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1937 Roadmaster, sell? restore? part out?


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This is a complicated story, so bear with me. The black '37 Roadmaster that fell out of the back of the New Hampshire barn last year, and is the subject of a superbly written article by Tom Smith in this month's Buick Bugle, is now mine. Tom bought the car last year, drove it from New Hampshire to Texas (with an interruption in Cleveland, Ohio due to fuel starvation problems). Other than needing a new fuel filter and new brakes, which was done during the trip, the car made the trip just fine at interstate highway speeds! It has its original 320 straight eight, and except for front seat upholstery, the interior is totally original and in amazing condition. Paint is an older repaint. The fall out of the barn damaged the grille, front bumper, front bumper braces, and the sheet metal shell around the grille (I have a replacement shell coming). It did not touch the hood, the radiator, or the engine. Odometer shows 41,000 miles--I could be convinced based on interior condition, but I'm not going to speculate about that. Engine is very, very healthy and does not smoke. Remember, it just completed a 2,000-mile trip!

 

This week, I received the car and its clear Texas title from Tom Smith, in exchange for considerable work that we did on his other, restored, 1937 Roadmaster--minus the heater and the windshield wipers , which he had us transfer to his other Roadmaster. I think I have most of the needed wiper parts among my parts stash. I have paid for and will soon be receiving a good grille shell for this car (have not located a Roadmaster grille--Limited or Roadmaster only--a very good welder might be able to repair the old one).

 

What would you do if you owned this car now? Drive it as-is? I do not need another project. Do a total restoration? Part it out? Fix only the collision damage and then sell to recover my costs? My feeling is that it's too good to part out. It actually runs and drives better than the restored '37 Roadmaster that we worked on last month. It lacks side-mounts but is extremely solid, showing no rust nor wood deterioration. I will sell it for $5,500 with the replacement grille surround and with all wiper parts I can round up for it. It can be driven home. If a buyer is interested, I will restore the rest of the damage to the best of my ability at additional cost--front bumper mount areas will need to be straightened and undamaged bumper mounts found. I have located a replacement bumper.  In the near future, the car will need the exhaust manifold pieces replaced, as there are a couple of cracks beginning. I have replacement parts for that here--price negotiable. I"m really on the fence as to what to do.

 

The Roadmaster is located in Bonham, Texas 75418 , which is 75 miles northeast of Dallas. All constructive opinions, suggestions, and inquiries are welcomed. At this time, I am not selling any parts from this car.

Pete Phillips, BCA #7338

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Rear seat, headliner, and door panels are original, unrestored, and in amazing condition. Front seat appears to have been redone, but with the correct material, a few years ago.

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I almost bought this car myself when I was first made aware that it was available. I enjoyed reading about it and sort of wished I had bought it. I still don't need it, and I really don't have room for it. I hope that someone repairs the collision damage and enjoys it. 

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Posted (edited)

They're not making any more.

People restore cars that are missing alot of parts,  I'm assuming most of what makes a Roadmaster a Roadmaster is still there, good or can be repaired.

My research reveals there were between 14 to 15 thousand built(better check your own resources), how many are still around.

 

Look at what I started with,  never even had a front seat!  Or a front bumper. Lots of rust on bottom of body but it all got professionally repaired.  No headlight guts.  No tail lite lenses. Needed correct rims(for McLaughlin Buick).  No McLaughlin hubcaps (right Pete? Thanks by the way!) Thanks to everyone who helped me find parts. Complete extensive restoration....ouch)

 

 

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Edited by 1937McBuick (see edit history)
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Ben,

I agree, it's a shame Mr. Smith decided not to keep it after going to all of that effort and expense to get it and bring it to Texas. His daily driver was destroyed by a reckless driver about 10 days ago and he needed a car and some cash quickly. I don't have garage space to keep it long-term.

Someone will want this diamond in the rough--tremendous interest in it on Facebook right now, where I posted it.

Pete

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Fix it and sell it. If you repair the accident damage, it will be worth more and will be much easier to sell. Leaving it smashed up will be a challenge to sell no matter how well it drives or how nice the rest is. 99% of the people can't see past what's in front of their eyes. If you replace the shell, the grille, and the bumper, get new bumper mounts, and get those front fenders as straight as you can and touch them up, the car will be worth an easy $9-10K and it will sell much faster. Can you do those repairs for less than $3500-4500? I recon the answer is "Yes."

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2 hours ago, JeffH said:

Pretty sure bumper mounts are not the same from '37 to '38. 

 

Jeff

You are correct... even the front bumper brackets are different according to the parts book.

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This car is a perfect candidate for someone ultimately looking for a dependable driver car. As nice as the interior is, it will only look so so with the exterior restored. The car will cost more to do a total restoration than it is worth. I feel that if you took time sourcing the front end parts that the parts cost should be 2k-3k at the most. The driveline is apparently in good condition to be able to handle the drive that it did. It appears to be an easy repair with little risk of surprises. Id fix it or sell as is.

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Pete,

 

My vote is to repair the damage. Then you have the option to sell, keep, restore (too nice to go this way?).

Even the applique at the left and right sides of the dash appears excellent - maybe as good as the ones in my 13,5xx mile 80C - 

 

What is the switch or knob under the far left side of the dash?

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  • 4 weeks later...

OK, I"ve begun to source the parts to fix the damage. Does anyone have windshield wipers and the linkage/transmissions for same? Has to be Roadmaster/Limited, as I understand it, and Dave Tachney has none.

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From 1928-41 parts book look to be unique to 1938 S80 & S90.

But a big guess is that a universal wiper motor replacement was available

Wiper motor group 10.150 part 4082361 1938 s80 s90 (other years model have different part number)

Wiper transmission & links group 10.159 part 4082368 1938 s80 s90 right

Wiper transmission & links group 10.159 part 4082369 1938 s80 s90 left

===

Off topic

From Chev's of 40's a 1939 Chev wiper transmission fits a1939 series 40-60. But does not have the same grooves in the casting. 95% of people would never notice

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On 6/4/2020 at 11:00 AM, Matt Harwood said:

Fix it and sell it. If you repair the accident damage, it will be worth more and will be much easier to sell. Leaving it smashed up will be a challenge to sell no matter how well it drives or how nice the rest is. 99% of the people can't see past what's in front of their eyes. If you replace the shell, the grille, and the bumper, get new bumper mounts, and get those front fenders as straight as you can and touch them up, the car will be worth an easy $9-10K and it will sell much faster. Can you do those repairs for less than $3500-4500? I recon the answer is "Yes."

 

I am just happy to see a post with some dollar signs in it. Out of all the things I have tried to teach my wife since I met her it appears the term "buying work" is the only thing that stuck. "I thought you weren't going to buy any more work" has flowed matter of factly out of her a few times. just figure out a price and sell it. Cars always seem to sell quickly when you first buy them. If you sit on it and think about it all those potential buyers crawl back into the woodwork.

 

I would pull that bumper back down the easy way and clean the car like it was going to a car show. Ask for a higher price for the sake of the car so it gets a committed buyer. Then add extra because the car is not perfect. Sell anything that is not perfect and there is a chance you will hear whining and griping after the buyer's friends point out extra faults that weren't noticed by either of you.

 

Always beware, when you sell something broken for a fair price that is low. A buyer may act fast thinking he is stealing it. When he finds out he actually did not steal it you may have problems.

 

Keep the price high. I always find it easier to justify the value in a high price than it is to cave in to a buyer's lack of money.

 

Sharing some personal experience, Bernie.

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