Ex-Wallis Bird 1940 Buick Super Estate Wagon by Biehl
Purchased new in 1940 by famed collector Wallis Bird of Long Island, NY
Purchased in 1962 from Wallis Bird Estate sale by John Fox
Purchased in 2003 from John Fox by the Sarasota Classic Car Museum
Received complete restoration in early 2001. New wiring, new leather, new suspension, rebuilt engine, refinished wood.
Documented 3 owner car. Part of the famed Wallis Bird collection and photographed in period surrounded by Bird's other cars including a Mercedes 540K, multiple Duesenbergs, Bentleys, and Bugatti Type 35 & 37. Auction was featured in August 1962 Road and Track with mention of the Buick with very low miles.
Car was used sparingly over the years and currently only has 49,000 original miles.
This wagon has recently received (Sept 2018) a road rediness service with new correct size radial tires, rebuilt card, tune up and serviced brakes and new clutch.
The Buick Club of America estimates that only about 12 1940 Buick Super Estate Wagons have survived.
Today, it is truly rare to find any real wood on a production car, and it has been many decades since any US automakers used wood as part of the frame or body of a vehicle, but the fascination with the craftsmanship associated with a vintage woodie lingers with all car enthusiasts. A finely finished wood-paneled automobile like this lovely Buick is a splendid anachronism, and is looked upon as a beautifully finished piece of fine furniture on wheels.
The Buick Super Estate Wagon was first introduced in 1940. According to Buick authorities, the genesis of the concept came from the wife of Hollywood film director Norman McLeod. Her good friend, Buick chief Harlow Curtice asked her why there were no Buicks in her garage. “You don’t build a station wagon,” she reportedly replied, and the wheels began to turn.
On the train back to Michigan, Curtice and GM design chief, the legendary Harley Earl, sketched out what was to become Buick’s first production station wagon. Buick’s ad man Arthur Kudner coined the term Estate Wagon, and Biehl Body Company was brought on board to build the prototype. It was so well received that 500 Estate Wagons were commissioned soon after. Fittingly, Bunny McLeod was given body #1 in a surprise presentation at the Coconut Grove on Wilshire Boulevard in Hollywood, and she enjoyed the car for many years on their ranch.
Buick finally built just 495 examples, with production beginning mid year in 1940, and they quickly sold out. Proudly placed on a 121″ wheelbase, this lovely Estate Wagon easily carries six passengers and their luggage in style. The one-piece stamped front fenders are an engineering and production marvel; a period Buick ad read, “When you pilot this richly finished Buick Estate Wagon around, you’re riding with the crème de la crème of the entire country, coast to coast.”