1938 Buick Special: Dare To Compare


This 1938 Buick Special hasn’t been driven since 1967 and is completely original except for those, uh, wire wheel hubcaps. They do have the original caps, though, as well as the trim rings. There are only a few things missing, like the radio knobs, parking light lenses and the map light covers. The trunk floor has rust, but the rest of the floors are said to be solid. It comes with extra front fenders if one wants to replace the damaged right front fender. The engine turns, but it doesn’t run. Also included is an extra engine. It is listed here on craigslist in Spokane.If someone could get this old Buick running and driving for a reasonable amount of money and work, the $5500 asking price would not seem too unreasonable, until you compare it to other Buicks listed recently.

compare front copy

Reviving this car would have to be a labor of love. Compare this Buick  to a similar one in North Hollywood that was listed here on eBay for $4500 and didn’t sell. He was offered $4000, perhaps he will relist it. Here’s a picture comparison of the two, $5500 on the left, $4000 California Buick on the right, also in a barn for years and not running.

red Buick

Another sold recently on eBay for $8500 in Nevada that was running and driving with nice paint and interior. I’d take the red one myself if there was a choice. What do you think his one is worth?


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  1. Charles

    This car looks like a good candidate for restoration. To me the value of the car can be accurately determined by comparing the costs of repairs to the cost of the same make and model in good condition. If the red car is solid, road worthy, and priced at $8500.00 than a fair price for the black car is $8500.00 minus the costs of a new trunk floor, and what other items it will take to bring it up to the level of the better car. That’s the main reason I usually don’t buy basket cases. One can usually find a nice example of a particular vehicle, pay a higher price for it, and still spend less than it will take to make a basket case as nice as the one that is ready to drive. Usually even a nice car will need some odds and ends to make it perfect. Everyone sees things differently.

  2. Ed P

    I would take the red car because, well, it is red! Alternately, the $4500 car is the better project, even better if it were cheaper. It has minor rust that I can see. The glass needs to be replaced all around. The seats look good but the rest is trashed. Buy it because you like it, there is not a lot of money to be made here.

  3. Tom

    The red one is a 37, not a 38. In 38, totally different underpinnings. Coil springs and completely ‘new’ frame. Styling changes were minimal – hood length, grill, bumper guards, hub caps etc.

    Like 1
  4. Kevin Harper

    Totally off subject but…
    Cars like these are why I see such a bubble in certain areas of today’s car market. These are attractive well built cars that can be driven anywhere. The only cars that are holding value from this Era are the super rare cars like Dusenburgs. The problem with these cars is that the vast majority of people who knew these cars when they were on the road and not necessarily new are gone. And the people who are buying these are just a small minority of crazy gear heads, and there are not enough of them to keep prices up.
    While I think certain cars like a Ferrari GTO will continue to hold value, the more common cars in particular Porches, alfa’s and even a lot of the more mundane ferrari will sink in value. We have already seen this somewhat in the muscle car area and I think that trend will continue.
    I think that the 356 is due to fall soon. I am at the very end of the baby boomer generation, born in 64. And growing up the 356 never even registered as being desirable for guys into porches it was all 911. The 356 was looked at as a hot rod beetle bug growing up and not really desreable, and having driven a few that is still the way i see them. The guys that are currently into 356’s are 15 to 20 years older and are starting to age out. Just as happened to this neat old Buick. I do lament being priced out of the market on certain cars but being an extreme gear head knowing that cars like this exist makes me happy that I will always have something I can afford to play with, and if I can stay around a few years perhaps I will pick up some of the current hot commodities when they crash back to reality. Though I don’t think I will ever have a 356 I mean why would anyone really want a hot rod vw. I would much rather have this Buick.

  5. Mark E

    I love late-30s GM products and the Buicks are a comparative bargain when compared to the Cadillacs. Unless the body has some memorable design like the 1959-60 bat-wing Buicks or the 1971-73 boat tailed Rivieras they tend to be overlooked and are usually good bargains.

  6. Mike D

    My initial thought was to make a ” gangster ” car out of it, but, after reading the comments.. would change my mind . personally, I think with a shiny black paint job,, original black steel wheels and shiny hubs would be classy . I am clueless as to any engine swap ( tranny too) . I would have a more modern interior though it should be easy enough to get good seats out of a late model Buick ( auto graveyard) it would be very low on my ” want” list, but I would imagine it would be very impressive fixed up

  7. pontiactivist

    I myself wouldn’t mind having this. My dad had one of these as a project years ago that he chopped the top on. Was a cool look. Wish I would have bought it.

  8. charlie Member

    In MY opinion the last half of the ’30’s cars, with the exception of Ford, and the exotics like Cord, and Auburn, were the least attractive of all of the cars of the last 100 years. There is nothing attractive about most of the 4 door sedans at all, especially the bustle back ones, there is some attractiveness in the slant back Fords, Chryslers, and GM’.s Now perhaps this is prejudiced by my father’s never lamented ’38 Studebaker Commander 4 door with its unreliable ugliness, lots of room, while we sat at the side of the road waiting for the tow truck, often. Many trips that began but never go to the beach, or the airport, or home, for that matter. But a few rides in the cab of a tow truck sort of made up for it.

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