49,000 original miles on it.

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4 hours ago, 38Buick 80C said:

KBEngineer,

Welcome and gorgeous car. As Matt eluded to I'm the 38-80C "expert" (as evidenced by my forum handle) and keep a registry of the 20-25 or so know to exist. Yours is one I did NOT know existed previously. Right hand drive and possible McLaughlin would make it very very unique and rare.

 

As for the proportion some IS in fact not quite right, but i cannot tell from the photos exactly the problem, however the sidemount spare is sitting much too high relative to the rest of the car. The side mount on a RM should NOT be higher than the belt-line/hood-side molding. It does look as though you have some gap between the rear of the fender and the running board, more than normal, BUT the running board at the back fender is considerably wrong. I suspect you do NOT have factory running boards.

 

After studying the photo a bit more I do believe your fender (passenger side at least) is correct for the car. The rear most section lines up correctly with the front door to cowl gap and the size and shape of the fender well is correct for a RM. All else proportionally looks correct for the fender, though my comments on the side mount itself stand. 

 

Whatever measurements, dimensions, photos, parts assistance, etc, etc, you need please simply let me know . I will PM you my contact info. I want you know that anything RM or worse yet 80C specific is rare and probably has to be made from scratch.

 

Of note other non-authentic or at least shall we say non US 80C things I see

1. rear Buick emblem is off a '35 or so. The correct one can be purchased here: https://www.ebay.com/itm/1938-Buick-Roadmaster-models-80C-87-Trunk-script-ornament-emblem/301058544580?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649 note however it is missing the mounting studs. These are rare as they only fit about 900 cars ( total production of 80C and 87 series Buicks for the year). I have never seen a creased (that's the difference due to the crease in the deck lid) one with McLaughlin Buick on it, but i have seen non creased versions with McLaughlin Buick, so one would think it may exist.

 

2. The "B-post" window divider is either missing pieces or entirely incorrect as there seems to be a large bump out on the bottom that isnt on the US models and the top is missing the connection "spar" (I'm sure there is a more proper term) to connect the post to the top via a  butterfly screw/bolt thing (that is reproduced). As noted they should be chrome but only the middle section, the outer section of the outer side is painted as is the inner side.

 

3. The wheels could be McLaughlin specific? the gaps in the rear ones in particular catch the eye as not like the US car. Are they 6 bolt? I know that McLaughlin Buick Specials of the same year had 6 bolt wheels compared to the US 5 bolt.

 

4. You're missing the rope on the back of the seat. These are EXCEEDINGLY rare as i am looking for one for my Model 87 and the mounting hardware is RM only ( possibly Limited too). You and I may have to have a set cast each from molds of my existing hardware. The chain itself between the hardware is of course nothing special and covered in leather. Hard to see but you may also be missing the foot rest which should be the same for all series for 38 with only the rod in between a different width. thus easy to repro.

 

5. The dash and steering is missing a few items, but none that i see are particularly rare or not produced.

 

6. Finally something is a bit off on your convertible top bow( the thin one visible in the one photo)  the irons seem to be correct, this bow however seems to be in the wrong location or something is just not right

 

Overall the car looks very complete in general and i look forward to seeing the progress on it.

 

 

Some comments on what others have said. No disrespect to the commenters just clarifying items

 

Walt G's comments:

1. the face plates for the side mounts seem to be fine. RM's don't have the emblem like the smaller series cause the side mounts sit down far into the wheel well so you wouldn't see them. Aside from the whole assembly being a bit too high i see no issues with the covers.

2. Wood grain dash is the most commonly accepted correct finish ( in Mahogany for RM) , but there was a chevron pattern with a gold-ish tinted painted finish that is quite handsome on a 80C. I believe my 80C had this dash originally but it cannot be reproduced and thus i went with wood grain. Walt's point about white painted being incorrect stands.

 

Matt H.

1. That 80C you pulled actually had an issue with it's side mount covers as they were missing when a recent owner bought it at Hershey a few years back. Just FYI when doing a direct comparison as i never found out exactly what he did to get correct faces (appears he may have cut down small series ones as the badge should not be on the side-mount face. The rest of the car however is very well restored as i spent considerable time inspecting it at Hershey in the car corral. The gentlemen who bought it at Hershey couldn't get it running to his satisfaction lost interests and sold the car.

 

8E45E: well said. there are some considerable differences between McLaughlin and US Buick for 38 though not copious. HOWEVER supposedly all 80C bodies were Flint produced. Chassis are another story. I agree this most likely is a McLaughlin Buick despite going to India, still a "British Empire" country thus probably came out of Canada.

 

 

 

Hey Brian, thank you for all the feed back, much appreciated. You are right on all the points about the 80C & your eye has caught a lot more than i expected. And especially with the limited photos i posted. We will be going thru a chassis off detailed restoration and am hoping to get her back to as she was new...to the best of my abilities and resources. Thank you for sharing your contact will PM in a bit.  

 

 

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Also the chrome (exterior) trim around the front window is missing...

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2 hours ago, KBEngineer said:

This is how far gone the body was before it was restored....

 

PHOTO-2019-05-01-16-08-59-3.jpg

 

 

A close up of that data plate would be interesting.

And the engine serial number.  Canadian engine start with W (Walkerville Ontario)

USA Flint & Canadian Buick's of this era have a different numbering method

 

I suspect when the metal was rebuilt it was not 100% to the original dimensions & shape

Seems to be several interesting large series Buick's of the 30's in India

 

 

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9 hours ago, 38Buick 80C said:

4. You're missing the rope on the back of the seat. These are EXCEEDINGLY rare as i am looking for one for my Model 87 and the mounting hardware is RM only ( possibly Limited too). You and I may have to have a set cast each from molds of my existing hardware. The chain itself between the hardware is of course nothing special and covered in leather. Hard to see but you may also be missing the foot rest which should be the same for all series for 38 with only the rod in between a different width. thus easy to repro.

 

5. The dash and steering is missing a few items, but none that i see are particularly rare or not produced.

 

2. Wood grain dash is the most commonly accepted correct finish ( in Mahogany for RM) , but there was a chevron pattern with a gold-ish tinted painted finish that is quite handsome on a 80C. I believe my 80C had this dash originally but it cannot be reproduced and thus i went with wood grain. Walt's point about white painted being incorrect stands.

 

8E45E: well said. there are some considerable differences between McLaughlin and US Buick for 38 though not copious. HOWEVER supposedly all 80C bodies were Flint produced. Chassis are another story. I agree this most likely is a McLaughlin Buick despite going to India, still a "British Empire" country thus probably came out of Canada.

 

 

Thank you for the history lesson. 

 

Did these bodies that were shipped from Flint to Oshawa come complete with interior?  Very often there was a 'Canadian Content' incentive in place for US-built cars that were assembled in Canada where local content would reduce import duties, or sometimes eliminate them entirely if there was enough 'Can-Con'.  The interior was very often an area one finds Canadian-sourced materials (sometimes with different patterns and levels of equipment from US) on Canadian-assembled vehicles. 

 

The British publication, Classic American did a writeup on a 1938 Buick not long ago, which was sold new in the UK with rhd.  I'll have to go back and review it to see what finish was on the dash.

 

Craig

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42 minutes ago, 8E45E said:

Did these bodies that were shipped from Flint to Oshawa come complete with interior? 

 

That I do not know. Just to complicate things more there is some evidence that 38-80C interiors were done by Fleetwood and not Fisher Body.

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1 hour ago, 8E45E said:

The interior was very often an area one finds Canadian-sourced materials (sometimes with different patterns and levels of equipment from US) on Canadian-assembled vehicles.

For 1939's S40 & S60 interior on Canadian built cars is different pattern to USA Fisher.  Most noticeable on the door cards. Do not know about the larger series.

And Australian built Buick's, with a local Holden body, use the Canadian interior pattern. But the interior would be Au made to increase the local manufactured content

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A bit of an advanced restoration. I often get a bit of a chuckle as I see cars on the forum that in general are considered too far gone for restoration.  But the efforts on this Buick amaze even me. 

 I have been involved with British sports cars for many years, and have seen a few truly heroic restorations on very deteriorated cars. E types in shopping baskets , Astons in wheelbarrows. 

Through necessity, many old car enthusiasts outside of the U.S. have had to take on some really desperate cases.  

Remarkable work!

 

Greg in Canada

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On 3 August 2019 at 5:53 AM, 1912Staver said:

A bit of an advanced restoration. I often get a bit of a chuckle as I see cars on the forum that in general are considered too far gone for restoration.  But the efforts on this Buick amaze even me. 

 I have been involved with British sports cars for many years, and have seen a few truly heroic restorations on very deteriorated cars. E types in shopping baskets , Astons in wheelbarrows. 

Through necessity, many old car enthusiasts outside of the U.S. have had to take on some really desperate cases.  

Remarkable work!

 

Greg in Canada

Hi Greg, 

 

  This is just one of the many cars that have been resurrected literally from dust, as most of these cars were just left to rot and no one cared. In India now people have realised what they have and are trying to preserve our heritage(cars). These cars were mostly bought by Maharaj's, rich states and the elite back in the day. As the states lost their powers to the new formed government post independence, they could not afford to maintain them and keep them running. Including their palaces, art, jewellery etc. and eventually selling everything. 

 

We recently had found a skeleton of a 1947 Bristol 400 lying around in Mumbai and bought it back to life, we imported parts from all over the world Australia, England etc. And bought her back to its former glory.  Do check the link posted below. 

 

https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/vintage-cars-classics-india/184111-1948-bristol-400-resurrection-against-all-odds.html

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Posted (edited)

I am quite pleased to see the work done on this car.  I had always thought my convertible was a long shot when I started.  Many said I had lost my marbles when i bought it home.

 

No comparison to the work that was done on your car

D5B235E4-EC33-4AA4-99FB-BEDC4BD05961.jpeg

Edited by jackofalltrades70 (see edit history)

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Posted (edited)

Amazing job on the Bristol !  I have seen a few very far gone vehicles come back to life but your effort has to be the most "hopeless " starting point that ended in success I have seen.  And most of the other restorations had a decent example available close at hand to provide a template for the restoration case. Just amazing !

 Bristol's are very special cars. The Bristol world is in your debt. 

  The one advantage hand built and semi - hand built cars have is that if it could be done by skilled craftsman at the factory it can be done by skilled craftsman during a restoration.  Mass produced vehicles use large ,press stamped panels and chassis components  that are usually more difficult to fabricate and repair by hand {example, the troubles with your Buick}.  On the other hand it is often easier to source better condition pieces from another example.

 On something like your Bristol even the frame is most likely fabricated from comparitively basic steel shapes without the large pressed members that are found in a mass produced style frame. Still a very large job , but something that can be tackled with skill and relatively standard fabricating equipment.

You and your restoration people are an inspiration !

 

Greg in Canada

 

 

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)

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