Basket Case: 1915 Buick Model C25

In the early 1900s, William Durant, head of General Motors, was so busy buying up the competition that he nearly bankrupted the company and by 1910 had been fired. Then WW I broke out. Still, the Buick division was going great guns, recovering from self-imposed financial wreckage, and selling strongly into the war years. Choices from the customer’s perspective were simple: you either bought a roadster or a touring sedan, year after year, from about 1911 through at least 1915. Body sheet metal was updated but mechanicals really remained the same: Buick’s 165 cu. in. four-cylinder motor, a three-speed manual transmission, and mechanical rear drum brakes. Here on eBay is a piece of history, a 1915 Buick Model C25 touring sedan, with brisk bidding to $2,175, no reserve. The car is located in Salt Lake City, Utah, and sells with a bill of sale only. It was only recently dragged from a barn, having been stored since 1953. While just over 19,000 C25s were produced, I am willing to bet nowhere near that many survive today. Thanks to T.J. for this marvelous tip!

Buick started using its 165 cu. in. motor in 1908. This sturdy four-cylinder produced about 23 hp; horsepower hadn’t improved by the time this powerplant was installed in the 1915 C25, though Buick was on the verge of introducing a six-cylinder. Unfortunately, that moment was still in the future when this Buick hit the road. Consequently, the top speed for this Brass Era car was about 35 mph, and you probably didn’t want to go that fast. Remember, the brakes are limited to the rear wheels only!

The interior is … mostly there. The upholstery was leather, and unfortunately, the front seat cushions were apparently stored outside. Those are included with the car. The back seat might be salvageable. The car also has three extra wheels and rims, which if I understand the seller correctly are from a Model T. We’re told the tires can be used on this car, but I don’t know why you’d want to, given their age.

The top looks like something from a haunted house, so put that on your list if you win the bidding. While 1915 is considered to be the last year of the Brass Era, this Buick has minimal ornamentation. Buick’s Brass Era heyday was just a few years earlier. Here is a restored C25, showing the subdued trim.  Still, if you’ve been wanting a Brass Era car to qualify you for membership in the Horseless Carriage Club of America without all that polishing, now is your chance!

Comments

  1. Bob McK Member

    I can see it restored… It would be so beautiful.

    Like 8
  2. matt

    The external push rods are cool ! I suppose there were babbitt bearings; certainly not 6/6 bronze.
    I wonder if the owner of an external pushrod type engine had to routinely oil can the exposed contact surfaces ?
    The engine alone would be fun to work on.
    It looks like there is a spark advance/retard control on the steering wheel.
    Lots of double clutching on this auto.
    I agree with Bob McK.
    Good luck to whoever buys it !!

    Like 3
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Matt,

      We did a complete restoration to a light gray 1914 Buick model 25 open touring, finishing in 1978. The car had come out of the estate of the original owner, a Doctor.

      Those external pushrods required oiling about every 50 miles if I remember correctly. There was an oil can in a bracket under the hood. One of the reasons there was no rust in the engine compartment was because there was so much oil coating everything once the car got up to speed [20mph was as fast as we ever drove it.]

      Not only was it necessary to double clutch, you had to do it slowly. Going up any hill that required faster shifting to maintain speed, meant gear clashing. Don’t remember how downshifting was, as we never risked driving down any sort of hill [see my comment about brakes below!]

      As for the brakes, they were damn near worthless, working on the rear wheels only. As the original linings were still 80% there, we left them in place, and found out that above 10 mph the brakes did nothing to stop the car. We tried multiple types of lining materials for the externally contracting brake bands, but nothing seemed to make any difference.

      Steering wheel hub had both spark control and engine speed control.

      I drove the car in a local 4th of July parade, and even at a walking pace the brakes would only slow the car down until finally grabbing just before stopping.

      The car I restored was sold new with both Prestolite carbide gas lamps and Bosch electric lamps, and yes, it had 2 sets of headlights and 2 taillights! Also had an electric starter, it was added about 1918-20, again made by American Bosch.

      Like 4
  3. Bunky

    Neat OLD Buick. Hope someone takes on the project. Good write up- but not a “basket case”.

    Like 3
  4. bobH Member

    WOW…. I have the identical same car, in about the same condition. I’m blown away. I never expected to see another one in identical condition. All I gotta do is polish and wax it. I’m in desperate need of someone who is a woodworker, and knows how to rebuild the wood in mine.

    Like 1
  5. bobH Member

    My more realistic comment should have been…. Due to my advanced age, and lack of ability, I SHOULD be offering mine to someone else. And, with 50+ bids on this one, there should be someone out there with the ability to save the one I have. And, I could offer mine at a lower price than where the bidding is on this one. Just saying….

    Like 4
    • Kelly Young

      Would like to make an offer on your Buick. 806 831 5460. Kelly Young

  6. CM

    Super rare in today’s world. It survived this long it should be treated to a restoration.

    Like 1
  7. Charles Marks

    Buick is a storied brand of course, going back over a century. Named for founder David Dunbar Buick, a Scot who moved to Detroit as a young child. Took over a plumbing supply business that in 1882 ran into financial trouble. Was an innovator: among other things, developed the process of bonding vitreous ‘enamel’ (trade name: porcelain) to cast iron to make white bath tubs cheaper. His method is still used today. Even after founding the car company that (still) bears his name, he died penniless in the late 1920’s.

    Like 6
  8. Jerry W Ashley

    Certainly not a “basket case” That’s a disservice to the seller.

  9. Frank

    This would be a nice departure from the mundane Model T’s at every show.

    Like 1
  10. Ike Onick

    William C.Durant. The “C” stands for “Crapo” which was later used to describe a vast majority of the cars his company later built.

    • William C. Durant's ghost

      Ha!

      Like 1
  11. Robert Scott

    Not like a Buick engine that I have ever seen , What is it ?

  12. R.Lee

    Awesome!

    Perhaps someone that has spent time on some get this one and save it from the Clampets.

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