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Back In Business: 1937 Buick Special Business Coupe

From John H – I wanted to share my Barn Find Success Story with you. I was the fortunate guy who scored this ’39 Buick Business Coupe back in November of 2016 (you can read the original post here). As luck would have it – I was covering an overnight shift and goofing off to stay awake when I found this beauty.  A couple of emails and a phone call later, I was on my way to the outskirts of Philadelphia to see a man about a car.

The seller had purchased it in the mid-’60s as his high school car.  It was showing a tad over 33,000 miles and was, in fact, the quintessential “little old lady car”.  With receipts to back it up.  She had left the car at a service station – you remember what those were – and never picked it up.  The seller purchased it and ran it for a number of years before parking it at his parent’s place.

As the original Barn Finds post said – it looked solid but was not running and had a completely roached interior. It appeared to be within my parts changing capabilities, so we shook hands (and I gave him a very modest stack of hundies) and she was on the flatbed home.

Step 1 was a thorough cleaning inside and out. I found and evicted, a mouse that also made the trip then I started my foray into the mystical world of ’39 Buicks. Working in my backyard garage and not having a grease pit or oil separator for the steam cleaning she so desperately needed meant hours on my back scraping, scrubbing and wiping away years of fossilized grease.

With not much more than pan removal and cleaning, and a new long & narrow battery from Tractor Supply the old girl fired up. Oh, yeah – water pump, new master cylinder, 4 wheels of brakes & lines and a new clutch & pressure plate, too. Raise your hand if you knew that a ’95 Jeep Grand Cherokee clutch kit bolts right in.  An old timer out west gave me that nugget.

I used PC-7 and Duplicolor paint to restore the steering wheel and went for the essential red wheels and wide whites. I found some great upholstery fabric at a local fabric warehouse for the door cards and seat. I tried but could not resurrect the original spring cushion setup. They were just too far gone. As an alternative, I played with stacks of foam until I got the seating to the right height for my “not-so-1939” 6 foot, 4-inch frame.  Several days of angst and agita later and I had completed my first upholstery job!

All in all, I have a really cool preservation-rod and no plans to touch the outside. Our cruising season starts in a couple of weeks and I am ready to get out there!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, stories like this are why we do what we do! Every one of us here at Barn Finds is excited for John and can’t wait to hear how his first season of cruising goes in his Buick! This one goes to show, you don’t need to spend big money to have a fun classic to drive. Best of luck to John and his Buick!

If you’ve ever sold or bought a car we’ve listed, we sure would love to hear from you! Please contact us via mail@barnfinds.com.


  1. NotSure

    Love this story!!! Thank you for letting us all know that these old girls can come back. Especially liked the clutch kit story!!

    Like 45
  2. Gaspumpchas

    Great story!! Much enjoyment to be had!! Another story that makes barnfinds .com so great!!


    Like 23
  3. bob

    I actually think this is a ’39.

    Like 11
  4. 71FXSuperGlide

    Or raise your hand if you knew that a ’95 Jeep Grand Cherokee actually came with a manual gearbox! Figured they were all autos by that time.

    Neat car and story.

    Like 18
  5. Ken

    As noted above, your 1937 Buick is actually a 1939 Buick. You might want to change the title of your post.

    Like 11
  6. MathieuB

    Thanks for sharing your story!
    Congrats and nice job!

    Like 9
  7. Mountainwoodie

    Just like the ‘old’days. Do it yourself! THAT’S what makes Americans great. Or, umm, at least it used to :)

    Like 20
  8. Bob McK

    I have a 38 with a similar story. The only thing I did differently try than this guy was to add AC. It is hot in Southern Florida and the engine puts off a lot of heat. So happy to see this car saved! I promise, you will love driving it this year.

    Like 10
    • Nigel Walker

      Hey nice to talk to another classic Buick owner. I am looking for leads to some body parts for my 37 Buick Special Limo. I sent the car out to have the engine rebuilt and some minor rust fixed up and she came back in pieces with parts missing. there is a posting further down on what I am looking for. if you have spares or know of a Buick salvage guy in your neck of the woods I would be grateful. I am trying to get this done for my daughters wedding in August of this year. Thanks for considering.
      Cheers, N

      Like 5
      • Snotty

        There is a guy in town who has quite a bit of old buick stuff. If interested my # is 970 388 7752 Leon.

        Like 0
  9. ccrvtt

    John H – Thank You! Your story is truly inspirational – you just dug in and did what needed to be done. PowderMilk Biscuits could use you in an ad campaign.

    Love the interior and even more than love the wheels/tires! This car looks GREAT! Enjoy your summer!

    Like 10
  10. Jose Cantu

    Love the car. As a boy, born in ’38, I remember yearning to one day own a car just like yours. Never happened, but still hope to buy the car of dreams before I pass on to the other side.

    Just wondering though, how does one justify “goofing off” on the overnight shift?

    Mind you, I’m happy for you, and envious of you, but just can’t justify someone “goofing off” while working. Just doesn’t seem right to me. Again, happy for you and your great car.

    Like 3
  11. Stevieg

    Jose, I agree with you. This is why I absolutely love working with my Hispanic brethren. I have nothing but respect for your community & I wish I had more people with your mindset working with me. It happens all shifts, all industries, all states. Sometimes things might get slow @ work as far as regular duties but there is always something that can be done.
    In this case though, he did get a great car out of it. I too am both happy for and jealous of him lol.

    Like 3
  12. ccrvtt

    In John’s defense some overnight shifts only require that you be awake and available to answer a phone or monitor a security camera. A more charitable way to view this is that at least he was trying to stay awake and alert after having been called to cover a shift he was probably too tired to work in the first place.

    Like 14
    • grant

      Having worked many a grave shift, I can attest to this. You’re often times just a presence. My last gig provided me a high speed internet connection and encouraged me to bring my laptop, just stay awake.

      Like 7
      • Gaspumpchas

        Those who have never worked graveyard shift don’t realize how difficult it is. Thou shall not mess with the Body Clock! I worked a production job at a semiconductor plant and my answer to falling asleep was to stay as busy as possible. Trouble is I felt like I never got enough sleep, and the “3rd shift nausea” was always there. Did what I had to to move up to a day shift position. Sorry this is off topic, just wanted to share, thinking it might be a help to someone.

        Like 11
  13. Stevieg

    Fair enough! Either way, great car! I truly am jealous but happy for him.

    Like 3
  14. Nigel Walker

    Here is a picture of my ultra rare 1937 Buick special Limo. It has been in the movies and T.V. The car in the pictures and story is a 1939 business coupe. Anybody out there who has some leads to some 1937-38 Buick body parts I am interested. Grills & fasteners, Front Turn Signals and fasteners, centre windshield stainless divider bar, hood latches and fastener, hood latch handles. Sent the car out to be restored. It came back missing parts and what was there was in cardboard boxes either broken or unlabeled. Trying to get finished for my daughters wedding this coming summer. Any help any leads gratefully accepted.

    Like 4
  15. Dennis Zozula

    Great mind trip for me. My parents elderly neighbour was a world famous pianist, As such her travels meant that her late thirties Buick coupe purchased new was essentially unused in the sixties when she retired. When I cut the lawn I got tea, goodies and a good look at the car. I loved that car but I was too young to get it when she gave it up.

    Like 6
  16. Ben T. Spanner

    In 1966 or so my friend found a 1940 Buick 2 dr coupe under a large pile of lumber. Purchase price was $20. We tunneled in enough to jump the battery and for me to climb in the open driver’s window. I backed it out. It was not that dirty since it was buried under wooden planks.
    The car was fairly nice except for the left rear fender. A long time owner had a garage on an alley with a telephone pole across the alley. He would routinely back out until he contacted the pole. Lots of small dents. I drove it daily for a month or two until it was sold. It had a beautiful engine turned dash.

    Like 5
  17. Rick

    Great story. I also have a 39 Buick Special in similar condition.

    Like 1
  18. Maestro1

    This is the essence of the Hobby.

    Like 7
  19. jerry c

    I love the story and I love the car. I would really, really, really like to see her painted tho.

    Like 3
  20. David Frank David F Member

    This story is the best of Barn Finds. This is exactly what a lot of us would love to do. Thank you John H for sharing your good fortune and your wisdom!
    The museum’s Buick certainly draws a crowd wherever we take it. Perhaps we should hunt up a Jeep Grand Cherokee clutch kit to have on hand for the next clutch replacement.

    Like 5
  21. Del

    Great story.

    But I would paint it 😎

    Like 4
  22. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    Great story. It’s always nice to see follow up stories. Nice job on that steering wheel, But I might have gone with blue to match exterior color. I hope you send in more follow up as you progress with this beauty . Do you plan to re-chrome the bumpers etc?
    God bless America

    Like 0
  23. CFJ

    Agree with Del. Needs paint, more than any other reason to stop the rust. I too, worked night shifts, really three different shifts, changing each week; day, afternoon and night shifts. Dreaded the night shifts as I would not sleep during the day of the first night shift; worked 11p.m.-8 a.m., would be okay until about 3 a.m., would really get sleepy. But since I was working in a paper mill you had to stay awake, you had no choice. Joined the Air Force when I realized I did not want to work there all my life!

    Like 1

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