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Down Under Export Buicks


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As I live in Australia and Iam restoring a '27 sports tourer model 55x (right hand drive)I was wondering how many of these cars have survived in the U.S.A.

According to figures that have been mentioned to me that around 600 of these cars where for export (X after model number,factory rh drive).

In all the years of collecting and restoring my car I have come across around 20 of these cars from remains to restored cars in Australia?This equates to around 3% of the total export cars. Surely not all these cars came to Australia?.

Would this be a similar figure in the U.S.A? Hard to get parts for here.

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Copied from the New Zealand Buick Enthusiasts Club web page .

"The Buick name was on New Zealand roads from the earliest days of motoring.

Its heyday was in the 1920s and 30s and Fisher bodied Buicks were assembled at the General Motors plant at Petone near the capital city of Wellington.

In 1933, 86 percent of cars on New Zealand roads were American and 7 per cent were Buick.

The constraints of New Zealand's post war economy and the British Commonwealth tariff preferences meant that the retail distribution of Buick ceased in New Zealand in the early 1950s.

American car sales lingered on until the early 1960s, with small numbers of Fords and Chevrolets and eventually even they ceased to be distributed in New Zealand. "

Regards Neil

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Thanks guys for the info on manufacture numbers of the sports tourer

Does any one know if these were sent as knocked down units and assembled in Australia or fully imported.

The reason I ask is that the car I have has so many subtle differences from the locally assembled Holden bodied cars.(Nothing fits)

In fact the only body that I have seen that resembles my Buick was on a 1927 LaSalle tourer it was almost idendical and it was a Fisher bodied car.

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Dear Andy:

The Buick factory records list KD cars for 1927, but in models other than Model 55's, so I would think your car was shipped out more or less as a "stand up", which is why it doesn't have "Holden" features. The usual practice was to take the wheels off the car, set it on a heavy wooden skid, and put the top in a down position, and make a box that enclosed the car, put the wheels in the box and nail on a box top.

Regards, Dave Corbin

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  • 3 weeks later...


It appears during the 20's numbers of Buicks were factory built RHD in Flint for export as complete units. To add to the confusion Holden were manufacturing bodies in Australia which for all intents and purposes were the same as the US counterparts, but as you have discovered there are subtle differences.

I'll give an example I am familiar with.

I owned and restored a 1928 Sports Roadster. The ID plate indicated it was a US export model 1928X. George Dammann in his book 70, 80, 90? years of Buick stated " Buick built 4,513 for domestic sales and 251 for export. "

These figures are confirmed in Terry Dunhams book The Buick A Complete History. The same book also confirmed the serial number of my car being correct for the roadster manufacture.

None of my references record export "Stripped Chassis" ( which is how Holden received them ) until the 1930 models.

Norm Darwins book The history of Holden since 1917 gives body production figures for Buick. In 1928 there were 187 Roadster bodies manufactured by Holden at there Woodville plant.

There are many differences in the Holden body compared to the fully imported Buick body, the most obvious being the golf club door and rumble seat steps being on the right hand side ( not the left as built in this country ) which means any luggage and rear passengers have to be loaded from the middle of the road, not the curbside ( remember, we drive on the other side of the road!! )

It seems evident that while Holden were building local bodies for stripped chassis completed cars built RHD in Flint were also being imported, I suspect by Stock and Station Agents such as Dalgetys, Elder Smith, Goldsborough Mort etc.

This was further complicated as there seems to be a lot of Master 6 1924, 1925 McLaughlins in Australia.

Out of this it is possible/probable that there are really more Buicks in this country than the official records indicate.

For instance, the records I have seen show no "stripped chassis" being exported prior to 1930 yet we know Holden built a total of 2857 bodies for Buicks in 1927 and a further 2621 Buick bodies in 1928 ( Norm Darwin ). It seems the official US figures prior to 1930 are for export cars of various body styles factory built RHD in Flint specifically for export.

Incidentally, Norm Darwin lists 144 Master 6 Buick tourer bodies being built in 1927, yours is not one of those because of the identified subtle differences so it must be one of the 605 US built Model 27-X55 Deluxe Sport Touring vehicles. If correct it means there were at least 749 Master six tourers manufactured.

Food for thought? What do you blokes in the US reckon?

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I had a conversation with a fellow in New Zealand, concerning some parts I was sending him. They also assembled Buicks in New Zealand. However, early in the model year (his car was assembled in Flint) they sent a few complete cars to populate the showrooms. This may help to explain differing export figures.

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I'm unaware of New Zealand manufacturing bodies for Buick " stripped chassis ".

The kiwi's always seemed to have North American bodied cars which differed to Australian bodies for almost all the major manufacturers. They may have assembled export cars shipped in knocked down form but I haven't seen or read of any New Zealand built bodies on Buicks in that country.

Holden in Australia was a body builder supplying suitable bodies for all makes of vehicles ( even some for Ford in the early years ).

In 1924 General Motors was considering establishing their own body building plant but struck a deal with Holden to be the sole supplier of bodies for GM vehicles. This enabled blueprints for new models to be supplied and bodies were designed and ready to be fitted when the new stripped chassis arrived.

In 1926 General Motors Australia was formed and assembly plants were built in all 5 mainland state capitals and Holden bodies continued to be used. Over 34000 bodies were supplied for GM cars in 1927. Of these 2857 were for Buicks of various body styles and standard and master models. Apparently 144 were master tourer bodies. This indicates 144 stripped master chassis were sent to Australia to have Holden bodies fitted. This would seem to be in addition to the 605 27-X55 ( export designated )deluxe sport tourers manufactured in the US and exported.

It really seems that we were receiving some complete US built RHD cars ( from the export models which would be destined for the United Kingdom, New Zealand, South Africa or Australia ? any more RHD countries? ) and at the same time receiving stripped chassis for Holden bodies to be fitted.

The only problem is stripped chassis don't appear in the records I have seen until the 1930 models!!

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"Wow" guys this is really complicated, the more you guys say the larger the pool of cars in this country (Australia) seems to be getting. With no confimed definate numbers of cars imported or manufactured here,I was wondering how many actual registrations there were this would confirm figures.

Interesting to note no one has commented on the LaSalle body look alike observation (almost indendical in size and dimensions even down to the body moulding lines height and position)

I would like to say thanks to all and very infomative 'Keep it up'

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