BY VERN PARKER
Buicks were well known for their powerful straight-eight-cylinder engines long before World War II. Although they definitely were not quick off-the-line, once they were rolling, the big Buicks were hard to catch.
As nice as these vintage Buicks are, they possess virtually nothing of interest to those who are attracted to muscle cars. Nevertheless, there still is that certain spark that kindles the fire in the hearts of automobile enthusiasts.
Eric Hein thoroughly enjoys his powerful sports car. He and his his wife were vacationing in Virginia Beach when he was glancing through the local newspaper and spotted an ad offering a 1940 Buick Special four-door sedan. It’s probably nothing that would entice them, he told his wife. They could stop by and look the car over as they were leaving town. She agreed. It would be a lark.
Hein remembers watching the owner back the beautiful black Buick out of the garage on its 121-inch wheelbase into the brilliant spring sunshine. With the sunlight sparkling off the Buick’s graceful curves, Hein thought, “I’m in trouble if the price is right.”
After a thorough inspection and a satisfactory test drive, Hein found himself wanting the 1940 Buick. The price wasn’t outrageous for the freshly restored and repainted antique automobile and after a bit of negotiating, it became more attractive. The deal was struck so Hein left a deposit and went home, leaving his 3,660-pound Buick to be picked up by a trucking service, which delivered it to his Germantown, Md. home a few days later.
When new, the car carried a $996 base price. The well-appointed Buick was popular, and 68,816 of the models were sold. Each one came with a powerful, 248-cubic-inch, valve-in-head, straight-eight-cylinder engine developing 107 horsepower under the two-piece engine hood, which opened from either side.
When his Buick rolled off the delivery truck on wide, white-sidewall 6.50×16-inch Allstate tires, Hein thought, “I’ve bought a car for my father.” The fully restored Buick has turn signals with both rear flashers near the center of the trunk lid. From a distance the turn signal appears to be a flashing light in the center of the car.
This Buick came equipped with a locking gas cap door, a heater and fog lamps, as well as a clock in the glove compartment door. The driver can see the 110-mph speedometer through a three-spoke banjo steering wheel. Atop the dashboard, at the base of the two-piece windshield is the plastic knob controlling the vacuum wipers.
At the rear of the Buick is a splash pan between the bumper and body of the car. Inside the trunk is a full-width wooden shelf above the horizontal spare tire.
The gasoline tank has a 17-gallon capacity, while 14 quarts of coolant keep the engine temperature under control, and seven quarts of oil keep the engine well lubricated.
Hein drives his antique Buick on sunny days to work just to keep it exercised. The cowl ventilator just forward of the windshield might not be better than an air conditioner, but it sure keeps him cool in a cool car.
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