Parked In 1986: 1937 Buick Special Cabriolet

While Buick had a successful sales year in 1937, selling 220,346 cars, a mere 1,689 were the Special 4-door Cabriolet. This particular car has been in storage since 1986, but it appears to be a fairly solid restoration prospect. It is located in Scottsville, New York, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has reached $10,399, and the reserve has now been met.

The Buick has recently been removed from storage and given a basic clean. The result is a car that looks quite promising. The owner says that the vehicle is solid, with no signs of any rust issues. It is largely complete, but there are a few pieces that are missing. According to the owner, someone allegedly gained access to the car at some point and removed the right half of the grille, along with the driver’s side mirror, the front marker lights, and the B-pillar posts. These were then sold, so replacements will need to be sourced. Thankfully, most of the parts are common across the 1937 Special range, so finding parts shouldn’t be that difficult. The top is now pretty shredded, and given the relative rarity of the vehicle, there is a good chance that a new top will need to be custom-made for the car. The frame looks good, and what remains of the top could be used as a template.

The alleged pilfering continued inside the Buick, with the glove compartment door, complete with the clock, also removed and sold. Once again, this is a common item across the range, so sourcing another shouldn’t be that hard. We can breathe a sigh of relief, because distinctly rarer is the factory radio, and that is still present. The owner says that the interior appears to have fallen foul of either a raccoon or a Tasmanian Devil. Given the fact that I was actually raised in Tasmania, I’d be inclined to lean towards it being a raccoon. Regardless, that critter has done its worst, so a full restoration is definitely on the cards. If originality is key for the next owner, then this probably isn’t a bad thing, because I suspect that the interior has received at least a partial refurbish at some point in the past. That material on the seats definitely didn’t come from Buick, but once again, the original material is common across the Special range, so finding the correct material should be fairly simple.

This is as close as we get to the Buick’s engine, which is a bit disappointing. What resides in the engine bay is a 248ci straight-eight engine, which, in its heyday, produced 100hp. This power was sent to the rear wheels by a 3-speed manual transmission, while proceedings were brought to a halt by 4-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. It may surprise you to learn that the mighty eight not only starts, but the owner says that it runs well, with no smoke or odd noises. He does admit that the carburetor needs some work, but that the car moves happily under its own power. Stopping is a whole different matter though because the brakes don’t function. Still, after more than three decades in storage, this isn’t surprising.

The relative rarity of this car makes it an interesting vehicle, and it would seem that I am not the only one who feels this way. At the time of writing, there are 169 people who are watching the listing. This is a project car that has a lot of potential, and when I look at its current state, all that I want to do is see it once the restoration has been completed. I suspect that the end result could be pretty stunning.


WANTED 1966 Pontiac Grand Prix Rust free vehicle. Interior and motor/transmission not important. Need good sheetmetal Contact

WANTED 1988-1991 Subaru XT6 Looking for a clean rust free XT6 Contact

WANTED 1960-1965 Ford Ranchero Looking for period-correct cap or topper. Protect-O-Plate was the main brand, but open to any brand Contact

WANTED 1970-1976 Pontiac Trans Am Must be 4 spd. Like big block. I can fix motor or tranny. Needs to be somewhat sound other than that Contact

WANTED 1970 Dodge Super Bee 4 speed, coupe preferred but nego., 383 or 440. Willing to pick up in lower 48. Contact

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  1. Car shop

    Interior cost too much to restore.. and missing parts.. pass

    Like 2
  2. JRHaelig

    I learned while awakening my ’39 Buick that there are numerous catalogs and suppliers of Buick parts.

    Also I think many of the missing pieces are shared across the series.

    That floor mounted transmission would have been most welcome over the 1-year only ’39 Special column box I have.

    Great start and a strong following for this car. Go get it!

    Like 5
  3. scott

    Can’t imagine too many frame issues, the way it sits- gorgeous car and just needs sympathetic restoration!

    Like 4
  4. JOHN Member

    I bet this car would be stunning restored!

    Like 6
  5. Robert White

    It looks as though the raccoon left droppings in the middle of the front seat right beside where the driver would sit.

    Presenting a rare 37 Buick Special Art Deco vintage classic with raccoon turds on the front seat is a real winner for sales IMHO.

    10pts, seller.


    Like 4
  6. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    Kudos to the seller for cleaning up this old Buick to a respectable level. It gives potential bidders a better idea of the car’s condition. If the missing parts aren’t impossible to find, it looks like a solid restoration project. You’ll have to put a good bit of money into it but I think it would be well worth it. This will be a stunning car properly restored.

    Like 3
  7. Will Fox

    NOW we’re talking barn finds!!!!! This jewel, when restored is an $85K beauty! The cvt. sedans of the late 30s hold their values very well, and esp. GM products. Well worth the investment if you can buy it for the right price. And contrary to what someone above said, you CAN find parts for these. The Buick club has a strong following of members willing to help.

    Like 2
    • Rick Kostuk

      85k, sorry but I don’t think so. I wish you were right. I have several beautifully restored pretty war classics that I’m hanging on to because can’t get what they’re worth. It will change, always does.

      • Bob McK Member

        Yes Rick, it will change. But the younger people are not very interested in pre war cars. The prices are dropping and will continue to. I love them, so for me I like seeing the lower prices. One of these days I will be able to afford the 38 Buick convertible that I have always wanted.

  8. Dave

    This was once a fine example of great automobile. I never cease to be amazed at how wantonly careless and uncaring people are with these precious works-of-art. It is utterly despicable to have relegated this magnificent car to “storage” for 30 years without any care or maintenance or the least amount of regard.. It infuriates some of us to see this complete lack of common sense. . I wonder how the clowns who own these cars treat their famlies…they probably throw their parents in nursing homes instead of caring for them !!!

    Like 4
    • Tom Bell

      Thoroughly agree–but at least its still unmolested and not “restomodded”.

      Like 1
  9. luke arnott Member

    It’s a Convertible Sedan or a Convertible Phaeton,depending on who you believe.I remember a RHD one of these in 1965 for sale at $30 in the UK,in good condition.It’s engine later blew up and it was scrapped.

    Like 1
  10. Ron Bajorek

    Restore it? Not me, I’m looking for something like this to DRIVE! Source the parts, out and interior and brakes in it and drive it. it’s in my back yard, I should go look at it

    Like 5
  11. Hank Bates

    The B pillar posts which connected to the top when in the closed position were common (only) to all 37-38 GM “B” body phaetons, which were mostly built as Buicks and LaSalles, but also built as Oldsmobiles and Pontiacs. They should be the toughest items to find.
    The other missing items are common to any 37 Buick Specials (40 series) and Centurys (60 series), and in some cases to Buick’s larger cars.
    I owned a sidemounted 37 Buick 40C phaeton from 67 to 87, taking it from similar condition to a car which I drove for more than 25000 miles. I sold it through Dick Garbitt to a Bob Adams in Wisconsin, and wish I still had it.
    During that time period I owned about a dozen 37 Buick Specials, including another phaeton, and a 46C rumble seat convertible coupe.

    • Hank Bates

      I am really surprised at what is not missing, as there are quite a few choice items still on the car – an uncracked 1938 steering wheel, an unmolested nose molding, running boards with moldings, etc.
      Could it be that the missing items were not stolen, but simply removed for clean up, and still sitting some place forgotten?
      I think when the car was put to rest, it was in really good condition and loved. Really sad.

  12. The one


    Like 1
  13. Andrew Franks

    This Seller should be an example to others who refuse to clean up their cars.

    Like 1
  14. Sam Dibitonto

    This is the kind of classic that is a LOT scarcer than most realize. Very few survived because of restoration costs in the 60’s (had 2) No rust is a key because of the structural integrity (rear doors) .. mechanicals are GM shared and easy to come by.

    This is a crowd pleaser at shows,,..

    Like 1
  15. Kenn

    The “clowns” that do this to cars simply put them away to enjoy later, life went on and the time to haul them out and drive them, polish them, enjoy them never seemed to arrive. Certainly most owners of these barn finds didn’t intentionally set them aside to rot. They had lives to lead, other things to do, perhaps more interesting hobbies that took up what spare time they had. Factor in poor health and/or little money and maybe “clown” isn’t a fair description.

    Like 6
  16. Bob McK Member

    I wonder why some of the pictures show it with headlights and some show it with missing headlights. Are they included or not?

    Like 3
  17. David

    Yes the headlights are included. It says in the listing what parts are missing.

  18. Dave

    If headlights are included, then they should be intalled and functioning! Would these same vintage auto owners treat an Old Master Painting in the same manner? Some people have no right to own a fine old auto. They know nothing. They offer them in deplorable condition and expect people to pay for them!! It’s a disgrace.

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