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Super Rare 1948 Playboy Model A-48 Documentation and Restoration


89tc
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Hi All, I'm one of the fifty-five people in the world that own a 1948 Playboy Model A-48 car. This car company was in business in Buffalo New York for only one year, and made 97 cars before going out of business. Some of the cars were then junked, some seized to recoup investment losses, and some sat in limbo for thirty years in the back garages of potential auto dealerships until they eventually ended up in private hands. None of the cars were production cars to be sold to the public. They were all "prototypes", therefore have many differences from car to car. None of the cars were also sold to the public; they were all (except for a small few) sent to potential dealerships around the country to drum up interest in the sale of the cars. 

 

I'm a car guy, and a private car guy at that. I own very rare cars with names like Lotus, Ferrari, SC360, Maserati, Saleen, Shelby, Yenko, etc. and have preferred to keep them in obscurity, only for my own enjoyment. But this Playboy I'm going to do something different and document the makeup and components of it, so the general public can educate themselves on a very rare car. I hope that viewers may also find an entertainment value in looking at this thread. 

 

Regarding the restoration, I'm not really "restoring" the car, because when it comes to a restoration there's no ceiling to the distance you can go with a restoration. Instead, I'm going to keep it as original as possible and only repair the components that are needed to preserve the car from further deterioration. My goal is also to get the car running and driving, and to use it for local errands around my small town. 

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Edited by 89tc (see edit history)
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  • 89tc changed the title to Ultra Rare 1948 Playboy Model A-48 Documentation and Restoration

A quick history of this car: Most of the history of this car is unknown, but I'm working on gathering information. I'll tell what little I know about the history of it so far. This car was originally delivered to a potential dealer in Maryland in 1948. The original color was beige with possibly a white roof and white and aqua colored vinyl seat and door/kick panels. It had a black rubber floor. Then from there it was spotted in Arizona with Arizona license plates sometime in the late 1960's. Then it went to southern Colorado where the doors and trunklid were removed and it was used as a golf ball retrieval car at a golf course. I'm thinking that the doors were removed for easy access into and out of the car when picking up balls; and the trunk lid was removed for ease of throwing the balls in the trunk. The use on the golf course also explains all the golf ball-sized dents and window cracks because the car was probably used as a target by pesky golfers. Then in the 1970's it was stored in the yard at a moving truck company. In 2000, someone bought the car from the moving truck company and sold it to another buyer in Colorado. A third buyer in Colorado bought it in 2013 and I ended up buying it from him in 2020. I then had it shipped from Colorado to upstate New York two weeks ago where it sits now. All those years, no effort was done to restore the car at all. It just pretty much went from outside storage to outside storage. The car has 30,000 miles on it and the engine still has the factory paint on all the nuts and bolts. Somewhere along the line someone patched some holes in the radiator, installed a radio (possibly in the 1950's), replaced the spark plug wires/points/condensor (1990's era) and radiator hoses (1970's era). Someone also disconnected the heater and cut some wires to run new wires to the ignition (looks like 1980's era). The body was also painted eight times, and I also see bondo (invented in 1955) in various places on the body. 

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Here is a picture of the VIN tag. This car is known in the very small Playboy circles as car #31. I'll bet you'll never see another one of these VIN tags in your life. The trim # and paint # code options are unknown at this time. Some cars had heaters, some had spotlights, some had radios; the trim #'s may have had something to do with what options a car had. 

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Here are engine pictures. The engine is a 1948 Continental Y400 engine which is all original. I was told this type of engine was used in farm machinery and forklifts of the day. I already took off the radiator and carburetor in the pictures. 

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Rust in the water jacket of the head. I don't want to rebuild the engine unless it's a last resort. I've read on the internet that old timers just put their wives' stocking in the return hose to the radiator to catch all internal metal flakes and then replace the stocking every 50 miles until the flakes are gone. I'm going to vacuum out what I can and try the stocking trick. My wife doesn't wear stockings, so I hope she or other people don't see me buying stockings at the store.  

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3 hours ago, hursst said:

Looking forward to seeing this thing fixed up!

Thanks! Me too; I'm getting alot of ridiculing from people that have seen it because it looks like a junker. But because of it's rarity, this car is definitely worth saving. I have no doubt that the next caretaker after me will be a museum or a collector of very rare cars. 

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D & M Radiator Co. radiator. I was told this company was in Buffalo and went out of business many years ago. The radiator repair man said this was a tractor radiator. It leaks in four places but he said he could re-core it for $600...

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Love the car, I enjoyed reading an article about them in Hemmings Classic Car, quite an interesting story. How fun that you know so much about your cars history. I have to ask, are you going to make some doors or are you going to drive around al fresco? I would love to see more photos of the station too. 

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2 hours ago, alsancle said:

I’ve always thought these were cool, especially the folding top.  Good luck.

 

 

Thanks! You''re probably one of 200 people in the world who even know what this car is.. I've never even heard of them until this past March when I was walking past a vendor table at a local car parts swap meet. The "for sale" sign was taped to the front of the table with a small thumbnail picture. I had to do a double-take to figure out what kind of car this was... 

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2 hours ago, keithb7 said:

I admire your determination. That's a major undertaking. Spare used parts? I suspect mostly unobtainable. I look forward to watching this car come back to live. I am subscribing... Thanks for taking the time to post and share.

Thanks! Actually I don't think this is too bad. It's a very simple car, no luxuries, just bare bones.. The nice thing is that it's almost complete and the motor has never been molested. The original paint is still on all the nuts and bolts... If you want to see a major undertaking, ask me about my well famed 1970 Boss 302 project car that was all over the internet a few years ago.. It's so rusted out that I've left it on the trailer for three years because I'm afraid that it will break in half if I move it...

 

Regarding parts, that's another subject I'm going to go over later in this thread....

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2 hours ago, Tate said:

Love the car, I enjoyed reading an article about them in Hemmings Classic Car, quite an interesting story. How fun that you know so much about your cars history. I have to ask, are you going to make some doors or are you going to drive around al fresco? I would love to see more photos of the station too. 

Yes, funny, The Hemmings story pretty much put Playboy on the map with car enthusiasts, and brought the car from complete obscurity out to the public eye. 

 

Regarding the history, I'm hoping that this thread will generate some memories from old-timers who will contact me and say that they saw the car in 1956 rolling down some country road in Maryland with three people in it (one of the original selling points of this car is that they said it was a three-seater)... I'm in contact with all the previous known owners too, which is nice...

 

Regarding the doors and trunk lid, I'll talk more about them later in this thread....

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2 hours ago, alsancle said:

This deserves its own thread.  Got a link?

Hmm, I didn't think anyone would be interested in an old gas station sitting in a junkyard... I just posted the pictures for kicks. I'm an architect and really think that it should be saved; that's why I felt compelled to take pictures of it when I saw it. In fact, I know of two other gas stations that may be for sale that are almost identical to this one. As the years go by, all three of them are deteriorating, and one is getting vandalized because homeless people are staying in it and the front door is open. I wish someone would save them but I don't think there's a market for 1930's-40's Americana filling stations...

 

I wonder why no one asked for more info about Flava Flav... 😁

Edited by 89tc (see edit history)
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  • 89tc changed the title to Super Rare 1948 Playboy Model A-48 Documentation and Restoration

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