Garage Bound Since the Sixties: 1949 Buick Super Sedanet

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When World War II ended, the whole world wanted to get back to living their lives.  America, however, would never go back to what it was before Pearl Harbor.  What followed the war was a period of prosperity and great technological leaps.  Inspired by the burgeoning jet age, aerodynamics became a major trend in automotive design.  No company after the war produced cars as sleek as Buick.  This 1949 Buick Super Sedanet for sale on Facebook Marketplace in San Francisco, California was just one of the 409,138 reasons the automaker found itself in fourth place in sales that year.  The Buick you see here has been sitting in a garage since the 1960s waiting for its chance to float down the highways once again.  While it needs a lot of work if the new owner wants a perfectly restored car, can this Buick be returned to the road and driven with minimal investment beyond the $8,500 asking price?  Thanks to Gunter K. for the tip!

Looking back to the immediate postwar period, there were a lot of changes happening in this country.  People were moving on from what could only be called rough times for America.  The Great Depression was followed closely by the most devastating war in human history.  The toll in lives and treasure was incalculable.  However, America found itself in a very unique position when hostilities ceased.  We were the only major country with its manufacturing base left intact and the world needed to be rebuilt.  Companies transitioned from wartime production to the mass manufacture of goods quickly, and the prosperity that followed supercharged the American economy.  This, and the money built up by a country at war with little to buy, allowed Americans to rebuild their lives to a much higher standard of living.

This increased wealth allowed Buick to vault to fourth place in automobile production in 1947 and again in 1949.  First through third was always some combination of Ford, Chevrolet, and Plymouth, which were better known back then as the “Low-Cost Three.”  Buick, on the other hand, was one step below Cadillac in General Motors pecking order.  While not as flamboyant or quite as over-the-top luxurious as Cadillac, Buick had a reputation as a solidly built luxury car with a strong engine under the hood.  The fact that so many buyers had the money to buy such cars is noteworthy in itself and an indicator of the financial health of a revitalized postwar economy.

At Buick, division president Harlow Curtice was ready with products to sell.  The most notable addition to the lineup was the Super Sedanete, which was the first Buick built since the war that wasn’t based on a prewar design.  This slightly smaller version of Buick’s long-running sedanet body style still had the fastback rear end that was characteristic of previous iterations of the design.  However, the flowing lines were all new and gave the car a fresh, almost aircraft-like design that played well with the aerodynamic fastback body style.  The Super looked similar to the more expensive Roadmaster, but the wheelbase was five inches shorter, and the overall vehicle came in at 209.5 inches.  The Roadmaster was, you guessed it, five inches longer.  The other unique feature was the arrival of Buick’s famous “Venti-Ports,” which were chrome-ringed holes in the fender.  The Super had three per, while the more impressive Roadmaster boasted four.

We know precious little about the 1949 Buick in the ad.  All we are told is that “1949 Buick Super Dynaflow 2-door complete car does not run. It has been sitting in a garage since the 60s. Needs restoration 8500.”  Most likely this is another situation where the owner has passed on and the seller is the one trying to move the car along to settle their affairs and not a car enthusiast.  The pictures reveal a sleek vintage Buick that has its share of bumps and bruises.  The chrome has been attacked by surface rust, and the interior has a moldy steering wheel and rough seats contrasted with an intact headliner that may be in good shape.

Sadly, the car does not run, and the pictures leave more questions than answers.  It would have been nice to have a few shots of the floorboards and one of the engine itself.  One clue the picture above gives us is that this car was equipped with Buick’s Dynaflow automatic transmission.  This was the first year that it was available on the Super line.  Cars that came with Dynaflow transmissions were still straight-eight powered but got a compression boost resulting in 120 horsepower.  While the automatic might have robbed some performance, the smoothness of the straight-eight combined with the smooth shifting of this transmission was very popular with customers.  In total, 190,514 Buick Supers were sold in 1949.

One has to wonder just what will become of this car.  If the pictures are any indication, it is a solid car with no major obstacles to surmount body-wise.  Chroming the bumpers and refurbishing the trim will cost a king’s ransom though.  The condition of the engine and transmission is anyone’s guess.  This is one of those cars that you would be better off finding a restored example and purchasing it rather than embarking on a full restoration.  Still, it seems that this one might be returned to the road in its present condition without too much trouble.  Despite the cost, you cannot deny that this impressive car would be quite the ride if restored.

What would you do with this Buick?  Would it be worth the investment to restore it and enjoy it, or would you just get it back on the road?  Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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Comments

  1. Al

    Very similar to the one posted Apr 12, 2024. That one was a ’48 and was in better shape in the interior than this one.
    I like the shape of it, but it needs work and $.
    It is somewhat similiar on the rear as a Tucker, I guess its GM’s response to Tucker.

    Like 8
  2. CCFisher

    I know many would consider it sacrilege, but this has tremendous potential as a custom build. Painted and/or shaved trim would eliminate the plating bill, and perhaps a more modern chassis could be made to work (’71-’76 Chevrolet and ’77-’96 Cadillac have a similar wheelbase)

    Like 10
    • Steve R

      A custom in some form would be the way to go. Restorations are overrated, especially cars from this era, they don’t drive as well compared to a well thought and executed build with modern brakes, suspension, drivetrain and conveniences. You see it in the prices for many, if not most 50’s and earlier makes and models, buyers aren’t interested and their values are dropping since they don’t ride or drive like more modern cars.

      Steve R

      Like 13
      • ROCKETPORTMember

        If I would buy a car from ’49, it certainly should have the ride of ’49. If you take away the old ride of an old car and replace it by a modern ride, then you will also take away the soul of the car and make it (to my opinion) worthless.
        What makes Marilyn Monroe an iconic star? It is her blonde hair, her beauty, her voice, her soul. It is the addition of her characteristics. If you replace one of her characteristics by a „better“ one then you won’t get a better Marilyn! You will get an ugly mixture that won’t be Marilyn anymore.

        If you want a modern ride, buy a modern car!!!

        Like 1
  3. Big C

    Of course, California. So I’m out. But man, I hope someone buys this Buick and gently nurses it back on the road again. I don’t have anything against custom cars. But this car, and how complete it is? Deserves to be brought back to it’s stock form. You just can’t beat that Sedanet look.

    Like 22
  4. BA

    A car that big deserves a Buick 455 Stage1 to help it live up to its aerodynamic styling. I’m thinking neither stock or totally getting lost in the weeds of custom.

    Like 6
    • Chuck

      Beginning to agree…. I go with ”hybrid” custom.. that is brakes and suspension… tires… maybe a modern drivetrain… or how to get more out of the straight 8…. automatic with air. Leave the window cranks in place as dummies and some concealed switches for the windows. Period correct interior and all paint colors.. total rechrome… and some clothing from the time.. I’m a 49 and ould welcome what i just described done to me !!

      Like 2
  5. Fox owner

    Get it running and drive it. How much would it be worth restored to what you would have to invest in time, materials and money? This thing is so retro it’s almost futuristic. Love those pontoon rear fenders.

    Like 18
  6. Derek

    Make it go and stop and just drive it. Nice auld bus.

    Like 11
  7. Ricardo Ventura

    Just being in my garage I would be happy. Even if it doesn’t work.

    Like 11
  8. Snotty

    Neat car. Great write-up Mr. Bennett.

    Like 9
  9. Dan

    One thing to consider, if deciding what to do with this car. From the picture of the drivers side, I can see that the rear fender molding is flattened in a couple of places. I’ve worked with that particular molding on that particular model of car (49 Buick 50-70 Series 2dr cars) before, and I can tell you they are an absolute b]tch to straighten, and straighten correctly. And buying replacements? You’ve heard the word “unobtainium”? Well, that’s them. If I had a set of these moldings, in non-dented/non-flattened condition (but maybe still needing polishing) for sale, my price would be north of $1500 for the pair. Yes, ouch!

    Like 4
  10. Johnmloghry johnmloghry

    I love these Super Sedanets. It’s a near complete car but has been sitting far to long and deteriorated to much to bring it back to original condition. I’m a purist at heart but to me this car screams restomod..as in new suspension with disc brakes, a turbocharged V8 and a new custom interior, but not south of the border style. No air ride or hydraulics on this beauty, all coil over with rack & pinion steering. Candy Apple Green metal flake paint and keep those magnificent Bumpers with new chrome plating.
    I don’t know it’s just my vision for this car.

    God Bless America

    Like 6
  11. Bali Blue 504

    Yes, a monstrous restoration, but it looks too complete to warrant a digitized dash and bucket seats. Please don’t destroy its originality. It makes me groan when rare and unique cars are ruined forever.

    Like 8
  12. Denny N.Member

    I love the fastback Sedanet body style, and how about those one-year-only faired-in tail lights? Perfect!

    Like 6
  13. Eric_13cars Eric_13carsMember

    Does anyone else recall the sound that the Dynaflow transmissions made? It was a humming sound and I don’t know how to describe it any other way. No other car sounded like it.

    Like 2
  14. Jon

    Yes would make a kool restomod.

    Like 1
  15. scottymac

    Is this the year/model where the hood could open either side? The one thing I remember vividly from my early days working in a service station is these had wheel BOLTS! Not studs and lug nuts, BOLTS! Imagine wrestling one of those monsters up to the brake drum and trying to get the hole lined up and the bolt started without cross threading it! I’d run away from this just from those memories!

    Like 1
    • Mark in TN

      Yes the hood could be opened from either side. Unlock both sides and 2 people could lift the hood off the car. And the wheel bolts are a b.

      Like 0
  16. HCMember

    I love the lines on this Fastback Super Buick. It’s a real shame seller didn’t offer any engine pics of that straight 8. It’d be a shame not to get the engine and dynaflow trans working again. It’s not a bad price for this condition car. Those straight 8s are hard to beat. It’s going to be a labor of love bringing her back, so I’m glad it’s all the way in California.

    Like 2
  17. Bill

    Gorgeous machine! To my mind it’s the epitome of 1949 design and technology. I got my NJ driving license three years after that model’s introduction. In the interim, while a buddy and I were still traveling via two spoked wheels, coaster brakes, handlebars and pedal power, we voted the Buick’s straight eight and Dynaflow the best sounding cars ever to pass us.
    Now, as to modifications to “bring it up to date.” I know, I know, you paid your money for it and it’s yours to do with as you wish. Ah, but is it?
    This car, indeed, any vintage car is more than a blank canvas on which to express one’s self, it is a valuable look into the period in which it was created. My first car, an eight year old ’46 Olds Club Coupe with three on the column, would cruise all day long at better than 60 MPH and was happy, willing and able to do it. Drums at all four corners could be locked up in an emergency but did tend toward fade in spirited (?) driving and mountainous terrain.
    My point is that mods leave the appearance of the car’s era- we hope- but do nothing to preserve the experience of driving at that time. Modifications, in essence, rob posterity of a living- okay, extant- sampling of history.
    If you want the LOOK of vintage with none of the TASTE, then buy a modern car and pay some craftsman to reshape the contemporary suppository into something of your liking.

    Like 4
  18. UDT FROG

    RIGHT ON BILL, that is one fine machine, lve the comments,

    Like 2
  19. HCMember

    The seller didn’t do himself any favors by failing to show pics of this Buick’s Straight eight engine. It’s a work of mechanical art. And with the Dynaflow automatic transmission it’s still a great setup. Much easier to rebuild than an earlier fluid drive, semi automatic. Leave the original drive train and just upgrade the brakes.

    Like 2
  20. HoA HoAMember

    I tried unsuccessfully, to find out why Buick had such sad looking front ends. The rest of the car has war overtones, the venti-ports, the gunsight hood ornament, but no mention why such sad, toothy looking grills. Its swoopy styling was right from the 30s, but Buick never was the performer, and its cousin, the Olds Rocket 88 took the checkered flag. Silly styling aside, the ’49 Buick was one of the best cars to have. I see little, if any attraction here for the future, sorry.

    Like 0
    • UDT FROG

      I find nothing SAD about this for me is I was 17 years old and couldn not afford one . I also joined the navy that year, Sept. 19. just in time to be out of boot camp in Feb. and on to UDT then Korea.

      Like 0
  21. HCMember

    I wonder why Ford, Lincoln, Mercury never used these big L8s, or straight 8s in its larger luxury cars. Although they were the first to introduce V8s? GM and Chrysler certainly had a long run with them.

    Like 1
    • Bill

      A v-type engine is easier to package principally because it’s shorter. The shorter length also contributes to less weight. Finally, the I-8 (OHV, not L-8 in the case of the Buick engine) requires greater internal buttressing in order to stiffen the long case. Torque they had in spades, tho’ as my Pop’s ’37 Special (small block) would accelerate smartly from an indicated 3 MPH… in top cog!
      Chrysler, Nash, Studebaker, Pontiac, Olds, Packard, and many others over the years had straight eights, albeit flatheads. Those engines inherently do not breathe as well as OHV designs due to the convoluted path the intake charge must travel and, as a result, are rev-limited.
      Finally, longer, heavier in-line engines require added length and weight to the chassis/body.

      Like 2
      • HCMember

        Bill, Gm and Chrysler always offered big straight flat head eights in their luxury cars, and Ford never did. That was my question. L8s flat heads and later over head valve straight 8s were tried and Tru engines. Ford chose to never produce them.

        Like 0
  22. Bill

    HC- Funny how the lineup at GM was split, and not logically, with Chevy and Buick the only ones up to the ’60s that OHV engines. Pontiac and Olds stock with flathead in-lines while Cadillac went the V-8, -12 and -16 route and stuck with flatheads except for the -16 which had OHVs. Wikipedia likened the ’16 to two Buick straight-eights with a common crank and case.
    I think I missed a lot of interesting stuff growing up when I did.

    Like 0
  23. HCMember

    Ford never produced straight 8 engines in its larger, luxury cars in the 40s to early 50s, like GM and Chrysler did. At the time they were great engines. And it’s surprising, that they didnt.

    Like 1
  24. PG

    Beautiful lines…. Lots of style. Love the old Buicks

    Like 0
    • Harrison Reed

      I remember wanting a 1949 Buick when they were new — then the 1950 re-style made them ugly and lumpy. LOTS of 1950 Buick sedanettes were around, for some reason. I never saw the Buick “face” as “sad”, particularly. And I never cared much for the sedanette. Regular sedans worked for me, and looked better to my eyes. The gas-fill was under the left tail-lamp on these ’49s — a neat touch! But I never have understood folks who carp about driving a 1940s or 1930s car in stock form: it’s not difficult. My main “hassle” with it is, if the car lacks a turn-signal kit or has only one tail-lamp: hand-signals are a “bear” in the rain, and modern drivers do not seem to understand or respond to them. Definitely, with a car of this vintage, you will have more routine maintenance, beyond the oil-changes even modern drivers experience. You have all of those chassis and leaf-spring grease-fittings, for one. And the drop of oil in the fan and generator bearings every few hundred miles — not to mention re-gapping points and other things to-day’s drivers are no longer used to doing. But, unless you intend to drive as though you are at the Indy 500, a 1949 vehicle, as originally equipped, will handle to-day’s roads, speeds, and traffic-patterns just fine. And you’ll get much better A.M. reception on that old tube radio — I can attest to that! No F.M. and no stereo? — GET OVER IT! No air-conditioning? — use the vents! And if you drive it in the North Country in January, you might find that HEATERS back then weren’t quite what they are now. But you could at least thaw out your toes and stay warm otherwise with a padded jacket on. But these cars are perfectly roadworthy. They don’t have disk or A.B.S. brakes — but we drove just fine for decades without those. After all, you’re talking 75-years-old, here! I drove a 1946 Ford for decades, and it never gave me any serious problems. Never once did I break down on the road. And many times I rescued other drivers who were stranded by a much newer car that had “died” on the highway. READ THE OWNER’S MANUAL, follow its instructions to the letter, and you can drive one of these till the odometer runs around three and more times! And any difficulties, you usually can fix yourself. It’s not like that 2018 model that costs you a fortune to get codes read on a computer, then requires a king’s-ransom to fix. A 1949 American automobile is a pretty straightforward animal. And once you get the “hang” of most repairs, you also can help the guy out with a 1949 Pontiac or 1942 Plymouth — they all are pretty similar. And practical. Gas mileage ain’t quite UP there for the perfornance/economy ratio folks are used to these days. I mean, if you want 27 M.P.G., you can always get a 1930s Ford Standard with a 60hp V-8 — if you like driving at a lazy pace and you tend to avoid steep hills. But you can ZIP up those same hills, with better gas-mileage, in a typical 4-banger these days. However, when you get behind the wheel of a 1949 vehicle, you are NOT expecting a 2024 driving experience! But you will find the “motoring” (as we called it back then) quite satisfying and more capable than you might think! And LOTS more FUN!!!

      Like 2
      • Eric_13cars Eric_13carsMember

        Nice rant. Don’t agree with all of it, but I did enjoy your comments….and I’m a contemporary of yours with a lot of mostly modern vehicles.

        Like 0
  25. HCMember

    I’m grateful that the previous owner of my 1948 Chrysler upgraded at some point, to a turn signal switch and electric wiper motor and not the oem vacuum version. Thank goodness for small favors.

    Like 1
  26. Harrison Reed

    Hello, Eric_13cars! Glad you got a smile out of my “rant”. Probably NObody could agree with ALL of it! A “contemporary” of mine; eh?? — now THAT’S scary, given my age!! Though I find that even those in my age-group often do not remember many of the records I still listen to regularly. All sorts of 78s that virtually nobody else cares about now — except for my son, who loves them. His late mother (has she really been gone nearly 20 years?) used to say that I “utterly ruined” him, by playing music nobody his age relates to. She didn’t care for it much, herself — preferring the popular music of a generation younger. What she preferred to listen to used to set my teeth on edge — but then, she was younger than I. I mean, I adjusted to the changing times and tastes… to a POINT. Then I just couldn’t deal with the frantic noise any longer. Most of my records, I have had since the 1940s and early 1950s. There are a FEW later than that — though not many (except for classical recordings).

    Like 0
    • Will

      Hey, you guys think we could form our own “Aged Purist’s Club?” JUST KIDDING!
      I consider myself well-blessed, still being very much ambulatory, doing my lawn with a walk-behind power mower and all my car’s service… although I did chicken out on swapping out FWD axle shaft boots as I don’t have facilities to safely raise my car to a point I can clamber under the center of the car. Usual tale, tho’; got the car back from the “best mechanics in the area” and now have as-yet unspecified dull clunks from the front end on small bumps. I know, they just assured my return visit by fixin’ one thing and buggerin’ up another. Typical. That’s why I do all that I can for myself. Foo!
      My car fixation started in Maine during WW2 when I fell in love with a blue/red ’41 Crosley. I was about eight. By the time I finished HS and got my NJ license at 17, Crosley was dying. Thus I went first, in ’54, with a stick-shift ’46 Olds “66” Coupe, then in ’56 with a gynormous ’50 DeSoto sedan.
      In ’58, however, I started with the first of 17 of the smaller FIATs which propensity continues to this day.
      “Luxury,” to me, isn’t size, power, garishness, or expense since I’m sort of a “closet Luddite,” loving the extraction of the maximum from the minimum. And, believe me, driving principally in New England taught me a whale of a lot about energy management what with only 21.5 HP on tap in my first 600!
      My current ride somewhat defies my principles by having power windows although I did stick with a clutch pedal. I had an automatic for a year in 2011-2012 but groused loudly/longely enough (“This thing doesn’t know when I want it to shift!”) that my bride of currently 64 years told me to trade it for a stick. Yeaaaaaa!
      I first broke with the max/min thing… or did I?… with our 4th FIAT, a ’70 850 sedan. At 90K on the “clock,” I worked over the engine to beyond the Sport models up to about 60 HP out of 843cc. Swapped in front discs from a Sport and could run that guy, no wind, straight ‘n level, up to 90 MPH (corrected) in top cog… 6,000 RPM. It was tractable and a hoot to drive. Retired it after 14 years with 170K miles and still goin’ strongly.
      Yeah, the young guys never read this far in this “comment” and I’m starting to bore the older ones so I’ll quit.
      For now.

      Like 0
      • UDT FROG

        No Bore here WILL I mow with a cordless mower trim and all that stuff, AND a I’m writing my 4th book a KIDS BOOK and doing the illustrations. Doing some of the fun stuff on my 54 Buick, At 92 I’m still gittin after it …My typing sucks though…

        Like 1
      • Harrison Reed

        To Will and UDT FROG: You don’t bore me — you speak my language! You might even enjoy my record-collection (which few people do, nowadays, since they don’t remember any of tunes — and you certainly never hear any of them on the radio!). But I am grateful that they still make equipment to play 78s!!!

        Like 0
  27. UDT FROG

    ROCKETPORT you aere so SPOT ON! Thanks for a swell comparison,

    Like 0

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