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Reproduction 1941 Fender Skirts


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Hi all, as I live in Australia and have little hope of inspecting a set of 2nd hand 1941 Buick fender skirts before purchasing, I commissioned my good friend Adam Bakurski (from Rollin Relics, a 1-man restoration shop here in suburban Adelaide, South Australia) to fabricate a set for me. I wanted to share these with you as I'm pretty pleased.

 

My goals for these fender skirts were;

  • to have steel fender skirts styled to look perfect (even if they didn't perfectly replicate the original factory design).
  • They must incorporate the original 21-inch fender skirt ornaments which would be removed from my rear fenders.
  • Replicate the stainless trim (in aluminum) which decorates the lowest edge of the skirt and is an extension of the stainless sill-panel molding.

 

Adam & I created a pattern which followed the shape of the rear fender - which we believe is important. Adam then formed a set of skirts which we decided were too 'flat' (see unfinished photo) and were unable to take up the 'curve' in the 21-inch ornament. We decided that the skirt needed to be more 'bubbled' and then to weld in a special custom insert piece that the ornament sat on. This would take up the remainder of the curve in the ornament that the skirt was unable to do so. This piece must look as though it was pressed into the skirt from the rear as if the factory could have produced this (see photo).

 

Adam then fabricated the mechanism to hold the skirts firmly to the vehicle with no chance of them coming off. He tried various ideas, but finally replicated the mechanism that most (if not all) skirts are produced with. He also welded tabs on the bottom-front & bottom-rear edges to enable a screw to secure each end of the skirt to the bottom of the rear fender (in front of and behind the wheel arch). A threaded stud was also welded inside the rear part of the skirt to support the overhang not supported by the locking mechanism around the wheel-arch. This stud utilised one of the existing holes which secured the ornament on the rear fender before it was removed.

 

The aluminum lower trim along the bottom of the skirt was made from aluminum bar-stock and machined to replicate the profile of the sill-panel molding.

 

Black rubber has been used along all surfaces where the skirts touch the body and where the ornament mounted on the skirt. This stops any chance of scratching the paint.

 

Adam is not totally happy with the skirts and there are some issues I'd like addressed which can only be done so by making another set. For now, I wish to drive the car and enjoy its new look. Visually the skirts make the car appear much lower. I'm also in the process of lowering the rear suspension 2 inches but I don't wish to ruin the ride quality so am addressing this with caution.

 

2nd hand skirts in the USA seem to fetch between US$1500-$2500. At the current horrid exchange rate this translates to AU$2230-3700 (Australian). Yes, that is obscene! My skirts sure cost about that but I know they are right and an original set would need restoration in most cases anyway. Adam has not made fender skirts before and is confident that future sets can be made much quicker.

 

I hope you like these skirts as much as I do.

 

Cheers, Grant Zippel

 

Buick RHR at home.jpg

Fender Skirts 1.jpg

Fender Skirts 2.jpg

Fender Skirt Back.jpg

Fender Skirt 1st Attempt.jpg

Cars on the Coast Aug 2019.jpg

Edited by Grant Z (see edit history)
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I think they look great! They are far more accurate than the generic bubble skirts most guys use with an ornament tacked on, and going the extra mile to make the lower edge trim really makes it work. Very impressive workmanship. Most folks, even those experienced with these cars, may not even notice the raised area for the ornament and it was so nicely done that nobody could object to your solution. I think you and your buddy did a fine job and it looks great! Since your car is a mild custom anyway, I think that detail makes it special--a trick piece of workmanship that's almost invisible. That's the essence of all great customs--you can't see where the stock ends and the custom begins.

 

If you can replicate the lower edge trim (if it was made on a CNC machine, for instance) there's probably a market for selling it. That trim is particularly difficult to source and most guys end up using cut-down rocker panel moldings (which are also getting expensive). My only suggestion (only if you do this--they look awesome as-is on your car!) might be to make the leading edge flat instead of matching the rear termination point--factory and dealer-installed skirts included a matching piece of trim on the lower gravel guard so it looks like one uninterrupted piece of trim from front to rear. Just a thought if you're looking to recoup some of your costs.

 

yutyuy.jpg

 

Very nice job!

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Wow, those are dynamite, as is your car!  I currently have the flat reproductions on mine - they look alright from a few feet away but sure don't have the panache of the correct ones.  I would definitely spring for a pair of these.

IIRC there's a member here who had that curved chrome piece  remanufactured but I don't recall if they were in any big quantities or still available.

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2 hours ago, Malo48 said:

IIRC there's a member here who had that curved chrome piece  remanufactured but I don't recall if they were in any big quantities or still available.

 

His name is Richard Mann -- I don't remember his handle on the forums.  He's in real estate in Santa Barbara, but is a big Buick fan.  You can contact him through his real estate website (where you can also see a pic of him with his lovely '41 Super convertible).  I know he had plans to manufacture these pieces, but I don't know whether he ever did.

 

http://www.richardmann.com/

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I think Richard is still working on them--he and I have corresponded quite a bit about the project. I have photos of the Limited gravel guard trim pieces that he reproduced and paid him for a set that hopefully will be ready sometime in the near future. I know stuff like this takes a long time to figure out so I'm not rushing him. I'm just excited to potentially have the right parts. 

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22 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

I think they look great! They are far more accurate than the generic bubble skirts most guys use with an ornament tacked on, and going the extra mile to make the lower edge trim really makes it work. Very impressive workmanship. Most folks, even those experienced with these cars, may not even notice the raised area for the ornament and it was so nicely done that nobody could object to your solution. I think you and your buddy did a fine job and it looks great! Since your car is a mild custom anyway, I think that detail makes it special--a trick piece of workmanship that's almost invisible. That's the essence of all great customs--you can't see where the stock ends and the custom begins.

 

If you can replicate the lower edge trim (if it was made on a CNC machine, for instance) there's probably a market for selling it. That trim is particularly difficult to source and most guys end up using cut-down rocker panel moldings (which are also getting expensive). My only suggestion (only if you do this--they look awesome as-is on your car!) might be to make the leading edge flat instead of matching the rear termination point--factory and dealer-installed skirts included a matching piece of trim on the lower gravel guard so it looks like one uninterrupted piece of trim from front to rear. Just a thought if you're looking to recoup some of your costs.

 

yutyuy.jpg

 

Very nice job!

Many thanks for your kind words Matt. Yes I agree with all you have said in every way. You have a very keen eye for detail and obviously know these cars very well. I've referred to your website many times and have found it extremely helpful thank you.

 

Re the lower trim piece, we decided not to replicate the small curved piece which fits on the rubber gravel shield as expense was getting away and I felt I had to stop somewhere. Being a big of a custom guy (and my friend also) we felt a couple of subtle tasteful modifications done well would work just fine and we're happy with the outcome. Yes I've drooled over the picture of that gorgeous dark silver Roadmaster convertible many times. Stunning car. That and a few others online have been handy references for what a correct car should be. My car is of course the most inexpensive 1941 Buick made (Series A Special Business Coupe) and the Roadmaster Convertible Coupe is something I can only dream about. However, I am extremely happy with my car and never thought I could own something so rare & beautiful here in Australia. I've now driven her over 3,000 miles in just 10 months and jump at every opportunity to get her out.

 

My friend Adam has already been contacted re the possibility of making more sets of skirts for someone in the USA. Your suggestion of reproducing the lower trim piece (but with the vertical forward end, and short curved gravel shield extension) makes good sense.

 

Sincere thanks for taking the time to comment Matt.

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15 hours ago, Malo48 said:

Wow, those are dynamite, as is your car!  I currently have the flat reproductions on mine - they look alright from a few feet away but sure don't have the panache of the correct ones.  I would definitely spring for a pair of these.

IIRC there's a member here who had that curved chrome piece  remanufactured but I don't recall if they were in any big quantities or still available.

If you wish to contact Adam regarding reproducing some skirts, you can email him at 55coupe@adam.com.au. He's already been contacted by someone else in California. He's very willing to do this as has made a pattern. The guy in California is sending over a set of rear fenders to make it easier to get the shape correct.

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