1938 Buick Special Series 40 Convertible Coupe
Chassis No: 13327677
Engine: straight-eight, 248ci, 141bhp at 3,600rpm; Gearbox: three speed manual; Suspension: coil springs front and rear; Brakes: four wheel hydraulic. Wheelbase 122 inches.
The Buick Company formed in 1903 and began selling cars in 1904. By the late 1930s, two of the men in charge of new models were recognized as ‘geniuses’ in the car industry: Harley Earl, GM’s first design director, and Charles Chayne, their chief engineer since 1936. Both Earl and Chayne were intent on establishing Buick as the rival to Cadillac within GM when it came to luxury cars.
The design of the 1938 model was a development of the highly successful 1937 model year. The grille on the new car was moved forward and placed nearly vertical giving the car a longer hood. The streamlined headlights were mirrored by the front fender mounted parking lights, all of which added to the graceful overall lines of the Buicks. Perhaps the most important innovation was the replacement of the leaf springs at the rear in favor of coil springing. This was Chayne’s idea and the 1938 Buick was the first American production car to utilize the superior suspension set-up. Coil springing gave a smoother ride and the springs were not noisy after prolonged use and lack of lubrication, as was the case with a leaf spring set-up. These improvements paid off as far as sales were concerned and Buick had increased its market share dramatically to be the fourth largest seller overall, and second within GM.
Current owner purchased 7 years ago from a collector in Ohio and only drove it 20 miles in that time frame. It has a nice older restoration that has mellowed a bit with age. The car is highly presentable overall. Options include a driver’s side mounted spot lamp, twin driving lamps.
It starts easily, runs, drives, brakes and steers well. Engine is smooth with no smoke or funny noises. All lights working including the optional spot light and road lamps (switch mounted on steering column). Some clutch chatter when starting off in first, transmission shifts easily. All gauges work, charges strong, good oil pressure and cool running. Radio and clock not working. Manual top folds nicely and is in good condition.
This example is #1,284 of 2,474 Special Convertible Coupes produced in 1938.