Big Risks And Big Rewards: 1941 Buick Super Convertible

One of the concerns that is frequently discussed here on Barn Finds is “being able to get out” of a vehicle.  This means that when you add up the initial price, parts, and labor, will you have a car that is worth more than the sum, or will you be underwater?  Sadly, nearly every project will leave you underwater, but our love for the hobby usually makes up for any deficit.  This time, I believe we have found a car that may provide a potential buyer with a return on their investment.  The catch is that when I tell you this one has been disassembled, I really mean it.  Feast your eyes on this 1941 Buick Super convertible.  Found on eBay in Easley, South Carolina, this potential stunner is currently bid to only $1,825 with just six days to go.  Is this a pig in a poke, or a car collector’s winning lottery ticket?  Let’s take a look and see.

First off, what is a Buick Super?  According to a buyers guide on a website called Harwood Performance, Buick produced five different models in 1941, and among those were a number of different body styles.  The Super was positioned as the second rung up the ladder, and these cars were powered by a 248 cubic inch inline eight cylinder engine with dual carburetors.  The Super convertible was model 56C, and it sold for $1,267 new (those were the days).  All told, 12,391 of this body style were built.

As you can see above, the data tag identifies the car on eBay as a 56C, which is a Super convertible.  We can also see that the paint code is 560, which corresponds to a black exterior.  Try as I might, I cannot find what a 919 trim code entails, but my guess is that it denotes that the car was upholstered with red leather.  A little digging on the LeBaron Bonney website had red leather and vinyl as the original materials for these cars, and a complete upholstery kit (carpets, door panels, seats, convertible top, top boot, and trunk material) will set you back a cool $8,057.

As for the car’s current condition, the story is that it was driven into the building you see in the pictures over 40 years ago.  From there, the body and frame was stripped and primed, and the engine and transmission were rebuilt.  The seller tells us that the car is rust free, and that all of the parts are there.  Given that none of the pictures show the fenders or trunk lid, and that the whole car is scattered around this building, any inspection should have a Buick expert on hand.  There are a lot of parts on a Buick of this vintage, and a few missing ones would be ulcer inducing.

The picture above gives you a good idea as to what you would be facing if you decided to purchase this car.  We can see the rear axle, complete with a tire, rim, and a spring.  The rest of the stuff looks like the remnants of a garage sale, complete with a Harbor Freight furniture dolly, an old Sears bag, and what looks to be a pith helmet.  The bits of insulation may be signs that there are some four legged friends lurking in all of this mess, so wise buyers might consider bringing a BB gun and/or a six pack of alley cats.

Above is the rebuilt straight eight engine for the car.  After sitting for so many years, it would probably be a good idea to open this one up and check it out before dropping it back into the car.  The paint on the engine itself will likely need to be freshened up if restoring the car to concours condition.  To be honest, the whole car would probably need to be stripped and primed again to prevent any reaction with new primers and paints to what is likely very old lacquer primer.  I would love to hear from any readers that can elaborate or educate us on this, but I would be nervous about applying any finish over what was sprayed on this car so long ago.  It would be a shame to waste the tremendous amount of labor and materials needed to produce a good paint job.

So, if everything is there, and the process goes smoothly, a wild guess would put you at about $30,000 into the car.  Of course, your labor would be free in that equation.  Would you break even?  A quick scan of the internet shows these cars advertised from around $20,000 to a heady $80,000.  The quality of the restoration would be a big factor, but, if the description of the condition is accurate, then starting with an excellent car that has been protected for 40 years would help you produce a great end product.  Then, the only dilemma would be presented when you drove it.  While I have never driven one, the general consensus is that this is the kind of car you will fall in love with.  Buick quality at the time was stellar, and that smooth as silk straight eight engine combined with the supple suspension that Buicks of this era are known for would make it hard to drag this one to Barrett-Jackson.  Making a profit doesn’t seem so important if you end up with a fantastic convertible in the garage.

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Comments

  1. jw454

    If you’re going to start from this point, you better know these cars pretty well. This would be one big jigsaw puzzle. Starting out, you wouldn’t know if you had all the parts to it until you needed something you didn’t have.

    Like 1
  2. Gearheadengineering

    “My old man is a TV repair man. He’s got the ultimate set of tools. I can fix it.”

    I love this. If you have doubts, search for photos of a complete one – beautiful cars. I would be willing to take it on but I am not willing to be single again.

    – Johb

    • Michael thomas

      I have an uncle in the carpet business so I am sure its not much of a project

  3. Classic Steel

    After 40 years you bet parts are missing and not available.
    This can be built with minimum fabrication to attempt close to original.

    The interior kit would not be used and a good mom and pop upholstery person would’ve expensive but not eight grand etc. they would make the top if the bows are even there 🤔

    So a labor of love ❤️ but still a twenty or more cost if sweat equity is applied!

  4. grant

    I’ve stopped trying to figure out “profit potential with my projects, for the simple reason that if one is logical about it, this hobby makes no sense. Hence the term “labor of love.” Love has no logic. My most recent project was a 1979 Sea Ray SRV-240. It was SUPPOSED to be a quick mechanical refresh of a boat that had been stored for a few years. By the time we discovered that the “soft spot” on the deck extended to the stringers and transom, and that the engine was a short block out of a car (yeah, no….) I was in too deep and had to decide to continue or cut my lossess. My stubbornness took over and 4 years later, it’s mostly done, looks fantastic and we had a ton of fun on it last summer. On a good day, I might be able to get back 1/2 to 2/3 of what I’ve put into it. My point being, besides wanting to talk about the boat lol; is to stop thinking about money. Most of the time, these projects will not be moneymakers. They’ll be skill-builders, friendship-developers, memory-makers. Its hard not to be proud when strangers comment on your hard work. I hope this car gets finished, and the world gets to see it. And if anyone has an SRV-240 hull laying around, I’m still hunting for a few teak trim pieces….

    • Dovi65

      Absolutely correct! Restoring a classic car [boat/rv, etc] is not a money making venture. Nor should it be. You should restore a car for it’s personal [non-monetary] value, or connection to you. They are indeed labors of love

    • mikeH

      All car guys are crazy—It’s simply a matter of degree. Sane people wouldn’t be doing this.

    • AMX Brian

      Try auto tempest for the boat parts. It searches areas and pulls from craigslist, ebay, etc.

      • grant

        Thanks, I will!

  5. R.J.

    Believe me I’ve been tackling these projects since I was 13 and now going on 78. Not worth he time, effort or money if your over fifty and you think for one moment your wife and kids are going to cherish what you done? It will be sold before your body is cold. Sorry folks terrible truth.

    • grant

      Wow RJ. I’ve told my kids to just sell it all when I go, and they understood but there were a few things that they were offended I didn’t think they would cherish. If you are thinking like that, why do anything, ever? We do it for ourselves and whatever machine we’re enamored with…

    • Dan in Texas

      RJ, did you ever enjoy any of your projects?

  6. Ohio Rick

    The builder might find some interesting measurements given this convertible has sat for years without the shell being braced to keep it near square!

  7. Beatnik Bedouin

    Where was this 45 years ago, when I had my ’40 Super coupe?

    This is a resto that only the highly skilled and patient (looking to source parts) should consider…

  8. Greg H

    He’s one that’s black with red interior – over $70k. No idea about who this seller is, but it shows what the final product is like and what the value may be. https://www.connorsmotorcar.com/vehicles/366/1941-buick-super

    • Michael thomas

      I see at least 80,000 worth of work to get this one anywhere near the one you linked

  9. Joey

    Greg H,

    The beautiful auto you posted is a four (4) door convertible with production numbers of about 500 which is much more rare than this two (2) door with production numbers of approximately 12,000

  10. Peter

    I note there are variations in this 41 model? The bumpers. Some have conventional profiles and others have spooned ends big enough to eat a tub of ice cream at a drivein.
    Is this a;so termed a ‘Super Eight’ model ?
    Are all the fenders there?

  11. Peter

    “This IS a Car” was an advertising catch phrase for another brand of car, but this one has it I feel.

  12. Peter

    The bits of insulation may be signs that there are some four legged friends lurking in all of this mess, so wise buyers might consider bringing a BB gun and/or a six pack of alley cats.” Remember ‘TOP CAT’ the indisputable….on Television? May have been his car not one Elvis had ( :

  13. Pete

    Located in Sceasley SC. LOL. There is a guy in Grey Court SC that sort of specializes in non running, parts missing, banged up classics and he wants driver quality prices. Although he does have a few nice cars out there on I-385. For me I would want to borrow or have access to a complete variant of this same car that I could use as a reference point. jw454 is right on the money, you really gotta know your stuff when it comes to these cars. You can believe that this is rust free though. That is one thing we do have going for us in the inland carolinas.

  14. Solosolo KEN TILLY Member

    Hi Jeff. Re your comment on removing all of the existing paint and primers before re painting, due to possible reactions. I believe that most auto paints are now water based and if so there should be no reaction to the existing paint, primers and fillers.

  15. TJP

    I own and run a restoration shop. the 20-30K parts cost numbers being thrown around are ridiculous unless one is building a rat rod. I would suggest doubling those number at a minimum and then add the labor

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