Easy Repair? 1931 Buick Series 60 Rumble Seat Coupe

Getting this nicely presented 1931 Buick Series 60 Coupe to the point where it can be driven and enjoyed again would appear to be a very straightforward process. The car generally presents quite well, and it is guaranteed to attract its share of attention wherever it goes. If a bit of weekend cruising in a pre-war classic holds an attraction to you, then you will find the Buick located in Parlin, New Jersey, and listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding on the Buick has reached $5,100, but the reserve hasn’t been met.

Generally, the presentation of the Buick is quite good, and if the next owner feels inclined to drive and enjoy it as it currently stands, then that would be fully understandable The paint on the car looks very presentable, but for the perfectionists, the Copper Metallic that graces the fenders and running boards would not be original. There are no indications that the vehicle has been afflicted with rust issues, and the owner certainly doesn’t mention any. The exterior chrome generally shines very nicely, but there are a few items that could stand a trip to the plater at some point. Items like the lower section of the front bumper are showing some corrosion, as are the wheel rims. The latter is quite interesting because these would not have been chrome originally, so maybe the best solution would be to have them stripped and painted or powder-coated. One cool feature is the fact that the Buick is fitted with a rumble seat, which is sure to provide someone with some interesting motoring experiences. If the person in this photo is the proud owner, then the trophy that he is holding would tend to indicate that this Buick has made a positive impact somewhere during its life.

Now we get to the area which was the cause of the Buick being taken out of service. There appear to be no issues with the mighty 272ci straight-eight engine. This is backed by a 3-speed manual transmission. It is the bit in between that is the issue. Apparently, the clutch failed when the car was being driven to a local show, and the car hasn’t been driven since. It isn’t clear how long ago this occurred, but prior to that point, the owner says that the car drove nicely, with no odd noises or smoke. The 272 was a new feature in the Buick for 1931, and this beast produced a healthy 90hp. It didn’t make the car a jet, but that engine is capable of producing significant amounts of torque, making for a very flexible car in traffic or on extended climbs. Hopefully, replacing the clutch will return the vehicle to a roadworthy state.

As with the rest of the car, the interior of the Buick presents quite well. I don’t believe that the upholstery is original, but it really doesn’t look out of place in a car of this era. The door trims and the edges of the seat are looking dirty, but I believe that they would be able to be restored by a professional cleaner. We can’t see the state of the dash, but one thing that I would probably change (and it would be easy) would be the shifter knob. It isn’t original, and it certainly isn’t in keeping with the character of the vehicle. I’d also be inclined to give that guy in the passenger seat a good feed because he’s looking pretty hungry.

On face value, it doesn’t look like it would take a huge amount of work to return this 1931 Buick to active service, and I suspect that once this has been achieved, that it would be a thoroughly enjoyable car to drive. To me, beyond replacing the clutch, the most urgent need would be to address the state of the wheels, as I have noticed that run-off oxidization from those is staining the tires. Otherwise, it is a car that could potentially just be driven and enjoyed. That has to sound like a pretty good option for most people.

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Comments

  1. Chas358 Chasman358

    Beautiful car. A little TLC and the old Buick would be perfect.

    Like 9
  2. ken tilly UK Member

    She’s a Duesy!

    Like 2
    • Al

      It’s not a Duesy, it’s a Buick !!!

      A Duesy is a Duesenburg, and
      this Buick is dang nice, but it ain’t a Duesy.

      Like 7
      • ken tilly Member

        I know that Al, but you missed the point. I am under the impression that anything that is regarded as absolutely superb, whether it be a car, painting, horse etc, is called a Duesy because the Duesenberg was considered to be the Rolls Royce of American cars.

        Like 16
    • BR

      Doozy.

      Like 2
  3. 86_Vette_Convertible

    By 1931 I thought all cars had converted to steel wheels. If those are really wood, look them over very carefully and know to the best of my knowledge there are few people around the country capable of repairing or building them.
    Overall the car looks good. I don’t know how easy it will be to find a clutch for it, but if found it could be a great show car IMO.

    Like 1
    • Andy

      Apparently Packard offered wooden artillery wheels up to 1936. I assume by the ’30s, only the spokes were wood. Of course this is a Buick, not a Packard, but Buick spent most of the ’20s (and you can still see it a little in this ’31) trying to look as much like Packards as copyright law would allow.

      Like 1
  4. Bob McK Member

    Really nice car if it can be purchased right.

    Like 2
  5. Daniel Wright

    It has an alternator not a generator. I wonder if the electrics are twelve volt now?

    Like 3
    • JRHaelig

      The ebay photos show 2 batteries under the hood!

      What does that give you…6 for the gauges and 12 for the starter?

      Like 2
      • Pete Phillips

        Battery should be under the front passenger’s floorboard. I wonder if there’s a third battery there?!

    • luke arnott Member

      6v alternators are available.

  6. Paolo

    I would like to know what color it was originally. I like the car and it has plenty of flash. The paint job puts it over the top for me. I’d go with one color and maybe darker.

    Like 2
  7. Paolo

    Just noticed the golf bag door. This was a car designed from a Roaring Twenties perspective with no hint of the yawning chasm of 1932-1933 to come. Goodbye bootleg whiskey, silent movies, Herbert Hoover. Goodbye golf club doors. Hello Hooverville, 21st amendment, FDR, Dillinger, Dizzy Dean, Van Lingle Mungo.

    Like 5
  8. Brakeservo

    What a disappointment seeing that modern alternator under the hood. Just kills it for me. A generator is perfectly fine when driving this as they were meant to be driven.

    Like 1
    • WR Hall

      No big deal to fix. You should able to find an original generator and have it converted into an alternator.

      Like 1
  9. canadainmarkseh Member

    I’d repaint the fenders and running boards red. It makes no sense to me why the owner wouldn’t just fix the clutch right away. This car is Stone Age simple and for me the engine would barely be cold and I’d be under it pulling the transmission. I think it’s very cool that it. As a straight 8 under the hood which probable has a very nice sound to it.

    Like 4
  10. Fred W

    Almost 3 days to go- wonder what the final price will be, and will it meet reserve? I could easily live with the copper for a while, and I’ll bet the clutch could be found in someone’s NOS parts stash. After all, it’s not a Peerless- its a Buick!

    Like 1
    • Bill Hall

      Clutches are not a big deal to have rebuilt. Just look for an industrial brake parts co and go from there or check with other old care truck people in your area, rebuilders are out there. Same with wooden wheels. These are items it takes digging to get fixed can be done with no problem.

      Like 2
  11. D Nieuwenhuis

    First owner still on the passenger seat.

    Like 5
  12. Ben T. Spanner

    Check out the you tube video under Jonathan W. where he builds wooden spokes from wheel barrow handles for his 1929 Whippet.

    Like 1
  13. Carl

    A very intriguing car. I’ve never opened up a clutch on a 31 Buick. I suspect it is not complex. Probably open drive shaft rather than the torque tube of later Buicks. The latter much harder to deal with. Done that though!!

    A school chum had a 31 Studebaker coupe. Circa 48!! I had a 31 Stude sedan. His suffered from bad wood wheels. Mine had steel wire wheels.
    His also had starter issues, mine fired immediately. I swapped my “T” to him for it! After some debate, my sedan prevailed and the coupe became a parts car. First yield a replacement axle for the one that busted in my sedan. Yikes it had been fixed. Brazed!!!!

    As to the clutch disc. One could probably find a shop to reline it. The pressure plate is probably OK. But, the throw out bearing might be a challenge.. but, doable, one way or another…

    Bad clutch does indeed limit the value of this slick car..

    Like 2
  14. Tom Bell

    Adam, with respect to your comment on the chrome bumper, I may be wrong but I think chrome plating did not become common until min-late 1930’s. Prior to that, nickel plating was used for brightwork.

    Like 1
  15. schooner

    The guy has been in the passenger seat since ’32 when the wife said “I’ll just be a minute honey, I need to get something”.

    Like 3
  16. BR

    I believe this car needs a rewire under the hood. I see a badly corroded 12 volt battery hanging off the driver’s side firewall, and another, possibly 6 volt, battery on the passenger side with a screwdriver laying across the top, and a battery cable pointing to Mars. A huge red flag for me. And what’s up with the single visor on the fog light?
    I think there is more wrong with this car than the clutch.

  17. v

    this car is a fire trap waiting to happen. the main lead (red wire)goes through the fire wall without a rubber gromet. the screw driver on the battery is a plus. the car is from 1931 you have to expect other manufactured parts on a driver. clearly its not a show car but her age is her beauty.the only thing id want to check is the trans cause who knows how long the gears have been grinding rowing through the gears. i say get a stage I manual trans and clutch assembly from a newer buick and really have fun rowing through the gears just kidding.if you cant fix a 1931 buick you have no buisness owning one. give him 15,000 and say thanks. NOW , wheres the hand crank for the engine…

  18. James HGF

    One can only hope that this old Buick is given a complete restoration. No, not a concours d’elegance level bit of nonsense, but a thoroughly presentable driver/car and coffee sympathetic restoration.

    The ’31 Buick line introduced the new inline eights designed by the young Italian engineer, John Dolza, who at 27 had only been in the States and at Buick for a few years. With limited English skills when he first arrived he was slotted in to the drafting department, but he stepped forward when Buick was having severe problems with the camshafts for the six cylinder cars. Dolza solved the problem with his design and was immediately promoted to the engineering staff by Dutch Bower. Impressed with Dolza’s talents Bower designated Dolza to design the new eight bypassing senior engineers.

    Again the eight had to be designed to fit in the space of the six without one extra inch allocated to the engine’s length. In high speed destructive testing vis a vis the Buick sixes and the Packard standard eight it succeeded beyond expectations long outlasting the mileage racked up by the sixes and the Packard eight before their rod bearings failed.

    Top speed of the 50 series car per Buick was 69.25 mph with the 90 clocking a solid 75.75 mph. I would estimate the top speed of a 60 series at 71-73 mph. All the cars have torque tube drive which even in 1928 Buick was touting as a Buick long term success although then they were using cantilevered rear springs rather than semi-elliptic as on the 1931.

    Buick being Buick they were still using mechanical brakes rather than hydraulic in ’31, but the wooden spoke wheels were phased out in late 1932.

    This Buick appears to have been treated to one bodge after another and there’s nothing reassuring in the seller’s info as to actual mechanical well being. The sale is “AS IS” condition. The paint scheme, added chrome (wheel rims, spare cover, above the side windows and above the windshield) leave much to be desired.

    Here’s the paint data for the model sixty cars:

    http://oldcarbrochures.com/static/NA/Buick/1931%20Buick/1931%20Buick%20Exterior%20Colors%20Chart/image6.html

    Like 1
  19. James HGF

    One should also remember that Buck bodies were not all steel, however they were assembled and finished prior to being fitted to the chassis. Although old car brochures dot com doesn’t have a brochure for the ’31 Buick they do have something better, the 1931 Buick Fisher Body Manual which offers a super level of detail for the casual observer or serious restorer (click on the thumbnails):

    http://oldcarbrochures.com/static/NA/Buick/1931%20Buick/1931%20Buick%20Fisher%20Body%20Manual/index1.html

    What I hope doesn’t happen is that some ‘evil doer’ acquires this car and slots in a ‘nail head’ V8 or any other ‘whatever’ (SBC etc,, etc,) and assorted paraphernalia (automatic, etc.) thus preventing the preservation of a not particularly valuable, but interesting 88 year old automobile.

    BTW Buick manufactured 187,861 cars in 1930, 138,965 in ’31, dropping to 56,790 in ’32, and 46,924 in ’33 before a modest rebound to 71,009 in ’34, dropping again to 53,249 in ’35. The turn around came in ’36 @ 168,596 units.

    Like 1
  20. Bill Hall

    Most interesting and informative

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