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Purchasing new '48 Buick Convertible - need help!


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Hi Guys,

I'm a Buick collector here in Ireland and am about to purchase a 1948 Buick Super 56C Convertible. 

I've just had a pre-purchase inspection done and unfortunately its shown up not to be the car as described so I'm trying to figure out if its worth progressing.

The car was restored by an older gentleman who unfortunately since died and he spent 20yrs in his garage restoring it. Its now sat since about 2006 with infrequent use by his family to get it out.

It looks like he restored it using a parts car. The VIN on the car is 3 4887377 which I thought originally was a Jersey plant car built in '48, but subsequent digging has shown this might not be the case (see pic attached from Buicks own chassis service manual). There is no VIN plate on the door pillar of the car.

To make matters worse the current title shows the VIN to be 50932805 (which is going to have to be corrected to sort the cloudy title, otherwise I wont be able to export and register here to Ireland)

The engine is also not right for the year - the number on the engine is 4742350-5. So it looks like it might be from a '47 based on the starting engine numbers I see for '48, but could really do with some help validating this.

So it looks like its a bit of a "frankenstein" - I'm not overly worried about it not being numbers matching. Sure, its a PITA finding this out now, but I believe the car is still worth progressing.

After 20yrs of sitting there are a number of things leaking which will need to be sorted (rad, water pump, steering box, old engine seals, fuel pump etc). Anyone suggest a good parts specialist where I can get these '40's parts at a reasonable cost?

The main door side windows are also delaminated, so I'll need to try and get this sorted in the US before shipping to Ireland (if at all possible).

 

Would deffo appreciate some help with validating the numbers above!

 

Rowan.

Screenshot 2020-05-10 at 11.39.49.png

P1080286.jpg

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I don't know how anyone will legitimately fix that improper vin # on the title. The only hope might be the title # matches the number on the frame.  But then the vin plate above the data plate would have to have fallen off and disappear.  The other possibility might be that the title for the parts car matches that vin plate and the family is willing to go to their own State mtr veh office and slug it out for a salvage title or whatever. 

As it sits it may now be a beautiful parts car. 

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Many thanks for the replies guys!

So I'm dubious myself as to whether the title can be rectified, but the seller thinks it is possible with some collaboration between the police and the local secretary of state (apparently done it before), but will need to wait to see what this entails, but it certainly wont happen quickly due to the lockdown.

Interesting you note the engine number was restamped - I did notice that 7 looked a bit odd compared to the rest of the numbers. Is this even a legitimate engine number?

I am tempted to walk.... but want to see if its salvageable.... 

17104201-1948-buick-convertible-std.jpg

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Eire,  after a little research, I have a couple observations.

 The top tag ,  34887377, IS the serial number, and probably matches a frame number if it can be found.  Some years this tag was on the cowl, some years on the driver side A pillar.  Most states did not use that as a title or registration number.  They used the engine number.  The number on the title, 5,093,280  5 is indeed a 1948 engine number, as 1948 engine numbers began with 4,999,881  5.       So I believe the engine has been changed and the number on it matches nothing.  It is a 1947 number.  Re stamped.   The final 5 is out of alignment..

 

 Please note:   The final number, in this case 5,  on a Buick engine of that era was  the Series designation. In this case a 5 for 50 series or Super. All Supers came from the factory with a 5 as the last number.

 

  Ben

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4 hours ago, JohnD1956 said:

The other possibility might be that the title for the parts car matches that vin plate

 

Just thinking about a few things that could happen 20 years after my death. It is not the "letter" of the law, it is the "intent" of the law that my Irish heritage leads me to follow.

 

How much is the car? If it is competitive with ones in similar condition I would say let it go. The dead guy had his fun. If it is a bargain or can be made one, it is worth a little monkeying around. Is your intent to keep it for the rest of your life? If that is the case it looks like a one sided argument.

 

Say three Hail Mary's and two Our Fathers. It will be fine.

 

Bernie

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1 hour ago, Ben Bruce aka First Born said:

Eire,  after a little research, I have a couple observations.

 The top tag ,  34887377, IS the serial number, and probably matches a frame number if it can be found.  Some years this tag was on the cowl, some years on the driver side A pillar.  Most states did not use that as a title or registration number.  They used the engine number.  The number on the title, 5,093,280  5 is indeed a 1948 engine number, as 1948 engine numbers began with 4,999,881  5.       So I believe the engine has been changed and the number on it matches nothing.  It is a 1947 number.  Re stamped.   The final 5 is out of alignment..

 

 Please note:   The final number, in this case 5,  on a Buick engine of that era was  the Series designation. In this case a 5 for 50 series or Super. All Supers came from the factory with a 5 as the last number.

 

  Ben

 

Ok so that is very interesting and could be a step closer to clarifying things. So its possible (this is Michigan btw) that the number on the title was the original engine number but now that it was swapped, its the reason we cant find it anywhere on the car.

I do believe the original engine is still there somewhere so I'll see if they can find that and see if we get a match. If the theory behind this is right and the current owner can show the original engine I would have thought it seems likely the title can be updated with the current engine number?

 

Ok if I read you right the current engine number 4742350-5 is actually correct in being a 1947 engine - I dont get the point about the final 5 being out of alignment? The car is a Super so the designation 50 is correct?

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55 minutes ago, 60FlatTop said:

 

Just thinking about a few things that could happen 20 years after my death. It is not the "letter" of the law, it is the "intent" of the law that my Irish heritage leads me to follow.

 

How much is the car? If it is competitive with ones in similar condition I would say let it go. The dead guy had his fun. If it is a bargain or can be made one, it is worth a little monkeying around. Is your intent to keep it for the rest of your life? If that is the case it looks like a one sided argument.

 

Say three Hail Mary's and two Our Fathers. It will be fine.

 

Bernie

Hey Bernie!

Asking 29k for the car and yes the intention is to keep it with no intention of selling it on (well.... who knows what'll happen in the future!)

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3 hours ago, avgwarhawk said:

The seller should make the title right. Shipping overseas will not be possible without proper title. 

 

Yeah, they watch these like a hawk. Same on this side of the pond - the title number will need to match the VIN number (although in this case if the theory above is correct I'll have to get a letter to state that for this State/Car the title number is actually the engine number).

BTW - no tag on the drivers pillar, it was lost (or just never put on).

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Walk away from this car. If the numbers don't line up, the hassles to get them fixed are considerable and maybe even impossible. Typos in the VIN, yes they can sometimes fix those. A totally wrong number? They're not going to do anything with that, certainly not anytime soon and not easily. I suspect that the seller just used the title from a parts car and assumed nobody would notice or care. Obviously that isn't true and fixing it is not a simple matter.

 

And a questionable engine that has possibly been re-stamped? Yikes. WTF?

 

There's no shortage of 1946-48 Buick Super convertibles laying around for about that price, find one with good paperwork. Besides, that car has a lot of other things wrong, not the least of which is the very wrong color that hurts my eyes. Don't fall in love with this one, the problems are not easy to solve, and there are other suitable cars out there.

 

Be smart. Do not touch.

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At the + - 30K and cash to wave under a seller's nose you are in a lot better shape than the seller. There really are a lot out there. After its minimal use over 20 years, probably more as the old guy was expiring, you have around $4,000 in recommissioning cost plus "the unforeseen".

 

Keep in communication with the estate. Now that it is out of storage and potentially becoming a burden to them, they will be coming around to a more realistic figure. It would be a shame for it to end up sitting outside the garage under a tarp and having a big raccoon living in it. But that can happen in an estate situation.

 

Matt, my wife's name is Christine Daily. I have mentioned you and your business to her. It is a long shot she would remember, but if she doesn't sell my stuff for the low prices I gave her, it would be a good idea to give her the gentle bum's rush should she show up.

 

Bernie

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I have two awesome Buick Supers for sale with no title issues. A bit more expensive, but then again you get what you pay for. Both of these are turn-key, ready to run cars that drive superbly.

 

1940 with a very high quality restoration by Lewis Jenkins:

013.jpg

https://www.harwoodmotors.com/vehicles/inventory_details.php?id=1147

 

1941 Super that's mostly original that has been recently serviced by Doug Seybold:

007.jpg

https://www.harwoodmotors.com/vehicles/inventory_details.php?id=1163

 

Both are bit more money than the one you were looking at, but they are both vastly superior cars that will drive better. No offense to the post-war guys, but I find that the 1946-48 cars got a lot heavier without adding any horsepower, so they tend to be a little less nimble-feeling on the road, especially if they have a Dynaflow. We had a very nice '48 Super convertible for a while and that thing felt like it was working REALLY hard even at 45-50 MPH.

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Buying over the internet from 1000's of miles away need to be sure the seller/consigner is the real seller/owner is not some scamer just reposting some other car advertisement from the web. 

I note you have had some one to physically look at the car.  Take consideration of the comments

Very likley such a car would be know to Buick Club of America members, even in northern Michigan.

Convertibles are desirable so prices get "reduced" for a reason .

 

Extract below is from the BCA 2005 Judging manual.  For 1948 does not list "L" (Linden NJ), but that may be a BCA error. 

 

The first digits engine serial do not represent the model year.  Some times they do, but more by chance.

The series is stamped ahead or after the main number: it changed to after for 1946  production.

Link--->https://www.teambuick.com/reference/ident_engine_til_52.php

The engine in that car is not 1948.  But not unusual or a concern to many people

 

The engine number stamping does not look right being on top/right of pad.  The stampings I have seen are more in the centre of the pad.   Stamping of the series not always in line, but have seen one that far out of alignment. 

 

I would be wary where the ID tags are secured with cheap rivets from a hardware store.   Data tag's never had washer/river to fix it in place

 

Keep looking:- will be other 56C in the market at some time

Buick numbers.jpg

 

 

Edit parts

https://bobsautomobilia.com/

https://www.oldbuickparts.com/

https://www.fusickautomotiveproducts.com/

and others

 

Edited by 1939_Buick (see edit history)
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7 hours ago, EireBuickLover said:

 

Ok so that is very interesting and could be a step closer to clarifying things. So its possible (this is Michigan btw) that the number on the title was the original engine number but now that it was swapped, its the reason we cant find it anywhere on the car.

I do believe the original engine is still there somewhere so I'll see if they can find that and see if we get a match. If the theory behind this is right and the current owner can show the original engine I would have thought it seems likely the title can be updated with the current engine number?

 

Ok if I read you right the current engine number 4742350-5 is actually correct in being a 1947 engine - I dont get the point about the final 5 being out of alignment? The car is a Super so the designation 50 is correct?

 

 Yes, the number on the title is probably the original engine number.  

  The final 5?   See how it does not line up with the rest of the digits?  It should. It would have if factory stamped..  I have some wild guesses as to this number.  Guesses only.

 

  Ben

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1948 MOD 56-C
STYLE No 48-4567X
BODY No L 9479
TRIM No 44
PAINT No 31


Fisher body style number 4567X
4 = Buick
5 = Series 50/Super
67 = 2-door convertible, 6-passenger, 
X =  with hydraulic window lifts/seat/top

 

BODY No L 9479
L = Linden, NJ
9479 = 9,479th style 4567 built at Linden

 

Trim 44 = Tan Bedford Cord and Red Leather, available on model 56C only

 

Paint code 31 = solid Carlsbad Black

 


34887377 = frame serial number
3 = Linden, NJ

4887377 = sequential number, range for 1948 was 4801266 to 5020983

 

 

47423505 = engine serial number of replacement engine
4742350 = sequential number, range for 1947 was 4,737,740 to 4,999,880
5 = Series 50/Super

 

 

50932805 = engine serial number of original engine
5093280 = sequential number, range for 1948 was 4999881 to 5220971
5 = Series 50/Super

 

The original engine has been replaced and a previous owner failed to follow the correct procedure for changing the serial number on the title when the engine serial number is used as the legal ID number.  This is very common when people don't know that the engine serial number can be used as the VIN.  Also, the trim tag has been removed and reattached with the incorrect rivets and the frame serial number plate is attached with incorrect rivets when originally it would have been attached with a certain style of screw.  Was the parts car used to rebuild this car a 1947? As for the series digit (last 5) in the engine serial number not lining up with the rest of the engine serial number, it is not uncommon to see such misalignment.

 

 

 

1947 Buick Engine Number Stamp 04.jpg

1947 Buick Engine Number Stamp 03.jpg

1947 Buick Engine Number Stamp 02.jpg

1946 Buick Engine Number Stamp 01.jpg

1947 Buick Engine Number Stamp 01.jpg

Edited by sean1997 (see edit history)
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