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1948 Buick Roadmaster: The Black Flame

1948 Buick Roadmaster Hot Rod

I truly appreciate all the hard work and energy that goes into building a custom hot rod, but they haven’t ever been my thing. But every once in awhile I come across a hot rod that really catches my attention. The few that have, have been period built machines that set trends and made history. The last one that we featured was The Barbecue Stove Bolt, but another long lost hot rod has been uncovered. This ’48 Buick Roadmaster was known as The Black Flame and was built in the mid 1950’s. It has suffered considerable neglect and now needs a full restoration. If you’re interested in reigniting this piece of hot rod history, you can find it here on craigslist in Worcester, Massachusetts for $3,975. Special thanks to Dan B for sharing this!

The Black Flame

This modified Roadmaster was actually discovered a few years back and has been floating around the internet for awhile, but previous attempts to sell it have failed. It would seem the seller has overvalued the car, but has slowly been lowering the price. Now that it is below $4k, it will hopefully find a buyer willing to tackle all that rust. Of course buying an old hot rod that needs so much work is a huge gamble. You never know what you are getting yourself into with a car that has been restored, but one that has been chopped, channeled, and stretched comes with even more questions and concerns. I’m sure once the seller gets to the right price, they will find a buyer. I just hope they find one before this hot rod is past being salvageable. So does anyone remember seeing this car in the May 1957 issue of Rod & Custom Magazine?


  1. Rich

    Looks like it’s at a salvage yard. The rust in the front fenders is so bad it makes you wonder what the rest is like. Normally I love these cars, but this is one I’d pass on.

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  2. Mark E

    Interesting! 1948 Buick Roadmaster restyled by Dunshee’s Body Shop for Jack Crabbs of Bettendorf, Iowa. The car was known as the “Black Flame”, and Jack’s intent was to build and market a low scale production custom car for wealthy people, like the Kurtis Cad and the Muntz of the same time. When he tried to obtain permission from GM he was told that no matter what he did the car was initially a Buick, and the permission was denied.

    For sale since 2013 according to the article. http://www.kustomrama.com/index.php?title=Jack_Crabbs%27_1948_Buick

    Lots of structural strangeness hiding under the body. I’m not that brave…

    Like 1
    • Will

      If you follow the links a little further you’ll find the builder also built Oscar Mayer cars #1 and #2

      Like 1
  3. Salt Man

    World-class yard art!

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  4. Dan C

    Although this is a piece of history, I would say it’s time for the crusher. Looking at the pictures on Craigslist pretty much confirms this. Rust everywhere…and who knows what the part is that’s rusted. Rather than purchase this rust bucket it would probably be more cost effective to find yourself a ’48 in better condition and do your own custom. Just my opinion.

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  5. Rick

    I grew up in Davenport and remember seeing this car on display at a car show held at the river levee, don’t remember the year but there were some pretty radical cars there. There were different race cars there also I remember some midgets by Mel and Don Kenyon and the Fulton Brothers and others. Only remember the one time I don’t know who promoted the show. It is a shame that Jack’s car is so far gone, it would take some really deep pockets.

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    • Frank J. Dunshee

      I am the son of Frank C. Dunshee that owned Dunshee’s Body Shop in Davenport on Rockingham Rd. If you need more info I will try to remember back then :>). My Dad was a car nut for sure and I have followed in his footsteps . I will never own as many as he did but have owned 55 Corvette’s and many other cars. I remember My Dad’s Muntz Jet, what a cool car and the Jags, MG’s, Cads, Mercurys, Etc.
      My Dad passed away in Denver on Dec 28th 2006, My Mom still lives there at age 86. My Brother and Sister also live in CO.
      Frank J. Dunshee AZVETTE@aol.com

      Like 1
      • Alan (Michigan)

        Thanks for contributing to the history. As I stated elsewhere, I find it surprising and sad that a car of this caliber could be left out to disintegrate. The memories of your dad and his skills with cars must be special to hold and recall.

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      • Rick

        Hi Frank, it was really nice to read your note about your dad. Back then the area was called the Tri Cities and it had a street rod , custom and racing scene that would surprise most people. Being a old west ender I went by the shop many times just to see what was sitting around and dream.

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  6. jose nazario

    I think it is a cool ride.
    Too bad I do not a place to restored and put more modification to nicer look.
    It would cost too much to restored and add a modern drive train with air conditioning and all the ideas in my head.
    Good luck

    Like 0
  7. Mike d

    have wondered what happened to cars like these.. this is my answer. I guess they too fall into disrepair and are ” put out to pasture” this looks way too far gone . of course, I don’t have the $$$, even if I did, probably would not attempt it

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  8. JW454

    I’ve seen a few of the fifties customs and other well known cars of the past end up in this condition. It makes me wonder what transpires in their past that sets them on a course of total neglect? They may not be your cup of tea as it isn’t mine but, it was to someone long ago. Somewhere along the way someone may have bought it if it was offered for sale and it wouldn’t have ended up in this condition. Sad.

    Like 0
  9. George B

    Paging Mr. Leno, Mr. Leno to the white courtesy phone.

    Like 0
  10. Vince Habel

    Leave it die in peace.

    Like 0
  11. Gavin C

    This might be too far gone, but it should be at least saved so that a rod builder of today can get the ideas and maybe use the style to build a Buick rep (from a wreck of course) and then this one could end its days like Salt Man says, as yard-art. Plenty of people love the style and what’s more it was done in the day, hot rod history

    Like 0
  12. John M

    Land Yacht!!!

    Like 0
  13. gunningbar


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  14. stu

    What a great old car. I’ve always liked the look of the skirted front wheel openings. Of course, rear skirts, continental tire kit, frenched lights–often from a different vehicle (Ford in this case?)–are all part of the styling that defined the era.

    Too bad it was let go for so long…………

    Like 0
  15. Alan (Michigan)

    Now that is a real shame.

    I’m always curious about the reason a polished and shined up special car like this would be left for the elements to reclaim the materials. One of the photos shows a low angle view of the engine, with no cylinder head in place. Perhaps it developed a problem, and was torn down for a new top end, but never finished. And that then began the long slow decline, including decades outside. How on earth did the air bags inside the rear coil springs manage to hold air all these years? Yes, the car is severely rusted. The trunk pan is completely gone, as in AWOL. Structural rust? Certainly.

    The tail lights… circa 1956 Ford? Look great here… I like the builder’s imagination, but gee, I don’t know about the hood. Maybe a bit too extreme, even for me. I dig the windshield, and the Oldsmobile (?) jet plane on the leading edge of the roof. Nice detail!

    Like 0
    • DT

      Im with ya,I like the styling,but that hood.This car needs to be completley disassembled.And it needs a parts car.And a truck load of sheetmetal.but its possible.I hope the right person buys it.

      Like 0
  16. wayne

    Fugly. I didn’t realise that blind people customised cars.

    Like 0
  17. junkman Member

    How about the 59 chevy sedan delivery in the back round, as for this one just a plain old shame.

    Like 0
  18. RickyM

    Found this link for the magazine article :


    Shame it has been left out to rot………

    Like 0
  19. Mike_B_SVT

    Wow, that thing was cool (IMHO)!

    Yeah, it’s crusty. Yeah, it’s a ton of work on a pile of sh…eetmetal >.>
    But holy cow, what a history! You could spend $4k on another project car in better shape, but to do all the mods would cost the same amount of money anyhow, and in the end your creation wouldn’t have the history that this one comes with.

    PPpphhttt!! Heck, offer him $2.5k and put another $20k into the body and paint. Call it $15k in drivetrain work, $5k into a modest interior… another $5k for incidentals… Puts you at $45k for a smokin’ hotrod that you could take to shows and blow people away.

    Like 0
  20. Rich

    Maybe if someone had stepped up in 1989 it could have been saved. Unless someone was really inspired by that car years ago and just has to have it – put it in a field and let it rust in peace.

    Like 0
    • Alan (Michigan)

      Ya know, 25 years ago, it just had “patina”. Thanks for posting that.

      Too bad that the last quarter-century was so unkind.

      I just read the [RickyM] linked article… The top was removable??? Wow.

      Sadly, now it would take more extensive metalsmithing than when first created, by…. A Lot.

      Like 0
  21. Aaron

    This was my grandfathers he built from the ground up and couldnt finsh it because of becoming ill. My grandmothers holded on to it for years after till it was time to let items go because she soon became ill as well with dementia this was supposed to go to a auto body shop where the old guy bought the car and was supposed to continue restoring it but im seeing that he lied and didnt keep his promise my grandmother and him agreed she’d only sell if he swore it would get completed and not en up in a junk yard what a shame!

    Like 2
  22. Ashley willis

    THERE IT IS!!!!! The black flame Buick! My grandfather has been trying to track down this car. My grandfathers brother is Eddie Bell, it is a shame that this car is in such bad condition but family would love to track down this car and try to buy it for the second time. The first time my grandfather got turned down. And although it may be in horrible shape, it’s the memory and history of the family. If anybody has any information on where I can find it now, please comment back! Thank you!

    Like 1
  23. joe

    The car is safe and sound, the restoration has begun.

    Like 1
    • DayDreamBeliever

      Any relation to Ashley Willis, or any of the relatives who have posted comments here?
      Good Luck with the restoration.
      Send some photos to the BarnFinds crew if you get a chance, posting some updates would be a great way to refresh this listing….

      Like 1
    • Tiana Huggins

      Do you know who has this? And how I can get in contact with the person who owns it. My husband’s great uncle is Eddy Bill one of the original builders! He is desperately searching for those car! Thank you

      Like 0

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